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May 31, 2012

High-Tech Outriggers for Center Consoles

Carbon-fiber technology advances the art of offshore trolling.

Outriggers offer three distinct benefits to offshore trollers: They help spread baits over a greater swath of water without crowding and tangles; they enhance the action of baits and lures through flex and pulling angles; and they facilitate the drop-back on the strike, important with billfish, sharks and dolphin.

Just how much can outriggers enhance a troller’s game? I troll considerably with my twin-outboard-powered 28-foot center console. When I want the crew to really step things up, we’ll fish two baits off each of the 18-foot outriggers and a pair of baits from the 15-foot center rigger. With the latter, the far bait (top clip) is positioned well behind the spread, whereas the short bait (midguide) sits just behind the prop wash and ahead of the spread. The outriggers alone enable me to fish six baits. With two flat lines on transom clips and two flat lines straight back, we can fish a 10-bait spread. If that’s not enough, we’ll deploy a dredge from each corner of the cockpit and two surface teasers off the outriggers. Thanks to the outriggers, all of this is feasible and easily accomplished aboard a center console.

Quality outriggers are refined, extremely functional and lightweight, so they create little stress on a boat’s T-top, even when it’s running at a good clip through rough seas. And just when we thought outriggers couldn’t be more sophisticated, Lee’s Tackle introduced its new CX Carbon-series carbon-fiber riggers. These high-performance poles are game changers for owners of midsize to large center consoles and sport-fishermen.

Big Bennies
Lee’s CX Carbon-series outrigger poles, originally fabricated in Sweden, are now manufactured in the United States. Roswell Lee, president of Lee’s Tackle, says ultra-light weight and enhanced strength are two of the poles’ biggest advantages.

“Consider our 20-foot poles,” says Lee. “You are getting a longer pole for the same amount of weight as a standard-size (18-foot) aluminum pole or — depending on how you are looking at it — the same length pole for about half the weight of an aluminum version.”

The additional length Lee refers to is a real benefit. With longer poles, baits can be spread farther to the outside of the boat, well out of the prop wash and wake, where they can ride in clean water. The additional length also allows more space for the second or short outrigger bait to swim in clean water. And let’s not forget teasers, which also can be positioned farther seaward with a longer pole. This gives trollers more latitude in beefing up their center-field baits — those from the flat lines, transom clips and rocket launchers — without crowding them. Now, this may not be a concern aboard a large sport-fisherman, but gaining extra real estate on small and midsize fishing boats is a huge benefit.

In terms of strength, the rigidity and stiffness of the CX Carbon-series poles eliminates the need for spreaders to stiffen them. This too is a significant advantage on small to midsize boats, as the deployment, retrieval, raising and lowering of riggers is simplified. Plus, the CX Carbon poles won’t buckle or bend under the stress of pulling large lures or teasers, tight release clip settings, rubber-band restraints or even kite fishing.