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Heavy cannonball, pulley & a rigger

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Heavy cannonball, pulley & a rigger

So earlier this year I took one of my cannon downriggers in for service.  It wasn't pulling my cannonballs up as quickly as usual and I wanted it looked at before it decided to stop entirely on me.  The service rep asked how heavy a cannonball I use.  My small ones are 10 pounds, but the larger ones, that I like to use when the fish are deep are 19 pounds.  He explained that the 19 pounder is to heavy.  I pointed out that according to the owners manual, they are rated for 20 pounds.  He said, "Well, they will lift 20 pounds for a while, but they will wear out a lot foster.  You need to use lighter cannonballs."

I didn't want to use lighter cannonballs.  If I'm trying to fish 75' down or deeper, I prefer to use my heavy cannonballs to minimize the blow back.  So on my last trip out I tried something new.  I wanted to share this in case someone wants to improve on it.  I haven't seen it done before.  There were some pros and cons, so I wanted to share how this experiment went.

I integrated a pulley with my downrigger setup.  I used one that had a pin on it so I could easily remove the pin, add the pulley to my rigger and not have to take anything apart.  The swivel on my cannonball wire that normally attaches to the cannonball, I clipped to the hook at the base of my rigger.  I put the pulley on the cable that spanned the area where the cable leaves the rigger and where the cable attaches to the terminal great for the rigger.  I attached an "S" hook to the pulley, followed by my release and then the cannonball.  This created a triangle with my rigger wire.  On the other side of the boat I integrated my fishhawk with that set up.  (In one of the attached pictures, I wrapped my ball retrieval cord around the rigger arm to try and get it out of the way for the picture.  So if you're wondering what the heck that is, it's just to get it out of the way.)

The thought is by using the pulley, I can still use my 19 pound weights, but to my rigger, it will feel like it is pulling up 9.5 pounds.  I will get the benefit of having a heavy cannonball and my rigger motor will feel like it's pulling up a very small weight.  My though was if this worked, I'd get some 28 - 30 pound cannon balls.  It will still be easy on my rigger motor, but should really limit blowback and help me get my baits deep.  So obviously when I lowered the cannonball down and raised it up, it was slower.  I didn't think that was a big deal.  (In my opinion, some of those riggers are to fast on the drop anyway.)  Also, just as obvious, if you want your cannonball 80' down, then let out 160' of cable.

On one side of the boat, I didn't have any issues at all.  Everything worked great and I put my cannonball down 90' with very little blow back.  

On the other side of the boat, the set up with the probe, it had a couple of issues.  The first is down around 70' and below we lost signal with the probe.  I had new batteries in it, but they were new last summer and they spent the winter in the boat.  So I'm not sure if it was a battery issue, or if maybe the pulley blocked or interfered with the signal between the probe and the transducer.

The second issue, and this only happened once and it happened on the probe side, is it appears the rigger cable got stuck somewhere on the pulley.  After the cannonball was down for a bit, we decided to lower it even more.  The cable between the pulley and my rigger base remained very tight.  However, the cable between the pulley and the end of the rigger became loose.  It's like the pulley was stuck on the cable and was no longer rolling on it.  When I brought it back up to the surface, it was operating like normal.

On my next trip out, I will test this again with fresh batteries to see if it resolves my probe signal issue.  Overall, I was happy with the performance and I don't see why this wouldn't work even better with a 28 or 30 pound cannonball.  Having two rigger wires in the water seemed to be easily overcome by the heavier weight.  

Anyway, just wanted to share this since it seems like the fish are really deep right now.  Maybe someone can find a way to improve it.

 

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No offense but is this a joke ? What if you lose power how do you bring up a 28 lb cannonball ? You say if you want to be down 80 let out 160 ??

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I can put down a 28 lb cannonball, but because of the pulley, it would be easier to pull up.  Or maybe I don't have the pulley set up right to make that actually work?  It would be good to run this past an engineer, which I am not. :)  But the concept is through the use of pulleys it makes it easier to pull the weight up.  So if I lose power, it would feel like I am in still pulling up 14 pounds of weight, just like I was before I switched to a heaver cannonball.  The other end of that triangle is supporting some of the weight, but that is my non-engineering brain thinking.  Now granted, I would have more cable to pull, but it's not like it would feel like pulling up 28 pounds hanging directly from a single cable.  (And it's not like we have to pull these by hand a very often...)  I also have leather gloves on board just in case I have to do this.  But your question makes me think I should research the exact setup needed to make it easier to pull the weight. 

Let out 160 to go down 80...imagine a triangle, with the point facing down.  This is where the cannonball is.  For every 10 feet of cable you let down, 5 feet goes to the left of the cannonball and five feet goes to the right.  So I have to let out 10 feet to get a 5 foot drop in my cannon ball.

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Ok im no engineer either but i sort of get it but dont know if i do fully and or like it. Reasons, why not just get a rigger that can handle a bigger weight with no problems,  hauling a heavier weight up 100 vs 160 would be way easier even with your pulley. You wouldn't get more than 20 ft of blowback with such a heavy weight, maybe not even with say a 14 or 16 lb. So 100 ft of cable would have you 80 or more. Maybe after more views we can see what others think. The end of the holiday weekend should have more folks back on here.

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Because a $3 pulley is cheaper than new riggers. :)  

The boat is the barn so I did a little experiment using my fish scale.  With a direct connection to a single cable - so no pulley - the cannonball weighed 18 lbs, 13 ounces.  Then I attached the pulley and put the scale between the pulley and the anchor point the on rigger.  The weight recorded was 13 lbs, 3 ounces.  So it didn't cut it in half like I was thinking.  It makes me wonder if the angles of that triangle makes a difference.  So maybe that weight (force) would be less the lower the ball got?  Just another thing to experiment with I guess.  Pictures attached.

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At some point an engineer is going to come on here and just smack us for making a mockery of their profession.  

So I was just thinking, the anchor side of the triangle read 13 pounds 3 ounces.  It's illogical in my (non-engineering) brain to think that the other side of the triangle would also be supporting 13 pounds 3 ounces also, since there isn't 26 pounds, 6 ounces hanging there.  So I would think the other side of the triangle, so the side the rigger is actually pulling up would be the actual cannonball weight minus the weight that is supported by the rigger base anchor point.  So in this case that would 18 pounds 13 ounces minus 13 pounds 3 ounces, so the force on the rigger side would be 5 pounds 10 ounces.  I think this might be possible because my rigger arms aren't flat, they angle up.  So my anchor point where the scale was is lower than the opposite corner where the rigger wire comes down from the rigger pulley and towards the cannon ball.  So the ball is shifted towards the anchor point since it is lower.  The ball isn't perfectly centered because my rigger arm isn't flat.  But I think the lower the cannonball goes, the more this would probably even out and the closer each side would be to supporting half of the weight of the cannonball.

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The physics is right on this.  It's a two pulley design, so the force applied to my rigger motor will be half the cannonball weight.  So my 19 pounders won't be an issue now for my motor.  But going larger than that I think we need to consider the ability of the downrigger base and gunwale interface to be able to support a heavier weight, especially in rougher waters.  For now I think I will be content knowing I can run my heavy (19#) cannonballs without it causing issues with my downrigger motors.

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Well, this post prompted me to sign up to this site so I could reply. How deep are you trying to get? I often fish in over 100fow with 12 pounders with acceptable blowback. 14#ers work even better if I'm trying to contact bottom.

It's a great idea, but it seems it does a few things wrong to make it worth while. First of all, aren't you actually decreasing the life of your riggers by making them pull up twice as much cable every time?

Also, now you have to have twice as much cable on your rigger to get to deep depths. Most riggers don't have more than 400, so now you're only getting down to less than 200, and I can bounce bottom in 200 or deeper with a 17# Shark weight if I control my speed correctly.

Another thing is having 2 cables in the water will surely cause more blowback, not to mention the increased chance for a tangle if a fish makes a crazy charge when he sees the net coming.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't pull weights that heavy. The shape of the weight is more important. I've witnessed a 25# round weight with a small fin pull back considerably farther than the 17# Shark did. And that was with over 200 foot of cable out. We've also bounced bottom in 300 fow with that same weight by slowing down at the right times and letting the ball drop. Caught some real nice Lakers doing this, as well as a couple Kings.

I have to commend you for pioneering an idea to fulfill a need, but it seems that you are taking away from what you are trying to accomplish by doubling your cable in the water, plus a pulley creating even more blowback. There are guys that fished crazy deep for big Kings and they had special riggers built to accomplish the task. Imagine sending 1000 feet of cable out to get 400 foot deep?!

 

 

 

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@TyeeII I'm glad you signed up to comment!  It's a great site and a lot of guys here really know their stuff.  Your post makes me want to experiment with a 24# shark weight. :) 

How deep do I want to get?  I don't know, maybe 120 feet to 170 feet.  I know some guys will have special gear and they'll put cannonballs down 250' - 300'.  I didn't feel I had any way to do that without a significant upgrade in gear, and heck, I might want to try that sometime.  But, I'd rather have a kicker motor and autopilot before I get new riggers and my wife says she gets a new house before I get a kicker motor.  So I'm trying to think of another way for me to get deep without stressing out my rigger motors or having to buy new riggers.  

My boat has a swim platform and an outboard, so I can't easily net fish right off the back.  So I net them on the corners.  I know I could pull a rigger up to get it out of the way, but if I can find a solution to avoid that, why not try?  So that is one reason to not want the blow back.  When I ran mine last weekend at 90' down, so 180' of cable, there wasn't any blow back to speak of.  I am sure at some amount of cable, the surface area of the cable wouldn't be overcome by the weight of the cannonball.  One option for that is to switch from stainless steel to braid.  You don't want to bounce bottom with a braid, but it would cut down on surface area issue.

100lb Pound Test Power Pro Maxcutatro braid is 0.017 Inches Diameter.  150 pound test stainless steel is .031.  (I believe that is uncoated, so coated stainless would be larger.)  So if you run two braided lines, it would be like having like .034 diameter.  So it's 9.67% more surface area for two strands of braid vs a single strand of cable, but that second strand allows you to use twice as much weight.  So 9.67% more surface area, but 100% more weight.  But again, I'd never purposely bounce bottom with it.

As far as wear and tear on the rigger, that is a fair point and I'm not sure of the answer to that.  I would think pulling more weight, even at fewer feet would be harder on it, but that's just an opinion and obviously depends on the weight, just like pulling more cable at a lesser weight being easier on it would depend on the weight.

I appreciate your insight.  Maybe there's a reason no one is doing this.  I'll play around with it for a bit this summer and see how it goes.  I'm not afraid to fail miserably, but with the right tweaks, it might just work.

I think finding the right pulley will be important.  I'm looking into outrigger pulleys, or finding something more suited for small diameter cable.  What I am using now is designed for small diameter rope.  Maybe a spare pulley off an existing rigger would do the trick.  Lots of experimenting to do.

 

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1 hour ago, Steelhead#1 said:

How fast do you troll?

2.5 at the ball, give or take.  I don't have a kicker motor, so I'm trolling with my big 250 hp outboard.  I've got trolling bags, but I've only used those for walleye.  Usually I try to keep it in the 2.3 to 2.9 range.

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Look out FBD likes it. From what I have read from his posts over the years he will figure it out.  You will have pulleys for 10 lb cannonball,  12, lb cannonball,  14 lb cannonball.......

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I just ordered some pulleys to test with. 

https://www.ronstan.us/marine5/product.asp?prodno=RF103

https://alltackle.com/malin-single-outrigger-pulley/

The Malin one I picked up because it was tiny, had a metal sheave and a built in clip.  For the other one, it's about 1.75" tall and it's designed to pull wire/cable.  I talked to the folks at Ronstan because they offer a wide variety of pulleys for kites, outriggers, sailboats, etc.  This was the one they recommended based on how I want to use it. 

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I helped validate two patents that ate used now industry wide on vehicle suspensions.  Both started with a guy asking "what if we...".

If you do the math, with standard rigger cable and especially coated cable, your cable at about 70' down has more surface area and thus causes more blowback than the cannonball.  I got some thinner cable from McMaster Carr but with thin cable and 10# sharks my out downs got way in front of my 12# round ball coated cable probe trigger, so I went back to normal cable in those to keepp them all in a row.  I'll bounce bottom in 140' with a 10# shark, in fact they're not 10# any more as the bottoms are ground flat.

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FYI your auto stop feature will not work with braided line it cant sense the electrical current break through the braid and will not stop on its own and they are plenty powerful enough to snap that braid right off and send your probe ,pulley, weight and release to the bottom. I commend you on a innovative approach to a nagging issue everyone has but it seems you are complicating things beyond any real world gain.

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Does the rigger use a brush or brushless motor - it makes a big difference on what is hardest on the motor. 

Either you are running the motor with high current when pulling a heavy ball or longer duration when using the block and tackle method.

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