Salmon Fishing Downriggers

In this article we will discuss how fishing downriggers are used in conjunction with trolling spoons in saltwater salmon fishing and the “rigging how to?” of it all.

First lets have a look at the history of downrigging. It’s entrance was in the 1900’s and the purpose was to increase numbers of fish in big bodies of water by creating an efficient way to get tackle rigging to the proper ocean level. One of the most popular downriggers then and still today were named after it’s Canadian inventors Charlie White and Blayney Scott and is known widely in the salmon fishing community as the Scotty downrigger. These downriggers are used today in more than just one type of fishing rigging, although salmon has been it’s major beneficiary of their device.

Today downrigging for salmon has never been more productive with this trolling for salmon magic! It allows anglers who are fishing for salmon such as Coho or Chinook, to acquire exact depths of their lure below the surface sometimes in excess of 100 feet down! This allows the angler or guide to concentrate on other things such as speed or even better depth sounder that can identify where the fish are so he can easily adjust the downriggers depth and in turn get the spoon or lure down to where he sees a potential salmon catch.

Both manual and electric downriggers are available. In recent years more salmon fishermen have moved to electric downriggers because they can be easily and quickly brought to the surface and out of the way when a salmon is hooked.

What is a downrigger?

A downrigger is a way to get fishing lures or more specifically salmon fishing tackle down to depths where most abundant amounts of fish are actively feeding to give better chances of a catch. The salmon fishing rod is used normally as it always is for trolling, with a standard saltwater fishing reel and line but has a downrigger that is used in addition to normal fishing tackle.

Looking at the appearance of a downrigger you will see that it resembles a rod in both it’s design as well as it’s function. It has a spool with stainless steel line or cable, a rod to get the line and weight away from the boat and a large cannonball weight that will bring the spoon down to the depth desired.

An important part to rigging line with your bait up to the downrigger, comes in the form of a clip or release clip. This clip attaches the cable and weight of the downrigger to your mainline or leader that your lure or spoon is hooked up to and is what ties it all together. Once a fish is caught and the hook is set, the release allows the rigging hook or spoon to be free from the weight of the downrigger allowing for a free fight with the salmon fish. You definitely don’t want an additional weight, such as the downrigger, that will take away from the fun of catching a fish or possibly even preventing you from landing one.

Another important thing to remember for salmon downriggers is to have the line that your spoon is attached to, trolling about 20 feet behind the boat before the downrigger is attached to the release clip. This will in turn put the lure a safe distance away from the cable and weight in front of it so that you don’t spook your silver or king salmon!

So lets have quick look again at the components:

-cannonball weight (usually 10lbs for salmon)
-spool (manual crank or electric crank/retrieval spool system)
-dowrigger body (attaches to boat gunnel or side of the boat)
-release clip

Some downriggers have manual cranks that release or retrieve the weight where other fantastic downriggers that many salmon fishing guide or charters use is an electric retrieve downrigger like the Scotty’s setup or some Penn downriggers. This simple feature allows the weight to quickly be retrieved to allow for quick depth changes or to simply bring it in out of the way when a fish is caught. This is a “salmon fishing equipment must” for any fishing charters or guides.

It’s an added bonus to have a downrigger that has a depth counter for you that will tell you how deep you currently are fishing, as it can be difficult to get the right depth by controlling your trolling speed when you have to fight currents, rips, tides, waves and wind!

Quick Tip: The Little Black Box – How Positive Voltage Gets Positive Results!

Why a black box? What does it have to do with salmon fishing downriggers? Well allot actually! Many guides actually use a black box that transmits a certain electrical charge down through the stainless steel cable of the downrigger or even just the body of your fishing boat. The reason for this is that fish, namely salmon, are very sensitive to low frequency electrical signals that things like your boat will give off naturally. A way to control this electrical signal that can repel salmon away from your lure, is to connect a black box that sends the proper charge or frequency from your boat so that salmon are actually attracted to the charge rather than scared of it! Cool hey?

If you would like to read more about the black box check it out here!