Tips & Techniques
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> Downrigger Ball Flashers
Downrigger Ball Flashers
Downrigger ball flashers are essentially long strings of
flashers attached directly to the downrigger ball instead of the
fishing line. They are also
referred to as 'gang trolls', 'ball trolls', or
'cannonball trolls'. Their job
it to attract fish to your downrigger ball where your lure will be
close behind. It could be that they attract fish by looking
like a school of bait fish. Another theory is that the
flashing and vibration attract fish out of pure curiosity.
Whatever the reason, the advantage of using ball flashers is that
they attract fish to your lure, but they don't hinder the
fight once you hook a fish.
I've had great luck using ball
flashers for landlocked chinook and coho
salmon. They also work well when trolling for mackinaw.
Downrigger ball flashers are worth a
try when targeting other cold water species such as trout or
Try them for kokanee in high
elevation lakes where kokanee form tight schools. For the
most part, I leave the flashers at home when targeting kokanee
salmon. They are always worth a try when nothing else is
Practice catch and release, and good luck!
There are lots of downrigger ball flashers on the market.
I'm sure that all of them work great. I went ahead and just
made my own. My dad had some old trout trolling flashers in
his garage that he gave me. I cleaned them up and attached
several different flashers together into a string that measures
about six feet long. Once I created the string of flashers I
added duo-lock snap to the front so I could attach it to my
downrigger ball. I then added some reflective tape to the
outsides of the blades and some glow tape to the insides of the
blades. This put the finishing touch on my homemade ball
I snap my string of ball flashers directly
to the downrigger ball. Once I have it in the water and it
looks like it's spinning correctly, I'll fasten my line release
about one or two feet above the downrigger ball using a stacker
The trick is to get your line release close
to the ball flashers without getting too close. If you get
it too close your line will tangle up in the flashers when you
lower the ball or slow down to fight a fish. Too high, and
your lure will be too far away from the flashers where the fish
are being attracted to.
How to Avoid Tangles
Some people are afraid to use these because the threat of
tangles. Just take it slow, and follow this advice:
Lower the ball slowly so the flashers don't
tangle in your downrigger cable or fishing line.
Make sure that the string of flashers is
not so long that it can reach your propeller.
Keep the boat moving at all times. If
you have to stop the boat - pull in your fishing lines.
Otherwise, your lure will sink down and wrap up in the flashers.
Using short set backs means that fish will
be very near the boat once they're hooked. This gives you
less time to tire out the fish, so set your drags loose and be
prepared to give them some line until they tire out.
When using two downriggers, make sure that
the flasher strings are shorter than the distance between the
two downrigger cables. If they are too long, the flashers
can actually tangle in the opposite downrigger cable.
If you have quick-retrieve downriggers,
pull in your line first before bringing up the downrigger ball.
Don't be afraid to fish shallow! I've
caught fish using this technique with my downrigger ball as shallow as 15' deep.
Basically right under the boat.
If your flashers and set backs are short
enough, it allows you to make really tight turns without having
to worry about your lines or flashers getting tangled up.
This can be a deadly technique when you find a school of feeding
fish - just keep making circles and figure-eights back through
the same fish.
Try running a lure without any dodgers or
flashers attached. When you hook a fish, there won't be
anything between you and the fish. Minnow lures and Apexes
are great for this technique.
Tackle Downrigger Tips