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.
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.
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.