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Advice on New Downriggers Setups


Char_Master

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Advice on New Downriggers Setups

Hey guys, looking for some advice on some new downrigger setups.
 
We just started trolling back in 2015 and got a cheaper pair of Downriggers (and downrigger rods/reels) to start out with, they've lasted two seasons along with some nicer Dipsy and board rods we invested in last year, but at this point I'd like to upgrade my gear.
 
As for the actual riggers, we decided on a pair of Cannon Uni Troll STX 10s with standard steel cable. Probably going to pick up a pair of 10# cast iron cannonballs to go with them. Anyone else use iron balls? They seem more reflective to me and thus might attract a few more fish here and there, we also just like to avoid lead as much as possible when fishing.
 
For the rods, our original ones are actually still in pretty good shape and have worked excellent so far (Cabela's Depthmaster medium 8'6" downrigger rods), the guides are getting a bit worn, but nothing too bad, and the rod is perfect otherwise. I am open to suggestions though if someone knows of a great medium power downrigger rod in the 8'6"-9'0" range for under $80.
 
We do, however, need to get a new pair of reels (currently using the ones that came with the Cabela's rods), they're both getting very worn overall, especially the drag, and the one about had the gears melted off last August when a big Atlantic decided to run 600' of line at light speed haha.
 
For the replacement reels, I'm trying to decide between two series as of now, Shimano Tekotas or Daiwa Saltists. We're running Tekota 600-LCs on our wire diver rods now and they're great, tons of power with a superb drag and 1,000' of wire on each. My only complaint is I'm not a big fan of line counter reels with the counter going way out on the side of the reel, gets annoying bashing off your wrist when you reel down on a fish, but other than that they're the perfect reels. It seems that the Daiwa Saltist linecounters have the counter off to the side as well, so at this point I'm considering just skipping the LC all together and just going for a standard Levelwind of whichever I choose. An LC is nice to see how far back the fish is but not really necessary for a downrigger setup. Thoughts?
 
Anyway, back to the main features of the reels, I like the Tekotas since I can attest to their strength and durability as well as their decent line capacity. The Saltists seems nice because they have ridiculous line capacity at an equivalent model size and are a few bucks cheaper, I've heard them praised by Great Lakes anglers as well. The high gear ratio (6.4:1 I believe) seems out of place in a trolling reel though, I typically think 5.0:1 or lower for trolling so it's high power regardless of the retrieve rate. Though, they seem to be quite popular, so those of you who've used them, what are your opinions on them?
 
So, all that said, the reels I'm trying to choose from are the Tekota 600 or 700 and the Saltist 40 or 50. Either with or without linecounters on whichever I choose. Whatever I go with, I'm thinking 25# big game mono for the line, mainly fishing eastern Lake Erie with a few trips every year up to western or central Lake Ontario as well. Erie species will be Lake Trout, Steelhead, Pink Salmon, Brown Trout, Drum, White Bass, and Walleye. Ontario for Lake Trout, Steelhead, Atlantics, and Browns primarily, maybe a little Pacific Salmon fishing here and there. Lures they'll be pulling are typical flutter spoons, Dodgers, Flashers, and cowbells anywhere from barely moving up to over 4.0 mph.
 
Thanks for the help, all!
-Sean

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I've mainly used Diawa Rods and Reels since in 1980's. My older 47lc's really worked double what I thought their lifetime should have been. After I retired them, I went with Saltists....
The line counter is absolutely right on your arm when your fighting a fish..... But the high speed gears are definelty an asset...allow me to explain...
When running slide cheaters...when the rod pops and there is a ton of slack, the high speed reel is amazing with how fast you can gain tight line on the fish. I noticed I have a greater catch rate on cheater bites with the newer reels. Another bonus is, if you have a smoker on in heavy traffic and have to make an aggressive maneuver, getting line back is much easier.... I've done this a bunch of times to keep guys from cutting off the fish. 
Rods.... I've run the Old Great Lakes Systems and now the 8ft Heartlands. I like they have a decent back bone and are really tough. I've only broke one rod in my lifetime.... Diawa is resurrecting the Old Great Lakes Systems Rods, so I will probably change over to them.... They were a great stick.
I've owned just about every reel on the market..... As far as Rigger rods and reels, I keep going back to the diawas.... Spring is right around the corner....

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I use saltist none line counters on my down riggers and they are great reels, smooth drag and are well built. On my dipseys I have tekota 600s for my smaller gear and upgraded to 700s for when I am pulling big paddles to get the extra power. Both reels are great and in the end I think it will come down to preference.  I am now up to 5 tekotas on my boat and only 2 saltist so I think I prefer the Shimano.  Both are excellent reels and the diawa none line centers on the riggers are very light and very smooth. 

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Thanks for the quick responses, everyone. So as of now I'm thinking no line counter with whatever reel I go with. Less components to worry about and no LC bashing off my arm when cranking down. Probably going to roll out the Tekota 700 overall simply because it's nearly 30 ounces without line already! Just too heavy for a soft downrigger rod and mono, at least in my opinion. One thing I did notice is that the Saltist 40 and 50 have less than a one ounce difference in weight while the 50 can hold at least an additional 50 yards of 25# mono, so if I do decide on the Saltist, the 50 seems like the more obvious choice, unless it's a lot larger of a frame than the 40?

 

That all said, it's probably down to either the Tekota 600 or Saltist 50, no linecounter either way. On one hand, I know the Tekotas are reliable and strong and a high gear ratio isn't really necessary for the slow and steady powerhouse species I like to target the most, but on the other hand, an extra seven ounces in reel weight with the Saltist nearly doubles my line capacity on a reel that I've heard no complaints about, though the faster gears, one of the major features, aren't important to me (wont hurt either). 

Edited by Char_Master
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We like line counters on our rigger reels for repeatability. Lead length behind the ball varies a lot depending on rig, time of day, activity level of the fish, etc. and the counters ensure once we find out what the fish want that we can accurately repeat the same presentation. Something to consider in your decision. You can certainly count pulls or passes on the reel for distance as well but for me it's just easier having the counter because I take a lot of friends out that are less experienced and I like to get them involved setting lines to keep them busy. I can tell them run it XX ft back and they can just use the counter to do so.


Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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Appreciate the input, everyone! Still haven't decided yet, but I'll have the reels before the season starts in April.

 

Although actually, looking further into this, I'm now between four reels! 

 

Anyone have experience with the newer Daiwa Sealines? They don't seem to have quite the bells and whistles of the saltists (though almost anything would be an upgrade from the current cabela's reels ), but I believe they're lighter in weight and whoever designed them had the brains to put the line counter above the level wind and not sticking out 3" into the angler's forearm!

 

So, if the Sealine is known to be a reliable reel, I'll probably go with one of them due to their lighter weight with decent line capacity and well positioned line counter. If they turn out to be junk in the popular opinion, I'll go with either a levelwind Saltist 50 or Tekota 600 and skip the gigantic LC. Just up in the air with those two whether I want a better drag, a more personally favorable gear ratio, and lighter weight (Tekota); or higher line capacity and a few dollars less (Saltist).

 

 

The one other reel I'm considering is the Penn Squall Levelwind left-hand 30. And if I'm going to skip an LC on whatever reel I choose, this thing is loaded with features. 455 yards of 25# mono, 20# drag, moderate 4.9:1 gear ratio, about 21 ounce, and $130. The only thing I don't like about this reel is that I handled one in-store a while back and the retrieve felt a bit "plastic", I guess would be the best term for it. However, for all of these other great things, I'm willing to overlook a retrieve that's not silky smooth and no LC as long as the reel doesn't bust on me a couple months in.

Edited by Char_Master
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  • 3 weeks later...

Anyone know where I can get some nice cast iron cannonballs? I'm conflicted between 10# or 12# balls but thinking 10# should be enough since 75% of the time we're trolling under 2.0mph. Though we are on the bottom or very close for Lakers, so that's still 50-180' down regardless of speed. Just don't want to go launching off the stern in rough water trying to grab a 12# ball that's three feet off the back of the boat haha. Also considered the fish shaped balls but I'd rather just stick to the classic ball with fin for easier storage, and so I don't Jynx anything :).

 

Oh yeah, also I've pretty much decided on the Squall 30-LWLH reels due to their high line capacity (455/25#), low gear ratio, left hand retrieve, and nice aesthetics.

Edited by Char_Master
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