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December Thoughts…. Using Dipsey Divers….12/12/2023

First, let me say, everyone has their own way of doing things when they fish, so I’m not going to tell you that what I’m about to tell you, is the right way, or that your way is the wrong way, and just tell you how I do it. Nothing more.

What works for me, might help someone just learning, learn how to do it with more confidence.

I have had many trips, where my customers, who never used them before, wanted to learn how to run dipsies, and become more proficient with them, so I thought I would write it all down, and share what I do, and how I fish them, with all of you.

Did you know, that dipsies can be used in shallow water, too? When I first started using them, I was taught to run them faster and in deeper water. I didn’t know you could run them in shallow water, too. One day, I was fishing with friends, on their boat, and Capt Jen, who’s my best friend, set out a dipsey on a three setting at only 19 back, over 8 feet of water.
She had said that she and her husband Capt Matt had caught fish the day before on the exact same set up. Sure enough, we caught fish too. That blew the myth, that I was told, that they couldn’t be run in shallow water.

So, don’t be fooled, like I was, and don’t forget to try some skinny water, too.

I use the “Size 1 dipsey with the Ring”. I run two short 6 foot rods on the “inside” (rod to the furthest back to the stern), and two longer rods (8’6″) on the “outside”, off each corner.

A dipsey is designed to go straight down, or out to the sides, by moving a dial on the back of the dipsey. When you look at the backside of a dipsey, you’ll see a triangular pointer, dividing the dipsey in half, down the middle.

There is a set of three numbers to either side of a triangular pointer, with zero being in the middle, directly under the pointer.
By moving that dial to a 1, 2, or 3 position, on either side of the pointer, that will determine how far out to the side the disc will swim. Zero is straight down, 1 is a little to the side, 2 is even further to the side, and 3 is furthest out, away from the boat.

When you’re looking at the back of the disc, know that the numbers on the right side of the zero and pointer are fished off of the port side, and numbers on the left side of the pointer are fished off the starboard side.

Setting a dipsey:

Before you set a dipsey in the water, the first thing you want to know is, “Where are the walleye swimming in the water column?” Look at your electronics, check the depths where you see marks on the screen, and then pull out your paper depth chart that comes with the dipsey, Precision Trolling Data app, or a picture on your phone, that tells you how much line to put out with each setting. You’ll want to set your baits just above the marks you’re targeting on your electronics screen.

I use the Precision Trolling Data app, because I always have my phone, and the app works even if there isn’t any signal out on the water. I tell the app what setting I’m using, and at what depth I see fish at, and then, it automatically tells me how much line to let out, to reach that desired depth.
I have the “Lifetime” membership, so I can receive any new baits that get tested and uploaded, plus any software updates….for, life. As long as I don’t change my phone’s OS platform (Apple to Android, or vise versa), I can get it passed on to the next phone I get.

Back to fishing….

If no lines have been set yet, I set out the outside dipsey first, simply because there is zero chance of it getting tangled. I usually use a 3 setting on the outside rod, to help keep novice hands from tangling. Then, the inside dipsey gets set to zero, or one, and let out, to help keep a good separation between the two dipsies.

The reel’s tension button must be turned on, when setting a dipsey out. You know it’s on when you hear a clicking sound on your reel, as the line goes out. I call that the, “Clicker”. The tension keeps the diver from going down too fast. If it goes too fast, the leader will have a tendency to get hung up around the dipsey, and then it’s not going to work the way it should, and needs to be brought up, and reset.

On the front of a dipsey, there is a lever that the mainline connects to, and it needs to be pushed into a raised slot, that is molded into the dipsey, until it clicks in place. There is a tension screw on the side of the dipsey, that allows you to adjust the tension setting on that lever/arm, so it fits snuggly, but will trip if a fish hits the bait. I call this lever, “The Mechanism”.

A snubber, that attaches and runs behind the dipsey, and is usually around 6″-8″ on average, helps keep bigger fish from getting off the line, by taking some of the shock away, when a big fish puts up a good fight.

The leader, is then attached to the back of the snubber. In my case, the leader length is whatever my arm length is, when I reach out to both sides, and extend my arms out as far as they will go… which is pretty close to 6 feet. 🙂

Baits I use, are big and little spoons, shallow diving crank baits, crawler harnesses, and “Worm Burners”.

Here are a few tips, that might work for all of you too….

When you’ve caught a fish on a dipsey, and it hasn’t tripped the mechanism:

Put your thumb on the reel’s spool and press down, to hold it in place…reel down to take up any slack line….then, give the rod tip a flick of the wrist, to pop that mechanism on the dipsey, and reel it in.

Once it’s tripped, it comes in a lot smoother and easier.

I tell my clients to keep the rod tip close to the water, as they reel it in, so that the dipsey stays in the water until its found its way to the tip of the rod, where my client then lifts the rod up, and steps backwards a couple of steps, to bring that fish that’s out there on a 6-foot leader, closer to the boat, so it can be netted.

I try to bring all the dipsies in on the starboard side of the main motor, because there’s more room for netting fish, because the kicker motor is on the port side, and I can’t risk a customer netting a fish near the running prop. I’ve ruined a few net baskets, on the props, by letting customers net fish, too. It’s always a learning experience for them, and I get a new basket when it happens.

When setting out an outside dipsey, when the inside rod is already set:

Let’s set the port side (where the kicker is, too). The inside rod is running on a zero setting at 47, and I need to get the rod with the 3 setting dipsey out to the side, without tangling. The best way to do that is to place the bait on the inside of the inside rod, and kicker, and hold the line on the reel, so the dipsey doesn’t go out.

Then, I point the rod tip out, over, and out to the side of the inside rod, in one smooth action. I do not jerk the rod tip all over the place, bouncing the dipsey up and down and all around. It should be one smooth movement, that takes the dipsey out to the side without interfering with the inside line.

Once my rod tip is out past the inside rod, and to the side, I drop the dipsey in the water, (put the rod in the rod holder while it goes out), and then lock the reel in, when it gets to the desired depth.

By doing this method, you can set more than two lines on each side. And, could realistically run one at zero, one at 1, one at 2, and one at 3…or, four on each side, if done correctly with rod lengths, and settings.

I just run two on each side with clients who are learning. It’s enough, and allows us to do both, dipsies and Off Shore Tackle boards. There are days the fish come so fast, that we don’t even have time to put any boards out, and just run 4 dipsies, and still catch 24 walleye in an hour and a half.
You might ask, “Is it like that all the time?” No. of course not. I would be lying if I said that. But, during the warmer months, when we can troll faster, dipsies can be a strong tool to have in your arsenal.

Lures I typically use on the dipsies:

Michigan Stinger Spoons and Scorpion Spoons
Yeck Spoons (the 2 1/4″ size)
Ripplin Red Fins
YaleEye Moon Eyes
Shallow Bandits
Shallow WNC Reapers

I hope this helps just one person, who might be struggling with their dipsies, to understand them a little better, and learn how to set them with more confidence.

If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read it. 🙂

If I have left anything out, and anyone has questions, please email me at, and I’ll answer your questions.

Thank you…

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