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Master the Depths: The Ultimate Guide to Downrigging for Trophy Fish

by Damien Hooper 28 Oct 2023 0 Comments

Picture this: the sun is beginning to paint the morning sky with hues of orange and pink. Your boat gently bobs on the water, and you have your sights set on the deep, mysterious depths of the lake or ocean.

You're after trophy fish, those elusive giants that have haunted you for so long.

This is a challenge that calls for downrigging. The fishing method which most separates casual anglers from the true trophy hunters.

In this guide, Reel N’ Deal Tackle are deep-diving into the art and science of downrigging. No matter what your experience, this article will unlock the secrets of downrigging.

What Is Downrigging, and Why Does It Matter?

Downrigging is a fishing technique designed to target fish in deeper waters.

It is a strategic method of fishing, and involves the use of specialised equipment. Downrigging equipment is designed to help present your bait or lure at the exact right depth.

The Downrigger: Think of a downrigger as your underwater assistant. Your trusty companion in the quest for trophy fish.

The device is usually mounted on your boat, allowing you to control the precise depth of your bait and lure.

This level of control is the game-changer in downrigging. But why does it matter so much?

Trophy fish are often found deeper in the water column, away from the surface. To reach them, you need to get your bait down to where they're swimming. That's where the downrigger comes into play.

No guesswork or hope needed. With a downrigger you can strategically increase your chances of a successful catch.

Gear Up: The Essential Downrigging Equipment

Before we dive into the specifics of downrigging, let's talk gear. Here are some essential tools you'll need for a successful downrigging adventure:

  1. Downrigger: This is the heart of your operation. Electric and manual downriggers are the two primary types. The choice will depend on your preferences and budget.
  2. Downrigger Weight: So your line stays at the desired depth, you'll need a downrigger weight. These come in various sizes and weights. The weight you choose will depend on the depth and fish you're targeting.
  3. Rods and Reels: A downrigger rod and reel combo is designed for this specific technique. These are built to withstand the pressure and strain of fishing at greater depths.
  4. Lures and Baits: Choose your lures and baits wisely. Different fish species have different preferences. Be sure to research your target species and select your offerings accordingly.
  5. Fishing Line: Use a quality fishing line, and preferably a high-strength braided line. A braided line can better withstand the rigors of deep-water fishing.
  1. Terminal Tackle: You'll need swivels, snap swivels, and leaders to complete your setup. These are essential for reducing line twist. They will also ensure your bait or lure swim naturally.
  1. Fish Finder: A good fish finder can be your eyes beneath the water's surface. It helps you locate the target depth where the fish are lurking.

Downrigging Techniques for Success

Now we have the gear, lets dive into the techniques that are most effective in helping grab your dream catch.

  1. Find the Right Spot: Start by locating the right fishing grounds. Research the waters you plan to fish in and talk to local anglers. Also use your fish finder to identify promising depths.
  1. Depth Control: The key to downrigging is precise depth control. Use your downrigger to set your bait at the desired depth. Start by targeting depths where you believe the fish might be. Adjust your depth and watch your fish finder to determine where the action is.
  1. Trolling Speed: Maintain a steady trolling speed. The ideal speed varies depending on the fish species. Research your target fish and adjust your trolling speed accordingly.
  1. Watch the Fish Finder: Keep a close eye on your fish finder. It can reveal fish schools or individual fish at your chosen depth. Pay attention to any signs of activity.
  1. Set the Hook: When you get a strike or feel a hit, don't rush to set the hook. Trophy fish often hit the bait with force, but they might not immediately swallow it. Give them a moment to fully take the bait before setting the hook.

Targeting Trophy Fish with Downrigging

Now, let's get into the exciting part—targeting trophy fish. Downrigging isn't just about catching any fish. It's about landing giant fish, and the stuff of legends. Here's how to increase your chances of reeling in the big ones:

  1. Know Your Target: Different regions and bodies of water are home to specific trophy fish. Do your research and know what species you're targeting. It could be lake king fish, Samson fish, trout, king salmon, muskellunge, or another prized catch.
  2. Use Big Baits: Trophy fish didn't get to their size by nibbling on tiny morsels. Offer substantial baits or lures that match the size of the fish you're after. Big baits equal big rewards.
  3. Experiment with Colours: Trophy fish can be picky, so try a variety of colours for your lures and baits. Sometimes a particular colour combination can make all the difference.
  4. Vary Your Depth: Trophy fish can be elusive. Don't hesitate to experiment with different depths until you find their comfort zone.
  5. Stay Persistent: Trophy fish aren't always eager biters. You might spend hours on the water without a single bite, but that's the nature of the game. Be patient and persistent.

Downrigging is more than a fishing technique; it's a journey into the unknown. 

It's the thrill of exploring the deep and the joy of mastering the depths.

It’s the camaraderie with fellow anglers and the connection with nature. And then it's the satisfaction of outsmarting those elusive trophy fish.

But remember downrigging welcomes anglers of all levels. It's not limited to the seasoned pros.

Whether you're a beginner or a veteran, downrigging offers excitement and success.

So, what are you waiting for? The depths are calling, and the trophy fish are waiting.

And make sure you come in and check out our range of downrigging gear at Reel N' Deal Tackle, and we wish you happy fishing!


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