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Downrigger fishing way down.

10/1/15 @ 6:14 AM
USER SINCE 5/23/12
The past two years have noticed the fish being caught on riggers way down. Not sure why. Is it the clear water. I did try longer leads but didn't seem to do any better. This year I caught less than a dozen on my riggers. My most consistent was 5 color lead core. Was wondering if anyone had the same problem.


10/2/15 @ 8:41 AM
Fish Hound
USER SINCE 1/29/02
I run a 30' charter boat out of Sheboygan and only have two riggers on my boat. Typical spread would be 6 boards, 4 diver, and 2 riggers. If I'm running a two person spread early or late it 2-2-2 just for ease and separation but the rigger are the first eliminated and switched to boards.

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.

10/2/15 @ 8:07 AM
Grey Beard
USER SINCE 1/27/02
Nothing more fun than a big fish caught on a rigger, no gear to stifle the battle. However since the water has cleaned up the bites have decreased except when >80’ down because other setups hard to get that deep. Then it can be a challenge to avoid tangles. If I was only allowed one rod and had to choose between a rigger and a dipsy it would be a dipsy. That being said I find a rigger that is released more likely to get to the net vs a dipsy release.

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.

Grey Beard

10/1/15 @ 8:25 PM
USER SINCE 5/23/12
Thanks for all the feed back on this. I just figured out my numbers on fish today. My 5 color out produced every other rod on the boat. Wire diosey came in second. I caught 8 fish on my downriggers all year. When I set lines I always put my 5 color out first. Second is the wire dipseys. Then riggers. After that go back to my boards depending on boat traffic and how light it is. I always run flasher fly combos on riggers. If I have 4 guys I run four riggers with the longest lead being 40 ft. I run one 12 ft off the bottom and then adjust the others according to my depth raider. When I was in shallower water ran longer leads. I do think maybe water clarity has an effect on it. I did try swr last year but didn't notice a big difference. May have to give it another try.

10/1/15 @ 6:23 PM
USER SINCE 8/29/06
My riggers have basically become "laker taker" rods. Got most fish on lead core by far with dipsies a distant second. I love fish, and eat all that I take home (releasing big lakers of course). Usually fished one rigger just off bottom and the other 10-15 feet shallower. I fish for what's available and biting. Just being out there is the biggest thrill.

10/1/15 @ 1:13 PM
I own and operate a 30' charter boat out of Manitowoc. I* have three downriggers on my boat, I am the only charter boat in Manitowoc that has three downriggers. Others have four and one guy has six riggers. I can tell you that my two corner riggers are just as productive as any other set up on my boat, I can count on one hand how many fish I caught on that shoot rigger this year (Not Many). I ran a two color SWR off of it for most of June and July and it was not productive at all. I have taken that rigger off the boat and I run a wire pump handle down the middle. I'm going to see if that's any better. In the charter business it's all about numbers, If I can find something that is more productive I'll stick with it. My dipseys always go out first, then the riggers then the coppers and leadcore. You need to change what and how you are doing on your boat by what the lake is telling you. You cannot go out and do the same thing day after day, the lake changes every time the wind changes direction. It is also important to see how your baits are in your spread, everything has to work together. Longer leaders on your riggers are important when the sun gets higher in the sky, Short leads are fine when the sun has not come up yet. My downriggers are very productive when trolling the gap. 100 to 150 foot leads from the ball.

Captain Bill

10/1/15 @ 1:02 PM
my riggers were good this year as well. I like to fish them higher in the water column with a 75 foot lead. i really like brad's cut baits on the riggers once the sun is up...seems to pull fish into the spread.

10/1/15 @ 10:18 AM
USER SINCE 3/19/08
I've gotta disagree. My riggers produced more kings this year than any of my other setups. Dipsys a close second, but my riggers really shined this year for kings. In years past, this had not been the case, but I've found there's a lot of tweaking to be done for a successful rigger bite. Rods, weights, releases, line, and position within the spread all play a key role. In fact, on my boat the exact opposite of what you experienced was true. If i dropped the balls too low, everything would shut down. I found 30-60 down and 30-60 back a pretty good combination. Once again, all dependent on where my dipsys were running, but even when fishing alone this year, i was running dual riggers at times because they were that productive. Just goes to show again, that all boats fish differently.

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.

10/1/15 @ 9:17 AM
USER SINCE 8/25/11
I wouldn't say your experience is unique. Riggers have been slower and slower the past few years. I personally believe there are several reasons: 1) water clarity, 2) fewer aggressive fish (kings), 3) wacky seasonal weather (meaning cold water being in tight to shore) has left us fishing skinny water more often where riggers are a little tougher, 4) fish scarcity...

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.

10/1/15 @ 7:32 AM
USER SINCE 3/20/02
Probably the clear water. Try an SWR.

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