How to Fish a Dipsy Diver

By: FishUSA Staff

July 19, 2023

Table of Contents

  • 1. Video - How To Fish A Dipsy Diver Simplified with Lake Erie Charter Captain Ross Robertson
  • 2. About Dipsy Divers
  • 3. Dipsy Diver Setup - Rods
  • 4. Dipsy Diver Setup - Line
  • 5. Dipsy Diver Setup - Leaders
  • 6. Dipsy Diver Setup - Lures
  • 7. Dipsy Diver Setup - Terminal Tackle
  • 8. Dipsy Diver Setup - Accessories
  • 9. Conclusion

Fishing a Dipsy Diver Simplified

FishUSA Pro Staffer and Lake Erie Walleye Charter Captain Ross Robertson gives a quick explanation on the how, when, what, where, and why of fishing a dipsy diver

About Dipsy Divers

Fishing a Dipsy Diver is an extremely effective way to target many species while trolling, especially walleye, salmon, and steelhead. Dipsies are incredibly popular on the Great Lakes for all 3 of these species because they allow you to get your lines deep very easily. In this article, we'll talk about how to fish a dipsy diver and go over everything you'll need to put together a successful dipsy program.

Luhr Jensen Dipsy Diver

Specific Features:

    1. Adjustable plate weight
      • Allows diver to track left or right
      • Choose distance line is away from boat
    2. Tension control
      • Allows amount of tension needed to "trip" diver to be adjusted
    3. 4 different sizes to reach a multitude of depths

Dipsy Diver Sizes:

  • Mini
    • Size: 3/0
    • Diameter: 2 1/4"
    • Max Diving depth: 20ft
  • Small
    • Size: 0
    • Diameter: 3 1/4"
    • Max Diving depth: 30ft
  • Large
    • Size: 1
    • Diameter: 4 1/8"
    • Max Diving depth: 50ft
  • Jumbo
    • Size: 3
    • Diameter: 4 7/8"
    • Max Diving depth: 100ft

How Will I Know What Depth My Dipsy is Diving To?

Every Dipsy Diver comes with a depth chart on the back of the package. These charts explain exactly how much line you need to have out for your Dipsy Diver to reach your desired depth on a certain base plate setting based on fishing with 20lb mono. The diver will achieve a greater depth quicker than what is indicated when fished with thinner diameter line.

Dipsy Diver Setup - Rods

It's extremely important to use the right rod when fishing a dipsy diver. The perfect dipsy diver rod has enough backbone to handle the diver's strong pull and to easily "trip" the device, but with a soft enough tip to keep skin-hooked fish pinned. FishUSA Pro Staffers and Charter Captains helped us to design 2 models of FishUSA Flagship Trolling Rods to be the perfect lengths and actions for fishing with dipsy divers.

FishUSA Flagship Trolling Rods

FishUSA Flagship Diver Rods Specifications:

Model: FFSHIP-T-902-MH
Power: Medium Heavy
Line Weight: 15 - 30lbs
Use: Inside Diver

Model: FFSHIP-T-1002MH                                   Power: Medium Heavy                                               
Line Weight: 15 - 30lbs                                       Use: Outside Diver

Specific Features:

  1. The FFSHIP-T-902MH is referred to as an "inside diver" rod because it is the perfect length for running dipsies close to the port or starboard side of the boat
  2. The FFSHIP-T-1002MH is referred to as an "outside diver" rod because it's the perfect length for running dipsies a greater distance from the port or starboard sides of the boat, outside of your inside dipsies.
  3. Sea-Guide uplocking reel seats with cushioned hoods
  4. Heavy-duty line keepers
  5. Triangular EVA foam foregrip for extreme comfort
  6. Designed and thoroughly tested by FishUSA charter captains and pro staff

Dipsy Diver Setup - Line

The correct line is imperative to having succes while fishing dipsy divers. In order to reel a dipsy in, it needs to be "tripped". What this means is that the realease on the diver must be triggered so that it can be reeled in with as little resistance possible. The less stretch you have in your line the easier it is for the diver to trip. For this reason, braided line is extremely popular when fishing dipsy divers. For walleye trolling applications on the Great Lakes, 30lb test is the perfect diameter and strength for fishing a dipsy diver. For species such as salmon, heavier braid may be needed. Keep in mind the amount of line you have out is directly related to the depth your diver will dive to, and the thinner the diameter of your line the quicker the diver will reach that depth. Although it's possible to use mono to fish a dipsy diver, it can be significantly more difficult to trip the device due to the large amount of strecth in the line. Mono strong enough to fish a dipsy diver with is also likely to have a large diameter, making it more difficult to reach your divers maximum potential depth.

PowerPro Braided Spectra Fiber Line

Line Specifications:

Diameter of 30lb: 0.28mm
Color: Moss Green recommended for trolling

Specific Features:

    1. Superior knot strength
    2. Near zero stretch
    3. Incredible strength – 10X stronger than steel
    4. No reel memory
    5. Won't cut guides

Dipsy Diver Setup - Leaders

When fishing a dipsy diver, leader length and strength are going to vary greatly based on the loacation and species you're fishing for. For unpressured fish or on a lake with low visibility, you may be able to get away with leaders as short as 6 or 7 feet. For skittish fish and clear water applications, you may want to go with a leader as long as 10 or 12 feet. Fluorocarbon is very popular as dipsy diver leader material because it is 100% invisible to the fish. For Great Lakes walleye fishing, 12-17lb is the standard. For larger steelhead and salmon, 20-30lb may be necessary depending on the size of fish in your area and water clarity.

Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon Line

Line Specifications:

Diameter: 15lb - .330mm

Specific Features:

    1. Excellent knot strength
    2. Virtually invisible underwater
    3. Superior abrasion resistance
    4. Made from exclusive 100% Seaguar resins

Dipsy Diver Setup - Lures

Now for the most important part of the entire setup, the lure! Obviously, the lure you'll run behind a dipsy is dependent on a number of factors, but if you're fishing for walleye, salmon, or steelhead on the Great Lakes it's going to be a spoon, shallow diving crankbait, or a crawler harness. The key similarity in all of these baits is that they do not dive deep, meaning they won't dive below the dipsy diver. Crankbaits such as Bandit Walleye Shallow Divers, Bomber Long As, and the Storm Jr. Thunderstick are extremely popular baits for use behind a dipsy diver. As for spoons, Michigan Stinger scorpion, standard, and stingray spoons are all excellent choices depending on the size and species of fish you're targeting. Dreamweaver and Moonshine Lures also make excellent trolling spoons. Crawler harnesses (aka spinner rigs) are a common favorite among walleye anglers running dipsy divers. The Dreamweaver Wormburner and full selection of Dutch Fork and Northland harnesses will all put walleyes in the boat.

A Lake Erie walleye that couldn't resist a Bomber Long A in the FishUSA exclusive "Trickster" color presented behind a Dipsy Diver

Dipsy Diver Setup - Terminal Tackle

Using quality terminal tackle is key to having the proper dipsy diver presentation. Tied onto your braided mainline and connected to the tripping mechanism of the dipsy diver will be a snap swivel. Size 4 in the FishUSA Welded Ring Ball-Bearing Swivel Snap or VMC Stainles Steel Tournament Snap Swivel will work well. On the rear end of the dipsy diver (where your leader will be attached) attach a size 3 duolock style snap. This snap will make it very easy when it comes time to change leaders. The FishUSA Heavy Duty Duo-Lock Snap will get the job done no matter where or what you're fishing for.

Dipsy Diver Setup - Accessories

There are a few accessories out there designed to help enhance the effectiveness of a dipsy diver. One is called a snubber. A snubber is an important component of many dipsy diver setups. Read below to learn when, why, and how to add a snubber to your presentation.

Snubber Specifications:

  • Colors:
    • Chartreuse
    • Fire
    • Kelly Green
    • Clear
  • Lengths
    • 6"
    • 8"
    • 12"

About Snubbers:

  1. The snap end of the snubber is attached to the dipsy diver and the leader is tied onto the swivel end
  2. In high speed, high tension dipsy diver trolling applications, hooks can be pulled from striking fish's mouths before a solid hookup can be achieved
  3. Snubbers give that extra bit of stretch that allows the fish to easier achieve a solid hold of a bait or lure before coming tight and effectively setting the hook
  4. This stretch also protects your leader, especially when targeting hard-fighting salmon and steelhead
  5. Snubbers allow you to have all the benefits the stretch of monofilament line allows while using braid and wire main lines

"O" Rings are another optional addition to dipsy divers. They're exactly as they sound, a ring shaped like an "O" that is designed to snap onto your dipsy diver to increase its surface area allowing it to dive up to 20% deeper. They're available for size #1 and size #3 dipsies and are popular when fishing very deep for salmon, steelhead, lake trout, or other offshore species that prefer deeper haunts.

Dipsy divers are an important part of almost every angler's trolling arsenal. Dipsies can be intimidating to fish with it at first, but familiarizing yourself with their design and specifications can help you get started. We hope this article helps you put together a killer dipsy program this year!