Downrigger Fishing for Trout & Kokanee

This article was featured in the July issue of the Mack Attack Magazine, which you can subscribe to for free here.

Targeting lakes during the summer months can be rewarding. However, fishing deep water requires special equipment. Leadcore, weights and divers can help you get to the depths required to catch fish, but consistency can be an issue. Downriggers are obviously the most proficient way to work the thermocline effectively. They put you at the exact depth you require, and with downriggers, you can fish multiple rods and lures.

Here’s a typical set up with two downriggers, two fishermen and two rods each
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A typical thermocline for trout and kokanee is 20- to 60-feet. With that in mind, I would run one downrigger at 60-feet and the second downrigger at 55-feet. I would also run a second rod on each downrigger, typically 10-feet above the bottom set. That would put the stacked rods at 50- and 45-feet.

When stacking, I use the Shuttle Hawk™ because it is by far the easiest and most productive way to stack two rods. What is the Shuttle Hawk™, you ask? It’s a downrigger release carrier. Attached to your downrigger cable, the diver takes your release, line and lure down to a prereset stop placed on the cable, usually 10-feet above your bottom lure, as mentioned earlier.

The big advantage to the Shuttle Hawk™ system is that after it’s released, it will plane back to the surface, so you can reset it without bringing your downrigger up. There’s a short video on MacksLure.com for a better understanding on how to use it and it comes with an Ultra Release™ and a stop.


Now, after setting my second rod, I like to add a drop line to my stacked rods. A drop line is basically a 3-foot leader with a lure on one end and a snap swivel on the other end. I like to use the Hum Dinger®, Pee Wee™ Wiggle Hoochie™ or spinners like the Scorpion™ or Wedding Ring® for this particular setup. Take your snap and attach it to the line going down to your second rod, then toss it back behind in the water. This second lure will slide down to the middle of the bow on the line due to the pressure of the water. So, now we have the entire thermocline covered with a total of six lures in the water. The fish can’t escape this setup.

If you’re interested in learning this system and/or gaining a greater knowledge on kokanee fishing, be sure to check out all of the latest kokanee tactics in our Kokanee Fishing DVD, located in the Caps, Decals and DVDs section.