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Thread: Downrigger Rods and Reels Help

  1. #1
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    Default Downrigger Rods and Reels Help

    I am new to fishing SE Alaska, and could certainly use some pointers guys. I bought a 34' North Sea Trawler and will now spend my summers in Alaska. I would like to start targeting Halibut, Salmon and Ling Cod. If I'm trolling with downriggers what is a real good rod/reel combo for Kings and Cohos? I am not afraid of putting more cash down for an ideal setup. The consensus seems to be a 8'6" to 9' light to moderate rod. I do have Penn 330 GT's, and Shimano TLD 30A's. Are those Penn's strong enough for the big Kings? How important is it to have high retrieve ratio reels? And are my Shimano's good for Halibut Jigging/bottom dropping?

    Any suggestions are certainly appreciated in advance,

    Trawlerman

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    If you use braided line you can get by with much smaller and especially lighter reels. On my salmon rods I use both shimano charter special 1000's and I upgraded them to carbon tex drag washers and avet sx reels.

    The tld 30 is a good reel, but it's much larger and heavier than needed. I've used tld 15's and 20's but eventually upgraded all of them to avet jx reels. With braided line you can put 300yds on a 2/0 sized reel, and the modern reels have sufficient drag to run 50-80# line.

    Having jigged all day with a tuna stick with a 4/0 senator when I didn't know any different, and now jiggin all day with a much lighter rod and a 20 oz reel I will never go back to the old heavy gear.

    High retrieve ratios really aren't important in Alaska and can be a detriment on larger fish. We don't speed jig and I find a 6:1 on the smaller reels and 4:1 on the larger reels to be about perfect, though a two speed with 6/3:1 is nice for fishing deeper water.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Member SockeyeOne's Avatar
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    I'm using Okuma Convectors on Fish 307 'downrigger' rods with Canon Digi IV's.

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    I'm using Scotty down rigger with wright McGill poles with avets reels and 30 pound tuff line. Just pick it all up on Black Friday $1243.00 for the works.
    Do I give my friends advice? Jesus, no. They wouldn't take advice from me. Nobody should take advice from me. I haven't got a clue about anything..

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    Rod:
    If you're doing this for sport and enjoyment, run the lightest gear you can get away with. I run various 8.5'-10' graphite rods in the 18lb-25lb rating range. Note that It will void your rod's warranty to run higher lb line test than the rod rating. For example, you shouldn't technically run 40lb braid on a 20lb rated rod. But I do it anyway, so whatever. Some guys swear by the old fiberglass style rods for trolling over graphite. I've never run fiberglass so can't give you an opinion on that. I catch fish just fine with the graphites I have.

    Reel:
    Too many to list. Avets, Penns, Shimanos all work fine. Go the lightest you can get away with. If you can pack at least 250yds of 25-40lb test you'll be fine.

    Line:
    This is the area I'm heavily in favor of using mono over braid for trolling purposes. I run both braid and mono. They both will get the job done, but I just prefer the benefits of mono while trolling.

    Braid pros:
    -Pack more line on the reel compared to equivalent mono lb. test. Which means you can also get away with a smaller lighter reel.
    -Cuts through the water thinner which means less "blowback" on the downrigger over mono. Blowback is just water drag that pushes your gear back behind your boat instead of down deep like you want.

    Mono pros:
    -More forgiving of abrasion. Doesn't get nicked as easy by seaweed and other ocean debris. Also line less likely to snap when line rubs against your boat fighting a wild fish.
    -Holds in the downrigger clip more solidly. Less prone to inadvertent releases. More noticeable at deeper trolling depths (like 100' and deeper)

    Also, regardless of main-line choice, you WILL want to run mono for your bait/lure/hoochie leaders. You need the shock absorbency of mono. Those Kings and Cohos can hit like freight trains, and your line will just snap with braid. Don't ask me how I know.


    For jigging halibut, going braid is a no-brainer. You don't want the flex in the line, and you need braid's high capacity benefits as you'll find yourself jigging to depths of 300ft.+

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I concede if I was using a rod solely for trolling braid mono would be a preferable line as it's nice to have the extra give when silvers are running too and fro. But, I find a good salmon rod/reel combo is a versatile setup and can be used for trolling, mooching and jigging. Running a 10-30' topshot of mono on top of the braid gives most of the mono avantages of abrasion resistance and a bit of give where you want it most, but you can still drop deep and get the advantages of braid. One of my most enjoyable days fishing last year was when I put my jigging rod back in the rack, grabbed my salmon rod and put this 3oz jig on.



    It accounted for two lings, several large black bass and a few misc rock fish.

    And to me that's one of nice things about running braid on your salmon rod. If the salmon bite is off, put on 2-4 oz jig, drop bottom and see what's down there. Don't be suprised if you hook a p-cod, rockfish, lingcod, or a halibut.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

  7. #7

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    Berkley Air rods are a great value. We catch all kinds of kings on them.

    Braid is nice, but 25-30lb mono is what you want.

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    Thank You so much for taking your time to write that response. I will take your advice. Take care,
    Matt Erickson

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    Trawler, those 330's are more than enough. I run older Diawa 47H's loaded with 20lb mono, never had a need for anything more. If you've done any tuna fishing, you'll soon realize, 20lb yellowfin requires heavier gear than kings.

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    I certainly appreciate you taking your time to write that response....
    May I ask your expertise again?
    Here is the breakdown of the gear I have bought so far...
    Trolling for Kings:
    Shimano Charter Special 1000
    What rod size/rating/make/model should I go with?
    25# mono with 40# Maxima leader good?
    Mooching:
    Shimano Tekota Line Counter 500LC reel
    What rod???
    Same 25# mono and 40# leader ok?

    For deep dropping for Halibut/Lincod im set. Just need to know if 60lb green braid is ok?

    Lastly, Have you any of you guys ever used the LED lighted hoochies and if so are they any more effective than regular hoochies?

    Once again, thanks for your help.


    Tight lines reel soon,
    Matt Erickson

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    Member redleader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trawlerman View Post

    For deep dropping for Halibut/Lincod im set. Just need to know if 60lb green braid is ok?
    For jigging I go with an 80lb mono or flouro leader tied to the braid.

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    Some braids under 80lb don't do so well. For halibut you can get some great leader by cutting up a tow rope no need for Flouro leader ever. For halibut leaders 300lb mono with crimps and 16/0 circle hooks work just fine. Long liners use heavy cord for leaders. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    Some braids under 80lb don't do so well. For halibut you can get some great leader by cutting up a tow rope no need for Flouro leader ever. For halibut leaders 300lb mono with crimps and 16/0 circle hooks work just fine. Long liners use heavy cord for leaders. Good luck.
    I was referring to jigging for Halibut and lings when I suggested 80lb mono leaders, for bait fishing the heavier leaders work better and don't tangle as easily but who wants to just bait fish,

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    The trolling gear I've accumulated for our summer trips to Ketchikan is a matched set of Shimano TR 200-G reels spooled with 25# mono, with 8' Shimano downrigger rods. They've been more than suitable for everything we've caught on them up there. Likewise, the halibut rigs are Penn 330gti's paired up to Ugly Stik Tiger Lite 7' saltwater rods (I'll get the exact name & model for you when I get home tonight). Have them spooled with 80# braid and caught fair-sized halibut with them (though nothing over 100 pounds yet!) and had no problems, other than a bit of operator error here & there

    For jigging, I use an Ambassadeur 7000 reel with 50# braid and a Tiger Lite jigging stick ... but ... I fish for yellowfin tuna with a penn 500 & 30# test line, so you might want something a bit stouter.

    The nice thing about most of the gear I have is that it's not so costly that I worry about one of my mom's friends breaking or losing something. The cost of my downrigger combos is less than $100, and the halibut rigs are less than $200. My personal tackle is much more pricey (Shimano TLD-30II for example).

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    Member redleader's Avatar
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    For trolling Salmon with downriggers any decent Salmon rod will work. I use 25lb main line and 50lb seaguar flourocarbon leaders.

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