Boat Outfitting - Downriggers

downriggergraphic.gifWhat is a Downrigger?

A downrigger is a large reel that uses stainless steel cable and a heavy weight to take your lure down to the depth where the fish are. Downriggers will improve trolling results for any species of fish by giving you accurate depth control. You can reach the big ones at precisely their level, deep or shallow.

You attach your fishing rod line to the heavy downrigger cable by means of a 'release clip'. The rod is placed into a rod holder and there is tension between the tip of the rod and the release causing a bend in the rod. When a fish takes your lure, it is released off the downrigger cable, so you can fish with light tackle, unencumbered by a heavy weight when playing with your fish.

Downriggers allow you to catch fish that are in deep water without having to use heavy weights on the fishing line to get your lures down deep. 

Manual vs. Electric
Both manual and electric downriggers are available. In recent years many fishermen have opted for electric downriggers because they can be easily and quickly brought to the surface and out of the way when a fish is hooked. When you look at the additional cost of buying an electric model, it might seem like a luxury; however, when you are fishing at depths of 75 feet or more, hand cranking a heavy weight up and down several times an hour can whip even the most athletic angler.

Electric downriggers are an especially handy feature when fishing alone, or when you have multiple hookups of large fish. It can get a little crowded around the transom with multiple anglers fighting fish and others trying to hand crank up several downriggers at the same time. With electric models, you only have to hit the retrieve button and concentrate on bringing the fish to net.

Despite the numerous advantages of electric units, manual downriggers still have a useful niche, especially for anglers who fish from a small boat. Manual rigs are more compact, and they do get the job done adequately. For the most part, small boats are used in freshwater, or close inshore in saltwater where the depths will not dictate running out and retrieving a lot of cable. Manual downriggers are also more compact, and portable, which makes them ideal for fly-in trips or use on rental boats.


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