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Inthebox30lbs

Leads off the downriggers

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How far of leads from the downrigger  ball are you guys on the St. Lawrence River running your baits back.  Tight to the ball?  Or back a ways thanks 

scott 

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I don’t know many muskie guys that run downriggers so you may not get many responses. There are plenty of muskie baits that reach desired depths flat lined. However, I know it is somewhat common on the St Lawrence near Lake Ontario. I personally have only tried downriggers a few times. One season, years back at Chautauqua, we caught several muskies off a downrigger. Lead length was between 30 and 50’. We got a 53”er off a downrigger on the St Lawrence near Lake Ontario years back. It was a longer lead.

 

Here is a link to Bob Walter’s website. He has a bunch of experience running downriggers for muskies and runs an underwater camera. I don’t know that he specifies lead length, but the baits must be pretty close to the camera and ball.

 

https://stlawrencemuskiefishing.com/muskie-videos/

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

 

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I dont think it makes much difference when the target is musky. I played around with using my rigger to get an inline spinner down just above the weeds and in my wash this past season. It was maybe 20 to 25 back. It worked well as I could crank up the ball and see the spinner and tell if it was fouled then just drop it back.

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I'm not a fan of targeting muskies below 35 feet so I have no need to have my riggers on the boat when muskie fishing. Years ago I tried with a downrigger and had a muskie leave 2 teeth in the rubber coating of an orange cannonball. It was at this point I decided that I didn't want anything in the water that didn't have hooks.to a muskie if it moves it's food so don't get hung up on fancy paint jobs .  After over 30 years of muskie fishing I started fishing the Larry 8 or so years ago and everyone was running really long leads. My first St Lowrance fish was on a Hose Fatty 88 feet back . From there i kept shortening my leads till my most productive rod has been 45 lb single strand monel 35 feet back. Muskies are curious and I don't believe they have any fear of your boat. I don't notice the guys coming out of Clayton using riggers as much as they did years ago.

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Some say that the downrigger ball actually attracts the fish and that long leads are unnecessary. The times I have fished with Rich Clarke he has always set his baits 15-35' back off the ball but i have zero experience doing it myself, just repeating what I've seen and heard. Maybe this is of some value, idk?

Older footage but this camera is within feet of the ball.

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I run riggers everytime off the dock if I'm trolling and have 2 guys.  My experience is that musky and tigers are drawn to the prop wash and rigger balls.  If my main target species is tigers I run 5-15 feet back.  If I'm targeting walleye 100' is the norm.  Do I get walleye on short sets yes, do I get tigers set back 100' yes, but there is a VERY noticeable difference in success.  I constantly have tigers following my rigger balls when I'm walleye trolling and don't catch many on the long setbacks...probably worth mentioning my rigger weights are fish shaped and painted like a blue alewife pattern.  Oftentimes I use my center rigger just to put a bait in the prop wash down just a few feet instead of a weight on the line.   Then the whole back of the boat clear for guys jerk trolling.   Riggers also help when surface weeds are an issue.  I don't love fishing below  30 feet for tigers,  but if you are open water trolling on Otisco it's over 30 fow.  Sure you can keep your baits up, but when the fish goes straight to the bottom in 60 fow after the hit that's where the fish came from and that where you have to bring em up from.  Definitely happens more if you put baits down there though.

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