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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I'd present a few schools of thought regarding summer downrigger fishing that I buy into and then see what you all think.

1. THE SCHOOL
The basic idea behind this tactic is to create what appears to be a school of bait fish. By running 4 or more riggers with sliders you can have 8 or more spoons in close proximity to each other. Running baits close to the ball (5-15 ft) with sliders run 5 ft above the ball. Many people prefer to run similar color lures with similar actions to further make it look like a school of bait. When the fish are aggressively hunting balls of alewives this tactic can be dynamite as fish slice up into your spread producing numerous double and Triple Headers. Another thing that can be done in "THE SCHOOL" is to incorporate 1 or 2 attractor/fly combos. The Idea being that an attractor represents a feeding predator and will draw fish from even farther away into the spread. If they dont eat the fly behind the attractor then they smack one of the nearby spoons. Cannonballs can be doctored to present the same idea. Painted fish weights or the new chrome shark balls can give the impression of other feeding fish. I know Worm Dunker on the site is a master at running this system and uses White weights with much success.

2. Thin Spread
This Idea uses a less is more style of thinking. Using 2 or 3 riggers and running baits with long leads to spread your baits out and target fish that may be ball shy or wary to too many baits. Running leads of 30-60 ft with sliders up 10-15 ft up gets your baits away from the ball and covering different swaths of water. We ran this technique very successfully this summer on boats that only had 2 down riggers to work with. Some may argue that fish are never ball shy but i believe that there are definantly times when "less can be more" and by having just 2 balls in the water u can be at an advantage when fish are not aggressive.

3. Deep stealth
Again using a less is more stategy this tactic uses just 2 riggers as well. Big deep water kings that are not actively hunting can
be fickle, wary creatures. By sending down an attractor fly combo 10 ft behind ball to a depth 10-20 feet above where you believe fish to be holding you can hope to catch their attention and get them to look up. They come up to investigate and if they do not hit the fly then as they are dropping back down you have a spoon 15 ft below the attractor on the other rigger, 30 ft behind the ball. This tactic gives the big kings a couple options but at the same time keeps only 2 balls in the water and not too many baits that the fish are spooked.

I have seen all these tactics utilized in different forms with much success. I think they all have their time and place and being able to recognize which will be most effective at the time is critical. Too many people IMO just send down a bunch of crap at different depths to have a bunch of options without strategizing. This cluttered smorgasboard of baits can catch fish but is rarely the most effective. I wondered what system you all run on your boat and find most effective? What changes from the presented systems do you make to have more success?
 

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It depends on where the fish are and if I'm searching for the bite or I know where it is.

If I'm not sure where the fish are I run a strategy of trying to get a spread out there that fishes a lot of the water column. If I'm in a boat with 4 riggers I'll run one every 10 or 15 feet. One at 30, one at 45, one at 60, one at 75, etc, with long leads. Similar to what you called the thin spread. That's probably my standard setup to start the day out if I'm not sure where the fish are. Toss in a few dipseys and I'm covering a lot of the water column. Get a bite or two, and you start figuring out where the fish are and what color is hot that day, and you can start dialing it in.

In the fall or when I've found the fish I'm all about the school on a 4 rigger boat. I've posted pictures of my green fish-shaped cannon balls before. Early September I was running those with as many green spoons (or lemon ice) as I could get down and we were killing them. We had one fish get two spoons in his mouth fishing the school. That's always fun to have to people fighting the same fish.

I like the stealth too, but I've run it quite a bit with two spoons. One regular sized behind the attractor, then a trailing magnum of the same color.
 

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thanks pike

when you are only 10-15 feet from the ball how deep are you running ?
I almost always go back 50 feet all the time (I am learning)
when you run the tight school technique with 4 sliders on 4 balls how deep of water would you be in ?

I have 4 downriggers.

thanks for the info
AlanJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm primarily a summer big lake fisherman (may-august) So I'm talking about deep water kings in the summer patterns. Obviously how far down depends on the thermoclines and where the fish are active but I think short leads are applicable at any depth. With a shorter lead you get better action out of your baits and better hook up percentages. Generally in the July and August time frame we are fishing in water 70-200 ft deep. For example if the thermocline is 50 foot down then i'll have the "top" of my d-rigger spread at 50 ft and the bottom around 75 ft. Remember your trying to resemble a school of bait so watch where the bait is holding too. If your going over big balls of bait but they are down deep then thats probably where the salmon will be too. Find bait and you find fish.
 

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I read a book about advanced trolling patterns, and these are great suggestions for a presentation of baits instead of no rhyme or reason. Thanks for sharing Steve.
 

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We run the school spread first and keep our depths within 20ft of each.
For the spooker fish we put out the lead core.
If the lead core produces and the riggers dont we run them farther from the ball.
Our normal spread is;
4 riggers
4 sliders or fixed sliders
2 to 4 dipseys
3 lead core lines
 

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A lot of good info has been shared on this post that does the trick. Try this one. Spool two or three cores of lead to your rigger rods. This method may pay dividens when fish are not hitting by placing your offerings below the turbulence of the weights, yet leaving you at a controled depth where the fish are feeding.
 

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Use to live and work down your way.Was bus mechanic for Leslie Schools.
Will have to try that lead core trick.
Have been using snap weights with 1/2 core with good results.
Wheres your home port?
Larry
 

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Rat City. Live just west of Leslie and do my fishing out of Manistee. 1/2 core with weights is very productive and does not require a large reel to house all the 1 and 2 core rigs. Sould be a favorite with those who want to fight the fish closer too the boat.
 

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Will look and listen for you on the radio.
My favorite ports are Lunington,Manistee, and the best Frankfort.
Boats name is Toy Box.
Will be fishin St Joe and Port Sheldon this weekend.They are a bunch of good guys and but on a good program.
Hope to hook-up with you in the future.
Larry
 

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a trick I learned on figuiring out leader length is using the number 100 as the common denominater if you are fishing 20 ft down put out 80' of leader if you are fishing 90' down use 10' of leader of coures this does not work all the time in june one of my best setups is running the ball down 25' with a 5' lead
but the above method seems to work very well
 

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I wrote another story for here but after some of the answers I see on some of the posts I just deleted it in stead. The story was titled It's Fishing not Rocket Science. Your trying to catch a cold water creature that all it does is eats spawns and dies. Pikedevil has posted some of the most popular ways to catch these eating machines. What you have to due is decide what works best for you for where you fish and the for the condishions your fishings. These things change from port to port and day to day. Most here know how I fish and here a few reasons why. First off I fish for aggressively feed fish(fish usually higher in the water collom), I fish at the most opportune time (predaylight to 9.30 a.m.), plus my port has a lot of currents (at different time of the year) so thats why I fish the school (tight and fast) theory. As for my weight and color again this works for me in the port I fish. As a side note trying to out run a storm a couple weeks ago I forgot to bring in one of my weights (left it just below surface) ran 6 mile at 17 m.p.h. didn't break it.
 

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Dunker has it right on that salmon are eating machines and will be on the bait fish as much as possible. Sometimes fishing out of temperture pays dividens. Don't get trapped with staying with the same method when not getting the strike. What may work one day can change the next. Fishing is fishing and catching is the flexability to alter your method as conditions change. Working the offerings often can make the box heavier. Good lunk and have fun doing what we all enjoy. Rat City, on the radio its the LYN DJ.
 
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