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Tip #46 #46 Downrigger Leaders How Long ?

By Capt. Jim Hirt Downriggers are one of the oldest most used and most productive tools used for salmon and trout on the Great Lakes. Their potential for putting fish in the cooler is undisputed. As with any tool proper usage is the answer to success. A common question I receive from fellow fishermen is how long do you run your drop back leader? This is the length of line between your lure and the downrigger weight. This one item will make the difference of a few fish or steady action. The variables on the length of drop back leader are dictated by many factors. The four most important that I consider are type of lure, amount of light at the presentation, the color of the water and the mood of the fish. The main types of lures fall into three categories spoons, rotators (flashers, dodgers) and plugs. Each of these has it’s own qualities that come out when run with the proper leader length. Spoons are the most forgiving and will do their job on a leader as short as 10 feet although I seldom run them that short unless I am fishing in stained or very deep water. On average 30 feet is a good leader length depending on the other variables. Rotators are another animal. Each type has its own characteristics on average a 12 foot leader is best. If you run them too long they loose their action. The leader length on Plugs like spoons aren’t as critical. Twenty feet is a good place to start. The amount of light at the lure will also change your leader length. As a general rule the more light the longer the leader. On calm clear days with lots of sun 100-foot leaders will catch fish when a short leader presentation is dead. The exception to this rule is the rotators. Long leaders on rotators will usually not produce. Mood of fish is also to be considered. Short leaders produce a more erratic action and may turn fish on or off. When setting tackle try some short and some long to get a feel for the mood of the fish. When the bite slows down, change the leader length of the best producing lures to keep the rods dancing. Good Luck Captain Jim. Let's go fishing!! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at Copyright© 2006, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved