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I am new to downrigger fishing and got some to do some kokanee and hopefully ocean salmon fishing this year. It seems to me that it would be logical to use them instead of lead dropper weight when trolling in the Willamette.
Is it because the bottom changes rapidly when you get out of the zone? Or is it because there are snags? Teach me please.
 

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just speaking for myself, I have DR's for Kokanee and Ocean fishing. When I am fishing Willy or the channel, i have specific spots and they are not conducive to running DR's..... too shallow, too many last minute depth changes, etc. I might only be fishing 8 feet. Also, especially around Sellwood, Oregon City or the mouth or the channel, you don't want to be dealing with DR's in a group of boats. my opinion.

Miller marine makes an excellent rail that allows you to remove DR brackets when not in use. I only take my DR brackets when I am going to places where I am going to use them.
 

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down riggers are a great tool.. I don't fish them be careful in crowded conditions, and have a go. I think you will be fine.
 

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Downrigger weights are not cheap, The Willamette is full of snags. Downriggers are great for ocean Salmon, not so good in rivers.
 

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Mostly downriggers are used when you go below 40 ft or uncertain twirly currents which won't let your setup stay down consistently. In my 5yrs of fishing on my own boat and on friends before that, never needed or been on the boat that needed them. I've seen some boats trolling around with those in willy, never seen rod go off. Willy currents can be heavy at times but nothing a 16 or 18 oz at most can't hold your setup consistent..even at 2.7 mph which is my tuna technique for springers..lol...and it works. Maybe it's my luck that I didn't get to lay my eyes on a DR strike..lol. You simply don't need em.

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I've seen them used up in the harbor in the middle of the river in deeper water, but I've never seen a fish caught on one. When I first got my DRs I set out on the Willy to try them out just to get the hang of them and quickly lost an 8# cannon ball on a snag in 60' of water. If you don't like replacing weights, leave the DRs at home. They're more hassle than they're worth.
 

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Springers are finicky biters and many times need to be fed the bait by giving line so they don’t feel the tug. Can’t do that with downriggers, they’ll cost you fish.
 

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I use down riggers on the Willamette for shad with my 3 wt fly rod. Once I hit a shad I drop the anchor and get in line with them. If you experiment with your down rigger and watch your depths you can probably find a method that works. I think it would work if you stayed in one area and put some bling on the line.
 

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Buddy used his down rigger in the harbor late during Springer season running the pro troll 360 setup...he caught a couple fish using it and had a couple strikes that didnt stick. I feel like there is just too much slack in the line and I dont like having the downrigger cable in the water as an extra line to foul up a prized springer catch...my overall impression is I am sticking to the standard rod and reel
 

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It's interesting how this topic comes up from time to time. At the end of the day it really seems to boil down to culture and practice.
Many of the reasons people cite are often the conditions in which people use them in the upper river.
Shallow? My favorite hole on the upper river is where I'm 5 feet off the bank with 6-8 feet of cable out. I get hammered consistently. In most situations I'm typically fishing less than 15' deep on the rigger and very rarely over 20'.
Crowded? I fish in crowded conditions all the time with downriggers and I actually find them to be an advantage. I typically run them with a 15' setback which keeps the gear tight to the boat and it allows me to turn really tight if necessary.
Snags and changing bottoms haven't ever been a huge issue for me as you contend with those changes with lead as well. Once you know the water (and mapping fish finders make it even easier) these are pretty easy to expect and avoid. Plus I have the advantage of knowing exactly how deep my gear is and moving it up or down happens quicker than I can reel. I rarely lose downrigger balls but when I do its not a big deal as they're fairly cheap at $17 each (my terminal gear costs more!)
This issue has come up from time to time and it always interests me to follow these threads. I much prefer fishing downriggers to fishing with lead. I love running lighter gear and having a better connection to the fish on the other end. Way way way way more exciting!
There's time and a place for lead and I fish it quite a bit depending one where and how I'm fishing but I base it more on location, time of deployment, underwater currents, etc.
 

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I think fishnhunt13 nailed it. It comes down to what you like/trust. People have been trolling for salmon with 360's / downriggers for DECADES up river. I wouldn't use them in the slough or as mentioned in some of the snaggy spots, but for deep water they SEEM like just the ticket. One afternoon I watched a boat run PAST the crowd, deploy downriggers and proceed to catch 3 springers in a spot with LITTLE competition. They may have caught more, but I WATCHED 3.

I'm going to try my little hand crank rigger this year at the standard depth to see what happens.

I never understood the "....don't use them in a crowd..." thing. If people are trolling around using a pound or more of weight directly under the boat, what does a downrigger weigh hurt? I understand that there's always that guy dragging a 3 oz. weight 125 yards behind the boat in a crowd, but.......
 
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It's interesting how this topic comes up from time to time. At the end of the day it really seems to boil down to culture and practice.
Many of the reasons people cite are often the conditions in which people use them in the upper river.
Shallow? My favorite hole on the upper river is where I'm 5 feet off the bank with 6-8 feet of cable out. I get hammered consistently. In most situations I'm typically fishing less than 15' deep on the rigger and very rarely over 20'.
Crowded? I fish in crowded conditions all the time with downriggers and I actually find them to be an advantage. I typically run them with a 15' setback which keeps the gear tight to the boat and it allows me to turn really tight if necessary.
Snags and changing bottoms haven't ever been a huge issue for me as you contend with those changes with lead as well. Once you know the water (and mapping fish finders make it even easier) these are pretty easy to expect and avoid. Plus I have the advantage of knowing exactly how deep my gear is and moving it up or down happens quicker than I can reel. I rarely lose downrigger balls but when I do its not a big deal as they're fairly cheap at $17 each (my terminal gear costs more!)
This issue has come up from time to time and it always interests me to follow these threads. I much prefer fishing downriggers to fishing with lead. I love running lighter gear and having a better connection to the fish on the other end. Way way way way more exciting!
There's time and a place for lead and I fish it quite a bit depending one where and how I'm fishing but I base it more on location, time of deployment, underwater currents, etc.
Yes did nail it! I have used riggers in the Astoria river area for years and done really well. Works best w/ 2 rods out. Got away from them for a while after fishing with some 4-8 passenger open bow boats and assoc. gear. Understandable those boats and guides really can't effectively use them w/ so many rods out. Haven't fished the Willy. Got strange looks all the time, especially reeling in fish when nothing else going on. We used old style gear, Abe-n-Als, Hot Spot Flashers ect. w/ bait behind, typical salt water trolling gear, and caught lots of fish. With the 360 craze (really? old school) making a comeback, I am going back to them, and even gonna try them for Springers trolling the lower river this season. I fish salt lots so easy to manage, but helps to have experience rigger fishers on board. Love the fight w/ no lead attached! No boat dents and skull bumps!
 
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