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Downrigger Presentations For Lake Michigan

When Where And How To Use Downriggers

By Capt. Jim Hirt

Now is the time to think about changes to make you more productive next season. There are many ways to go on this subject. Over the next several articles I will try to cover topics like rigging, tackle and presentation. My goal is to provide information, which should lead to more fish and less slow fishing.

Let’s continue with downriggers. In the last article we covered the hardware, weights, releases and manual or electric models. Now we will go into using downriggers in many ways. The basic presentation is to set the lead by allowing the lure to trail behind the boat as the boat goes anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 miles per hour. The distance the lure is run behind the weight of the downrigger will change depending on a large and ever changing set of conditions.

At or before first light of the day, and again after sunset a short lead of 15 feet is the most effective. The commotion of many lures running side by side will draw fish to the boat. As the sun comes up and the bite slows down, you should consider increasing the distance from the weight to the lure. Zebra mussels have taken much of the color out of the water and a long lead is required for spooky fish on sunny calm days. This is very important when you are working the top forty feet of water.

The short lead is also very good when fishing deeper than 75 feet down. There are lures that must be run shorter than 15 feet to work. Rotators, flashers and dodgers like to run 8 to 10 feet behind the weight. SWR is another presentation to run on a downrigger. SWR or secret weapon rig is a rod with two or three colors of leadcore line. The advantage to this set up is it runs below the weight to offer a lure in an environment 100 feet behind the boat.

For many years some fisherman have been using down and outs. This is a small diving disc adjusted to run to the left or right of the boats path to provoke a hit. Set up the disc as you would for working it on a solo line and attach it 20 feet behind the weight. In addition to the standard rigging, sliders are a popular method of getting more lines in the water. After the main line is set a six foot piece of monofilament with a lure on one end and a snap on the other is attached to the main line and allowed to slide down to about midway from the surface and the bottom lure.

With a downrigger you can also run a stack line to offer more lures at more potential depths. The way this is rigged is to set your main line as usual lower it to 15 feet and add another line by means of an additional release. My experience with this has been outstanding. Two lures together are very effective when working deep lines. I like a dodger or flasher 10 feet behind the weight on the bottom line and a spoon 30 feet back on the top stack line.

The variations of downrigger presentation are endless.

Good Luck, Captain Jim.

Let's go fishing!! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. With Blue Max Charters

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