How to Repair a Cannon Downrigger

How to Repair a Cannon Downrigger

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The Cannon downrigger is a depth control tool that mounts on a fishing boat. The downrigger uses a ball weight and cable to control the depth of the lure while trolling. Cannon downriggers use a system of moving parts that experience occasional breakdowns. Repairs are often necessary after prolonged exposure to saltwater or accidental contact with other boats and obstacles in a marina. Maintaining the downrigger with regular lubrication on the bearings and pivot points on the pulleys limits the potential for damage. Making repairs and replacing the moving parts is accomplished with standard tools, but damage to the actual casing and base may require complete replacement of the unit.

Items you will need

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Silicon lubrication

  • Pliers

  • Hex wrench

  • Replacement parts

Step 1

Pull the brake lever to free the spool and pull on the end of the cable. If the cable does not rotate and pull off the spool, check the spool for a cable jam. Use a flat-head screwdriver to pry the cable and work it loose from the spool.

Step 2

Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the four screws from the side of the unit. Remove the plate and pull off the side of the downrigger to expose the spool. Remove any debris from the spindle area and add lubrication if the spool is not rotating smoothly. Replace the entire spool if the material is cracked or broken.

Step 3

Use a screwdriver to remove the screw holding the crank on the spool. Hold the base of the crank with pliers to prevent spinning while you remove the screw. Replace the broken handle with a new piece and tighten the screw. Broken crank handles are a common issue on downriggers.

Step 4

Remove broken rod holders by unscrewing the bolt at the base of the holder with a hex wrench. Remove the washers after the bolt and pull the rod holder out of the clamp. Replace with a new holder and tighten the bolt to clamp it in place.

Step 5

Inspect the downrigger base if the unit wobbles and feels unsecured. Tighten the base bolts that connect to the boat. Replace the entire base if cracks and breaks are present.


  • Check the warranty before attempting repairs. The warranty may cover free service or replacement of the downrigger.


  • For units without a screw holding the crank handle, hold the base with pliers and turn the handle counterclockwise until it falls off the threaded stem.
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