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Trolling Spoons With Downriggers? Planers or Weight Ball?

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Trolling Spoons With Downriggers? Planers or Weight Ball?

Old 02-09-2019, 10:58 PM
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Question Trolling Spoons With Downriggers? Planers or Weight Ball?

Hello Everyone,

I hope all is well.

I am new to trolling with downriggers, and wanted to review the below drawing of how I was trolling Drone like spoons between 40 to 80ft of saltwater.

Will this set up spin the spoon in the correct way compared to a planer or diving board?

I know the most effective and proven way is using planers etc, and I have been doing this for years as well so no debate about that. However, with the new downrigger I would like to troll spoons, so if anyone can share their experience or point out the drawbacks or faults with my set up it would be highly appreciated!

Thanks!
Tareq


Proposed Set Up - Spoons On Downriggers

Edit:​​​​​​
I just dug up some of my old videos using the underwater camera, this was a few years ago when I was curious to see how different lures move at different speeds, and how the fish react to lures. This was the first time I actually saw a trolling spoon underwater and how it mimics a school of bait, was pretty cool. Thought its worth sharing for those who haven't seen underwater footage of lures before.

Small King Mackerel:

Barracuda:

Bonito:
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Old 02-10-2019, 04:36 AM
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From my experience running hard bodies lures, mostly bibbed minnows, I'd say you would be running too short a leader between the downrigger weight and the spoon. Others who actually run spoons may have a better idea, but think of that 10lb ball going through the water with the spoon just behind it. More likely to scare than attract? I run my lures behind the ball ( mine is 10lb also) the same distance I would have them behind the boat if trolled direct off the rod tip. Also, I started out with an offshore release clip, Scotties Snapper, but went to a #16 rubber band twisted around the line and hooked onto a snap clip instead, get no false releases. I use braid, and the Snapper just didn't like holding it. Or get back too far, and bust off. No problems with the rubber band. I'd be interested in seeing the opinions of others on this--- towing 160 and 190 lures on the downrigger has seen me hook everything from sailfish to big bottom dwellers.
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:06 AM
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What is your target species? For salmon and trout, you are pretty much spot on. Speed will be your limiting factor; Downriggers don't do well at speeds above 5kts. Also, the stranded wire cable seems to attract salmon and trout, but spook some other species. A drone spoon is not suppose to spin BTW - It should flutter. If it's spinning, you are going too fast.
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:42 AM
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Most fish are attracted to a positive charge between 500-700 mV on your steel downrigger cable. Anything outside of the range can repel them. The charge is the result of the difference in potential between the zincs on your boat and the steel cable. Voltage leaks and an un-insulated connection between a lead downrigger ball and the steel cable. Your Cannon downrigger should have a control that will get you in the ballpark, but it is very hard to know what your voltage actually is on the cable. This is a very complex issue that depends to some extent on the conductivity of the layer of water your rig is passing through. Commercial salmon fishermen spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting their down cable voltage until they get it right.

In any case, unless you are using a black box to control the voltage, it's best to avoid the whole problem by using a long setback from the downrigger clip. A lot of people use the rule of 100. If you are in 50 ft, the setback should be 50', 20' if you are 80' down, etc. I find it best to use at least 30 ft of setback in all cases. I've had bad results trolling for grouper using shorter setbacks.

Drone spoons and other lightweight spoons are nice to use with downriggers. They pretty much run at the depth where you set your ball. Heavy spoons, jigs, and lipped plugs are problematic. You can't really know at what depth they are running unless you hang up on the bottom. They also have a lot of drag and are hard to keep on the clip, especially at higher speeds.
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:53 AM
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Back when I held a commercial fishing license (which was a very long time ago) we used a similar rig which we called the "meat hook". We spent a lot of time perfecting it. First forget the downrigger ball. Use a large planner connected to the downrigger directly. Add a 150' mono leader to the back of the planner which is attached to the spoon. Both ends need to be attached with quality bright ball bearing swivels.

When the fish bites the spoon, the planner will trip, wind in the planner then you'll have to handline the leader. You need to be careful doing this. I've had numerous fish hit the lure when I was either letting it out and pulling it in. There is nothing sporting about this, but it does produce.
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ranmar850 View Post
From my experience running hard bodies lures, mostly bibbed minnows, I'd say you would be running too short a leader between the downrigger weight and the spoon. Others who actually run spoons may have a better idea, but think of that 10lb ball going through the water with the spoon just behind it. More likely to scare than attract? I run my lures behind the ball ( mine is 10lb also) the same distance I would have them behind the boat if trolled direct off the rod tip. Also, I started out with an offshore release clip, Scotties Snapper, but went to a #16 rubber band twisted around the line and hooked onto a snap clip instead, get no false releases. I use braid, and the Snapper just didn't like holding it. Or get back too far, and bust off. No problems with the rubber band. I'd be interested in seeing the opinions of others on this--- towing 160 and 190 lures on the downrigger has seen me hook everything from sailfish to big bottom dwellers.
Thank you for the tip Ranmar, makes sense to push the lure further out behind the boat and ball. Will also look into the rubber band but so far I didn't have any false releases but I can imagine how frustrating that can be.
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by popeyeiii View Post
What is your target species? For salmon and trout, you are pretty much spot on. Speed will be your limiting factor; Downriggers don't do well at speeds above 5kts. Also, the stranded wire cable seems to attract salmon and trout, but spook some other species. A drone spoon is not suppose to spin BTW - It should flutter. If it's spinning, you are going too fast.
Hello Popeyeii,

Thanks for the post, my target species is King Mackerel. Thanks for the clarification about spinning and fluttering, I should have said spoon movement my bad.

So do you think my set up would work for trolling spoons on downriggers if the spoon is say 100ft behind boat and the downriggers weight at 60-80ft depth?
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by DocStressor View Post
Most fish are attracted to a positive charge between 500-700 mV on your steel downrigger cable. Anything outside of the range can repel them. The charge is the result of the difference in potential between the zincs on your boat and the steel cable. Voltage leaks and an un-insulated connection between a lead downrigger ball and the steel cable. Your Cannon downrigger should have a control that will get you in the ballpark, but it is very hard to know what your voltage actually is on the cable. This is a very complex issue that depends to some extent on the conductivity of the layer of water your rig is passing through. Commercial salmon fishermen spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting their down cable voltage until they get it right.

In any case, unless you are using a black box to control the voltage, it's best to avoid the whole problem by using a long setback from the downrigger clip. A lot of people use the rule of 100. If you are in 50 ft, the setback should be 50', 20' if you are 80' down, etc. I find it best to use at least 30 ft of setback in all cases. I've had bad results trolling for grouper using shorter setbacks.

Drone spoons and other lightweight spoons are nice to use with downriggers. They pretty much run at the depth where you set your ball. Heavy spoons, jigs, and lipped plugs are problematic. You can't really know at what depth they are running unless you hang up on the bottom. They also have a lot of drag and are hard to keep on the clip, especially at higher speeds.
Hi Doc,

Thanks for the voltage explanation, I will keep that in mind and try to adjust it when I'm out.

Do you mind giving me an example of a heavier spoon? I will edit this post with a picture of the spoons I will be using in a short while.

Is one ball bearing swivel 6 meters before the spoon enough to get the right motion? Assuming the spoon is 100ft behind the boat and at around 60-80ft down?

Thanks
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by DocStressor View Post
Most fish are attracted to a positive charge between 500-700 mV on your steel downrigger cable. Anything outside of the range can repel them. The charge is the result of the difference in potential between the zincs on your boat and the steel cable. Voltage leaks and an un-insulated connection between a lead downrigger ball and the steel cable. Your Cannon downrigger should have a control that will get you in the ballpark, but it is very hard to know what your voltage actually is on the cable. This is a very complex issue that depends to some extent on the conductivity of the layer of water your rig is passing through. Commercial salmon fishermen spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting their down cable voltage until they get it right.

In any case, unless you are using a black box to control the voltage, it's best to avoid the whole problem by using a long setback from the downrigger clip. A lot of people use the rule of 100. If you are in 50 ft, the setback should be 50', 20' if you are 80' down, etc. I find it best to use at least 30 ft of setback in all cases. I've had bad results trolling for grouper using shorter setbacks.

Drone spoons and other lightweight spoons are nice to use with downriggers. They pretty much run at the depth where you set your ball. Heavy spoons, jigs, and lipped plugs are problematic. You can't really know at what depth they are running unless you hang up on the bottom. They also have a lot of drag and are hard to keep on the clip, especially at higher speeds.
Or get rid of that nasty pain in the ASS wire on the down riggers and replace it with down rigger braid. I went from hating my down riggers to loving them after replacing the wire with braid......
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironworker View Post
Back when I held a commercial fishing license (which was a very long time ago) we used a similar rig which we called the "meat hook". We spent a lot of time perfecting it. First forget the downrigger ball. Use a large planner connected to the downrigger directly. Add a 150' mono leader to the back of the planner which is attached to the spoon. Both ends need to be attached with quality bright ball bearing swivels.

When the fish bites the spoon, the planner will trip, wind in the planner then you'll have to handline the leader. You need to be careful doing this. I've had numerous fish hit the lure when I was either letting it out and pulling it in. There is nothing sporting about this, but it does produce.
Sounds similar to what we have been doing for the past 10 years here, just on a rod not a downrigger.

Can you explain how I can get my spoon down to 80ft of water using a planer instead of the downrigger ball? I think it would have to be a massive planer that would put extreme pressure on the downrigger?

Thanks!
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Old 02-11-2019, 03:01 AM
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Don't you find the wire "sings" quite loudl?/ I had bare s/s multi strand on mine, and there was a definite high pitched singing from it. And the wire also degraded, started to curl, then got brittle. I went to 200lb braid, depth marked in 10 metre increments. I think it has more water drag than the wire did, I may go down a bit in b/s and try that. Most of my downrigging is done out to 20 fathoms ( 120 ft,) which gets challenging if you are chasing the big bottom dwellers that will attract a lure.. With the 10lb ball, I really have to keep it 3.5 knots and less. Then you run one shallower, maybe halfway down in that depth, looking for Spanish mackerel ( similar to your kings) and you catch some of the big bottom dwellers anyway. Not to mention the fish that hit the deep diver being towed direct off the rod tip ---I usually have one of these out as well, and they catch good fish at the lowest of speeds. Who'd think a big wahoo would hit a lure at under 3 knots?

I actually got a geometry app on my phone to try and work out just what depth the actual ball was running at, as you obviously lose it from the transducer beam. But I know I can let 40 meters of downrigger out, in 35 metres of water, with an X-Rap 30 behind it, and not snag bottom. yet. If I have 40 metres out, dragging back at 45 degrees, the ball should be at around 28 metres. Add the lure running depth, and I must be getting close.

I actually tried running bait off it a few times. The first time was with a garfish ( ballyhoo), chin sinker rigged with two hooks. Swam nicely behind the boat. Put it down, trolled for 20 minutes, no apparent result. Pulled it up to check---what a mess. Something had slashed at it, mutilating the bait, so it had been spinning. Had to cut off all the braid between the bait and the clip.

Last edited by ranmar850; 02-11-2019 at 03:14 AM. Reason: Another thing...
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Tareq View Post
Sounds similar to what we have been doing for the past 10 years here, just on a rod not a downrigger.

Can you explain how I can get my spoon down to 80ft of water using a planer instead of the downrigger ball? I think it would have to be a massive planer that would put extreme pressure on the downrigger?

Thanks!
Ironworker is dead on for how commercial king fishing is done in NC. Typically using the Penn downriggers, which are more stout than Cannon versions, and using a #12 or #16 planer.

Drone Spoons (and similar) work best at relatively higher speeds, which doesn't work well with the downrigger balls. Too much blowback.

Last edited by N2theblue; 02-11-2019 at 06:28 AM.
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:58 AM
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A heavier spoon would be a Luhr Jensen Krocodile or a Hopkins. Anything with a thick metal body will run deeper than your ball. A single ball bearing or bead chain swivel is fine. Make sure that it is black or colored black with a sharpie or the Spanish will keep hitting the swivel. Especially when you have a fish on. I use a 6'- 60 lb mono leader with a trace of dark single strand wire connected to the leader with an Albright knot and a haywire twist loop to the spoon. This is so that I don't need to hand line the fish or lure in once the swivel hits the rod tip My main line these days is 80 lb braid. This causes some problems holding in the downrigger clip, but it becomes less slippery as it ages. I twist the line and insert the twisted line into the clip in a "U" shape.

I've switched over to 300 lb braid for the downrigger cable. I'm not sure if I like it as well as the steel cable, but it does produce less blowback at higher speeds and gets around any electrical issues. I found that the downrigger clip needs to be on the weight in order to get a proper hook set. I liked being able to attach the clip directly to the metal wire so that the weight doesn't have to come out of the water to re-set the rig.

You're getting some good general advice here about trolling here. The first thing to realize is that the actual depth of your lure will be nowhere need the setting on the downrigger or the amount of line you let out on a planer. The amount of blowback increases with speed and depth. I doubt that I can get a lure deeper than about 60 ft at kingfish trolling speeds and I use heavy pancake weights that have less drag than a ball. You can get deeper if you can slow down to 2.5 mph and troll only in the same direction as the current (which is the best direction anyway). You won't get many strikes from kings on a spoon at this speed unless you add some bait to the hook. A small strip of bonita works well. Just be sure that it doesn't ruin the action of the lure. Trolling live bait on a downrigger at very slow speed is quite effective.

You usually don't need to troll for kings as deep as you are suggesting. Back in the day, I would run 2 Penn downriggers with one set at 15' and the other half way to the bottom. Most of the strikes came on the 15' setup.
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ranmar850 View Post
Don't you find the wire "sings" quite loudl?/ I had bare s/s multi strand on mine, and there was a definite high pitched singing from it. And the wire also degraded, started to curl, then got brittle. I went to 200lb braid, depth marked in 10 metre increments. I think it has more water drag than the wire did, I may go down a bit in b/s and try that. Most of my downrigging is done out to 20 fathoms ( 120 ft,) which gets challenging if you are chasing the big bottom dwellers that will attract a lure.. With the 10lb ball, I really have to keep it 3.5 knots and less. Then you run one shallower, maybe halfway down in that depth, looking for Spanish mackerel ( similar to your kings) and you catch some of the big bottom dwellers anyway. Not to mention the fish that hit the deep diver being towed direct off the rod tip ---I usually have one of these out as well, and they catch good fish at the lowest of speeds. Who'd think a big wahoo would hit a lure at under 3 knots?

I actually got a geometry app on my phone to try and work out just what depth the actual ball was running at, as you obviously lose it from the transducer beam. But I know I can let 40 meters of downrigger out, in 35 metres of water, with an X-Rap 30 behind it, and not snag bottom. yet. If I have 40 metres out, dragging back at 45 degrees, the ball should be at around 28 metres. Add the lure running depth, and I must be getting close.

I actually tried running bait off it a few times. The first time was with a garfish ( ballyhoo), chin sinker rigged with two hooks. Swam nicely behind the boat. Put it down, trolled for 20 minutes, no apparent result. Pulled it up to check---what a mess. Something had slashed at it, mutilating the bait, so it had been spinning. Had to cut off all the braid between the bait and the clip.
Oh my the wire hum is very annoying! I read about it before actually running the downriggers but when I heard it I was so amused at how loud it is. I did order scotty downrigger braid, but wanted to try the steel cable that came with the riggers before changing them out so I have something to compare to. Part of my learning curve I guess.

I also tried to compensate for the cable running angle, I was seeing around 30-40 degree angles.

With the X-Rap are you running a snap swivel from rod leader to lure? Or line Direct to lure?
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by N2theblue View Post
Ironworker is dead on for how commercial king fishing is done in NC. Typically using the Penn downriggers, which are more stout than Cannon versions, and using a #12 or #16 planer.

Drone Spoons (and similar) work best at relatively higher speeds, which doesn't work well with the downrigger balls. Too much blowback.
Thanks for the tip, I will definitely consider running a planer on the downrigger instead of the ball if I cant figure out how to run it.

But once again how can I get a planer down 50ft by using a downrigger? Wouldn't it just be easier to drop the said planer on a rod as I used to? What is the benefit of having it on the downrigger?
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:50 AM
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Benefit of using a downrigger is the direct drive system and quicker line retrieve, and the line counter. Its not a fun or recreational style of fishing, it is strictly meat fishing, even more so than using an in line planer on a rod. You get the planer that deep by letting more line out. Honestly its easier to get the planer that deep than a downrigger ball at anything above about 4 knots.
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by DocStressor View Post
A heavier spoon would be a Luhr Jensen Krocodile or a Hopkins. Anything with a thick metal body will run deeper than your ball. A single ball bearing or bead chain swivel is fine. Make sure that it is black or colored black with a sharpie or the Spanish will keep hitting the swivel. Especially when you have a fish on. I use a 6'- 60 lb mono leader with a trace of dark single strand wire connected to the leader with an Albright knot and a haywire twist loop to the spoon. This is so that I don't need to hand line the fish or lure in once the swivel hits the rod tip My main line these days is 80 lb braid. This causes some problems holding in the downrigger clip, but it becomes less slippery as it ages. I twist the line and insert the twisted line into the clip in a "U" shape.

I've switched over to 300 lb braid for the downrigger cable. I'm not sure if I like it as well as the steel cable, but it does produce less blowback at higher speeds and gets around any electrical issues. I found that the downrigger clip needs to be on the weight in order to get a proper hook set. I liked being able to attach the clip directly to the metal wire so that the weight doesn't have to come out of the water to re-set the rig.

You're getting some good general advice here about trolling here. The first thing to realize is that the actual depth of your lure will be nowhere need the setting on the downrigger or the amount of line you let out on a planer. The amount of blowback increases with speed and depth. I doubt that I can get a lure deeper than about 60 ft at kingfish trolling speeds and I use heavy pancake weights that have less drag than a ball. You can get deeper if you can slow down to 2.5 mph and troll only in the same direction as the current (which is the best direction anyway). You won't get many strikes from kings on a spoon at this speed unless you add some bait to the hook. A small strip of bonita works well. Just be sure that it doesn't ruin the action of the lure. Trolling live bait on a downrigger at very slow speed is quite effective.

You usually don't need to troll for kings as deep as you are suggesting. Back in the day, I would run 2 Penn downriggers with one set at 15' and the other half way to the bottom. Most of the strikes came on the 15' setup.
Thank you very much for the valuable information.

When we used to troll planers on rods, we would use size 7 & 8 planers (Yazuri) and run anywhere from 5-9mph. Would be very effective.

HOWEVER the commercial fisherman here use a commercial windlass style motor with very thick and heavy steel cable, at the end of the cable are either hard plastic lures or drone like spoons. They use this cable so the lure can go down very deep 50ft+. The results are 25kg+ king mackerel.

Unfortunately as a private leisure boat I cannot obtain a permit to install the windlass style motor, So I figured the downrigger can sort of replicate the set up they had..

If I implement the same setup I drew in my first post, but add a ball bearing swivel at the beginning of my leader, and increase leader length to 100ft+ and add another swivel at the spoon, I would be running between 4-5 knots. Would this set up work? Would it be similar to a rod/planer method?

I would really like to keep it simple and use the downrigger to troll the spoons without any planer etc. if possible.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:59 AM
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I've tried using planers of different sizes in place of downrigger balls without good results. While the larger planers probably run deeper than a downrigger weight, the problem is that most of the available sportfishing downriggers are too light duty. Try tripping a big planner run in place a weight on a downrigger to get it to plane to the surface. Then you'll see what I mean. I've even used Scottys which you can lift by hand and it's still really hard to get the planer to trip. The setup works OK if your fishing small planners for Spanish, but you can't use big lures or get very deep. If you can't trip a big planer, you are going to need to stop the boat in order to get it up. The light duty motors on a Cannon 10 won't hold up very long doing that kind of work. The best way to use a big planner is to use a heavy rod or tie it off on a cleat and hand line.

You can use swivels anywhere in your setup. I have a buddy who uses that narrow Spro swivels between his wire and the mono leader. But you don't want to use something like a snap swivel on the lure. Anything but a haywire or mono loop will affect the action. BTW, does 120 lb test mono hold up to a big kingfish without using wire?
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Tareq View Post
Hello Everyone,

I hope all is well.

I am new to trolling with downriggers, and wanted to review the below drawing of how I was trolling Drone like spoons between 40 to 80ft of saltwater.

Will this set up spin the spoon in the correct way compared to a planer or diving board?

I know the most effective and proven way is using planers etc, and I have been doing this for years as well so no debate about that. However, with the new downrigger I would like to troll spoons, so if anyone can share their experience or point out the drawbacks or faults with my set up it would be highly appreciated!

Thanks!
Tareq


Proposed Set Up - Spoons On Downriggers


Spoon

Spoon
Your title is causing confusion about what you are trying to learn about. "Trolling spoons directly on down rigger" N2 and Iron have indicated to you that this means one uses the downrigger as the fishing tackle, meaning your planer and drone spoon are connected directly to the down rigger, and reeling in the downrigger is reeling in the fish. Commercial fishing we have caught hundreds of kingfish in one day using this technique, for those that say it is no fun, havent had the pleasure of slinging a 1000+ pounds of kingfish into the boat. Based on your drawing, I believe what you are really interested in learning about is how to fish a drone spoon from recreational rod and reel and use a downrigger to aid in fishing the spoon at depth? Perhaps if you change your title, then you wont be getting conflicting information about two different ways to fish for king mackerel, one of which does not include a recreational rod and reel.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:11 AM
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I just dug up some of my old videos using the underwater camera, this was a few years ago when I was curious to see how different lures move at different speeds, and how the fish react to lures. This was the first time I actually saw a trolling spoon underwater and how it mimics a school of bait, was pretty cool. Thought its worth sharing for those who haven't seen underwater footage of lures before.

Small King Mackerel:

Barracuda:

Bonito:
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