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.
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.
Sleek and Racy
The CX Carbon poles have no external guide rings, a departure from traditional aluminum riggers. Instead, there are internal halyards and rollers for double-rigging. That is, two baits can be fished off the 16- to 20-foot-long poles. Pre-rigged with 400-pound-test black mono, the double pulley at the base of the pole is where both the long and short outrigger lines enter. There’s an opening with a roller at the top of the pole for the longer line, and a second opening with a roller 80 inches beneath the top one, for the short line. The rollers permit smooth and effortless line retrieval and deployment. The 12- and 15-foot versions come with a single halyard.
Their standard clear-coat finish lends a classy, deep and glossy charcoal hue, and with the external rigging, the poles take on a sleek, refined appearance.
The poles can also be custom-painted to match any boat’s color scheme. CX Carbon poles with external rings will soon be available, per some customers’ requests.
On the Water
Jeffrey Liederman, a noted South Florida and Bahamas offshore angler, has been thrilled with his Lee’s 20-foot CX Carbon outriggers, which he ordered for his new 35-foot Contender. “I’m a big fan,” says Liederman. “They’re longer and therefore elevate the baits more. They make it easy to organize a better spread of trolling baits. The outriggers are light and easy to deploy.”
When trolling for marlin in the Bahamas, Liederman and his crew can deploy teasers and large baits without risk to the poles, he points out. “They easily handle heavy clip settings and hard strikes from fish, like when we’re using rubber bands to help set the hooks on a strike. On aluminum poles, you always worry about that, unless they are full-blown spreader-equipped models.
“We do a lot of kite-fishing in tournaments here off Miami, and throughout South Florida and the Keys, and run our kites from our outriggers,” Liederman continues. “When it’s blowing hard, now we don’t worry about all that pressure on the outriggers. When we’re running, the outriggers retract nicely and really complement the look of our boat. They’re cutting-edge.”
Lee says the CX Carbon-series poles are seeing a lot of use on the T-tops of midsize and large center consoles, and also on more and more tower boats. “Basically, they are an attractive option wherever a 20-foot pole is desired, and they fit our Sidewinder and other T-top holders,” he says. “Keep in mind, we offer them in 16- and 20-foot lengths, and also in 12- and 15-foot versions, which usually serve as center riggers. We are also developing longer CX-series poles for large sport-fishing boats.”
Lee contends the CX Carbon series, though more expensive than traditional aluminum poles, are a good value when an offshore troller is looking for extra length, minus the extra weight and stress on the boat’s top.
Like everything else in the fishing and boating industry, even outriggers have gone high-tech. But that’s a good thing, especially if it helps you create and master an even more effective bait spread. And what offshore troller worth their salt wouldn’t want to do that?