Downrigging tips and techniques for the savvy fisherman.
Downrigging is undoubtedly the most accurate way to control fishing lure depth next to being at anchor with a heavy weight on the bottom. With a little experimentation and some patience, along with record keeping you can easily become very proficient at reaching the depth you want; that being where you think the fish are. Or, of course, where your fish finder is showing you they are.
My personal preference is the Cannon electric downriggers for several reasons. I have owned a few other brands I won’t mention by name that simply either fell apart or rusted apart long before I felt I had gotten my moneys worth.
Now Cannon makes some really sophisticated downrigging system but we are going to talk about the simpler electric rigger called the Mag 10TS. Magnum is the downrigger that serious boat captains trust for its dependability and durability.
They rely on its unparalleled toughness, the fastest retrieval rate on the market (250 feet per minute) and a Short-Stop feature that protects the boat from swinging weights beating holes in the side of the boat.
The Mag 10TS features a stylish metallic white finish and a stainless steel spool that’s tough enough to handle monofilament or today’s popular “super lines.” It also has the Positive Ion Control to create a fish-attracting electrical field around your boat.
First thing you need to know is how deep and how fast you will be trolling. The faster and or deeper you troll; the heavier weight you need to compensate for the drag of the water. Most Great Lakes fishermen who downrig for salmon use a 5lb ball because they are trolling only 1.5 to 3 mph and 15 to 30 feet deep, so the drag isn’t that great.
On the contrary, a deep sea fishermen downrigging for grouper may be down to 60′ or more and trolling at 5 knots; that’s a lot of drag and would be better served with a 20lb weight.
After determining the size weight you need it’s time to do some experimenting before heading out for the fish. Get to a depth around the same as that you will be fishing. Set the boat speed to the speed you think you will need for the species you are targeting.
Drop the the ball all the way down until you notice the cable slacking. Quickly stop the descent and start to retrieve cable until it becomes tight again. Check the depth gauge on the rigger and note the ball weight, speed, depth of the water and depth of the reading on the downrigger.
From here, experiment with different speeds and cable depth to record enough information to know how much cable to let out at any given speed and depth. You should be able to calculate the amount of cable needed to run 5 10 or 20 feet above the bottom by using a percentage of the cable needed to reach the bottom.
I usually stay about 10 feet above the bottom-for a couple of reasons. One; I don’t want to get hung up on something I can’t get loose from and have to cut the cable. And two; I know the bottom fish will come up that far and farther to take the right bait.
We always keep our lead line from the ball to the bait or lure at 10′ or less to take advantage of the negative Ion field surrounding the ball. Any further back you loose that advantage.
All that said; now all you need is a good line release hooked to your ball, a good stout 7′ rod and conventional reel with the proper size line, the right bait and boat to haul it all in. Start downrigging today; you’ll be glad you did.
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