Best Downrigger Clips for Kokanee Fishing (And how to set it up)


Downrigger clips are an absolutely essential part of your downrigger setup. Downrigger clips, also known as releases, free your fishing line from the downrigger cable and weight once a fish is attached to your line. This enables you to only fight the fish, instead of the resistance from the stubborn salmon, in addition to the weight form the lead ball and cable from your downrigger.

Coming in a variety of different shapes, release styles, colors, and prices, let’s go over some of the more popular ones, how to get each of them “set up” (it’s easy, I promise), and how you can even make your own!

Black’s Downrigger Release Clip

Black’s Downrigger Release Clip is one of the most popular and reliable on the market. This release clip or just “clip” is incredibly simple and versatile. Coming with adjustable tension via a screw on the side, it’s adaptable to a variety of speeds, and fish weights. It has also been reliably used in sliding and stacking scenarios with downriggers, making it a fisherman’s favorite.

Easily testable before you even put it in the water, many are quick to add that you shouldn’t be scared by the fact that the tension is adjustable by screw. This little piece of equipment, though small and unassuming, is very well made, and that tension screw will stay where you leave it.

Super easy to set up, you just attach the ring end of this device to the snap swivel of the downrigger. You open up the release end of the clip, set your line through it, and close it up. You can now test the tension by giving you line a pull, and making sure it releases that way you want it to.

Scotty Power and Mini-Power Grip Plus Release

It doesn’t get much easier than this Scotty Power and Mini Power Grip Plus Release. Simply use the snap to attach to the downrigger, and thread your line through the jaws that will keep it in place until the fish you’re looking for gives it a good pull. They work reliably not only with a monoline but with a braided synthetic line as well.

It comes with adjustable tension to allow you to get it where you want and can be attached to either the weight on the downrigger or the cable to allow for sliding and stacking. Due to the way you adjust the tension, the range of tensions and pulls you can get it to release at is a large one.

The size of this release is somewhat big, which makes it easy to use when your hands are cold and wet. The streamlined shape also reduces its chances of getting caught or snagged if you’re trolling near the bottom of a lake, reservoir, or river.

Off Shore Tackle Downrigger Release – Single or Stacker

A similar style of release, this “Off Shore Tackle Downrigger Release – Single or Stacker” are easy to use, but do have a few downsides, as far as ease goes. They arrach to the downrigger like almost every downrigger clip does, and you clamp your line between the two pads where it will stay until pulled on by a fish big enough to budge it, just like the last model we talked about.

It is adjustable, but it’s a bit harder to adjust. This model is somewhat similar to the clamps that a lot of us probably use on our bags of chips, utilizing a spring to keep tension. The tension is adjusted by moving the spring up and down the length of the little device, which isn’t terribly hard, but it’s not super accessible either.

Customers seem to love this brand, their only complaint being the occasionally need to replace the pads that hold the line between them. They can be used in a single or stacker fashion, and are great for salmon.

Off Shore Planer Board Adjustable Tension Releases

Don’t let the name throw you, this “Off Shore Planer Board Adjustable Tension Release” can be and has been commonly used for trolling. Functioning somewhat similarly to our last model, this clip release also features a spring that it uses to maintain tension. Moving this spring is how you adjust the tension for this device, which can handle higher weights, reportedly up to eight to ten pounds.

Clipping easily onto the downrigger, to attach this release to your line you simply squeeze until the jaws sperate, place the line onto the pads, and relax your fingers, enabling the jaws to have a hold on the line. Highly recommended specifically for kokanee, fishermen have had great success with this release. One of the only ones to come in a brighter color (orange), this release also has the potential to act as an attractant for kokanee salmon, who are more likely to be intrigued by more brightly colored equipment than they are black or dull grey.

Build One Yourself!

I am all about being thrifty and saving money, so if I can get something for a little cheaper, or make it myself, you can bet I’m going to give it a try, hopefully without sacrificing too much quality. I found a fantastic YouTube video that I’ll attach of a gentleman showing us one of the ways he has made his own cheap but effective and functional downrigger clips. I’ll walk us through the steps in case you are like me, and you would rather read the instructions, as opposed to watching them. Before you start, you’re going to need to…

Buy sock hangers!

Yep, sock hangers. Why not. Apparently, they have the perfect tension for (wait for it……) kokanee salmon! He says you can get a bag of 20 or more for around $8, which is the price of just one very cheap clip release.

Get a Glue Gun!

You’re going to need to use this to glue the foam or rubber to the sock hangers.

And Foam! (or rubber)

Foam what? Apparently, sock hangers have a slightly ridged edge, which can wear away your line. We’ll use this foam to cover that. He specifically uses a very thin flip flop, but I feel like rubber could work as well.

Lets get started!

  1. Break out the sock hangers. These should be individual clips, like the ones you might use on a bag of chips, but with better tension. They shouldn’t look like an actual hanger.
  2. Cut some foam (or rubber) circles the same size as the jaws of the clip.
  3. Put some hot glue on the jaws, and place the circles on the glue., making pads on each side.
  4. Let the jaws close, and put an additional clip on top of those jaws, making sure that each circle is flush with the surface of the jaws you glued them to. The extra clip on top will provide extra pressure, making sure the whole pad gets glued on.
  5. For the cable, he suggests using edging line, like the line you use in the edges for your lawn. It doesn’t rust, and it can take quite a bit of strain and weight.

Make sure to check out his video if you have any questions about specifics!

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Stripped Bass.

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