A downrigger is a device that allows a heavy weight to be lowered into the water. The fishing line is then attached to the weight and lowered to the desired depth. When a fish takes the bait, the line is released from the weight and the the angler is left fighting only the fish, not the weight that was used to get the line down the water column. Let's take a look at the parts of the downrigger:
The downrigger itself is the actual device that makes this all possible. It attches the boat, more on that in a minute, and offers a spool of wire (or sometimes heavy fishing line), an arm to get the line out away from the boat, and a pulley to facilitate dropping the weight or bringing it up. Depending on the model, the downrigger can either be manually or automatically controlled.
|Fully loaded electronic downrigger|
Typically, stainless steel cable is used to attach the line. The cable doesn't stretch and is plenty strong to keep you from losing the weight. Some people also use heavy duty braided fishing lines instead of the wire. This fishing line provides less drag, resulting the weight dropping deeper, and prevents the "hum" sometimes associated with the wire.