Anyone who has fished on a boat with outriggers is likely familiar with the drop-back they provide when a fish hits the bait or lure. The term drop-back refers to the slack in the line that is created the moment a fish pulls the line out of the clip in the rigger halyard until it comes tight to the fish. The line must fall from the clip in the outrigger, and this momentary slack enables the fish to get the bait further in its mouth and turn away before the line comes tight.
Flat-line clips are not as common as outriggers, but they’re just as important.
The benefit is twofold. First, using a flat-line clip on your transom gives the fish a short drop-back. Second, the clip holds the line closer to the water for a better angle to keep the line down and the bait in the water.
You will see various versions of the flatline clips for outriggers screwed into the transom or attatched to a rod. These work, but I always hate to screw anything into the boat if you don’t have to, and the other setups are a bit awkward.
You can make a simple, removable clip to attach the boat when you’re trolling. I prefer to use a Blacks Outrigger Release Clip because they are sturdy, adjustable and reasonably priced. You can buy a downrigger version or cut the wire and beads off of the outrigger version. I rig them on 200- to 400-pound mono with the clip on one end and a loop on the other.
Using a crimp, attach the release clip to a section of line. Cut the line depending on how long you need it. One to three feet should be fine. On the other side of the mono, use a crimp to make a loop. You can now attach the release clip to the transom of the boat by placing that loop around a stern cleat.
Next time you’re trolling offshore, try running the lures or baits in the short corner off of a flat-line release clip. I bet you’ll see your hookup percentage increase.
Here is another method to make suction cup flatline clips.