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Thread: downrigger line voltage: fact or myth?

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default downrigger line voltage: fact or myth?

    In a post with a title regarding Halibut techniques, the poster also asked about the use of downriggers. I replied and suggested that the poster research line voltage and how it may or may not affect fishing for kings. One person I have fished with many times swears by it being a factor to your success. How do others feel? Some electric downriggers have a built-in adjuster to control the line voltage. Do These work? If so, where’s the sweet spot?

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    if it's a concern, run 250lb power pro.

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    Default Maybe?

    My left side downrigger always caught more fish than the right side, year after year, so when I read that line voltage can attract fish I checked it out and the left side was just under 1 volt and right side was about 1/2 volt (I think this is because my batterys are on the left side). This of course is a sample of one, so I would interested to find out if others have had the same experence.
    Frank
    Alaska Wildrose Charters and Cabins
    www.wildroselodge.com

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    Default inconclusive

    Quote Originally Posted by profishguide View Post
    My left side downrigger always caught more fish than the right side, year after year, so when I read that line voltage can attract fish I checked it out and the left side was just under 1 volt and right side was about 1/2 volt (I think this is because my batterys are on the left side). This of course is a sample of one, so I would interested to find out if others have had the same experence.
    I wonder why that would be? Most downriggers are plastic and with such low voltage I would not think that volts from the boat would effect the volts on the line. It would seem resonable to me that the length of line and the speed of which it is trolled at may have more to do with the build up of any voltage. If you had metal downriggers I could see a this perhaps happening.
    I was trolling sockeye (commercially) at the mouth of the Fraser in 1986 everyone around us was filling there boats and we were barely getting a fish, same gear same speed. Our boat was all aluminum and were had metal gurdies(downriggers). The skipper figured something was up and decided to put zincs on the downrigger line,we had nothing to lose. All of the sudden we started bring fish over the rail and made a decent go of the opening. I have no idea what the voltage on the line was or if the addtion of the zincs was responsible for the increased bite.
    I have heard that sockeye are the most finicky biters.

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default galvanic reaction?

    I don't know if it's so much of voltage coming from the boat and it's engine/batteries...but that could be part of it. It's probably more of the galvanic reaction of a lead and steel of the cannonball and wire in the saltwater. But, I'm no chemistry or electrical expert.

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    Thumbs up I'm a Believer

    MRFISH - While trolling commercially in the 90s I spent a lot of time and money isolating my gurdies, wiring-in a Black Box, and then getting my operation tuned with the proper voltage in my system. With a Black Box it was possible to regulate the amounts of voltage in the four lines of stainless cable that the fishing leaders were snapped on to. There were a lot of dissimilar metals affecting the system - the steel hull of the boat, the four stainless cables, the lead cannonballs, the aluminum Jinkai sleeves used to build the leaders, the stainless hooks, the alloy snaps and swivels used to make most of the connections between the fishing gear, the leads and the cables, the multiple zinc anodes mounted along the keel and the rudder of the hull, the stainless steel propeller shaft and the manganese bronze propeller.

    Once you got everything balanced with the Box the day-to-day production was noticeably better. Each salmon specie was attracted to a different voltage setting. In my experience, chums and sockeye came to the highest settings, next down the scale were the coho, and the Kings definitely liked a lower setting (with the larger Kings coming to lower range of settings I used).

    Since I have retired from commercial fishing, I have tried the same approach to my Penn manual down-rigger fishing with mixed results. Part of the reason for the sketchy results I feel is because the system is not as large an array under the surface as was the commercial equipment, and also the outdrive and kicker needed to have a higher level of isolation to develop better results. We have used the Black Box on one line at a time and have had instances where Spring spawner Kings have jumped on just like magic at the right voltage and then other days the line with no added voltage and no visible charge showing on the Multi-Tester does the catching! Those are the days when my profanity vocabulary gets put through its paces! (You may want to keep an eye on the zincs on your drive and kicker in case they disappear in a hurry if you use voltage in your down-riggers.)

    And what are the best voltage settings? I'm not going to make it easy and just tell you after all of the money I spent and the screwing around I had to do to find out -but the Scotty book WILL get you in the ballpark. Good luck!

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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Default Voltage

    I believe that getting the voltage just right may make a difference. However there are so many variables that for the average fishermen sport or charter is it really worth the trouble? My answer is no. I switched over the 200 pound super braid and got rid of the cable. My reasoning was have the wrong voltage is way worse than having none at all.

    I messed with it for several years and kept records but I still was unable to tell if fishing was better or I had the volatage right or wrong. So I figured ditch the wire and the volatage ( positive ion control) and stick with the correct speeds and presentations of gear.

    For my money haveing your gear working right, you fish finder tuned it and trolling at the right speed is going to catch you a heck of a lot more fish that messing with volatage.

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    if you havent seen the black box video you should. I had it, not sure what happened to it. Was pretty good and gave a good understanding of how to figure out whats happening voltage wise and gave idears of where to find problems, like battery or wire leaks, etc on the boat itself effecting what's going down your riggers....so atleast if you aint into the black box idear it might be of use to figure out if you're running a hot boat or not. I went to the power pro this summer and liked it quite a bit. Though it was a little more labor intensive. I also went with 200 not the 250 that I should have.

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    I would imagine that the voltage changes the bite because most ocean predators hunt by sensing the vibrations/pulses of an injured fish.

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    I'm a believer. Commercial trolled long, long ago. Two incidents sold me.

    One time we noticed that one of our eight wires quit catching fish. We were getting three or four an hour on each of the other seven, but this one never produced. Finally took time to check it out when the fishing slowed, and the zincs were gone. Added new zincs, and when the tide turned again and the bite picked up, all eight wires produced equally.

    Another time we found the kings WAAAAAY out and WAAAAY deep (80 fathoms), but didn't have much luck with them. Experimented by doubling up the zincs on the wires. Right away we started pulling kings on the wires with the extra zincs, and none on the others. Just not enough zincs on the wires for fishing with so much out.

    And yeah, first time we heard rumors of black boxes back in the early 70's, we started checking. Finally managed a setup of our own out of Oregon, and for that season anyway when almost no one else had them we went from average producers to high boat.

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    Member Ellamar's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm going to grab one of our DR's today and switch it over to 200# Spectra and see how she runs versus the cable. I like the idea that it should run straighter therefore allowing the depth counter to be a little more accurate.

    For Valdez Fishing, I would imagine that 250' should be plenty, eh Dave?

    However, would the braided line completely eliminate ALL voltage running to the terminal tackle? Is it better to have SOME reaching it as to entice the fish in some way? hmmmm....

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    Default

    I have manual downriggers and, due to operator error, dumped my whole works to the bottom this summer (that whole lefty loosie rightey tightey just gets so confusing for me sometimes) I have kicked the idea around for going with braided line, now I think I will. Thanks for the info.

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    One of the reasons that wooden boats are still so popular with commercial trollers is that they are considered fishier. Old boats also stay maintained better if they catch well...

    Mot commercial trollers are fiends about line voltage and any smell of grease or fuel on the lines, shivs, gurdies, etc....('cept maybe WD-40... )

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    Default Zincs

    I've fished downriggers for salmon in Lake Ontario, but have no experience with them in salt water. I'm curious about the use of zincs. Where are they attached, to the weights or elsewhere?

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    Default wHERE DO YOU ATTACH THE ZINC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Truesdale View Post
    I've fished downriggers for salmon in Lake Ontario, but have no experience with them in salt water. I'm curious about the use of zincs. Where are they attached, to the weights or elsewhere?
    I did not see a reply on where to attach the zinc weights. Downrigger Ball of Cable? Has there been an answer posted?

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    Default zincs

    the egg zincs I used had a stainless wire that I wrapped around my DR wire just above the snap for the cannonball

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    Member moose-head's Avatar
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    Question

    What do the zinks do on your downrigger?

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