How to Rig Downriggers

How to Rig Downriggers
Downriggers are the most effective way to control the way your lures will be presented to fish at certain depths. It does take a few steps to get a downrigger properly rigged, so read on for these valuable tips.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Downrigger Release Clip Cannonball
  • Downrigger
  • Release Clip
  • Cannonball
Step 1
While downriggers come with all the accessories right out of the box, they do need to be tweaked for maximum performance. First, attach the cannonball to the downrigger. Open the large snap swivel at the end of the cable, slide the cable through the mounting hole on the cannonball and close the snap swivel.
Step 2
Next, zero out the line counter by lowering the cannonball to water level and push the button on the line counter. This ensures the reading on the line counter will give an accurate depth reading.
Step 3
Next, add the line release clip to the cannonball. This is the tool that enables the main fishing line to attach to the cannonball and releases the line when a fish strikes. Open the snap on the release clip, slide the cable through the mounting hole on the rear fin of the cannonball and close the snap.
Step 4
At this point, the downrigger is almost ready to fish. If you have an electric downrigger, plug it into the 12-volt power source on the boat and make sure the connection works. Lower the cannonball 10 feet and raise it to make sure the motor works properly.
Step 5
Once the power is checked, get out on the lake or ocean and begin fishing with the downrigger. Watch the electronic fish finder or graph to see at what depth the fish are swimming. This will tell you how far to lower the cannonball.

Tips & Warnings

Always check the cable on the downrigger for kinks or frays as either will lead to breakage and a lost cannonball. Also, make sure the snaps are closed on the cannonball and release clip.
Be sure the downrigger is properly grounded before putting power to the unit to avoid a shock.

Article Written By Brian M. Kelly

Brian M. Kelly has been freelance writing since 2003. His work has been published in respected outdoor magazines such as Outdoor Life, Great Lakes Angler and Salmon Trout Steelheader. He holds an associate's degree in automated machine design from Macomb College.

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