How To Deploy Downriggers And Dipsy Divers
Editor's note: This blog installment comes from Fishhound pro staffer Capt. Lou Borrelli.
In part 1 of this trolling how-to series, I discussed the various setups we use on the Great Lakes – downriggers, Dipsy Divers, leadcore, snap-weights and copper line. In this second segment, I'll discuss when and why to use downriggers and Dipsys. Part 3, to be published soon, will focus on planer boards, leadcore, snap-weights and copper.
Before starting, though, keep the following statement in your mind when fishing: Never run lures randomly. All lures in the water should be considered a dynamic team, and all lures must work together to attract and catch fish.
In terms of deployment, I do things in order. First I drop the downriggers, then I set out the Dipsys and lastly I set up and deploy the planer boards.
Here on Lake Ontario, and on other deep-water Great Lakes, the downriggers are probably the most-used equipment on a boat. They're the most versatile and can be easily used to change lure depths.
When mounting the riggers on a gunnel, keep them far enough apart so that the weights in the water don't get tangled. You may not realize it, but there are currents down below and it's easy to get the rigger weights and cables tied up. If you're running two riggers, try to mount them on each corner of the stern. If permissible, run a third rigger in the middle. This "center" rigger is a good mechanism for luring fish into your trolling spread.
Time of day and fishing depth will determine how far to run your lures behind the rigger weight or ball. If it's early morning or you're fishing deep (80 feet or deeper), try running your lures from 5 to 20 feet behind the ball. If you're running two riggers, place one lure 10 feet from the weight and the other lure 15 feet away. The 15-foot lead should run deeper than the 10-foot lead.
For example: Set rigger 1 at 80 feet down over 100 feet of water. Run the lure 10 feet behind the rigger line. Set rigger 2 at 90 feet down and run the lure 15 feet behind the rigger line. With this system, if a fish comes to look at the 80-foot lure but declines and falls away, the 90-foot lure will be right in his face. A lot of times a fish will swim up to see a lure and as it swims back down, it'll strike that deeper lure.
If using a third rigger, run this one with the shortest lure lead and run riggers 1 and 2 with longer lure leads. You can also run this middle rigger deeper than the other two.
Many people like to use the middle rigger simply to run lures very deep. Big salmon have a tendency to hang around the deep, cold water, so this approach can catch some big kings during midsummer days.
Dipsy Diver fishing is my favorite delivery method. The action's explosive when a fish hits a Dipsy rod. The key to running Dipsy Divers is to make sure the diver's set to the correct side of the boat.
As shown in the photo, a Dipsy Diver has three directions – center, left (port) and right (starboard). There are corresponding number settings of 0, 1, 2 and 3. Setting 1 will keep the lure closer to the boat and deeper, while setting 3 will keep the lure further away and shallower. A setting of 0 is for running the Dipsy straight behind the boat.
For simple reference, the line-to-depth ratio is approximately 3:1. That means, to reach 100 feet with a Dipsy Diver, you'll need to let out 300 feet of line once your the Dipsy hits the water.
For big trout and salmon, I use a 50-pound monofilament leader from the diver to the lure. This leader should be approximately 7 to 8 feet long. Anything shorter can tangle up on turns.
Once in the water, put the rod in a rod-holder that's set perpendicular to the boat. (The rod holders should be installed amidships, which will keep the line away from the downriggers). The rods stay bent as you troll and you can monitor the lure action by watching the vibration of the rodtip.
I like to use a rubber-band, which I attach to the line and then wrap around the reel handle. This allows me to loosen the drag and put less tension on the fishing line. It also allows a good hookset. When the fish bites, the rod will violently bend and the rubber-band will break. Fish on!
Once I have my riggers and Dipsy Divers set, I'll set out my planer boards, which I'll discuss in part 3.
Capt. Lou Borrelli learned to fish with his grandfather and now owns and operates Get The Net Charters out of Rochester, N.Y. Capt. Lou runs trips along the south shore of Lake Ontario from Wilson to Fair Haven, N.Y. Visit GTNFishing.com or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.