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Here are a couple of more useful links.

This one is the Cannon website:

This is the website for SEPs Pro Fishing, which is dedicated to trolling for trout, kokanee and other landlocked salmon:

The bare minimum set-up for using a downrigger includes:
- downrigger
- cannon ball (anything from 4 - 12 lbs)
- release clip (I like the "clothespin" type...see picture below)

- rod and reel with a smooth drag (spinning or casting)
- fish finder - highly recommended, but not absolutely necessary

I use downriggers a fair bit when trolling for trout and kokanee and learned how to do so in about 10 minutes with an experienced user.  As others have mentioned, keep track of where your downrigger ball is, and where the bottom do not want to snag the ball on the bottom because the cable is typically 150-lb test and it is very hard to break.  Luckily, you can normally see the downrigger ball on the fish finder, and, if you tweak it just right, you can see the ball, you can see the lure, and sometimes you can even see fish come up to inspect the lure and, if you're lucky, whack it!  The best reality TV show you'll ever watch.

As for tackle, make sure that whatever rod and reel set-up you use has a smooth drag, because you generally want to lower the cannon ball (with the line clipped to the release) with your reel in gear.  A jerky drag will catch, pop the line out of the release, and then you have to start all over again.  If you have a smooth drag, just back off on the drag pressure, lower the ball down, and then tighten the drag back up to your strike setting (don't forget this last step).  Other than that, you can get away with spinning or casting reels and rods in the 7 - 9' range (most of mine are 7 or 7'6").

The amount of line you have between the clip and the lure really varies...sometimes you can get away with a few feet, sometimes you need 50 or more feet.  It just depends on how skittish the fish are, and whether they are likely to be spooked by the big downrigger ball.  I normally start with about 15 ft and adjust it from there.
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