How to Build Your Own Downriggers

How to Build Your Own Downriggers
Trolling is an effective way to fish, but a rod and reel won't put your bait where the fish are. You need a downrigger. In simple terms, a downrigger is a spool of heavy wire attached to your boat. A large weight at the end of this wire keeps it taut, and a downrigger release is fastened to the wire. Your fishing line passes through the release, and the downrigger wire is lowered to your desired depth, taking the line and lure with it. When a fish strikes, your line is released and the action starts. A downrigger can be expensive to buy, but you can make one at home from old fishing gear.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Old heavy boat rod
  • Old saltwater reel
  • 50-pound Dacron line
  • 3-inch piece of small diameter plastic hosepipe
  • Assorted swivels and beads
  • Big lead saltwater fishing weight
  • Zip slider
  • Metal shears or bolt cutters
  • Ice pick
Step 1
Cut the old rod. Because you'll be using the butt end of an old saltwater rod to make this downrigger, position your cutters just past the first eye of the rod, and snap off the end. Set aside the butt end, which has the grip, and throw away the other half.
Step 2
Pull the line off your old reel and respool it with 50-pound Dacron. Mount the old reel to the butt end piece of your rod, if it isn't already attached.
Step 3
Puncture the hosepipe. Push the ice pick all the way through the center of your 3-inch length of hosepipe. Your holes should be big enough to thread with the 50-pound Dacron.
Step 4
Attach the hosepipe to the 50-pound Dacron. Thread the line through the holes in the hosepipe. Attach swivels and beads to the Dacron that's immediately above and below your hosepipe, to fix it in place. Clip the lead weight to the swivel on the bottom of your hosepipe.
Step 5
Fit and configure the zip slider. Insert one of the tapered ends into the hosepipe and make sure it fits snugly. Clip the weight attachment clip of the zip slider onto a swivel. The next time you go fishing, you'll clip your fishing line to this swivel before lowering the 50-pound Dacron, with the leaded weight at the end, to the desired depth.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure your reel, with the regular fishing line, is set to the free-spool position, with the ratchet on, before you clip your line to the swivel and lower it with your downrigger. You'll lose your rod and reel if you forget to do this.

Article Written By Dan Eash

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.

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