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Downrigger fishing question

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I am very new to fishing and have been running my lures about 10-20 feet behind the ball. Should I run it longer or is that a good distance. I also wonder if I run it longer will I start to tangle my other lines when I bring fish in reel lines in to change lures. thanks for the help

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There is a never a perfect distance behind the ball - but this is one of the easiest things to experiment with (if you have electric downriggers). Sometimes the fish like 8', sometimes 50', sometimes a stacker....

A few ideas to throw at you, though not one is perfect.

If running the top 40' of water we'll tend to run the length behind the ball a little longer - out to 50'+ to keep the lures away from the boat noise...no idea being perfect, we have caught fish 8' behind the ball in the channel during the run.

If running out deeper - 60' or more down - we'll tend to run them 20' or closer.

I've heard guys say that the lures present better when run 8-10' behind the ball, and this can be true, especially for flies and paddles that like a certain rotation - we run paddles and flies pretty deeps, so you can get away with closer to the ball.

Like I said in the beginning, this one is probably the easiest thing to change in your spread - play with it if your not hooking fish and if something starts working - stick with it.

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Agreed, your going to get a lot of answers on that question.

Generally I run spoons back 50 to 75, and flashers around 40 feet.

The first year I had riggers I ran everything back 75 feet and caught plenty of fish that way as well. We talk about different action of flashers on a different leader length, but have you ever put a flasher on a copper or fullcore? Thats a long leader.

Do what works for your spread on your boat. Shorter when learning will help avoid tangles. I have put lures 200 feet behind the DEEPEST rigger in the middle of the day. There is nothing else down there to tangle with so let it back in the no noise, nothing else running water.

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The hundred foot rule works well for spoons. If the ball is down 20 feet put the spoon back 80 feet. 20+80 equals 100. If the ball is down 60 feet put the spoon back 40 feet. 60+40 equals 100 etc. etc. etc. A charter friend taught me this a long time ago and if works well.

If its F/F then keep em' close. Usually under 20 feet is my preference.


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I also use the 100' rule on spoons. For flashers I run them 10-20' off the ball no matter the depth. During the day I like to run an SWR rod (2 colors of leadcore) or a light line with a really long lead off my lower riggers. It can be really good after the sun comes up. Probably my favorite lure on the SWR is a chrome plug.

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I seldom run anything more than 15-20 back, regardless of depth of the presentation. Flashers are almost always 8-10' off the ball, spoons 10-15 most times, only occasionally when targeting browns will I go back to 20+ feet. King fishing, I'll have a high rigger down 45-50 feet with a spoon 10' back and they'll get whacked all day long. Targeting steelhead offshore in the top 40 fow, usually 5-10 off the ball. There's nothing like a big steelie smacking a spoon 5' off the ball and they come straight up so fast you have a big slab of chrome lightning jumping 4' out of the water, 20' behind the boat and it all happens so fast you don't even know what rod it's on.

The only thing I run longer is big paddles and meat rigs. Those I'll put back 30-40'.


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Same here. I don't use long leads. 10 to 30 feet max. I use pancakes with bent fins and get a lot of action from them and want my spoons fairly close. FF combos 20 feet or so. In the. Spring we always have a high rigger w short lead right in the prop wash for coho and catch a surprising amount of browns too.

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Thanks guys, I was just concerned, trying to trouble shoot a bit, I runn 4 riggers and havnt had a hit this summer..... but I havnt had many hits all together this summer.

When running 4 riggers try to set them in a pattern.

Something like this;

Port inside rigger down 60' with a 30' lead.

Port out rigger down 50' with a 50' lead

Starboard inside rigger down 55' with a 35' lead

Starboard out rigger down 45' with a 60' lead.

Try to always have the higher riggers down with longer leads, and lower rigger with shorter leads.

If a fish comes up to the low spoon and dose not like it, it will soon have a second offering over its head to choose from.

What is your trolling speed? We like 2.9 (Gps sog) when the water is warm, and a bit slower when it's cold.

If you run paddles/flies, put them on the lower riggers, and only 10-20' back.

Edited by Nailer
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