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Thread: How much line to let out before attaching your downrigger release?

  1. #1
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    Default How much line to let out before attaching your downrigger release?

    Hello fellow Kokanee enthusiasts –

    I was fishing Wickiup this past weekend and a boat passed by my on port side and his gear ended up getting tangled into mine. The short story of this is that he claims that it is “standard practice” to let out 120 feet of line before clipping your line into the downrigger release. I have read several books and articles that claim that Koke’s very rarely get spooked by a downrigger ball and that under most circumstances no more than 30 feet of line (actually less in some cases) need to be let out before clipping to a downrigger release.

    How much line do you guys typically let out before clipping your line to the downrigger release?

    Thanks,
    Dr. Matt

  2. #2
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    Hi Matt,
    For me it's not so much the ball that I'm worried about spooking the fish, as it is the large dark shadowy figure gliding overhead churning up the surface of the water (no, not me…the boat!) lol Early in the year when the fish will be nearer the surface, I will go out 120’ or so if boat traffic allows, but if it’s tight quarters, I’ll shorten it up if necessary…or better yet, find a different place to go. Later in the season when they drop down, it may not be as important.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Matt View Post
    Hello fellow Kokanee enthusiasts –

    I was fishing Wickiup this past weekend and a boat passed by my on port side and his gear ended up getting tangled into mine. The short story of this is that he claims that it is “standard practice” to let out 120 feet of line before clipping your line into the downrigger release. I have read several books and articles that claim that Koke’s very rarely get spooked by a downrigger ball and that under most circumstances no more than 30 feet of line (actually less in some cases) need to be let out before clipping to a downrigger release.

    How much line do you guys typically let out before clipping your line to the downrigger release?

    Thanks,
    Dr. Matt
    Hey doc,

    Whenever I'm on downriggers my setback is anywhere from 15 to 30 ft. If I go too long I will cross my own lines and have a tangled mess for sure in the turns. About the only time I long line it is when I'm fishing just below the surface.
    2000 F250 7.3L Diesel
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  4. #4
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    Lure in the:
    Top 15' of water column = 50' - 100' set back (amount of ripple on the water is my guide.

    15' - 25' of water column = 25' - 50' set back

    deeper than 25' in the water column = 5' - 15' setbacks. Use of ball trolls and / or chrome sharks usually mean as tight as possible behind the attractor.
    2006 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually, 21' North River Seahawk

  5. #5
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    WOW! This is the first time I have ever heard of such long setbacks using downriggers. You fellas must be in some pretty clear water.

    I don't speak for everyone of course, but generally I set back about 30 feet if I am shallow, say down to about 20. Deeper than that, maybe 10 feet.

    If I am using flashers off the ball, about 3 feet longer than the flashers, or about 6-7 feet setback.

    I know of some that use the 100ft rule. The depth plus the setback should equal 100 feet and I guess that was what we were doing at Crescent this past weekend, about 20 feet setback and fishing at 80 feet.

    Another method is to let your line out until you don't see your dodger/flasher anymore then hook it to the release. The theory here is that the clearer the water, the farther back it will be before you lose sight of it.

    If I see fish coming up to look at the pancake, then I know they are not being scared off by the boat and I need very little setback.

    One other thing to think about is the more setback, the more slack or bow will be in you line when you release from the clip.
    Very interesting thread.
    David
    A recent study has proved that women that carry a little extra weight have a much longer life expectancy than the men that point it out....

  6. #6
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    The closer to the surface I'm fishing the longer the set-back. Generally the top 20' I might let out 80' of line... down at the 30' level around 50-60' of line. Once I'm at the 40' level or lower my set-back is a couple feet behind the ball trolls. If the ball trolls quit working I'll get rid of them and either stay with a short set-back or go back as far as 20-40' depending on what they want. I'd rather keep thigs close to take advantage of the black box range and to impart action back to the lure while making s-turns. Being that Wickiup is shallow with the bottom changing alot due to the river channels I think a fairly short set-back might be a better choice to keep from snagging up and to make sharp turns when nessary.

  7. #7
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    For years I have recommended to folks that they use the rule of 100 for establishing the drop back length from the downrigger. That is once the gear is set and fishing you should have a 100 feet of line out. If you are fishing say 30 feet deep then have the gear 70 feet behind the downrigger ball.

    Depending on the mood of the fish it often is not necessary to go that far back but at times it can be critical. When fishing on the surface (top 10 feet) there has been days that more than a 200 foot drop back may be necessary to insure getting consistently bit. It is these kinds of little details that can be key on tough days.

    Not uncommon to have to quickly pull my gear in as boats cut too closely behind me. I usually watch the nearby craft to insure that I keep my gear out of harms way but occassional I surprised by a sharp turn by a passing boat

    BTW -
    Since going to an electric motor for most of my kokanee trolling I find that those longer drop backs are not as necessary.

    Tight lines
    Curt

  8. #8
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    Dr MATT i fully agree with DLM THATS HOW i WORK AT IT/pretty standard 120 ft past the boat make no sense to me.. what going on at wickiup heading up there memorial weekend. If he was trolling maybe for browns 75/80 feet behind the boad 2.2 miles per hour and lure of choice with a 1/4 or 1/2 oz banana weight attached. I never seen anyone using there down rigger. Usually the fish are in the shallow

  9. #9
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    Are there other types of fish in Wickiup? For all species of trout, 120' is considered my minimum.
    2006 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually, 21' North River Seahawk

  10. #10
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    120 feet seems like a lot for kokes.
    However, for courtesy sake it never hurts to give a holler to ask how far back a fellow troller's lines are if there is any question.
    One example is I only have two DRs. Sometimes, if I'm running 4 lines I run two long lined as I call it (rigs weighted by 0.5 - 2 oz lead egg weights to get us down to our desired depths). Not as fun to fight, but sometimes really effective. We commonly run these 100+ feet back.
    Old School

  11. #11
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    If there is any question about Kokanee not being line shy then just watch the U/W videos I put together. Those fish are within 2 feet of the cable and to be honest that line gets bit just as much as the others that have longer setbacks once the secret lure for the day is unlocked.

    Pretty much once I get down to 35 ft. plus I start running the camera at a short 2 foot setback. As for the rest of the lines 10-20 max usually... I love tight hairpin turns when I see opportunities on the finder.

    Kevin
    Kokanee Adventures from above and below...
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  12. #12
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    I think Super D makes a good point. If I'm trying to catch any species that'll bite, 100' is my minimum. Chatted with Keith Karrigan of Sierra Anglers as he was heading out of Stampede on Saturday. He was fishing from 5' to 24' down and told me he had 200' of line out. Keith catches a ton of Kokanee.

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    --I would think more standard rule would be more fishers shorten up.
    --I wouldn't be running planer boards on a crowded lake so why would I have such a long set back on downrigger.

    --If running that far back on long line I'm usually near surface fishing and not using my downriggers... mostly cold weather winter fishing.

    --I use long arm scotties plus wide boat to give spread on the downrigger to reduce the boat effect.. but from observation the fish don't wildly take off away from the boat, they just tend to shy away but then close back in time to hit the lures.

    --I don't usually long line surface more than 75 ft so much shorter on downrigger... Kinda like the suggested 100 ft total formula idea including downrigger depth... adopting that with my 75 ft max would mean even if only 10 ft down would be max 65ft back.

    -to me running planer boards or long lines on crowded area is like bullying protecting space and challenging others to keep out of my way.. I think thats wrong... unless you have an area like local know system of fishing where say everyone tagges along in a lane or zone using same methods... taking turns passing by a point or through a bay. I try to go with the local flow if I can figure it out.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by platypus View Post
    --I would think more standard rule would be more fishers shorten up.
    --I wouldn't be running planer boards on a crowded lake so why would I have such a long set back on downrigger.

    --If running that far back on long line I'm usually near surface fishing and not using my downriggers... mostly cold weather winter fishing.

    --I use long arm scotties plus wide boat to give spread on the downrigger to reduce the boat effect.. but from observation the fish don't wildly take off away from the boat, they just tend to shy away but then close back in time to hit the lures.

    --I don't usually long line surface more than 75 ft so much shorter on downrigger... Kinda like the suggested 100 ft total formula idea including downrigger depth... adopting that with my 75 ft max would mean even if only 10 ft down would be max 65ft back.

    -to me running planer boards or long lines on crowded area is like bullying protecting space and challenging others to keep out of my way.. I think thats wrong... unless you have an area like local know system of fishing where say everyone tagges along in a lane or zone using same methods... taking turns passing by a point or through a bay. I try to go with the local flow if I can figure it out.
    You mean you don't enjoy trolling for water skiers?
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    You have said your fishing for Kokanee, I find 11 - 14 pulls have been on the long end there for me including the shallows...... TL

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    Ordinarily, when I troll, I don't use a very long set back. If I'm trolling shallow I don't use a downrigger and just rely on long lining it back to the fish, usually not more that 50 or 60 feet on the outside. As far as the boat scaring the fish away, I find that more than a little amusing. It used to bother me when someone would motor right through an area that I was trying to cover with my jigs near the surface, especially when it was done at a significant speed. My first thoughts were that this would shut the fishing down for a spell. It didn't take me very long however, to realize that when someone did this my catch rate would typically go up a noticeable amount. I don't pretend to know why they do but the kokanee seem to just go on a frenzy after someone motors through where they are, especially when it's as higher speeds. It's not uncommon that when I see someone do this, there will be a sudden pulse in the number of fish I see on the surface in that vacinity, and it begins as soon as the boat passes over and continues for a good spell after it's gone. Yes, a boat will usually spook some of the fish, but it certainly doesn't spook them all.

    I don't see any need to use such a long set-back, especially if you are fishing in crowded conditions. On the other hand, all you can really do is just apologize for hooking up with the set-back king and try to stay out of his way to the best of your ability in the future. No matter what any of us here on this site say about the matter, those who believe it is necessary to set so far back will continue to believe they need to and therefore will continue in their practice. Good luck out there and just remember to be patient with those who annoy you. It could be worse, you could be being annoyed at work instead.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by skookum9 View Post
    It used to bother me when someone would motor right through an area that I was trying to cover with my jigs near the surface, especially when it was done at a significant speed. My first thoughts were that this would shut the fishing down for a spell. I don't pretend to know why they do but the kokanee seem to just go on a frenzy after someone motors through where they are, especially when it's as higher speeds. It's not uncommon that when I see someone do this, there will be a sudden pulse in the number of fish I see on the surface in that vacinity, and it begins as soon as the boat passes over and continues for a good spell after it's gone. Yes, a boat will usually spook some of the fish, but it certainly doesn't spook them all.

    No matter what any of us here on this site say about the matter, those who believe it is necessary to set so far back will continue to believe they need to and therefore will continue in their practice. Good luck out there and just remember to be patient with those who annoy you. It could be worse, you could be being annoyed at work instead.
    Thanks for your post Skook (and everyone else)...however, I disagree with you on 1 of your points. After reading everyones different tactics and stratagies it becomes clear to me that there are pros and cons to each way and this is an area I need to explore more. YES, I'm generally a long-liner...but after reading all the different ideas...(despite what you say) I absolutely WILL be changing up my tactics to see if my catch rates improve! haha. I appreciate different input from all ranges of experienced folks...I'm never too young to quit learning! lol
    Now...having said that, I'm not ready to ditch my planer boards...they work well for a reason!

  18. #18

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    In the 50 plus years I've been fishing I never heard of guys lining out 120 feet. 6 to 50 ft for me. Leaded line the rule of thumb, is, every two ft. out 1ft, down. 30ft out 15ft down with a flasher.

  19. #19
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    "Now...having said that, I'm not ready to ditch my planer boards...they work well for a reason!"

    --I also like planer boards when there is enough fishing room to use them.
    --Boat shy.... maybe but that can be compensated for by longer set back... my main reason for using planer boards is to cover more water when fish are scattered.
    --I target larger fish which I think often hang below or on the fringe of a school like guard dogs or even cruise alone or with only a few fish.
    --The Planer board allows for more water to be covered when searching for these lone wolves...
    --On a larger boat the boards allow for multiple lines.. assuming everyone on board has a license.. this gets more choice in the water.
    --I often fish multiple species at times (winter) or spaces that aren't frequented by other fishers, so no one around to see what they are using or compare notes thus have to do the experimenting myself.
    --I figure its gear in the water that catches.. if the fish are there... popular spots in schools then not as big an issue what you use.. when the fishing gets tough... thats when I get interested... take a look at the tournaments and you will likely see the same people in the top ten or if only a few fish caught they are on the list.

    --Its Art and Science of fishing... I don't discount luck once and a while.

  20. #20
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    Dr.Matt I review a video the other day about fishing for brown Trout at wickiup and that is the normal set back 120 ft behind the boat they were fish for Browns thats why you hooked up sometime on downriggers later in the day in deeper waters.

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