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Electric Downriggers for a weekend warrior.....advice needed


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I have convinced myself that I need to get a pair of electric downriggers for my 18' Wellcraft 180 to replace the manual walker downriggers. The Walker's work fine and I have used them for years on my last boat but I need something electric for Chinook fishing on Lake Ontario. Because I only get out 1 or 2 days a week I dont want to spend $1,000 on a pair of riggers so I need some advice on what the best values are and any reviews from other fishermen on this site. I saw Big Jon riggers at Bass Pro Shops yesterday for $320 each but know very little about them.

Any help would be appreciated.


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Electric riggers are a great addition to your boat - once you have them you will never go back. If you fish 1-2 days per week, they are definitely justifiable. My guess is the $320 BJ riggers are probably the Sportsman riggers (2' fixed boom, one rod holder), but if they are the upgrade Sportsman (dual rod holders, ball cradle) then $320/piece is a good deal. Look on this board for used riggers and you can usually catch a good deal. Keep in mind the Sportsman riggers do NOT come with swivel mounts, and this feature might set you back another $120 for a pair of swivel mounts. Personally it's a must have.

I have Big Jon riggers and love them - however, all the various electric riggers are well made and each person seems to have their favorite.. My personal favorite things about the BJ products is they are built like a tank, very easy to service (everything is open), simple to install, relatively fast retrieve, and they have awesome aluminum rod holders.

If I was to "sum it up" I think the best thing you can look for in a set of DR's is to have good rod holders (2 per rigger), ball cradle, swivel base, good retrieve rate and good customer service.

Good luck,

- Chris

Disclaimer - I have no personal or financial ties to Big Jon

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Thanks Chris. You were correct about the Big Jons being the basic sportsman. Based on your information I will look for a more complete setup with swivel mounts. Also I will keep my eyes open for a used pair on this site. Hopefully I can find a good deal.

Thanks again and happy fishing!

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  • 1 month later...

I have two Big Jons on my 16ft. Best Investment I ever made. very reliable, very simple design I run 13lb torpedos down to 110ft all the time with no problem. They are the sportsmans with long arms and swivel bases and fit my boat perfect. I like the hands free up and down as I am the only one that sets lines I can deploy both sides at the same time and stop them where neeeded. Also easy to hit the button and have it coming up as you fight a fish. Mine don't have auto stop that would be a nice add-on.

I bought mine of the site here also there are some good bargains out there and take very little to repair them if need be.

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I dont have alot of experience with others. I know they are comparable to cannon mag 10 coming up but a tad slower going down. I've fished with Justin and his cannons. If that is a concern run lighter weights. But I have no complaints with my set up. They run smooth quiet and reliable. The only issue i've had is the sealant around the motor. Actually I think I ripped it my self knocking ice off it :$ the silicon peeled back in one spot where the power wire enters the motor housing and when the motor filled with water and froze(early march this year) it slowed it down some. easy fix

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  • 3 weeks later...

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