Poor Man’s Down Rigger


Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I spent many weeks long distance canoeing all across Northern Ontario.  When living out of a canoe, there’s no room for a tackle box, let alone a down rigger.  

My entire tackle selection was a few fly’s and jigs, a half dozen #2 and #3 Mepps Comet Spinners, some loose hooks, and a mitt full of thick rubber bands. My rod was custom built (by myself) as a fly spin combo, one rod that I could put my fly reel on to fly fish, or use my spinning reel to cast and spin fish.  It all worked great until we reached deep cold lakes on the river system.  

We wanted big Brookies, but it was mid-summer and the trout were deep. I had been in this predicament the year before and we left trout less. Hopefully not this year, I had an idea! Stopping on shore for a break; I gathered small, round, river rocks about 1 lb. in weight, and started piling them in the canoe.  My partner gave me a strange look wondering what I was up to.  I had a plan I had thought of the previous winter and this was its grand debut.  

Now on the water, I took a large 4 inch black and white buck tail streamer, tied it on, and let it out about 35 feet behind the canoe.  I took a stone, a rubber band, and a pen cartridge.  

I placed the cartridge against the rock and tightly wrapped the rubber band around the rock trapping the pen cartridge to the rock.  I then looped the line and pushed it into the pen cartridge far enough so it would be under the rubber band.  

When I pulled the cartridge out of the rubber band, it left the line under the rubber band as a loop that should pull out if a fish bit.  I lowered the rack down about 60 pulls, maybe 75 to 80 feet.  My rod was really bent with the heavy rock on the line; the lake was quite choppy bouncing the rock around way down deep.  Just then, my rod popped up, the rock had obviously fallen off.  Then to my surprise, the rod dipped again, this time it was a gorgeous 4 lb., Brook Trout tugging on the line.  I was excited my system worked!  Over the next few years, I caught dozens of Lake Trout and Brook Trout using this technique out of a canoe.