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quite a while back, i was explaining to richard how i set up my downriggers. he has the same scotty downriggers that i have and wanted to set up his the same way. before reel repair took over my life and my garage, i actually went out and fished. anyway, i guess he was having some problems with his downriggers, so he came by the house last month so that we could dial them in.

we started off by peeling off last years wire. you have to either hold the lever by hand, or cheat and use a big rubberband.

and away he goes!

we quickly got down to wire that was looking pretty good but inspected every inch of wire anyway. after a brief discussion, we decided to cut off the kinked section only. with the little bit that we've been fishing lately, we'll probably be ok and will completely replace the wire next year.

peeling off all of the wire brings us down to the bottom of the spool. note that the wire is tied in a knot and taped to the spool. not a problem, per se.

i cut out the knot, rethreaded the wire through the spool and put a couple of crimps in line. again, this is no big deal. just like a fishing reel, you will never see the bottom of the spool anyway.

i don't really care for these barrel swivel snaps, but the down rigger weight retriever works great. i actually have stainless steel pulleys on mine, but these lime green retrivers seem to work just fine.

first, slide on the weight retriever sleeve, then four rubber bumpers, then three double crimp sleeves, the ball bearing swivel and then crimp the wire into position.

then the four bumpers are slid down into postion.

on this particular downrigger, we cut off 11 feet of wire, so the counter now had to be reset.


make sure the counter wheel is clear of these pins.


turn the wheel manually until the counter reads zero.



just like a fishing reel, the scotty downrigger has a drag system. with 12-15# downrigger weights, i like to set the drags to 30#'s. find a spring scale and give it a pull.


to adjust the drag washers, lift the cover and remove the emergency crank handle. tighten or loosen the bottom nut to adjust the drag.




we installed a downrigger weight hook.


and the all important autostop.


the line release is one of the most critical parts of the downrigger system. one of the things that i do differently is to "set" the clips so that it takes 7-8 pounds of pull from a salmon to release the line. i would encourage all of you to check your releases. to do so, take a 6 foot length of mono from your reel and tie it off to something at both ends. attach the release clip to the center of the line.


now attach a scale and give it a pull. when i do this, i'm looking for 7-8 pounds of hold. the amount of hold that you get on your own clips depends in part on the line weight that you use. there would obviously be a difference between 12# test and 30#.


i use 20# berkeley big game on all of my downrigger trolling reels. with a stock scotty clip, i usually get 3-4 pounds. to get the 7-8 pounds that i wanted, i had to install an 8mm plastic bead to spread the tail of the clip, then recrimp everything.



in setting up the reel, i use straight 20# berkeley big game on my daiwa sg 17 lca's. the reels are upgraded with greased carbon fiber drag washer and a pete kolekar grip on a daiwa power handle arm.


the rods are 8.5 foot lamiglass steelhead rods rated at 10-20. i set the drag washers on the reels using a 2.5 pound salmon ball. to do this, i tie the line off to the lead ball, crank down on the drag, reel down and lift until the rod butt is at a 45 degree angle. then i back off on the drag until the weight drops 1 foot every 5 seconds. now i have a 2.5 pound drag setting through the guides. the guides alone will typically give you 10%.

remember the clip has 7-8 pounds worth of hold. all i have to do is put the line in the clip and the rod in the holder, then hit the downrigger lever and the 15 pound weight will pull the line down all by itself, hands free. the rod is exerting 2.5 pounds of pull upwards on the clip. with 7-8 pounds of hold by the clip, a salmon would then have to give you 5 pounds of pull the release the line. 5 pounds should give you a pretty decent hookset.

i don't know whose boat this is, but this is what the final result looks like.


now all i need to do is get out and do some fishing. it actually looks like my very first fishing trip of the year will be alaska. we leave on may 20th for a week. i'll be sure to post a report! alan
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