The Zwing......a downrigger weight alternative.
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When I recently had an issue with my Walker Downrigger, I had to contact the Service Center in Michigan for help. I have gotten to know the manager, Neil Wilson, over the years when Randy Ford still owned Walker and I was pro-staffing and working the show cycles for them. In our discussion, he mentioned a company that produced a downrigger weight alternative. I was intrigued and decided to contact them.
After talking with a sales rep., I was comped a couple of Zwings (mod. 150 and 350) to try out on my downrigger. I liked the concept of a much lighter weight that was designed to dive and hold the depth it was set at.
The product was developed and designed by Barry Moore back in the mid 80ís originally to target saltwater species using downriggers at higher speeds. His engineering background and love of fishing motivated him to come up with this system. King Mackerel tournaments have been a big draw for many years now on the East Coast and speed trolling with downriggers is the ticket. My guess is that could have been some of the motivation as these tournaments were, and still are, quite lucrative. I donít know that for sure but canít help to speculate that many of the competitors in those competitions would jump on such a downrigger system.
It works on a hydrodynamic principal that causes it to dive and hold the depth when towed through the water. Be aware they warn that as you go faster, it puts more pressure on the rigger and cable so make sure your equipment is capable of handling the load. For a freshwater application, most anglers wonít be pulling at the higher speeds (up to 10-12 knots) that saltwater anglers would. For my applications, I would never exceed 4 knots for anything in freshwater I am chasing.
I had the chance to use one of them (mod. 350) on one of our Central Oregon lakes recently. This model is the heavier of the two at 3.5 Lb. and is designed for all speeds. The lighter (mod. 150) weighing 1.5 LB. is specifically designed for the higher speed application.
I was impressed with the quality of it right away. It is a polypropylene unit with some stainless hardware and seems very sturdy. It even offers an option of heating the wings in hot water to cause sideward tracking to get it away from the boat to some degree. I have not tried that out myself yet. It is easy to store and wonít be rolling around in the boat as many normal downrigger weights will.
Due to time restraints, I didn't try it for deeper and slower applications but will very soon as I plan on a laker trip later in July. Feel free to contact me later this month for the results. I can tell you that I did use it down to 50 feet at speeds up to 3 mph and it worked well for me. I used it for both brown trout and kokanee trolling. I could tell from my graph that it was staying in my cone and reading at the depth that my downrigger counter registered. My good buddy, John Werwie, was taken by it and purchased one himself recently. I talked with him the other day and he said it worked for him as well on a recent outing to one of his local lakes.
I did have an issue with it on my Walker Tournament unit. Because of its much lighter weight, it tends to cause an over spool which throws some cable off on the power drop of the weight. I think that is because of the pulley system on the auto weight retrieval system on the Walker unit. However, I learned that I can simply manually clutch out to the end of the boom and then power down to eliminate the issue. That was the only problem I had and as I said, it was easily solved. Because of the design of all other downriggers I am aware of, this would not be an issue at all for any of them including even all the other Walker units that don't have the AWR system.
At a $69 retail price, it doesnít cost that much more than a traditional weight these days. For more information, contact the company at http://zwingdownrigger.com/ or call toll free at 1-800-281-0018.
If you use downriggers, this may be a tool you would want to add to your fishing arsenal.