Choosing the right downrigger for the type of fishing you will be doing will give you the best fishing experience, and outcome of the best possible chances for a successful fishing trip. Choosing the right one can get quite complicated when you start looking and find that there are so many brands, styles, features, options, and so much more. It’s hard to keep trck of it all. We will go over the most important features that most people should consider when buying a new downrigger.
Downrigger Options and Brands to Consider
1.Electric Downrigger vs Manual Downrigger2.Long Arm vs Short Arm Downriggers3.Downrigger Mounting Systems4.Braid or Stainless Steel Cable for Downriggers5.Best Downrigger Brands
Electric Downrigger vs Manual Downrigger
The most important decision, which will dramatically affect the cost of the downrigger you end up buying, is to decide whether you want a manual or electric downrigger. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types. The things to think about when making this decision is how deep you are going to be trolling with your downrigger, how much you want to spend, and how you think you will do if you have to reel up your downrigger weight and setups many times in a day when you catch a fish, or when you want to tie up a new setup, or pick up and move spots or areas. Our recommendation is for the electric downriggers for convenience, and speed. Even if you regularly fish shallower water of 50 feet or less, there may be times you want to venture out to deeper water in different times of the year, or to target different fish species. Manually retrieving a few times in a day is not a big deal, but let me tell you, it will get tougher to reel it up as you get through the day.
Electric downriggers run on the usual 12V power supply common to outboard engines, trolling motors, fish finders, and other electric accessories you typically have on a boat. These can be retrieved with a push of a button, and the fancy ones can lift your downrigger and lower your downrigger automatically with a connection to your fishfinder. They allow effortless retrieval, an arm-saver when you’re trolling deep.Pros: Convenient and easy to use. Can manage multiple downriggers at a time, if you have multiple lines out. Fast up and down, and won’t wear you down with having to manually reel up that big weight. Cons: Much more expensive, requires more maintenance to keep them fishing ready season after season. This is another draw accessory that can draw on your batteries, so you will want to keep an eye on that.
Manual downriggers have a hand crank that you will use to retrieve cable. They will give you quite the workout, and for some of us it will wear us out. If you are fishing in less than 70 feet of water, or fishing from a smaller boat or kayak, it may be the best choice for you. Pros: Very easy to maintain, and fairly inexpensive. Cons: Lots of work if you are trolling deep, constant hook ups, or changing of gear. Slower to use.
2. Long Arm vs Short Arm Downriggers
Whether you choose a long arm or a short arm downrigger is really dependent on how big your boat is. If you have a small boat, you don’t need to have the long arm. For boats that are fifteen feet in length or less, you woul want to have a downrigger with an arm length of 20 to 24 inches in length. You only need enough length to clear the side of your boat to prevent the the weight from smashing up against it. For larget boats, you will want a downrigger with a longer arm that could even go up to needing one with 30 to 48 inches in length.
3. Downrigger Mounting Systems
The three common types of mounting systems for downriggers are Clamps, Gimbal Mounts, and Fixed Mounts. You will want to make a decision on which type is right for you, or think about whether or not you want to drill into your boat as that may also affect your decision.
Clamps Downrigger Mounting System
Smaller downriggers feature clamps that tighten on the gunwale of your boat to stabilize the downrigger and allow for quick and easy removal as well. These types of downrigger mounts are perfect for small boats.
Gimbal Mounts for Downriggers
A Gimbal Mount is designed for instant mounting of your downriggers by using your boat's existing flush mount rod holders. The Gimbal mount adapter provides you with a great alternative to the typical bolt through mounting solutions. The Gimbal mounts are very easy to remove. Fixed Mounts for DownriggersFixed mounts are the strongest mounting option, and the best choice for large boats. While they do require drilling and permanent mounting, they’re the sturdiest and most secure way to attach a downrigger to your boat. The fixed amounts allow you to swivel the downrigger inboard during docking.
4. Braid vs Stainless Steel Cable for Downriggers
Downriggers are great for trolling, they get you to the right depth, a dependable depth, right in the fish strike zone. When you buy a downrigger, the next decision is what do you want to string it up with. Whether you want to use the old tried and true steel downrigger cable, or lighten it up and use the latest heavy pound test durable braided downrigger lines. Most anglers use stainless steel cable as used to be the only choice, and is the most commonly talked about type of line or cable for using on a downrigger. Advances in the braid line market has opened up the possiblity of using braided line on your downrigger. There are fans of both types, for good reasons, but the choice is really up to you and your preference. Some fishermen really focus in on the tiny electrical pulses that a properly grounded steel cable produces, and others think that this hum that is made will actually attract the fish and bring them into the strike zone. Other fishermen like the fact the braid is a low drag, is very quiet, and easier to tie. The best way thing to do is give them a try, and see which one you prefer over time. Which would you rather use for your downrigger, steel cable or braided line? Steel Cable has been around for decades, and ever since braided line was introduced to replace the steel cable, it has been up for debate as to which one is better.
Stainless Steel Downrigger Cable
Stainless steel cable is a tried and true way to string up your downrigger. There are pros and cons of using stainless steel cable. Steel downrigger cable is available in strengths of 150lb and 180lb. and comes in packages of 200 ft to 400 ft rolls for recreational anglers. Pros: •If properly maintained it will typically last longer than braid •Cost is lower than some of the higher end braided lines •Has more abrasion resistance than braided lines •Can provide a fish attracting electric charge if you have a black box or if your downrigger has this feature built in Cons:•Needs to be maintained, treated, and rinsed each use so the steel won’t fray, get brittle, and rust •Makes a whining noise as you troll •The downrigger can send electrical charge down the wire, which can scare fish away•When wire gets brittle and frays it can cut you if you let it get too bad before changing out the wire •Harder to spool, and is prone to kinks, unlike braid•Can cut other lines•Requires crimping kits•More drag, and creates blow back
Braided Downrigger Line
The ongoing advances in braided lines has given way to the ability to use a strong braided line on your downrigger. There are a lot of different braided rigger cables on the market. It’s important to choose one that is very high weight rating equivalent to what you would use if you had stainless steel. Braided downrigger line comes in popular strengths of 150 lb to 250lb test and in rolls of 200 ft to 400 ft. Pros: •Braided line is quiet when you troll, and has a stronger breaking strength than steel wire •It is a smaller diameter than wire, which provides less line bowing than steel wire •Give a more true actual depth of your downrigger weight compared to the counter on the downrigger •A downrigger can be loaded with much more line with much less weight and bulk than heavy steel wire •No electrical current transfers down the line Cons:•Prone to line nicks, it’s important to cut the bad parts of the braid off for each use so you don’t break your line•Knots in the line become a weak point in the line •Can be relatively expensiveIt’s really a matter of preference. If you are used to the steel wire, and feel the electrical currents and whining of the wire are attracting the fish, then I would recommend not switching. Or try switching to braid on one of your downriggers and run a side by side comparison for a season as you keep a log of which one catches more fish, along with some of your own pros and cons, for a true comparison. If you do switch a downrigger that was using steel cable to braided line, make sure you check for any nicks in the downrigger spool and the end of the boom on the pulleys to make sure there are no areas that can cause fraying of the braided line, or even cutting off your braided line when it’s under a weighted load.
5. Best Downrigger Brands
•Cannon Downriggers•Scotty Downriggers
Cannon has the Optimum style, and the Magnum style in their electric downrigger lineup. The Magnu is the old tried and true that are most common. The Optimum are higher tech, and more expensive, but worth the added expense for this upgrade if you are looking for all the latest bells and whistles. If you want to put bait on target, you’ve got to fish smarter. The new Optimum downrigger is absolutely amazing. This smart, connected system gives you access to critical trolling data and lets you raise, lower and cycle weights using the full color LCD display, your Humminbird fish finder, or even your mobile device. No matter where you are on the boat, you have access to your downrigger. With the push of a button, you can raise or lower all your downriggers at once, giving you full immediate control to place your lures into the strike zone where the fish are at. They have both a white model, and a black model. Click on the products below for more information, or to purchase yours today. Seeing fish at a certain depth? Cycle your weights up and down at preset intervals in the strike zone and get ready for action. Too busy to notice your depth after a catch? Your Optimum remembers, so you can put bait in that same spot, fast. It stores up to five preset depths, too. Automatically keep your bait at a preset distance from the bottom. Create a fish-attracting field of energy by emitting positive ions from your cable. Fully adjustable, so you can dial into a setting that drives fish wild. With one push of a button, instantly retrieve all your weights at once or one at a time. On retrieval, it automatically stops your weights a set distance below the waterline, so swinging weights won’t damage your boom or your boat.
Cannon Optimum TS Downrigger
The Optimum TS downrigger provides new intelligence to controlled depth fishing in an all white construction, stainless steel spool and 316 grade telescopic boom, ideal for saltwater applications. Precisely troll any lure while presenting depth and trolling data on a full color 3.5" LCD display. Optimum TS wirelessly networks up to four downriggers which can be controlled simultaneously through the Cannon mobile app or a compatible Humminbird fish finder. Compatibility with Fish Hawk™ X4D Electronics allows you to monitor the depth, temperature and speed at your weight.
Cannon Magnum 10 Downrigger
The Cannon Magnum 10 Downrigger gives you a 250 ft per minute retrieval rate is the fastest in the industry. Short Stop at the push of button automatically retrieves the weight and stops it at the water line. Positive Ion Control emits positive ions from the cable to combat the negative ions from your boat, creating a fish-attracting field of energy . Telescopic stainless steel boom extends from 24" to 53". IP68 waterproof connections. Three digit depth counter. 20 pound weight capacity. Includes line release and 250 feet of 150 pound test stainless steel downrigger cable.
Cannon Magnum 5 Downrigger
The Cannon Magnum 5 Downrigger has a 250 feet per minute retrieval rate, which is the fastest in the industry. Short Stop at the push of button automatically retrieves the weight and stops it at the waterline. Positive Ion Control emits positive ions from the cable to combat the negative ions from your boat, creating a fish attracting field of energy 24" heavy duty stainless steel boom. IP68 waterproof connections Three digit depth counter. Includes line release and 250 feet of 150 lb test stainless steel cable
Scotty is another trusted name in downriggers. Our favorite models are below.
Scotty 2116 Electric Downrigger
The Scotty 2116 Electric Downrigger lifts 15 lb. weights at 295 Feet Per Minute. Illuminated sealed and silent digital line counter 300 ft. of 180 lb. Test, HP Stainless Steel Downrigger Cable. Dual adjustable and stainless steel jacketed Rocket Launcher Rod Holder. Multi position auto stop, you can use 1008 Stopper Beads to stop at any pre set position
Scotty 2106 High Performance Electric Downrigger
Lifts 15 pound weights at 295 ft. min. Includes Illuminated, sealed and silent digital line counter 300 ft. of 180 lb. Test, HP Stainless Steel Downrigger Cable. Boom mounted stainless steel jacketed adjustable Rocket Launcher Rod Holder Includes 1023 Tilt up Mounting Bracket which enables the unit to be tilted and locked in the upright position. Multi position auto stop, you can use 1008 Stopper Beads to stop at any pre set position
Fully adjustable decent speed 15 lb. weights at 203 ft. per min. Spray protected positive drive depth counter and Kevlar drive belt by Optibelt 250 ft. of 150 lb. Test, Stainless Steel Downrigger Cable Includes 247 Dual Rod Holder. Two 10″ tube style rod holders. The lowest amperage draw of any downrigger with less than 1/3 the battery draw than some of the competition. Multi position auto stop included, uses 1008 Stopper Beads to stop at any pre set position. Includes 2 Power Grip Plus Line Releases
BOAT OUTRIGGERS FOR FISHING
Boat Trolling Outriggers
Trolling Outriggers If you have several people fishing on your boat, or if you have a few guys with a few poles each, you quickly run out of a space to put all the rods so that the lines don’t get all tangled up. Outriggers solve this problem by letting you add a couple of your poles to the far outside of each side of your boat, giving you several additional places to run a rod and prevent tangling together. It will also allow you to put a few lines on the side of your boat so you don’t have to get so close to the shore and worry about bumping into some rocks. It’s a great addition to a boat that already has it all, and your looking for more.
TACO Marine Carbon Fiber Trolling Outrigger Pole
Taco has developed an amazing, industry first, telescopic and internal multiple line carbon fiber outrigger pole for an amazing deep sea fishing experience. The TACO Marine® Carbon Fiber Outrigger Pole enhances the thrill of fishing out on the blue water with a carbon fiber telescoping outrigger pole. This outrigger pole is lighter and stiffer than traditional aluminum poles, the TACO Carbon Fiber Outrigger Pole allows the baits being trolled to have more natural movement as it is moving through the water. This carbon outrigger pole eliminates the whipping motion in rough seas with less flex than traditional aluminum poles. It has stainless steel collars, and brass double rollers. Designed for universal use with Grand Slams, Striker Bases, and other TACO Marine sport fishing mounts sold separately. It telescopes to less than 6' 6" for bridge clearance, trailering, and to store it while not in use. Comes with a nylon mesh carrying bag to prevent damage. Expand your line count, increase your catch! Get yourself a Taco Marine Carbon Fiber Outrigger Pole today.
C.E. Smith Carbon Fiber Trolling Outrigger Poles
C.E. Smith™ Carbon Fiber Outrigger Poles are strong, durable, and well designed to set them apart from other brands. These are some of the strongest outrigger poles on the market. They are built to resist galvanic reactions, a common problem with anything made of carbon fiber, to keep your poles looking and working like new. They have a fiberglass base , with dual halyard 316 stainless steel eyes, these C.E. Smith outrigger poles boast superior craftsmanship to make them extremely durable even in the harshest saltwater environments. The nonconductive tips were designed to prevent the line tangles that other outrigger poles are plagued with. This gives you more time fishing, and less time fighting with your gear. These outrigger poles were designed to fit 1-1/2" holders. Comes with aluminum fitment sleeves for fitting to 1-5/8" outrigger pole holders. Includes a mesh carrying bag for easy transport and storage.
Tigress XD 3K Carbon Fiber Telescoping Trolling Outrigger Poles
The Tigress® XD 3K Carbon Fiber Telescoping Outrigger Poles are ultralight and strong and durable. These outrigger poles are perfect for the fishermen that have tried inferior models and knows better than to compromise on cost by compromising on quality and durability. These outrigger poles bring a highly advanced 3K carbon fiber woven finish for super strength yet lightweight build. 316 stainless steel polished eyelets enhance the overall durability. Unlike stationary models, these Tigress outrigger poles are telescopic, so they retract to less than 6' for easier trailering, bridge clearance, and easy storage. Includes heavy-duty mesh storage bag for easy transport and storage.
TACO Marine OT Series Telescopic Trolling Outrigger Poles
•Perfect for trolling multiple lines in rough waters•Built of sturdy anodized aluminum•Works with mounts that accept 1-1/8" or 1-1/2" outriggers •Reduces stress on gunnels and T-tops•Retracts to less than 6 feet•Extends up to 15 feet
TACO Marine Aluminum Trolling Outrigger Poles
•Durable, corrosion resistant anodized aluminum construction•Telescope to less than 6 feet for storage and trailering•Reduces stress on gunnels and T-Tops when used with the correct bases•Locking pins means they stay put when extended•Designed for universal use•Includes a set of 2 polesAbout The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Trolling With Downriggers and Outriggers Experience Awaits!