How to Rig Offshore Outriggers

An illustrated guide takes the mystery out of how outriggers function and how anyone can set them up right the first time.

offshore outriggers
Once properly set up, outriggers become indispensable for bluewater action.Adrian E. Gray

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Ski-Boat magazine, South Africa's leading publication for saltwater angling enthusiasts. ("Ski boats," as they're known among South Africa's rugged blue-water anglers, refers to trailerable offshore boats designed to launch through the surf on a coast where marinas/inlets are few and very far between.) Author Paul Borcherds has more than 30 years' experience in the industry and run's South Africa's Pro-Rig Fishing Tackle. His how to article is published on sportfishingmag.com with permission of Ski-Boat magazine, allowing us to share with SF enthusiasts these clear and concise directions, photos and illustrations for setting up outriggers for a trolling spread — on any offshore boat.

This article shows five different rigging systems commonly used for offshore trolling from ski-boats and sport-fishing vessels. Most of the components are readily available in reputable offshore tackle shops or from marine-component suppliers.

Rigging System 1: Standard Set-Up with Double Halyard Lines and Bungee Cord

setting up offshore outriggers deep see fishing trolling spread
Standard set-up with double halyard lines and bungee cordCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
  • Connected to the gunnel with a double pulley or chain plate adjuster.
  • Single bungee cord and snap swivel or spring gate snap.
  • Ideal for start-up rigging on multi-pin bases set at 90-degree angles from the vessel.
  • For illustration purposes, Black Marine Products clips are shown but AFTCO gold fingers or roller trollers may also be used.
CRIMP sleeve protectors
Though not shown in the illustration just above this photos, these light crimp sleeve protectors are valuable when slid over the aluminium crimps. First, they protect the beads and rope end stoppers from coming into contact with the hard crimps, and secondly, the aluminium crimps some corrosion protection. They also make your set-up look more professional all round.Courtesy Ski-Boat Magazine

Rigging System 2: Standard Set-Up with Double Halyard Lines and Sheet Line and Bungee Cord

setting up offshore outriggers deep see fishing trolling spread
Standard set-up with double halyard lines and sheet lineCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
  • Connected to the gunnel with a double pulley or chain plate adjuster.
  • Single sheet line, rope guide and cam cleat.
  • Ideal for start-up rigging on multi-pin bases set at 90-degree angles from the vessel.
  • For illustration purposes, Black's clips are shown but AFTCO gold fingers or roller trollers may also be used.
Closeup of outrigger rigging
This closeup of the rigging shows the rope end stopper, bead, crimp, light sleeve and snap swivel.Courtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
setting up offshore outriggers - cam cleat and rope guide
Side view of the cam cleat and rope guide installation on the gunwale.Courtesy Ski-Boat Magazine

Rigging System 3: Professional Set-Up with Double Halyard Lines

setting up offshore outriggers - Professional set-up with double halyard lines
Professional set-up with double halyard linesCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
  • Connected to the gunnel with 2 x double pulleys or 2 x chain plate adjusters.
  • Double sheet line, double rope guides and cam cleats.
  • Ideal for rigging on all multi-pin bases and U-frame fold-out bases.
  • For illustration purposes, AFTCO troller rollers are shown but AFTCO gold fingers or Black's clips may also be used.
setting up offshore outriggers - rope guides and cam cleats
Note the relative position of the rope guides and cam cleats.Courtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
setting up offshore outriggers - alternative rigging for cam cleat and rope guides
This shows an alternative way to install the rope guides and cam cleats on the gunwales of smaller boatsCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine

Rigging System 4: Tag Line Set-Up with Single or Double Halyard Lines

setting up offshore outriggers - Tag line set-up with single or double halyard lines.
Tag line set-up with single or double halyard linesCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine

Step 1 (picture on the left):

  • After setting up the halyard lines of your choice, open one of the swivels and slide a tag line weight return over the bottom snap swivel.
  • Connect a solid ring to the bottom snap swivel.
  • For illustration purposes, the release clips between the top two swivels were left out, but they may be attached if you wish to leave them in place.

Step 2 (picture on the right):

  • Measure out a pole length of 400-pound to 600-pound mono line. A second length of mono line may also be measured out for a second tag line on the short rigger halyard line.
  • Push the leader line from the bottom into the tag weight and pull it up to the solid ring.
  • Connect the leader to the solid ring with a Hangman's Noose knot (High Memory knot).
  • On the opposite side of the leader line, push on a brightly colored rope end stopper and oval bead, then crimp.
  • Attach the crimp 12 inches (300 millimeters) to 16 inches (400 millimeters) from the spring gate snap attached to the saddle on the gunnel.
setting up offshore outriggers - spring gate
The spring gate snap is crimped onto the mono leader of the tag line and attached to the cam cleats saddle.Courtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
setting up offshore outriggers - halyard line and mono tag line through tag weight
This shows the halyard line and mono tag line through tag weightCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
setting up offshore outriggers - knot connected to solid ring
Closeup of solid ring with a hangman's noose or high-memory knotCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine
setting up offshore outriggers - closeup of tag weight resting on rope-end stopper
Closeup of tag weight resting on rope-end stopperCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine

Rigging System 5: Center Rigger Setup with Single Halyard Line

Center rigger setup with single halyard line - Center rigger setup with single halyard line
Center rigger setup with single halyard lineCourtesy Ski-Boat Magazine

Step 1:

  • Similar to the tag line set-up.
  • After setting up the halyard line, open one of the swivels and slide a tag line weight return over the bottom snap swivel.
  • Connect a solid ring to the bottom snap swivel.
  • For illustration purposes, the release clips between the top two swivels were left out, but they may be attached if you wish to use them.

Step 2:

  • Measure out a pole length of 400-pound to 600-pound mono line.
  • It is advisable to make this at least 1 meter longer than the pole in order to attach the rubber band to the mono line from the reel without reaching up for the spring gate snap while standing on the deck.
  • Push the leader line from the bottom into the tag weight and pull it up to the solid ring.
  • Connect the leader to the solid ring with a Hangman's Noose knot (High Memory knot).
  • On the opposite side of the leader line, push a brightly colored (yellow or orange) rope end stopper and oval bead, then crimp.
  • Attach the crimp 12 inches (300 millimeters) to 16 inches (400 millimeters) from the spring gate snap.