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Rigging Your Boat with Downriggers and Planer Board Masts for Trolling

When you rig a boat for trolling, you will want it to provide the most enjoyable and safe fishing trips for you and your fishing partners. Here are some suggested and proven trolling boat layouts and techniques.

If you fish alone in a small tiller boat, mounting the downriggers at the transom is a practical choice. You can keep everything in easy reach, eliminating the need to get up and move around the boat. Remember when fishing by yourself it is vital to attach yourself to your engines kill switch tether at all times. If the worst ever happens and you end up overboard it will save your life, if you donít use it your boat will simply troll away from you leaving you hopelessly at sea. Regardless of whether you fish alone or with a group the engine kill switch tether should always be used if itís available.

If two or more people are fishing in a small tiller boat, try mounting the downriggers mid-ship. Everybody can reach the downriggers and rods from either end of the boat. Pedestal mounts may be needed for the downriggers to clear the gunwales and swivel mounting bases will make for easier docking.

On larger console style boats, a pair of downriggers on swivel mounting bases are a popular arrangement. The swivel mounting base allows you to spread your lines wider when fishing and can be turned in line with the gunwales when the boat is brought back to the ramp or your slip.

If your boat is large enough for a large fishing group, mount a pair of downriggers at the transom and a pair on swivel mounting bases further forward on the gunwales. With this many lines in the water, your lure presentation will resemble a school of bait fish.

The same kind of presentation can be achieved by installing four downriggers on a removable transom bar. The whole downrigger system can be removed as one unit when your boat is to be used for other purposes.

When installing a planer rigger system, consider two important facts

The taller your mast is, the greater distance your planers will travel from the sides of your boat.

The further forward you mount your mast, the less distance your planers will travel behind your boat.
Both pointís effect navigation and line control.

A popular method of mounting the planer mast is to use a pedestal seat mount. It fits seat bases, which are common on most boats. The seat mount makes the mast easily removable for storage.

Two single reel planer masts mounted on the gunwales just behind the cabin or canopy top are popular for larger boats where the bow is not easily accessible.

Or you can upgrade your mast with a pair of electric planer reels. Electric reels come complete with remote switches and circuit breakers, so you can operate them from the cabin.

Plan your boat for comfort and safety. Having too much equipment, or having it located in the wrong place can complicate your ability to move around easily and is unsafe. Before mounting any equipment, get in your boat and layout the best location for each piece of equipment. If youíre not sure about your layout talk to other fisherman about their experiences or have one or two come by and assist you with the design. Make sure itís laid out the way you think it will work best before drilling holes. Remember all the equipment should be readily accessible to everyone in your fishing group and most important, every rod should be easy to get out of the rod holder when it loads up with a big fish.


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