Downrigger fishing way down.
Riggers usually get Moonshine spoons early and late and higher in the column but during high sun they are usually flasher/fly or dodger/fly close to the bottom.
Once the sun is up board rods is where the bite usually is for us, when we get an area of the column figured out we load it up. Any fish that comes on a rigger after peak bite is considered a bonus, but we spend most of our time working the board rods.
This is what we carry for weighted line board rods:
2 - 400' Copper 4 - 300' Copper 4 - 200' Copper 2 - 150' Copper 2 - 10 Colors 2 - 7 Color 4 - 5 Color 2 - 3 Color 2 - 2 Color
I believe the 7 color runs near the 150' copper and the 10 runs near the 200' as we seem to get them working at the same time. The 5 color's were by far our most productive rods this year.
I have 4 riggers on my 21’ boat and can’t remember the last time I ran 4 and keep the 4th on the boat for the pole holders. I typically fish with 3 riggers, 3 dipsys and 6 Off Shore boards. If fish are up high and waves <3’ I will pull a rigger and a dipsy and put out 4 boards each side. In the 2 in the boat tourney I’ve at times run all boards. So I do lack confidence in my riggers, long leads don’t out fish lead core at the same depths.
Some good suggestions already provided below. I stager my leads with dodger/Brad’s from 6-50’. If running naked spoons, Brad’s or J’s 50-200’. After first light I will add one SWR 2 color and some days a second SWR 3color. Late AM a 2 color off my deep rigger often very productive setting the rigger to read what my current depth is. I’ve lost a few lures but that because I’ve not paid enough attention to depth changes.
I set my board lines first, dipsys second and riggers (except Depth Raider) last. Not because of productivity. Boards take longer and I don’t like riggers firing while setting board lines in the dark.
This summer I spliced 25’ of 25# Berkely 100% Fluoro to my 20# Big Game on my rigger rods. I honestly don’t know if it made a difference. For a few years I’ve done the same with all my leads and coppers and again not sure if it made a difference. One good fisherman queried “what would you give for a couple more bites in a tourney”? He believed fluoro made a difference and he catches a lot of fish so I changed. I don’t run fluoro with my dipsys.
This year I’m not surprised that a 5 color worked consistently. We were rarely without cold water so that kept the biters in the upper levels. Most years I think full cores were the most consistent. Considering the recent winds from the NNE next time I’m out the riggers will likely be important.
edit: I should note that I am always targeting kings, even if there aren't that many around. I do this for sport, not for meat. I have little interest in lakers, rainbows, and cohos. I'll take em, but I do not consider them when setting my spread, so your mileage may vary.
It's interesting you bring the point up for discussion. I will say that I used to (5 years ago) set my rods in this order: riggers, divers, boards. These days: the opposite. I've seen and noticed a lot more boats running two riggers....even big boats running three riggers. I assumed it was because they are less productive. I also wonder if tournament boats are keeping a third rigger for the sake of spread symmetry? (Any three rigger guys have comments there?)
Fo what it's worth, my non-laker rigger strikes this year have been before sun up. Then they've gone dead. And even that said, they haven't been "hot".
I read an article recently stating that kings are 75% of what they were just a few years back (I forget the exact year referenced). So, with that said it seems logical to me we'd see at least a 75% decrease in the rigger king bites....compounded by clarity and seasonal conditions. So, probably just a sub-symptom of a bigger dicussion topic.