How to Use Fishing Outriggers

How to Use Fishing Outriggers

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Designed to spread your lines out and keep them from tangling, outriggers often intimidate saltwater anglers. However, after learning the basic principles of their use, most fishermen learn to love these line-spreading tools, which enable them to fish easily with multiple lines. While six or more lines to outriggers can be attached to larger vessels, anglers on smaller craft generally settle with just two or four lines to their outriggers.

Items you will need

  • Fishing rods

  • Mounted outrigger poles

  • Lures or baits

Step 1

Pilot your boat to your chosen location and head in the desired direction.

Step 2

Place one of your rods in one of the rod holders near an outrigger. Open the bail on the reel so that the line can unspool freely.

Step 3

Pull on the rope attached to the outrigger so that the release clip – a clamp that will hold your fishing line securely until a fish is hooked -- slides down to the base of the outrigger. When a fish is hooked the clip releases the line, allowing you to battle the fish with your rod.

Step 4

Form a loop in the fishing line, twist it several times and insert it into the clip. Pull the rope in the opposite direction so that the pin travels to the distal end of the outrigger, taking your fishing line with it.

Step 5

Swing the outrigger out from the boat until it is fully extended. Lock the outrigger into place if the unit is equipped with a lock.

Step 6

Allow your bait or lure to drop into the water and drift back away from the boat. Once your bait is at the desired distance from the boat, close the bail on your reel and adjust the drag. Reduce the drag more than you would when not using an outrigger, which will help the line withstand the shock of a bite.

Step 7

Repeat the process with additional fishing lines and outriggers until all your lines are in the water.


  • Some outriggers feature more than one rigger line, enabling you to attach several fishing lines to a single outrigger. However, be careful to comply with all local laws and regulations – some areas limit the number of lines an angler can use at a time.
  • Do not forget to allow enough clearance for your outriggers when passing other boats or traveling through tight passageways or under bridges.


  • When setting up multiple lines, vary the depths of your lures to tempt fish holding at varying points. Once you determine where your lines are soliciting the most strikes, set all the lures to that same depth.
  • Adjust your trolling speed until your lures behave properly. For example, if you are using swim baits, troll fast enough to keep them just under the waterline, but not so fast as to cause them to break the surface.
  • When attaching your fishing line to the release clip, try to avoid tangles by only unspooling as much line as necessary.