The 10 Best Manual Downriggers
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in December of 2018. Downriggers allow you to place your lure in the water at whatever depth you choose, increasing the odds of catching more fish. Once you get onto a school, you can keep dropping your bait in the exact same spot again and again and, hopefully, reel in one after another. These manual units are more budget-friendly than their electric counterparts and have less components to potentially break. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
November 19, 2020:
In the world of manual downriggers, a few brands have the market cornered when it comes to quality units, and they don't release new models all that often. Rather, it seems they stick to the old adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and tend to keep selling tried and true models for a long time. So, despite spending a lot of time looking for and researching new options, we didn't find any reason to remove or replace any of our previous recommendations.
A perfect example of the continuation of selling tried and true models is the Seahorse Troll-Master. For a long time Penn made some of the best and most popular manual downriggers. However, some years ago they decided to discontinue their entire line. At that point, Seahorse bought the design of the famed Penn Fathom Master and essentially just rebranded as the Seahorse Troll-Master with almost no modifications. They even provide support and service to the Penn models, which should make anyone owning one of the old Fathom Masters happy to hear.
Another very popular model that has been around a long time is the Cannon Uni-Troll 10 STX. A big part of what makes the Uni-Troll 10 STX so desirable is the rapid 2:1 retrieval rate, which means it reels in two feet of line for every crank. This allows you to get your cable and weight out of the water extremely quickly after getting a strike to prevent it from interfering with your line. In addition to the fast retrieval rate, it boasts a low-profile design that works well on a lot of vessels, a telescopic boom, and a swiveling base.
Scotty is known for making reliable downriggers as well, which is why we have three of their models on this list. Of these, the Scotty Longarm, with its 60-inch telescoping boom, is the best choice for anglers who like to put a lot of lines out in the water, though if you generally only put out a single line, you might be able to go with the Scotty Depthmaster, instead, and save a bit of money. Both offer depth counters and position-adjustable rod holders.
January 23, 2019:
When selecting the best manual downriggers we wanted to make sure to find one to suit every type of boat and application. Because of this you'll find some compact models that are perfect for fishing canoes and kayaks, as well as larger option that can be mounted on fiberglass boats. We also made sure to offer different retrieval speeds and cable lengths for shallow and deep-water use.