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Mounting Downrigger Board

8445 Views 26 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  goosewa
OK....you have a big lake rookie here who is outfitting his first big lake boat. I have four downriggers and the necessary tackle to get these boys in the water. I have a 20' Thompson Carrera that is more of a ski/pleasure boat than a fishing boat. That isn't stopping me though. I am planning on mounting the riggers on a pressure treated 2x8. I am planning on welding up some brackets that will make the 2x8 with riggers easily removable. My question is, when I mount my three brackets on the transom of the boat do I need to put some re-enforcement on the underside of fiberglass transom? Will three brackets be enough to keep everything solid while fishing or pounding the waves and such.

How did you guys mount your board? Did you use re-enforcement or should there be existing wood or steel on the underside of the transom that wouldn't require re-enforcement?

Thanks for any and all help!!
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Yes, you should use a backer. If you look through some of the posts in this forum, you'll see several conversations about downrigger boards, as well as some photos of others handywork. See what you can find in the archive, then fire away with the questions. There's pics from me and others that shows ways of maintaining the family boat look, while accomodating the downriggers.

One thing to keep in mind is the amount of torque that there is against the boat. You've got a downrigger with a base of about 6" square with an arm hanging out 4' with a 10# - 12# lead ball being pulled through the water. Thats a good amount of load on the base itself, now multiply that by 4 and you've got a lot of torque from your downrigger board being applied to the boat. Backerboard and fender washers are pretty much a must.
Thanks for the post Tim....I will have to search the archives as I remember reading that thread.

What should I use for backing? Another piece of steel or a piece of wood? What are fender washers?


After I posted this, I did a search and couldn't find any usefull info or pics.

Backer board; In a fiberglass boat, I'd use 3/4" plywood. Basically, you're just trying to fit as large of a piece of wood underneath the fiberglass that is practical for the item that you're mounting. That's not to say you should have a 30" piece of wood underneath something that is only 6". We're trying to sandwich the fiberglass, so that you're pressure is distributed over a larger area. If you just bolted right through the fiberglass alone, you stand a chance of pulling the bolts through, or weakening the surrounding fiberglass as time goes by. If the base of your mounting plate is 4" x 6", you'd probably want a backer of about 6" x 8", however, you're obviously limited by the amount of room you have down there.

Fender washers are just large diameter, thick washers. You can get them at home depot or a TSC. You'll want to use stainless steel hardware. If you look at where your cleats are mounted, you should see where the manufacturer used a backerboard.

If you go to http://www.walleyecentral.com in the forums section search in the "boat and trailers" area, as well as "general fishing", you can find lotsa conversations and hopefully pictures.
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Backing is a must, I used aluminum plates as backing. I have 3 brackets attached to the swim platform and used a Cedar plank for the board, It holds 4 Walker electrics and you can have a picnic with a few good friends on it! It's that strong! Treating the plank with a sealer is important.

I posted a pic of my setup a while back, but can't find it now. The scanned pic is also in electronic neverland. I'll try to take some digital pics in the next few days and post them here.

Went out to the garage and snapped a couple pics, heres the center piller and one end.

Heres a closeup of one end.(can't figure out why this won't post, but go to my gallery to see it)

I hope these give you some ideas, when I decided to rig the boat, I made the decision to do it only once. This is my 4th season, and it is holding up great.

The plates that are permanently attached to the boat with aluminum backing plates are polished and anodized aluminum, with stainless Heli-coil inserts (the new thread lockers). If you have access to a good aluminum welder and a machine shop, I highly recommend this setup. All the hardware is stainless, the only way to go.
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On your second pic, you didn't grab the third line when you copied from the Properties window. Just add ".jpg" to the end of "2345rigging2" in the file address, and you'll be all set.

Boat looks great, BTW. Can't wait to get out there on it with ya!

Best Regards,
Knockoffs is the handywork that I was referring to in my original post. He has done a most excellent job. Seeing how older pics are hard to find here, I'll post my handiwork also.

This winter I'll be moving the side downriggers back, making room for another set of rodholders forward of the downriggers. Obviously, my setup is not fastened as rigidly as knockoff's. I do have a crack developing at the inside corner of the starboard side of the board. This is due to 3 things. The "twisting" that occurs at the corner caused by the torque of the riggers. The lap joint in that corner wasn't perfect. Also, the hole for the stern light further weakens the area.

I haven't determined the solution for this yet. I'll either construct a new board with better lap joints, possibly re-inforcing them. Or, I'll just add a couple of stanchions along the rear.

On an aluminum boat, there is already thick plywood beneath the aluminum, along the gunwales and stern. All I needed to do was put an additional backerboard as previously described. While there is no doubt whatsoever that knockoffs design is extremely strong, many boats are rigged with hardware that merely use wood and fender washers as described. While my downrigger board is evolving, the permanent holes and hardware that I've installed will remain unchanged.

Fun, isn't it? Even if my board was perfect, I think that I'd still be out in the barn in the winter doing something to it or the boat, just to pass the time waiting for the ice to clear.
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Wow guys.....those are some really nice setups!!!! I think they may be a little out of my grasp as I'm not mechanically inclined and don't have many tools for working with stee/aluminum! You have given me some ideas though and I'll work off of those and see what I can come up with. I would definitely like to make this a one time deal and do it right the first time.

Knockoff.....is your rigger board straight across or do you have extensions coming up the side? The reason I ask is because I'd like to mount my 4 riggers on one board straight across the back. Space is at a premium on my boat which has a 6ft. beam I believe. Would this be sufficient to mount 4 riggers straight across?

TimT and Knockoff....I notice you guys don't have much room to get to the transom of your boat due to motor hatch and such. How long of a handle do you use on your net?

Thanks for your help and I am sure I'll have more questions,

Our net handle is probably 6-8'. The netter is usually where the jump seat goes, while the angler is in front of the motor box. Is it a tight fit? Yes. Is it too tight to enjoy fishing? No way! When you're landing fish, you need to know where to bring the fish in, then clear the lines from there so you have room to do it. If your right rear rigger pops, then that's where you'll try to bring the fish. If it's a dipsy that pops, we try to bring it right up the middle. If it's a big fish, or a crazy steelhead, we'll pop one of the riggers and pull the fish into a larger opening to net it.

My first boat had a 2 x 8 that went straight across the back. The very outside riggers had 4' arms stretched out to the side, while the rear riggers had 2' arms dropping out of the back. In the middle of the board, we had two rodholders mounted. We typically ran 5 poles. (4 riggers and 1 long line).

There's no way you'll see me fishing without a dipsy with a dodger or fishcatcher behind it. You'll need a strong rodholder for a dipsy setup. (No plastic cabelas stuff that walleye anglers can get away with.) I don't know where knockoff has mounted his, but you'll definately want them. (One on each side.) I get the same warm, fuzzy feeling with a dipsy/fishcatcher/squid rig that I do when Maltby is on the penalty kill. Many people run 4 or even six dipsies. That's 2 - 3 rodholders on each side of the boat.
Anyway, it's just a couple more holes to put in your boat, if you haven't planned on it already.
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TimT, that is a nice set up, yours looks much nicer than mine and appears to be just as functional. You covered my philosiphy on netting pretty well too! I have a net made by Ranger Products that telescopes to 10'.

Heres the rod holder setup....

Those are Bert's Custom Tackle, in my opinion, the best on the market. Very pricey, about $65 each, but again, I only wanted to do it once.

Mounting the "C" channel was a challenge, as I have no straight lines on the boat. I made a fiberglas backing plate, formed to the contour of the hull with saran wrap to insulate it as I formed it. Now it is sandwiched between the hull and plate. It places the plate in a vertical position. It can be removed and the holes filled if I sell the boat.

Scott, you'll have many hours of fun rigging your boat(if your into it). Think out all the possible drawbacks to your plan BEFORE you drill the holes, and decide if you can live with them. No system is perfect, but it's fun trying.

P.S. all the rigger are in line across the board. The outside have 5' booms and auto ball retrievers, you need 5' between the end of the booms to prevent tangles.
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Again guys...some really nice setups!!! I can only hope that mine looks that good!

TimT....where did you get the stainless steel plates that hold your rigger board? Did you make those? That is the kind of setup that I am looking for. Quick and easy to remove.

My friend who is a welding supply salesmen is getting me some stainless steel and I will be proceeding from here. I'll let you know how it comes out!!

Thanks for the ideas!

Those are "Tite-Lock" and "Bert's" tracks with a "Tite-Lock" stanchions. Berts is now called Pursuit Sports.
Tim, Pursuit Sports is Berts old partner. There new stuff is crap. Bert is starting up again, with a new but very similar design. His stuff is available at Lakeside, for sure.

Take a look at their hardware. Maybe it'll be in your best interest to by the downrigger kit.

Berts or Pursuit, and even bigjon have similar rigs. Pretty much all of them recognize they're in a niche market and will reach pretty deep into your pocket.

You know what, I had a customer walk out of my office today proclaiming that I had a customer for life for sparing him the expense of a phone system that he didn't really need. I sure wish somebody in the marine/fishing industry would take the same customer-oriented approach that I try to maintain. (I'm not patting myself on the back, it's just that reviewing the stuff that I did to my boat a couple of years ago, and seeing the steady price increases, kinda gets to me sometimes.) Honestly, rigging your boat can be a load of fun. And doing it without contributing to these guys early retirement just makes it a little more enjoyable. Kinda like the fly-fishermen who make their own rods.
First class rigging gentlemen. And I thought mine was the bomb. lol Love the Bert's though.;)
One more question and I think I am set to tackle this puppy!! Is it standard to have some type of cable hooked to your board just in case you run into problems that might take you stuff into the drink?

Doesn't seem like a bad idea but on the other hand of your hung up enough that your boards getting pulled off I'd rather that happen then rip off the transom or sink my boat.

Thanks for all the help guys and I believe I'll be tackling this job myself without contributing to others retirement. Lord knows I need to save that for myself!!

Thanks again!!

Scott, I had the same thought when rigging my first board.

You need to think in terms of solid mounting to begin with. Whether you install grab rails or mounting plates, mount them solid. ie. the original conversation about backerboard. When you attach the other plates or downriggers to your board, either use through-bolts with washers and locknuts or predrill and sink in the biggest, longest screw you can.

Knockoffs work is a a good benchmark to shoot for. Godzilla could pull his boat under by the downrigger cables. Mine, I don't think it would hold up as well.
Scott, I don't have much to add, Tim did such a good job.

Get yourself a "GOOD" set of cable cutters w/crimper (and keep them handy), You may need them.LOL. Not to mention making your own rigging is cheaper. If you fish hard, you will be repairing and tweaking your riggings.

Did you say you have Walkers? If so, you might want to look into the 'Automatic Ball Retreivers', they are pretty slick! (Oh boy, one more thing to buy)! Post or PM me if you need more info.

Tim, I have nightmares about hooking Godzilla, and being pulled down! LOL. ;)
Ok...thanks again guys. My buddy came through with the stainless steel tubing and plate so I should begin tackling this puppy this weekend or next week. I will hopefully be out fishing late next week or next weekend at the latest!! Unfortunately I am at the will of my friend who'll be doing the welding!

I'll post pic's when I'm done. Good luck to all this weekend!

I dont' know about walkers, but my cannons have an adjustable clutch which will allow line to be pulled out similar to the drag on reels. I usually have this set too tight, but it is good to know it is available. I've often wondered what would happen it I got a ball stuck on something on bottom!? Yikes, I hope it would break the cable instead of pulling my boat under!

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