All About Downriggers: What are They and Which Ones are Right for Your Boat?

In this article, we’ll go over what downriggers are, why you should use them, and some tips for finding the best ones for your boat.

Downriggers are one of the most important tools for salmon fishing. So, if you’re thinking about trying fishing, or you’re an experienced fisherman needing to upgrade your equipment, you’re probably going to be looking at downriggers.

What are Downriggers?

For those who are new to salmon fishing, you’re probably wondering what a downrigger is. A downrigger is a device that places your lure at a specific depth (ideally where the fish are located).

It’s a three to six-foot rod that hangs over the side of your boat, with a cannonball and steel cable attached to it. To get your lure to the desired depth, simply clip it to the cannonball and lower it to the depth you want. When you get a bite the clip is released, allowing you to reel the fish in.

Downriggers are designed to be used while trolling, which is performed by slowly drawing the line through the water behind your boat at very low speeds. Many fishermen choose to use two downriggers (one on each side of the boat) to increase their chances of getting a bite.

Should You Use Downriggers?

The short answer is yes, if you want to consistently catch salmon a downrigger is a must-have.

Salmon generally stay where the baitfish are. This is what’s known as the strike zone. If your lure is just a little above or below that area the fish won’t pay any attention to it. A downrigger is the only way to know for sure that your lure is exactly where it needs to be.

What’s the Right Downrigger for You?

Downriggers come in many different varieties, and the one you choose will depend on your needs. Here are a few things you’ll need to consider:

    Manual vs Electric: This is mostly going to depend on the depth you’re fishing at. For deeper waters, we recommend electric downriggers, as you’ll be able to retrieve the cannonball a lot quicker. Retrieve Speed: This is how fast the downrigger is able to retrieve the cannonball. For manual downriggers, it’s however fast you can crank the spool. On the other hand, the fastest electric models can reel the cable in at speeds of up to 200’ per minute.Mounting Options: For smaller boats, you’ll likely want a downrigger that just clamps to the gunwale. If you have a larger vessel you’ll need one that can be mounted to a fixed position. Tilt mounts are also available, which allow you to slant the downriggers inboards when you dock.Boom Length: As mentioned earlier, downriggers vary in length from three to six feet. The bigger your boat the longer you’ll want your downrigger to be to ensure the weight stays clear of the topsides.

Have Questions About Downriggers?

Our team members are always available to help. If you need advice on the right downrigger for your boat contact one of our locations and our staff will be happy to assist you.