Which is best for trolling deep baits, a planer, a downrigger, or a Z-wing? This is a question that doesn’t come up as often as it should, because most people use one of the above and stick to it. And often, which of these you use depends more on where you fish then it does how you fish. On the northwest coast, for example, 99-percent of the trollers have their boat rigged up with downriggers. On the east coast, you’ll see a heck of a lot more guys running in-line planers. Some others run a planer from a static line (usually attached to a cleat) then run their fishing lines from it by attaching them with a rubber band and a swivel. (A “poor man’s downrigger”) And now and again a Z-Wing pops up.
This is a darn shame, because after using the Z-Wing I’ve made a switch. Why? It’s simple: the Z-Wing gives you a diving angle close to 20-degrees off vertical. Rig one up with 80′ of line, hang it from a stern cleat, and your baits will be running between 40′ and 50′. Yet they’re inexpensive (about $50) and they don’t bang around and break stuff like a downrigger ball. So they’re ideal for running deep baits, right? Ummm… sort of. Don’t ditch that downrigger so fast. Instead, combine the two tools. While a Z-Wing works fine run from a static line, it’s even better when used in conjunction with a downrigger because you can easily vary the depth as you choose, when you choose. SImply swap out the cannonball, and clip the Z-wing onto the downrigger cable. Here’s an example of what that can mean to offshore trollers: