Fishing Tips

Choosing a Downrigger

Manual or Electric?

Choice of downrigger reflects style of boat, type of fishing, budget and personal preference. One must first decide whether to purchase a manual or electric downrigger. A manual downrigger requires more physical labour, but does not require a power source or wiring for installation. They are generally lighter and more portable. Manual downriggers are generally more affordable and are a great way to get into downrigger fishing. An electric downrigger makes downrigger fishing a breeze, but requires a 12 volt power source and a wired installation. With a press of a button or turn of a dial, you can have hands free operation while you land that fish. In an emergency such as loss of power, these units can be operated by hand, but they are designed for use with power only. Electric downriggers are heavier and thus less portable, but they offer the convenience of hands free operation and easy retrieval of your gear. These are the downriggers that charter operators and serious fisherman use and are perfect for larger boats and heavier use.

Which Model?

Once one has decided whether to choose electric or manual, style of boat and type of fishing should be considered to choose a model. Consider the spots available for mounting and other gear on the boat (ie, swim grid, motor, kicker motor, etc) in order to choose a boom length that will: 1. Adequately get your lines out away from your boat to keep them clear during turns, 2. Allow you to reach your gear when attaching or removing release clips (this might change if you add a pedestal swivel mount) 3. Allow you to store the rigger in the space you have available.

Fishing Trip Checklist

Make Sure

That your downrigger plug and socket are clean and well coated with di-electric grease or other moisture displacing product. Check for power to your downriggers before leaving the dock.


  1. All fasteners and screw knobs are tight and secure.
  2. Spares kit is complete and on board.
  3. Stopper beads are installed and in the right place.
  4. Cable is free of corrosion, kinks, frays or tangles. Replace cable if needed. See replacing cable section.

Spare Kit:

  1. Some items to consider for a spares kit are:
  2. Fuses for electric downrigger.
  3. Terminal kits (including crimps, snaps and bumpers) and crimping tool.
  4. Stopper beads.
  5. Release clips.
  6. Downrigger Weights.

(Pre-assembled Replacement Kits available for Depthpower and High Performance Downriggers)

Fishing Tips

For the Dedicated Angler

  1. Keep a good bend in your rod while fishing. There is a moment of slack when a fish hits and a bent rod will take up this slack as the release clip lets go. Watch for your rod tip bouncing slightly as you get nibbles and hits.
  2. Be prepared to change your lures or bait if you don’t see any action. Ask other anglers what they are using and check with local shops to see what is working the best in your area. Use sharp hooks and always check your local regulations for limits and restrictions.
  3. Check your gear for weeds or small fish every 1/2 hour. Pull rods one at a time to keep a lure in the water while you reset.
  4. Trolling in a lazy zig-zag pattern will often increase strikes due to the increased coverage. This motion also affects your lures as your turn slows the inside line and speeds up the outside, creating a variety of motion to attract fish. You can also change your trolling speed to change the action of your gear. Try to select lures with action appropriate for your trolling speed to get the most our of their design.
  5. Use tidal action to your advantage instead of fighting it. Fish with a fast running tide to the end of your tack, pull your gear and repeat from your starting point.
  6. Try to practice catch and release. Handle fish as little and as gently as you can, leaving them in the water if possible. A fish which is bleeding from the gills should be considered part of your daily limit.
  7. Some anglers use small bells on the end of their downriggers to indicate a strike or a snag. These can be very useful, especially when fishing solo.
  8. Always attach your fishing rod and reel to your downrigger while your boat is in forward motion. This helps avoid tangles.
  9. Note the reading on the depth counter on your downrigger when you catch fish, then return to that depth for best success.
  10. Use caution to prevent downrigger wire from becoming tangled in your prop. Mounting your downrigger as close to the stern as possible will reduce the possibility of getting your wire caught in the prop. Consider the use of a prop guard to eliminate tangles and cut lines.
  11. Keep your fingers away from the underside of the downrigger base and remove the lead weight when the downrigger is tilted up or unattended. Be sure to use the red lock lever properly to keep the downrigger upright.
  12. Reinforce the downrigger when mounting it to your boat. It should be solid and supported before you fish. Always use properly bedded stainless steel fasteners.
  13. Bring your gear to you when retrieving weights or resetting lines. Avoid leaning out, as sudden or unexpected motion by the boat could send you overboard. Consider using a 3025 Downrigger Weight Retriever as a safety precaution.
  14. When trailering or travelling on the water, weights should be removed, lines tensioned and brakes set. Downriggers with swivel bases should be turned to the stern; downriggers without should be removed or locked into the upright position. Do not leave weights attached. Always remove and place in a proper holder (ie 3022 Weight Mate). Weights can easily bounce free from a seemingly safe spot and if they are still attached to your wire they can be a danger to both boat and person.
  15. Never use heavier weights than fishing conditions require. Heavy weights reduce performance and efficiency and will shorten wire life.
  16. Never let the wire go slack. Kinks may form and the wire may also spill over the edge of the spool, causing tangles and damage.
  17. Never let your fishing reel spin freely while you lower your weight. Use a slight drag to maintain control.
  18. Never use nylon or other monofilament line on your Scotty Downrigger. Nylon may stretch with use and shrink back on the spool with enough force to damage the equipment. Use of nylon line will void the downrigger warranty.
  19. Never attempt to retrieve a weighted or snagged downrigger cable by hand. Wave or boat motion could cause serious injury. Always keep a pair of wire cutters handy and be careful not to lean over the boom. Cutting tensioned wire may cause the downrigger boom to fly up unexpectedly.