How to Stack Downriggers

by Joe Shead
Properly rig a surf rod for beach shore fishing.

Properly rig a surf rod for beach shore fishing.

Stacking lines on a downrigger is a good way to fish more lines down deep. Stacking is more affordable than buying more downriggers, and on a small fishing boat, there often isn’t enough room to attach more downriggers anyway. One typical method allows you to fish two lines per downrigger.

Stacking Downrigger Lines

1. Rig your downrigger as you normally would. Clip a downrigger ball onto the end of the downrigger cable and attach a downrigger release to the end of the downrigger cable, near the ball.

2. Clip a spoon to the end of your fishing line and let out about 30 feet of line, with the boat moving at trolling speed.

3. Pinch your fishing line in the padded jaws of the downrigger release.

4. Open the bail on your fishing reel. Thumb the spool to keep tension on the fishing line.

5. Lower the downrigger ball at least 10 feet. The distance you lower the ball now will be the vertical distance between your bottom line and your top line. Tangles will occur if the distance isn’t at least 10 feet, but 15 feet is more common.

6. Flip the bail shut on your fishing reel and set the rod in the rod holder farthest to the outside of the boat.

7. Clip a stacker release onto the downrigger cable. A stacker release consists of some type of clip or jaw that goes on the downrigger cable, then about a foot of cable and then a padded jaw that attaches to your second fishing line. The stacker release should now be 10 to 15 feet above the lower release. The clip holds it securely to the downrigger cable so it won’t slide.

8. Clip a spoon onto a second fishing rod and let out about 20 feet of line.

9. Pinch the fishing line into the padded jaw of the stacker release.

10. Open the bail on both fishing rods and thumb the spools for tension. This step might require two people if you don’t have an electric downrigger with a simple up/down switch.

11. Drop the downrigger ball to the desired depth. The low rod will be fishing at the depth on the downrigger counter. The high rod will be fishing above it 10 or 15 feet.

12. Close the bails on both fishing reels.

13. Place the second rod in the rod holder in the downrigger.

14. Reel up the slack line in both rods so the rods bend under tension. Don’t overtighten or you’ll pop the fishing line out of the release and have to start over.

Items you will need

  • Boat
  • Downrigger
  • Downrigger ball
  • Downrigger release
  • 2 fishing rods and reels
  • 2 spoons
  • Rod holders
  • Stacker release

Tip

  • Keep track of which rod is upper and which is lower. If a fish hits the upper rod, simply reel up that line. If a fish hits the lower rod, one person will have to quickly reel up the upper rod to prevent tangles while a second person reels in the lower rod with the fish.

Warning

  • Be careful when leaning over the side of the boat to pinch fishing lines in the releases and to attach the stacker release.

References

About the Author

Joe Shead is a freelance writer specializing in outdoor writing. He has written for numerous national and regional outdoor magazines on various topics from hunting to fishing to his pet subject, shed antler hunting.

Photo Credits

  • Dynamic Graphics/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images