So you’re in the market for a new downrigger but are not sure which model is best for you. You have come to the right place. Researching your fishing gear prior to purchase is a great way to stay informed and get the best bang for your buck. There is a lot of “junk” out there and you don’t want to get caught up into buying a cheap piece of equipment that is going to fall apart after a few trips out on the water. My first set of downriggers was a manual set made by some unknown company from China. They lasted one season before they fell apart and I had to dispose of them. So you don’t make the same mistake that I did I have put together a little buying guide to help you choose which fishing downrigger is best for you. So let’s get started.
We will break downriggers up into two categories; manual and automatic/electric. Both function the same and will get the job done. I have caught dozens of fish on manual riggers and automatic and can assure you that it makes absolutely no difference to the fish. A manual downrigger functions the same as an automatic one, except it requires you to crank a handle to adjust the depth of the weighted cannonball. This means that every time you need to change/check on your lure, adjust depth, turn the boat, reel up, and so forth that you will need to crank the handle. Typically this isn’t much of a problem especially if you’re fishing in depths of 10-25 feet. If you are serious about fishing, and plan on using downriggers on a weekly or daily basis than an electric downrigger is probably the way to go. Electric downriggers take the work out of cranking the cannon ball up and down. The elite ones will hook up with your depth finders so that the cannonballs will automatically rise and fall to keep a steady depth; an amazing feature that will help you take your fishing game to the next level. The downfall is the cost of the automatics, which can be 3-10 times as expensive as the manuals.
Why Buy Manual Downriggers?
Well the obvious answer is because of cost. Not everyone can afford automatic downriggers so a manual unit is the cheaper alternative. Manual units are also quite a bit lighter, making them the better option for those who are constantly putting the downriggers on and off the boat. Another major benefit to manual downriggers is their durability. They have no electrical components to them, and a well made piece of equipment can literally last decades if maintained properly.
Verdict: If you are only fishing in waters of 30 feet or less, rarely use downriggers, or don’t want to spend $500 plus on an electric set, then manual riggers are the best option for you.
Why Buy Electric Downriggers?
If your an avid fisherman who is frequently out on the water than save up your money and buy a pair of electric downriggers. Electric downriggers will save you loads of time and effort; especially if your fishing in deep waters of 30 feet or more. Reputable brands have great warranties and an electric downrigger can still last years if properly maintained. Many of the newer models sync up with your fish finder which is a huge bonus especially for those who fish derbies and need the extra edge over the competition. The only major downfall is the price; a good electric set can run you well over $500.
Verdict: If your serious about fishing and can afford it, go electric all the way.
Reviews of Our Top 3 Picks in 2018
We decided to pick 5 solid downriggers to review. Keep in mind that we factored in value and not just performance since it is important to get a good bang for your buck. We will update this section often and will add more reviews so keep checking in. If you would like to request a review please leave a comment below and we will do our best.
This is a good solid manual downrigger. You can drop and retrieve the weighted cannonball with easy due to its one handed clutch system. It is a manual unit, so the cranking system really takes a lot of strain off of you and your arm. This downrigger has a solid build, and comes from a very reputable manufacturer. Its price is a little steep for a manual machine, but its overall well built “heavy duty” design is worth the extra cash.
This electric downrigger gets you some serious bang for your buck. It was a very fast 250 feet per minute retrieval time making it one of the best on the market. Cannon makes solid fishing gear so you know you are buying from a reputable company with a good track record. It feels very well built and has a nice solid feel to it. You get a nice solid machine at a great price which is why this model made the list.
Here is another solid automatic downrigger, this time made by Scotty. Scotty offers a limited lifetime warranty which shows you just how well built this model is. Its price is reasonable considering all the features and the fact that it is a dual rod holder model. If you plan on running multiple lines out the back than a pair of Scotty Depthmasters is the way to go. It also has the lower amp draw of any downrigger on the market!