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  • I had a buddy send me this article.....thought I would pass it along. Don't "shoot the messenger"....I just thought it was worth sharing. :peace:

    It's a bit "lengthy" so grab a coffee, beer or glass of pink fizzy wine.

    May The Force Be With You
    by John Beath

    Every form of fishing from a boat has forever changed - and continues to change with each new discovery. Good or bad, many of these discoveries have cost us more money while providing an increasingly sophisticated outdoor experience. Sometimes, we even catch more fish with these new-age fish-catching toys, which makes us feel better about the dollars we spend.

    Do you remember when downriggers first showed up on the gun whales of boats owned by hard-core salmon fishing fanatics? Yea, sure. Some laughed at first. Now most of us who regularly pursue salmon wouldn't leave the driveway or dock without our trusty downriggers at the ready. Instead of hand-cranking a downrigger while playing fish or simply retrieving the weight, the trend has steadily switched to modern high tech electric models. When I think of downriggers and how they have changed the way my fishing partners and I hunt down our quarry, I can't help but realize how well they've worked and how many more fish we caught.

    A myriad of other high-tech gadgets including; Loran C., G.P.S., global maps, plotters, auto pilots, mini radar units and more have appeared on the boating scene. Own a boat and you too could have every toy imaginable. But, with all of these fish-catching wonders, they won't help a bit if you don't have the power to run them, or if your power leaks beyond the confines of a battery, electrical wire or the unit. No kidding. One electrical leak and you might as well call it a day, unless you don't mind not catching fish while trolling around sacrificing a little known piece of your boat's electrical system - the zinc.

    Hopefully, your boat has a sacrificial zinc. If it doesn't, you probably won't catch as many fish and your outdrive or lower unit will suffer the consequence in the form of tiny pinholes throughout which eventually eat away the exposed metal beyond recognition. This unkind event, commonly called electrolysis, {galvanic reaction} occurs naturally when two kinds of metal react to the minerals in the water which can create a galvanic reaction. Most anglers have become only slightly familiar with electrolysis or galvanic reaction, especially if they trailer their boats to and from the fishing grounds. For those who keep their boats in the water for any length of time, the term has probably been etched into their memory like the electrolysis etches into the zinc.

    With any luck, when the zinc reaches an unknown mass or a new one is added, your boat's electrical field outside of the boat might be just right. But who knows when this happens? These lucky boats and properly outfitted boats emit no current or a slight positive charge - a charge that spells success because slight positive charges actually attract fish.

    Different fish have varying reactions to these slight electrical currents which further complicates the matter. Scientists have ranked hundreds of fish by their anode {electrical} reaction. Some fish actually have the ability to detect slight voltage gradients caused by ocean currents and river movements within the Earth's magnetic field. Many other fish throughout the globe use their powers to detect the electrical impulses emitted from other fish. Virtually all fish react in one of three ways to electricity. They love it, hate it or it immobilizes them. Fish can also determine the difference between an anode, {positive} and cathode, {negative}.Virtually all fish will move toward a positive anode.

    If a boat has not been properly outfitted a negative charge pulses through the water like a force field - a fish repelling force field! Sounds kind of like a Star Trek episode, doesn't it? And it works very much the same way. "Give me more or less power Scotty. The dreaded dogfish sharks have broken through in great numbers," Captain Kirk said while fishing from a space-aged fishing boat.
    "I can't, I don't know how to control the power Captain Kirk. At least no salmon have broken through the force field."

    Researchers continue to study how fish react to anode and cathode charges. Russian scientists studying fish behavior as far back as 100years discovered how fish react to electrical currents. Sharks in particular are very sensitive to electrical currents and react to them positively - no wonder some fishermen catch so many dogfish! To much or to little current could spell DOGFISH all day.

    It doesn't take much power to repel the right fish or attract the wrong kinds. Knowing how to harness this power has been the key to success for years among savvy commercial fishermen who know the power of the force and how to properly harness it. The heck with force fields, harnessing the force, having it with you and knowing how to use it is far more important than repelling fish.

    Downriggers play a big roll in creating and controlling the electrical output of any sport fishing boat. When a properly insulated downrigger cable is lowered into the water, natural electrolysis between the cable and the boat's zinc or zincs occur - but it's still a guessing game without the proper monitoring device or a way to properly correct any slight positive or negative charges. Think of your downrigger cable and the zinc as a battery. When lowered into the water, you've created alow-power giant battery. Typically the reaction between the downrigger cable and the zinc generates .70 to .80 volts of electricity when in saltwater. Next time you lower your downrigger cables see for yourself by measuring the voltage with a voltage meter.

    In the old days, the commercial fishermen discovered and developed a secret technology - the black box. If you had the knowledge and the black box, you caught more fish. These black boxes actually made the difference between a mediocre salmon season and a profitless, fishless season.

    The black box of yesteryear, and today's version, the Scotty Black Box, monitors electrical output and allow anglers to select a voltage for each species of fish pursued. This output actually surrounds the boat which creates an appealing fish-catching area, much like a candy store in a kindergarten.

    The Scotty Black Box carries the name of it's packaging and comes in a small rectangular black box. Since hitting the sport fishing community three years ago, downrigger fishing as we know it has positively changed! The device takes up little room and requires a minimal amount of time and knowledge to install.

    While each species of fish react differently, the water also reacts slightly different, according to the minerals and conditions present. The Black Box allows anglers to monitor and maintain a constant voltage, and allows them to increase or decrease voltage as desired. Some anglers slightly increase voltage for short periods of time, then turn the voltage down to entice strikes.

    How to check your boat's readings:

    A voltmeter or volt/ohm meter capable of reading from 0 to 1 volts can be used to check several key places on your boat. The voltmeter will measure the natural electrolysis which may repel or attract fish and it will measure electrical leaks inside your boat.

    The boat needs to be in the water to properly check for galvanic corrosion {electrolysis}. Whenever the boat is in the water, every different metal part interacts with the other to weaken the boat's battery. As electrical currents flow underwater from one part to the next, electrolysis takes place. If your boat is properly set up, the current will flow to the zincs and create a slight fish-catching field around your boat while protecting your boat's metal parts.

    No matter what your boat is made of, wood, fiberglass or aluminum, it must be properly wired. Wood and fiberglass boats usually have a copper bonding wire which runs the length of the inner hull to connect the engine or outdrive, fuel tanks, engine thru hull fittings, trim tabs and anything else in contact with the water.

    Checking a wood or fiberglass boat:

    First check to make sure all metal parts in contact with the water are connected with a bonding wire. Then check the bonding wire for corrosion or breaks. Also check the fittings for corrosion. Touch the negative lead to the bonding wire and the positive lead to each fitting. If your test shows a reading of .010 volts or higher, clean the connection and recheck. If your test shows a reading below .010check the same fitting with an ohm meter to ensure continuity of less than one ohm.

    Checking an aluminum boat:

    If your boat has an outboard motor it should be grounded to the metal hull or bonding strap. Electric start outboards can be connected from the negative terminal of the starting battery to the boat's hull. To check an aluminum boat, attach the negative lead of the volt/ohmmeter to the negative terminal of the battery and the positive lead to the boat's hull or bonding strap and check the outboard motor as well. If you don't find continuity, you should install a #10 size copper bonding wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the outboard and boat hull.

    Checking your downrigger cable:

    To check your cable lower it into the water several feet, {20-feetshould do}. To avoid electrical problems from other boats, perform this test away from all other boats. Attach the negative lead of the voltmeter to the negative terminal of the battery and touch the positive lead to the downrigger cable. If you have anything below .7 or above .9volts you have a problem and need to check all fittings. With the voltmeter's leads still attached, begin turning on the boat's electrical items one by one, and take a reading on the cable as you continue turning on switches. If your readings change more than .05 volts from the first reading with everything off, you have a problem in your boat's negative battery circuit.

    Controlling your boat's CURRENT situation with a Scotty Black Box:
    Natural electrolysis occurs with or without the Black Box. To take advantage of your boat's fish-catching positive charge, you should properly outfit your boat by following these steps - even if you do have a Scotty Black Box and don't have a current problem.
    • All downrigger spools need to be properly insulated from the boat hull. Most plastic spools are properly insulated.
    • Sacrificial zincs should be checked and maintained regularly. When you add more electronic devices, it's a good idea to add zincs. As soon as a zinc is 50% dissolved, it should be replaced immediately. Cleaningzincs should be done on a regular basis. Non-corrosive brushes orstainless steel brushes should be used. Note: Metal brushes leave small particles in the zinc which creates more electrolysis and speeds up the break-down process of the zinc.
    • Lead downrigger weights can produce negative charges if the lead is not pure. To avoid this problem, buy vinyl coated weights or coat them yourself. Your local hardware store or automotive store should carry liquid vinyl in a can.
    • Metal snaps should not be used to connect the downrigger cable to the downrigger weight. Nylon snaps work best. In a pinch, a small length of non-conductive, high tensile strength, small diameter cord or rope may be used between the metal cable snap and weight. Heavy monofilament also works fine.
    • Downrigger cables should be replaced every two years or sooner depending on amount of use. When the cable is operated in the saltwater, galvanic action etches the cable, breaking it down physically and electrically.

    Recommended voltages for fish:
    Chinook .60
    Coho .65
    Sockeye .75
    Chum .70
    Pink salmon .60
    Kokanee .65
    Mackinaw .65
    Rainbow & Brown trout .65
    Cutthroat trout .65
    Halibut .45
    Black bass .75
    Sharks .40
    Sturgeon .50
    Striped bass .65
    Catfish .50

    Knowing when to increase or decrease your power:

    Different sized fish of the same species react differently to different voltages because of their size. If for instance, you want to attract larger tyee-sized chinook, {30-pounds and up}, you should turn down the voltage on the black box slightly. Increments of .1 volts provide a good starting point. Remember, the larger the fish, the more sensitive and less voltage needed to attract them. Conversely, when pursuing smaller sized fish of the species, you may try turning the black box up by the same degree until you discover what range they prefer for the conditions. Lowering the cable deeper reduces the voltage. For every 100 feet of cable lowered into the water, you loose .05 volts. Therefore, you should turn your Scotty Black Box up accordingly when fishing deep.

    Several British Columbia anglers, including well-known Barkley Sound guide, David Murphy, have discovered the benefits of controlling this fish-catching power. While sport fishing for sockeye salmon in Alberni Inlet over the last three seasons, anglers with the Black Box continually out fish anglers' whose boats do not control this enticing power. Many of the anglers caught 12 to 18 fish per day versus the other boat's 6 to 9 fish per day. Controlling voltage proved extremely critical when trying to attract these typically non-biting sockeye salmon. Results like this could also be possible when fishing for hard-to-catch chum, also typically a non-biting salmon.

    My results since adding the Black Box have been positive in a literal way. When I first installed the device, my boat's voltage proved barely positive. Even though I still caught fish with a negative charge, the potential of catching fish decreased as the lures or baits entered the repelling zone. The repelling zone strengthens as it gets closer to the downrigger cables. Now my boat always stays "tuned in" to the right electrical output.

    Until you close in on the current situation, you may want to keep your lures and baits farther away from the downrigger cable. The farther back the better if you don't have a way to control your force field. If you do have black box technology, bring the baits and lures closer to your space-aged fish-attracting force field, i.e., your downrigger cables. May the force be with you!

    For more information or to locate a dealer near you, contact Scotty USA{510} 825-8560 or Scotty Canada {604} 382-01410.
    Copyright John Beath 1998. WebSite design copyright Mercer Island High School Web Development Team 1998.

· Registered
193 Posts
Thats some good info , Thanks for sharing

I guess its time to check these things out

I put braid on last year and never worried about it since, but now after reading that i may just check the boat anyways.
Perhaps this is what some of the local salts are refering to as a hot Boat.

I know my boat has good zincs because i change them every year but being an aluminum boat with an outboard
i guess it could have all types of "leakage"

I know the boat is "fishy" but perhaps it could get better with a few modifications! Up until now i just thought it was operator error :happy:

Cheers Oliver

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85 Posts
Very interesting read! Unfortunately this is probably a bit too technical for me to grasp. If I used braided line on the downrigger (which I don't do yet) would that not eliminate the problem of the boat possibly emitting the wrong kind of currents?

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63 Posts
I had Chromechaser on th eboat, near the BB, he asked what I thought about elec currents, do I check them, etc..

Then FISH ON. Landed it.

Answered: "Never checked, don't know how to check, seems to catch fish".
Over at the Derby landed 11. Many other boats landing 0.

Maybe I got the right current by chance?

I'm not saying it does/doesn't matter, but I wonder how far this Field can reach?

When I have the insulated ball, on a snubber, the line 50' back and the cable down 60 feet. Clip via a 60" plastic line to a plastic clip, clipped to a mono line, how much of a field is going to be back where the Flasher/Hooks are?

Might not the metal in the flasher/bead chains (2) swivels, hooksnaps and hooks create more of a field directly in the vicinity of the lure? Isn't that what the E-chip Flasher is for?

· Premium Member
2,719 Posts
brisco said:
I believe its all a bunch of crap. There is so much junk out there to spend your hard earned money on. Its all about presentation.
Tell that to a commercail guy?
And swiftwater if you have braided line you have sacraficed youself to fishing zero........ well atleast its nither + or -.... ya still need the zinc's tho to save the outdrive

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38 Posts
Commercial guys had to figure something out as their boat is always "Hot", so they found a way to turn that "Hot" into a fish catching mechanisim.

For the regular sport fisher, making sure you have no loose wires and adiquate zinc's is all you need. The Black box will work, if you have a "Hot" boat. If fish are so repeled by electric current, then how come, when there is combat trolling off a certain point, people still catch fish? If there was even one 'Hot" boat, would the fish not leave the area and move off someplace else? I believe that for the most part that we put to much faith in an animal with a brain the size of a large pee and trying too hard to fool that pee size brain. :2cents:

I worry more about the proper spin on a bait, wobble on a plug or spoon or speed, than current and such. If you make your boat neutral (+ -) then you will catch fish. I know, I do :D



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186 Posts
Took a DMM up to alberni for the derby...boats running .64vdc ...landed 1 spring 13lbs....don't know whether the voltage actually helps, there are so many variables to fishing..however...i believe keeping it in around this range probably won't hurt my chances.
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