If you are anything like me getting back into the sport of fishing, you don't normally have all the toys that some of the guys do out on the water. Electric and manual downriggers are definitely great tools to set lines at specific depths when targeting those deep running species.
We published a post on snapweights as a great alternative to downriggers for anglers looking to get down deeper as an easy option. Another option that not everyone is familiar with is using lead core and/or other forms of weighted line. I personally hadn't heard of it until a friend of mine had mentioned it and explained how the spools of line come in colours. Each colour is approximately 10 yards, and you can buy spools of line with various numbers of colours.
Most lead core line products will estimate you can get 5 feet of depth for every colour of line you let out behind the boat. Once you have a good idea of what species you are targetting, you can generally estimate how deep you will be fishing (i.e. Walleye in summer - 10-30 feet or Lake Trout - 20-70 feet).
Something to think about when you are spooling up a reel with lead core is how much leadcore line are you hoping to put on your reel. If you are looking to target lake trout in the 40+ feet depth range, you should think about having 8-10 colours spooled up on your reel, and with lead core being much thicker than your typical mono/braided line, you will need the right reel to handle all that line. The reels I currently have on my trolling rods are a decent size, and can handle 10 colours of led with some braided line backing without any issue. Here are the reels I currently use.
Like anything, technology advances and newer more advanced types of lead core line becomes available. After doing some homework online on lead core to get a bit more knowledge than what my buddy had passed along my way, I found this YouTube video (see below) and it is probably my favourite fishing video featuring Lake Trout. These guys have the fancy boat, but left the downriggers at home and put out a spread of lines with only lead core lines out to get them down to go after those Lakers. It's about 20 minutes long, but I definitely picked up some good tips and tricks including how to use your planer boards with your lead core lines as well - take a peek and enjoy!