Posted: October 7, 2022Category:

Learn the Basics of Trolling with Downriggers

Downrigger trolling is the best way to reach new depths and consistently land that perfect fish when you want to step up your fishing game. There’s no such thing as “bad fishing” when you’re out on the water and you’ve got lines out, but if you’ve never tried the downrigger fishing style, now is the right time to try! Read up on the basics of downriggers, what kinds of fish to catch with them, and how using this fishing style can completely change your fishing game.

Queenstown Fishing has public fishing and private charters to help you get first-hand knowledge with deep-water downrigger trolling. Our experts have decades of experience and we know there’s nothing better than just getting out there and putting your line in the water. This guide will help you learn the basics of downriggers, and we welcome you to join us on the alpine lakes of Wakatipu, Hawea, and Wanaka. Plus all the beautiful rivers in the Southern Lakes region.

The Basics

Most beginners wonder what trolling means in fishing terms. They also ask, what exactly is the downrigger fishing style? These are great questions, and the answers are simpler than you think. In fishing terms, “trolling” means the kind of fishing where your line is drawn slowly through the water by various means. You put your bait and lure on. Then, you either slowly reel in the line, or if you’re fishing from a moving boat, that motion draws your offering through the water.

What is a downrigger? You may have seen one before without realizing it. If you’ve ever watched a fishing show on TV and seen the anglers with their rods rigged to the boat, that’s a downrigger setup. They’re robust enough to haul in the big catches, but great for depth fishing. Downrigger trolling uses an advanced setup to troll the water at the perfect depth so you can always get the kinds of fish you want to catch.

The downrigger consists of a rod holder, a spool, and either a motor or a crank–the latter is perfect for smaller boats and the hardcore enthusiasts. We know who you are, and we totally get you. A cable connects the boom boom to the trolling (sometimes called a “flash”) weight, which is connected to your fishing line. The weight lowers your line (connected to the line release) to your desired depth. When something grabs your line, the line release lets it go, and then you haul in the catch with your rod!

The process is simple, but the downrigger fishing style gives you unrestricted flexibility in how you fish. You have all the benefits of downriggers and trolling combined, letting you attract more fish with the lure’s motion, but at the depth you want.

The Styles

When it comes to downrigger trolling, you have two main styles. Electric downriggers are usually used on larger boats, and the motor powers your weight’s deployment, lowering it to your desired depth or hauling it in when you need it. The electric models can also feature other things like detailed depth counters, and even a depth cycling system to automatically raise and weight at set intervals, allowing you to go after an even greater variety of fish. The more advanced models offer a host of related features, empowering you to fish like a pro.

Handcranks operate manual downriggers for the ultimate hands-on fishing experience. Manual rigs are the downrigger fishing style for the people who appreciate the classics and are more suitable for smaller boats with less capacity for an electric setup. The great part about a manual rig is that you never have to worry about electrical problems with them. If you can fish, you can use a manual downrigger!

The Catch

Now that you understand the basics of downriggers, we can talk about why we’re all out there in the first place: the fish! To catch your fish, you need the right bait, of course, as well as the right lures. Salmon are always the popular choice, making for delicious and hard-fought prizes worldwide. Salmon prefer their food flashy, so natural baits and a colorful spinner are great choices to catch salmon. Trout prefer live bait and bright lures, and you’ll want to set your weight at a bit lower depth.

The length at which you have your bait offering behind the weight also varies, depending on the fish you want to catch. For salmon, you will want your offering anywhere up to 50 feet or so behind the weight, but for trout, you probably want to start at 50 feet, and go up to 200 or more.

Learning More

As you can see, the basics of downriggers are easy to grasp but, like the fishing itself, have plenty of depth. We recommend downrigger trolling as a fun and effective way to fish, to catch whatever your finned fancy, and as a way to explore the beauty of the Southern Lakes regions. Queenstown Fishing offers charters and trolling experiences to suit anyone, from beginners to seasoned pros. Whether you are a young lady looking for her first fishing experience or the Old Man of the Sea, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you get started. We can also pair you up with a good match for a company charter or a family fishing trip.

The alpine lakes and rivers of South Island offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and plenty of prime fishing real estate. Our guides are experts in downriggers, so we’ll make sure you feel comfortable as you learn the ins and outs of this incredible fishing style. Downrigger trolling is more than just a hobby. For many of us, it’s one of life’s richest rewards, and we want you to have the same amazing time on the water that we do!