Down rigger know how?

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Well-Known Member
Good morning Wordlings.
For those of you that use riggers, can you please share your thoughts on what you like as far as line releases go.
I've tried several kinds, both the spring loaded clamps and also mechanical, but haven't had much ouch getting them to work good on a regular basis.
Tell me what you thinl


Well-Known Member
It appears that typing is hard for me too.
It should have said, "but haven't had much luck getting them to work good on a regular basis. Tell me what you think works best."

When I get frustrated with my inability to get the fancy releases to work, I end up going back to using a rubber band around the line and hooking it to a shower curtain hook that is tied to the downrigger ball


Escalante-Class Member
I have found the cannon releases don't work very well. I have 2 sizes of Scotty that work Ok, but you do have to play around with where to clip the line to get the proper tension. If you are trolling deep diving plugs you need a fairly stout release pressure, since there's so much tension on the line from the lures.

I will use downriggers if I have to but find them a pain in butt. Deep divers on their own work just fine in spring at LP....

F/W Fishwhistle

Active Member
Hi treetop,

I grew up fishing for salmon along coastal WA state and used/use downrigger often. I've used them on Powell, Mead and Mohave as well (particularly for the latter two, downriggers are more work than needed most times of the year). Not so for salmon, though.

I have found the the Scotty clips work best (for me). Be aware that they have two tension settings that can be increased or decreased by moving the head of the clip back and forth. I always fish mine on the stiffer of the two setting options. I sometimes troll six to twelve inch flashers followed by a squid-like lure and the clips handle the tension just fine; and that's a lot of tension from the flasher. I ensure I set my fishing line as far back into the opened clip (pre clamp down) as I can.

Scotty clips. (Length of connection line is a matter of preference).

Having said that, I do occasionally go through an unexplained period of three or four drops (up to 150' average) where I pop it off. I'm not sure why that happens but generally blame not loosening my reel's drag enough when putting down. I rarely pop free while trolling. Or at least if I do, there should be a salmon making it pop free.

I rarely pop off from my electric downrigger. I think its clutch and brake are smoother than the manual riggers. I fish Scottys on my boat but grew up fishing Penn. I've fished Canon's on friends boats. They all work fine.

I've used the Cannon clips and they are also fine, but feel as though they pop free a little more often. I do like that they have versions that allow for more control of the tension.

Growing up I used many different clip options. I think that the ones that they make today are better than ones used in the past. I love buying gear (says 'Captain Obvious') so in this scenario, I'd purchase a few of each kind and tested them out.

Hope this helps a bit. Ultimately, I think as with about anything, the more practice and refinement at something, the better it works. So... time to go fishing again!

Thanks as always to Wayne and all involved for such an awesome forum.

F/W Fishwhistle


Active Member

I use downriggers almost every fishing trip I make in waters from 25 FOW max depth to waters with 250 FOW or more. My DR of choice is Cannon, but I fish with folks that run Scotty's and they are good also. As to release clips, I use the Off Shore brand exclusively. I've tried at least 4 or 5 other brands, but for me, the Off Shore brand works best.

They come in 3 different release tensions and are color coded: light release (white), medium release (black), and heavy release (red). Here is a link to them:
Off Shore Releases

As for popping loose on decent, I very seldom have that happen unless I forget to free spool the reel and then it happens at the immediately at the surface and recovery is easy. My method is to first off, always use a level wind reel that has a clicker. I never change the drag setting to lower the lure. I free spool the reel, set the clicker to on, and lower away. The clicker provides just the perfect amount of tension that will always prevent a backlash and is the same each and every time you use it regardless of how deep you go. At extreme depths, it will balloon your fishing line slightly more, but that is easily remedied with most level wind reels with high ratio retrieve rates.

I would recommend against using any release that involves twisting a loop in your fishing line to attach to the release. This will weaken your fishing line in the area of the twists and eventually the line will break at this point. Not good. I used the Chamberlain releases for about a year and lost about $50 worth of tackle due to line breaks before I finally wised up to the cause.

Downriggers are a great tool and are probably underutilized by most folks due to inexperience and lack of knowledge on their many attributes. They will definitely increase your catch rate when properly applied to almost any fishing environment.


Well-Known Member
Thanks Guy's for your input, I'll keep trying,
I know we learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes, but with limited time to fish I don't have time to learn it all on my own


Active Member
I have used downriggers for 30 plus years. I only use two brands. Black's Release and Chamberlains.
The Chamberlains works best. Both are Easy and quick to adjust ............

Good Luck


We've tried most releases and have settled on Scotty releases. When trolling for kokanee salmon or walleye and running just a lure and sometimes a small flasher, I use the smaller mini-power plus grips. At LP I often stack two rods, putting a deep diving lure on the bottom and running a shallow or non-diving lure up a few feet. This keeps the weight well off the bottom but lets the deep diver bounce on the rocks. In these cases I use the bigger Scotty Power Grip release on the bottom but often use a mini for the stacked line. I don't usually have much trouble with unintended releases anymore even though I'm usually clipping onto 10 lb braided line, which is pretty small diameter. As noted above, you can set the release tension to high or low by moving the back clip as shown on the Scotty packaging, and you can also adjust the release tension by placing the line more to the front or back of the yellow clamp pads (the black dot indicates a medium tension). Watch out for scent on your fingers, line and clip. Just a hint of slimy scent ruins a release until it is scrubbed thoroughly with soap and an old toothbrush. I've had to replace braided line because it was contaminated. We set downriggers hundreds of times each year and have found that releases wear out after a few years. If scrubbing doesn't do the trick, replace it. You'll sometimes see trolling rods bent nearly double but that requires a very fast rod tip and in my experience isn't necessary. Even with light, fast action rods the guests on my boat are most likely to get an unwanted release when tightening down too much at the very end of the process.



New Member
There are lots of good releases...Thought I would add my 2 cents. I extensively use downriggers on Lake Powell fishing striper or whatever, and also use riggers in the ocean for salmon trolling. Using the right release the right way is a skill like anything else fishing related. That means, unfortunately, that here are no easy "1 size fits all" solutions. The main issues with release choice is more about what speed will you be trolling, the drag of your trailing gear in the water, the currents (not an issue in the lake) what the material your line is made of, and it's diameter. Clips that "pinch" the line (like Scotty) are perfectly fine for monofilaments and fluorocarbons, but work terribly with braided lines because the braids are simply too slick and the cinch hold is unreliable.

As such, I no longer use pinch style releases because they are too frustrating to get them dialed in with different line types and diameters.

The Black's release is the only release I will use, because you don't have the line material and diameter works a different way: You take your line and twist an additional loop into your main line around 6-8 times and place this loop into the release. As mentioned earlier, this could potentially weaken small diameter mono and fluoro, but should be okay with any 8lb or higher main line. For braids, there is no issue with twisting and strength loss. I only use 20lb braid on the mainline with downrigger fishing on Powell, but am running fluorocarbon after the release in the 8-12 lb range after the flasher. Some people will also use rubber bands on the line and release to act as a snubber which helps with soft-mouth fish species (Kokanee anyone!!!) It will not allow a release with any vertical line pressure, and only release with horizontal line pressure (like fish strike). The only adjustment you need to make is the tension on the release with a little tensioner knob built onto the release. The tension you set depends on how much drag your equipment is placing on the release in the water, which is based on the bulk and shape of the trailing tackle (dodgers and flashers need more tension), your trolling speed and whatever currents exist underwater.

Summary: Cinch releases: easy to use, requires little skill, frustrating amount of improper releases with braided lines. easiest thing to "try" for a beginner
Black's style loop release: much better to preventing unnecessary releases, works with any size/material of line, requires a little more learning curve...but ultimately way superior

AT the end of the day, stick with any one thing for at least a few days and learn its nuances and you should be fine. But, after years of using cinch clips pretty successfully with occassional frustration, I switched to Blacks and NEVER get frusted anymore. If you have braid, don't even consider a cinch.



Well-Known Member
Thanks too all of you, I'm going to buy several different kinds and see what works.
This is sure a great place to learn things
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