How to set up an Outrigger

Outriggers are a great addition to any fisherman’s boat as they enable them to increase their total catch. It is a part of the boat’s rigging composed of poles, which extend the boat. They enable the user to drop lines further away from the boat than if an outrigger was not in use, meaning there is space for more lines.

100_8471An outrigger is usually positioned rigidly to the main hull but as with most boating equipment, there are several types of outriggers and the mounts that they sit on. On small boats there is the wish bone, the deck mount, and the side mount. These all provide different levels of functionality and so when buying an outrigger it is important to consider the differences. Wish Bone mounts support a heavier outrigger, and so are most commonly applicable to larger boats. Side mounts are more popular when there is limited deck space on the boat, and so are more heavily utilised on smaller vessels. The deck mount however, is by far the most common on smaller boats that do still have an amount of usable deck space to mount the outrigger. If you want a long ranging outrigger then the Wish Bone is probably the one for you if weight is not an issue, deck mounts are slightly lighter, but side mounts the lightest.

How to install your outrigger depends on which mounting option you have gone for, but there are a few tips that should be followed when mounting any outrigger. Firstly all mounts should be through bolted, preferably with stainless steel and additional backing plates. Secondly you need to carefully consider placement, to make sure that you have adequate access to the outrigger components as needed. Thirdly, do not use poles that are disproportionately heavy for their intended usage – pick the lightest possible for your boat and desired set up.

A crucial component of any outrigging system is the quality of the rigging. You will need a number of parts to rig your outrigger, including a nylon cord for running around it. You will then also need an outrigger clip to tie through the snubber and back to the line. The line should always be relatively taught – too much slack may cause the outrigger system to run into issues. Clips come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and again should be relative to the size of the boat, and the type of bait you are using.

DSC_0381With an outrigger fitted, two outside lures can be run wide enough to ensure that when the boat is turned the lines do not get tangled. Outriggers can appear complex, and many fisherman would be confused on where to start. Once you understand the basic principles, some of which we have outlined above, it can seem quite simple. Quality bases and poles are a must, and these parts of the kit must be fitted properly before installation of the outrigger. Doing it on the cheap will just not cut it.

Outriggers as we know are constituted of two poles fitted to each side of the boat, they carry two lines higher and wider so that lines can be cast further from the boat. Outriggers also need a pivot, so that they can be retracted to an upright position when not in use. On a trailer boat this means they need to fold back to be completely horizontal or completely removable from the base using a pin or bolt. There are a number of collapsible pole set ups available but these are not necessarily the fisherman’s first choice as they can more easily rust or seize due to constant movement. These types of set ups are also not robust enough for any rough fishing conditions.DSC_0385

When setting up your outrigger you need to ensure that the end where the line attaches is at the right height. If set too high or two low you can run into problems. The ends of the poles should be about four to five meters above sea level for optimum usage. That is, an angle of around 30-40 degrees from the horizontal marker. It is important to remember however that the further the lines run, the more the tow angle is reduced. A reduced angle doesn’t help the lure’s action but can be improved by lifting the tow point by running it from the outrigger out to sea.

The tag line is another important part of the set up and it runs back behind the tip of the outrigger pole. They usually run about the length of the pole so bare that in mind when setting up your outrigger. The tag line should be attached to the tag line end with an elastic band which breaks when the fish grabs the lure. Tag lines can prove difficult for some as when out they are hard to reach but this is where weights form an important part of the outrigger system. Slides are also utilised to overcome this issues, and these are usually made of metal and are barrel shaped with a hole through to go over the outrigger line.

Two men can fit the bases and poles of an outrigger in an hour or two quite easily if all of the right equipment is there ready to utilise. Shock and pulleybungee cords are also useful in the set up and you can usually find these as part of a standard tag line kit as well as the cork ball which sits at the base of connection points on the outrigger system.

Make sure you have the right components, and someone to help you, and setting up your outrigger should be pretty simple or if in doubt your local fishing shop or your boat supplier should be able to recommend the most appropriate set up.

Ronstan provide a range of specialist fittings which can be used for some of the key elements of outriggers.  This includes our blocks and shackles.

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