Do you have a small boat but want to catch fish big? There is a straightforward solution. Consider using an outrigger setup!

Outriggers are long fiberglass or aluminum poles fitted to each side of a fishing boat and come in rigid or telescopic varieties, ranging between 15 and 35 feet in length. These poles are connected to the boat’s cabin or deck with special mounts that can cater to a variety of boat designs and preferences. Let’s examine the advantages and best type of outriggers for small boats. 

Source: M&P Mercury

Why Use an Outrigger for a Small Boat?

An outrigger takes advantage of your boat’s white water wake to fool larger catch into seeing your vessel as a school of panicked bait. Your vessel can attract certain bait fish however there are a few obstacles to overcome such as the noise and unnatural vibration generated by the engine and hull. 

Properly set up outriggers widen your trolling footprint by keeping your lures clear of each other increasing the number of lines that can be deployed, mimicking that school of bait. The secondary benefit is having your bait closer to or at the surface increasing the perceived panic and helps mask the unnatural sounds emanating from your vessel.

Benefits of Ourtiggers

Here are four reason’s why outriggers (set correctly) are beneficial:

1. When being used, outriggers are lowered to an angle nearly the same level as the water’s surface. At the edge of each outrigger is a pulley with a cord, attached to which is a quick release clip that holds the fishing line. Once a fish strikes, the line is released so that it can be landed with the use of the traditional rod and reel.

2. Generally, outriggers improve the chances of a fish striking because not only does it allow the angler to cover more ocean space, it also permits the use of multiple lines. Because outriggers allow the use of multiple rods and reels, anglers can troll as many fishing lines as it may allow, thus, simulating a school of bait fish. It also allows the leader out of the water, thus, preventing bubbles that may scare the fish away.

3. Outriggers hold the fishing lines at a distance from both sides of the boat, spreading the lines far enough to prevent the risk of tangling. With more lines in the water, the angler can set them at different distances and depths that can create a variety of natural patterns to increase the chances of a strike.

4. The shallow, rocky reefs are also home to many fish species, however, trolling in these grounds are dangerous. With the use of outriggers, the fishing boat can stay in the safe deeper water while the lures are positioned to graze the shallow waters.

Best Types Of Outriggers For Your Small Boat

Outriggers need to pivot, turn or fold for travel, and allow docking and storage. While rigid or fixed outriggers tend to surround large area, they are more annoying to handle and store.

Source: M&P Mercury

Fixed poles tend to be heavier and thus disrupt the weight and balance of your small boat. Which is why telescoping poles are recommended for small boat owners. They tend to be lighter, are easily retracted and stowed.

Outrigger poles can be either aluminum or fiberglass/carbon fiber. While aluminum poles are strong and look great, they are more susceptible to corrosion and tend to be higher priced. Lighter fiberglass or carbon fiber outriggers tend to be less rigid but are better suited for small boats and tend to be more economical.

Fishing Outrigger Set-up For Smaller Boats

When outfitting your small boat with outriggers for fishing, it is important that you make the necessary adjustments to get your riggers and lures to compensate for the loss in height. The most effective set up ensures the ends of the poles are 4 to 5 meters (30 – 40 degrees from the horizontal) above the water, so your lures get the best action.

In smaller boats, say less than 25 feet, the outriggers are set up very differently than those on a big boat (but this also has advantages). The key on a smaller boat is a backbone setup that has properly rigged outriggers; since it has the power to keep baits from knotting together. A backbone can increase the height of the lines so the bait functions on the outer surface rather than penetrates and cause problems. Having this backbone  ensures a steady small boat.


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