Reviewed by Captain Mike Schoonveld

Pinch pad type releases are the top choice of many Great Lakes fishermen. No other type is so easy to use. Just pinch the line between the rubber pads. No tensioners to adjust or line twists needed. Just pinch the line some where near the middle of the pinch-pad normally, tuck it way back for a tighter grip, out towards the tip if you need a light release.

It’s not rocket science – it’s clothes-pin science. The line release I ever saw put into play was made from a pinch-type clothes pin. The captain wasn’t a penny-pincher. Downriggers were brand new inventions in the early 70s and there were more anglers used homemade ones than factory models. The same went for line releases.

Since then I’ve pinched line in most brands of pinch-pad releases. They all work about the same, they are all reliable. My advice is to buy what’s available and choose the least expensive one if you have a choice.

When I saw the Troll-Master Seahorse Hydrodynamic Line Releases, I asked the Troll-Master guys what made theirs different than the others? “They are hydrodynamic,” I was told.

Indeed they are on closer inspection! Look close at them and you’ll see they are sleek and obviously will pull through the water creating very little turbulence. Is that a big deal?


Most of the time, no. Otherwise, all the other brands would have been “sleeked-up” over the years. Ford’s Model T is now a Mustang. All the other pinch-pad releases are exactly the same as they were decades ago. They are still Model Ts.


Still, decades ago, downrigging lures more than 100 feet deep in the Great Lakes was extreme. Not so much, these days with food web changes and light penetration issues driving fish deeper and downrigger fishermen commonly put lures deeper than anyone ever imagined.


Once you lower a downrigger more than 100 feet, blowback becomes a real issue. Once you speed up your troll a little, blowback becomes an issue. In either case a slight change in hydrodynamics of what’s being trolled through the water does make a significant difference. A release that slides through the water behind a downrigger weight instead of tugging through the water becomes valuable.

As far as holding line and releasing, the Seahorse pinchers work are the equal of any brand I’ve used. The sky blue colored light tension model is perfect for any strength of monofilament/fluorocarbon likely to be used in the Great Lakes at normal depths. The bright red, heavy tension version will grip braided line and hold well all the way down to submarine depths.

Both tension models are competitively priced and widely available at retailers or on-line outlets.




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