Using Downriggers to Find the Fish
By Paul Smith
When trolling with downriggers, you can always control the depths
at which you fish thereby increasing your chances at catching fish.
I like to start out with two rods per downrigger when the fishing
is slow and I'm trying to find the depth they're holding at.
Knowing that usually in Nootka Sound the depths are always between
the surface and 53 feet in the morning and evenings I will start
my bottom line at 53 feet with my next line on the same downrigger
cable (using a 18"-36" snapper downrigger clip) clipped
at 33 feet. Over on the other downrigger cable my downrigger clips
will be clipped at 43 and 23. (Middle of the day you can try 75
feet on the bottom line) You must use four snapper downrigger clips
and attach them right to the cable. You should also place auto stops
(for electric downriggers) at the depths you want to use on the
downrigger cable. I would even run a line out the rear with a four
ounce (or less) slip weight if I so choose to cover the surface.
This line should be further out than those on the downriggers.
On the downriggers you want your first line (53') back about 20
pulls from the clip and the next line (33') about 15. The other
lines should be about the same as long as the bottom line is always
longer than the top line you should be okay. Always keep the flasher
rigs on the bottom with the top lines reserved for spoons, cut plugs
etc. This way you'll avoid tangling lines while turning (or so the
theory goes) all things being equal. You should never turn sharp
anyway with more than two lines out at any time. You could even
use dummy flashers on the downrigger cable instead of placing them
on your fishing line.
The only other important thing to remember is your speed.
Using this technique you'll be able to cover more water using different
lures and once you find the right combination you can change the
other gear and start catching fish.
Now having said all this, wait until the time you catch a big fish
on one line and it takes a path across all the other lines! But
hey isn't that what it's all about? I once guided a fellow in his
own boat and he asked me to run nine (yes that's right) lines similar
to a technique he uses for Sockeye in Georgia Strait. Needless to
say we caught a beautiful 38 pound Chinook (king) which cut across
the other lines. I just grabbed his knife and started cutting lines.
Only had two flashers on and one of them caught the Chinook so we
didn't loose a lot of expensive gear. I'll never do that again though.
To summarize, it's a lot of work to run multiple lines on your
downriggers but when the fishing is slow you got to do what you
got to do!
Remember to keep your rod tip up and tight lines!
- Contact me with your questions or comments at