Do you like fishing for species that typically reside in water deeper than 20', but don't have the downriggers handy?
Have you ever portaged into a lake or been in a smaller boat and wanted to try targeting those deeper swimmers but didn't want to haul the manual downriggers, cannon balls, and heavier rods in order to get there? We have a great suggestion that can be adapted to even lighter / shorter rods to accommodate anglers where space and weight are big concerns.
The technique we learned a couple of years back and have used ever since is actually really simple. We had planned on targeting lake trout in mid-summer on an inland lake where we were using 14 foot aluminum boats, and 8 horsepower tiller motors. We didn't have access to any fancy electric downriggers, or 10 pound cannonballs to get our tackle down to the desired depth.
What we did bring, is a couple of our light to medium action 7-foot rods that we would typically use jigging for bass or walleye, and some additional toys that were going to help us get down to those 30-60 foot depths where those lakers might be lurking. We also packed some 4-ounce and 8-ounce cigar-shaped lead weights, and some OR-16 clips. You have likely seen these clips if you have ever pulled planer-boards while trolling for walleye.
Our technique was simple, we sent out our tackle about 20-40 feet behind the boat, just like you would before clipping your line to your downrigger clips, but instead of clipping your line to the downrigger clip, you pinch your OR-16 clip on to your line, making sure the line is behind the peg on the inside of the clip (this is why the OR_16 works best for this technique). By making sure the line is behind the peg inside the pinch-clip - your clip and weight can't fall off your line.
If your rod has a line counter, that is a bonus for you. You can now let out the desired amount of line to get your weight and clip down to your desired depth to take your tackle presentation down to those fish. Even if you do not have a line counter, you can manually release your line by hand by pulling out line one to two feet at a time to get your weight down to the approximate desired depth.
This technique is optimal when slow-trolling (less than 2mph), and not generally trying to get your line down deeper than 100 feet. We typically troll at 1.1 - 1.5mph with our weights down 40-90 feet. With the 4 ounce weight, you will have to likely let out a bit more line than if you are using the 8 ounce weight, but however you let out your line, be consistent so that when you hook up, you can replicate the process to get that tackle down to the same depth again!
"What about when a fish hits?" you might ask. Well, if and when a fish hits your line with the snap-weight still attached, you will fight / reel in your fish just normally, and when the clip / snap-weight are at the surface, you quickly lift your clip and weight into the boat, pinch the clip to release it off of your line and continue to reel in the fish - very similar to removing a planer board when landing a fish trolling with boards out.
Relatively simple technique, very inexpensive in comparison to downriggers, release clips, cannon balls, and it fits in your tackle box or vest pocket with ease. If you are marking those arcs on the graph at 48 feet of water, the snapweight technique just might be the ticket you need to start hooking up with some of those deeper swimmers. You can buy the snapweight kits and they sometimes even come with a set of smaller "guppy" weights, but I've found that the 4oz and 8oz weights work the best. You can certainly try heavier or lighter if you prefer, those have just been the two most common / easy size of weights to buy, use and store.
If you have a variation or improvement to this technique - we would love to hear from you and feature your setup on FishingInnovators.com!
Thanks for tuning in!