At the present time only 4 manufacturers in North America, actively produce 12v electric downriggers in any great quantity: Walker, Cannon, Big Jon and Scotty.

It is important for comparison purposes to understand how each manufacturers "system" actually functions…what benefits the users receive from these functions…and the costs associated with those functions.

To start with…Walker, Big Jon, and Cannon 12volt electric downriggers all incorporate a "GEAR" drive system, in all available models, making features and benefits easy to compare.

Scotty manufactures only a "belt driven" system, which "lacks" the ability to "perform" some important functions, currently available "only" in a gear drive system.

All Walker Downriggers Purchased include a Tournament Trolling Rod

14 More Reasons to Choose a Walker Downrigger

  1. Walker has been a "leader" in downrigger technology for over 30 years.
  2. Only the best components are used in our production process.
  3. Premium 195lb. test stranded stainless downrigger cable that is 30% stronger than the nearest competitor.
  4. Cast, anodized aluminum Swivel Bases…No plastic to crack.
  5. Dual "Adjustable" rod holders are standard.
  6. Adjustable 4' booms that don't flex so much, in rough water, that the cable breaks.
  7. Best design…No downrigger in the world is easier to use or service!
  8. Lowest profile gear drive electric downrigger available.
  9. Full Salt-Water protection!
  10. Best overall performance.
  11. Walker was the "first" downrigger company to offer a limited lifetime warranty.
  12. Walker was the "first" downrigger company to offer a positive ion system for attracting fish.
  13. Walker is the 'only" downrigger company to offer temperature at the ball…built right into the design of the downrigger. (Temp Sense)
  14. Walker is the "only" downrigger company to design a downrigger that can "see" real fish with our "Strike Vision™" underwater video camera system.

"Belts" vs "Gears"
Since gear drive 12v electric downriggers are generally more expensive to produce than a belt drive system, why would 3 manufacturers out of a group of 4 choose gear drive?
gear drive allows the operator the choice to power down as well as up at controlled speeds, or the ability to drop down manually by using the clutch. A belt drive system only does "half the job" powering up only, leaving "no option" but to manually lower the ball by clutch.
2. FASTER SETUPS…Some experienced skippers send multiple downrigger lines down simultaneously using "gear drive" downriggers, so setups are faster. This is not possible with a belt drive system, as a manual down drawback requires the operator to stay with one downrigger until it is all setup. The only way to hurry up the setup time on a belt drive system is to open the clutch drive to drop the ball faster. This is a "mistake" which can cause the lure to helicopter down in spirals, snagging nearby lines or even the downrigger cable itself, leaving the unwitting operator trolling with "fouled lines".

3. DEPENDABILITY… belts "do fail" more often than gears. Gear drive systems are built to last. There are 12v electric Walker Downrigger gear drives still operating flawlessly, that are over 20 years old, that have "never" failed, nor needed maintenance. Not surprisingly…not even "one" belt drive downrigger we are aware of has got within spitting distance of this performance!

"Rubber Belts are Rubber Belts."
The question is not "if" a belt will fail but "when" it will fail!
During a tournament? During a charter? While on vacation? The answer is "TOO SOON"! For these reasons and many more, well over 90% of all the professional charter boats on the Great Lakes choose to use "gear driven" downriggers exclusively!

4. GEAR DRIVES…"Catch More Fish". Experienced fisherman know how to catch more fish! With a gear drive 12V downrigger, a fisherman can choose to "swim" a lure up and down, simply by powering up and quickly reversing down, to simulate a fleeing baitfish. This action often entices "strikes" from otherwise inactive game fish. A belt drive system that lacks the ability to power down, simply can't match a gear drive for this simple, yet important fish catching technique.

"What about Speed?"
What about retrieval speed? Is it important?
Depending on what type of bottom structure you are fishing over, and the nature of fishing you're doing, retrieval speed may be more or less important, to your success.
It is commonly believed that it is necessary to bring balls up fast, in order to clear downrigger cables when a big fish is on your line. Let's examine how fast a retrieve is required to do the job adequately?
Look for example at what happens when a salmon hits! It generally takes from 5 to 25 minutes to bring a salmon to boat side! Provided that the electric downrigger is activated to power up within 30 seconds of the hit, a downrigger would have to clear the lines within 4 1/2 minutes to be adequate for a five minute landing. From a depth of 100 feet that would require a retrieval speed of slightly over 20 ft/min.
Obviously ,although 20 ft./min. is fast enough for the task, even the slowest downrigger manufactured is about 4 times this fast. Most manufacturers, including Walker, offer models with different power trains , and options, that speed up retrieval speeds considerably more.
Walker,  now offers only electric models that average 200 ft./min.(Actual speeds depend on ball weights, and actual voltage delivered to the downriggers).          
Walker's new "Tournament Series" electric downriggers, when coupled with our "new" exclusive "automatic weight retrievers, allow for the fastest ,and easiest deployment  and retrieval of downrigger weights in the industry!

Question: Are Belt drive downriggers 100% electrically efficient?
Answer: No design is 100% electrically efficient?

Question: Is "amp draw" a reason for concern when choosing an electric downrigger and why?
Answer: Amp draw and electricity efficiency claims in 12v electric downriggers are pretty much "Red Herring" issues, because 12v downriggers "are not" engaged in continuous duty. The charging systems on most boats recharge "all" the power used, regardless of amp draw in mere seconds after each duty cycle

When a fish hits my lure, and I hit the up switch on my 12v electric downrigger, what happens if I forget to shut it off when it gets to the top?
Answer: Walker Downriggers have a clutch, swivel end assembly and motor overload shutoff, designed to allow worry free, hands off operation. The ball automatically comes right up to the boom tip. With the loose clutch setting, the clutch will just cycle. With a tight clutch setting the motor will shut off. For those who like to have the ball stop at a pre-selected position like the water surface, Walker offers and recommends a unique auto-stop option for all electric models, that incorporates a non contact magnetic sensor, eliminating the need to use crimps or damage prone mechanical micro switches that are used by most other manufacturers. For those who purchase our powerful and fast  new "Tournament Series" electric models, an automatic weight retrieval system can be installed that actually brings the ball back to boatside and shuts the downrigger motor off just by flicking the up switch. Flipping the switch back down , automatically sends the ball back out and down.  This leaves the operator free to fight fish instead of operating equipment.     You can't make a mistake with a Walker!

: Do other downriggers operate this way?
Answer: No other company has duplicated this simple smooth clutch system. Most other electric downriggers clutch and pulley designs would commonly break the cable, causing lost time, equipment, and expense, which necessitated that they install some sort of mechanical shutoff switch, which itself of course, is prone to failure over the long term.

: Is a tip up arm a good or a bad feature on a downrigger?
Answer: The jury's out on this one. With very experienced operators, a tip up arm may be okay, however..swivel latches have been known to let go, and the operator must always judge the correct distance to leave the cable out after powering up, to have the ball swing into the correct position to handle it.  For these reasons most professional charter boat operators opt for a secure arm and use a swivel base and/or an ez-trieve type system to bring the ball into the boat. At Walker, we now  offer a unique automatic weight retrieval system (for use only on our powerful "Tournament Series" electric models. This system gets balls up, in and back down simpler than any other system in the world!!!

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