Notice: Undefined index: meta_keyword in /home/bt0413gh/public_html/catalog/controller/module/tip.php on line 26

Tip #97 #97Fishing Downriggers 101

Fishing Downriggers 101


By Wisconsin fishing charter Capt. Jim Hirt

Now is the time to think about changes to make you more productive this season. There are many ways to go on this subject. Over the next several articles I will try to cover topics like rigging, tackle and presentation. My goal is to provide information, which should lead to more fish and less slow fishing. Should you have a question please e-mail me from my Website contact us page. Read all my articles and see video fish reports at

Let’s get started with rigging.

This is a very large topic that needs to be broken down into smaller subjects. Downriggers are a good place to start. This is one of the most basic of presentations and yet is very easy to get confused about. The use of this tool is limited only by your imagination. For every method I write about here some of you know dozens of other ways to work a downrigger.


Basic downriggers

The basic concept is a wire line with a weight on one end with a release to hold a lure at a given depth. The other end is a spool or wheel to hold the wire and facilitate the raising or lowering of the weight. Downriggers are made in manual or electric. There are many brands out in the market place and I think they are all good.


Electric and manual options

The high-speed electrics will give you an advantage when you are on a hot bite. For the average fisherman manuals will get the job done. There are all kinds of additional features you can add to your downrigger. An important one is temperature at the ball to tell you when your lure is in the temp for your target. This can also be added to any downrigger later. Cameras to watch lure action and the attitude of the fish. All the extras may or may not get you more fish depending on your ability to interpret the information provided.


Setup and tune up

Basic set up is to let out your fishing spoon behind the boat and attach it to the weight. The way you attach it has everything to do with how many fish you will put in the boat. I have tried most of the different styles of releases. I like the Blacks release with the clip to attach the weight as one unit. The Blacks releases are completely adjustable to set the hook when the fish bites and never tangle or wear the line.

Weight selection is also important

Things to consider are size, shape, construction and color. For my corner downriggers a flat weight called a pancake with a large adjustable fin is the way to go. When the fin is correctly tuned it will spread your presentation and avoid tangles. For the two inside downriggers I prefer a weight that tracks well and looks like a fish.

How heavy?

I use 10-12 pound weights when fishing deep over 100 feet and go to 8 pounds for shallow presentation. Attach the weight to the cable with a Clincher. This plastic termination for the end of the cable allow you to attach a snap for the ball without crimps. The clincher or similar types will save cable fatigue and lost downrigger weights. I will finish on this subject in the next article.

Buy Four And Get One Free

Badger Tackle has a promotion for a free spoon. Call me anytime to help with your spoon selection. If you would like to try the hottest spoons for salmon and trout for shore anglers or trolling and jigging in 2011 go to Good luck. 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© 2012, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.