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Thread: "Black Box" for trolling

  1. #1
    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Default "Black Box" for trolling

    Who among you guys uses one? And why? (I know the reasons from the company's advertisements, but if you use one tell me why you popped for the $$$ to do it...)

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffhanger View Post
    Who among you guys uses one? And why? (I know the reasons from the company's advertisements, but if you use one tell me why you popped for the $$$ to do it...)
    Got one, tried it, no difference in catch rate for me. It's for sale.

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    Had one when I commercial trolled in Oregon. It worked well, but for sport fishing not much difference. The reason I got one when I commercial trolled I went to a seminar in Canada on power trolling and saw the things that you could do with them. I think that the big difference is in the amount of wire in the water and the voltage field you can create around your boat and gear.

    It looks like you are catching fish, so why change the way your boat fishes. The top charters in Homer are not using them and killing the Kings!

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    I first became aware of them while commercial trolling off the west coast in the early 70's. I don't remember any of the details, but my impression is that they came out of Oregon, or at least the first guys I knew who used them were from Oregon. Even skimpier on details, I recall that the gurus were using a sensitive multimeter to check out the water around their boats and wires to decide whether they needed one or not. Generally, if there were electrical problems on the boat due to electrolysis or electrical leaks, they helped. Lotta boats didn't need them.

    On our own boat we found a cheaper alternative. We doubled up on the zincs on our trolling wires and catches went up accordingly, especially when deep trolling in spring for kings. Confirmed in our minds by running the extra zincs on one side of the boat and not on the other. More zincs = more fish for us. Lotta other guys found the same thing.

  5. #5

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    From the information I've found the "E-chip" that Pro-Troll utilizes is about the same thing. I sure can't prove its effectiveness, but it sure SEEMS to work for me.

    One particular AK fishing website administrator I used to know very well often times wondered about the electrical pulse generated by my underwater camera vs. what a "black box" generated. You know me---I am all about the "science"---but I couldn't tell if the camera was helpful in catching me fish or not.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    The black box applies a known/controlled positive DC voltage on your cables, relative to your boat's ground. E-chip is a piece of piezoelectric something-or-other getting struck repeatedly by a steel ball inside a small stainless steel capsule. Yep, sounds like the one is about like the other, there, Mr. Science.

    Take a tin boat that's wired right and has a big zinc on the stern, measure voltage between your downrigger cable and the hull, and you'll read ~0.6V to 0.7V (positive on cable). Then read the literature on black boxes, and that's right in the recommended zone for salmon fishing (kings like the low end of that).

    I thought everybody took a multimeter salmon fishing...

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    I have had mixed results using "black boxes". I didn't notice much difference when I have used one on the wire on my manual Penn downriggers for Kings - somewhat more so for trolling for Coho and Chum. I used to commercial fish a 56' steel troller and found it made a tremendous difference on that particular boat for all targeted species. A multimeter tester was used all the time to check whether I had the same voltage on all 4 (or 6) main wires at the same time.

    The black box technology was commercialized by a gentleman from British Columbia who has had quite a reputation for making commercial trollers produce more salmon. The technology spread pretty quickly through the Canadian fleet and soon through the US fleet from California to Alaska. Besides the black box installation, he proved that it had a lot to do with grounding all of the metal parts on a wooden boat and the arrangement and amount of zinc blocks on each and every boat. There are a lot of variables in using current to attract fish and I agree with MGH55 that the amount of wire in the water on a commercial troller is probably conducive to creating a large field around such an operation. Voltage can be of assistance but you still have to find the fish to begin with, and have something down there that the fish want to bite.

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    Tramp voltage on a wood or glass boat wasn't as clear to me until your post, JKD. Makes sense to ground all metal thru-hull parts in order to link them to drivetrain zincs for protection, side effect being predictable voltage on downrigger cable.

    If you're really worried, run spectra. I'd like to think there's a benefit to having a properly charged cable down there, though.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    The black box applies a known/controlled positive DC voltage on your cables, relative to your boat's ground. E-chip is a piece of piezoelectric something-or-other getting struck repeatedly by a steel ball inside a small stainless steel capsule. Yep, sounds like the one is about like the other, there, Mr. Science.
    .
    You apparently don't even know what "piezoelectricity" is and how the "E-Chip" produces a piezoelectric pulse if you have to refer to it as a "something-or-other", so I'd guess you don't know what you're even talking about. Yes, the "E-Chip" is supposed to create the same electrical current that bait fish emit, and the "Black Box" does essentially the same thing by creating a negative electrical charge around your boat which attracts fish (theoretically). Pro-Troll is the company that makes a version of "The Black Box" and coincidentally makes the "E-Chip" too. Hmmmmm. Could it possibly be because they are essentially trying to create the same effect?
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    You apparently don't even know what "piezoelectricity" is and how the "E-Chip" produces a piezoelectric pulse if you have to refer to it as a "something-or-other", so I'd guess you don't know what you're even talking about. Yes, the "E-Chip" is supposed to create the same electrical current that bait fish emit, and the "Black Box" does essentially the same thing by creating a negative electrical charge around your boat which attracts fish (theoretically). Pro-Troll is the company that makes a version of "The Black Box" and coincidentally makes the "E-Chip" too. Hmmmmm. Could it possibly be because they are essentially trying to create the same effect?
    Muttley, Do you have, or have you ever had a Black Box? It would be nice if you would stop trying to make others look bad by pointing out every mistake you can. Saying to someone that you don't even know "I'd guess you don't know what you are talking about" is not nice or needed on this forum. I think if you look into how a "Black Box" works you will learn that it produces a positive electrical charge around your boat not a negative to attract fish. The "Black Box" is a constant charge the "E-Chip" claims to give off a pulse, so not the same effect at all.

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    Mutt, I'd be grateful to you for pointing out the mistakes in my posts. That would be fun.

    I don't have the foggiest notion what substance the E-chip folks put in their little capsule. I really don't care. I've never needed to know more about piezoelectric things than they convert mechanical energy into electric potential.

    So Mutt, you're saying that the black box applies a negative charge on your cables? How does that line up with your understanding of galvanic cell voltage of a cell comprised of stainless steel, zinc, and electrolyte solution? Lay it out there, Mr. Science.

    I'm thinking the voltage on your cables is seen as mood lighting by fish - anecdotes from commercial users watching fish following their gear in glassy water would bear that out. Crank the knob and it drives them away, set it right and they come back to bask in the glow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    You apparently don't even know what "piezoelectricity" is and how the "E-Chip" produces a piezoelectric pulse if you have to refer to it as a "something-or-other", so I'd guess you don't know what you're even talking about. Yes, the "E-Chip" is supposed to create the same electrical current that bait fish emit, and the "Black Box" does essentially the same thing by creating a negative electrical charge around your boat which attracts fish (theoretically). Pro-Troll is the company that makes a version of "The Black Box" and coincidentally makes the "E-Chip" too. Hmmmmm. Could it possibly be because they are essentially trying to create the same effect?

  12. #12

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    I became concerned when I switched fron a Whaler glass boat to a Hewes aluminium hull. I heard a few locals were not having any luck with Kings and checked my voltage on the downrigger wire to ground and it was bit higher than the old Whaler set up. I did buy the Scotty Black Box and set the voltage to the suggested level. I then checked the downrigger cable voltage to ground and it agreed with the Scotty readout. I did catch more than the other guys fishing Hewescraft boats in the area. How much of that is the voltage versus bait tieing and luck is the unanswerable question.
    "

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by windypoint View Post
    I became concerned when I switched fron a Whaler glass boat to a Hewes aluminium hull. I heard a few locals were not having any luck with Kings and checked my voltage on the downrigger wire to ground and it was bit higher than the old Whaler set up. I did buy the Scotty Black Box and set the voltage to the suggested level. I then checked the downrigger cable voltage to ground and it agreed with the Scotty readout. I did catch more than the other guys fishing Hewescraft boats in the area. How much of that is the voltage versus bait tieing and luck is the unanswerable question.
    "
    Interesting feedback. I just picked up a Hewes this spring, and fishing was down compared to the last few years in our previous aluminum. But it was down for everyone else in the area too, and we still came in high boat by quite a bit.

    But you make me wonder if a "final check" on your black box might be to spool braid on one of your downriggers and wire on the other. If you kept seeing a difference there, it might tell you something, along the lines of our ancient experiments with wire zincs on a commercial troller.

    Food for thought anyway.

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    If anyone is interested there is one on CL for $70. Just posted today http://anchorage.craigslist.org/boa/3296198924.html

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    BrownBear, what did you measure before and after install? I usually got right around 0.7V on the hewes, and that lines up pretty well with the difference in half cell voltage between iron in the cable and zinc on the transom. I think that's a little hotter than the scotty and protroll instructions say, but it's worked okay for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Interesting feedback. I just picked up a Hewes this spring, and fishing was down compared to the last few years in our previous aluminum. But it was down for everyone else in the area too, and we still came in high boat by quite a bit.

    But you make me wonder if a "final check" on your black box might be to spool braid on one of your downriggers and wire on the other. If you kept seeing a difference there, it might tell you something, along the lines of our ancient experiments with wire zincs on a commercial troller.

    Food for thought anyway.

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