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!

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