Is Your Ride Rigged and Ready for Results?

By Dennis Foster - March 17, 2015
The first trip of the season is most definitely not the best time to deal with all the little things that can and do go wrong in a boat. Common sense dictates that they can quickly become big things and will ruin a trip if you fail to address them. Foresight can not only salvage a trip for you, but should you experience equipment failures in extreme conditions…it might just save you and your occupants lives.

This is just as true for maintaining a boat you may have owned for years as it is for a newly purchased boat. Proper rigging and scheduled maintenance is the key here and any corners that are cut-no matter how seemingly small-will end up costing you big time. Unless you truly possess the skills, tools, and patience to do the job properly, have it performed by a seasoned professional. I can personally attest that impatience and power tools are not a good mixture in the wrong hands.

A Professional is always helpful when it comes to proper rigging.
This is where a good dealer comes into play. Anyone can take your hard earned money in return for a boat and motor package. That is simply a transaction. It takes a real dealer to have the knowledge and integrity to make the appropriate recommendations for what is needed for your intended purposes. Then have the properly trained personnel in their shop to make sure it is all put together correctly from the get go and properly cared for. Done properly, this will continual to pay dividends in years of trouble-free service.

Picking a suitable boat and motor package is the first step in helping to guarantee you won't be disappointed. In my opinion, for the conditions that we are often faced with on the Upper Great Plains-big water and often bigger winds-fiberglass trumps aluminum. If you plan on fishing any of the large reservoirs or the bigger lakes, this is just good judgment as glass boats in general will give you a smoother, drier, and safer ride. This isn't to say that if a boat is constructed of fiberglass it is inherently superior. It will still need to have the proper design that cuts waves, directs the spray away from you, and tracks and handles well.

I personally run Warrior's and specifically a V203 and couldn't be more tickled. I spend a lot of time on notoriously nasty waters like Lake Oahe, and the ride is phenomenal. Further enhanced by Smooth Moves seat suspensions and even the harshest conditions are pardon the bun…a breeze. I have yet to have had my spirits or body dampened from taking a wave in a Warrior Boat. Something to consider should you be in the market for a new ride.

I will use the rigging of this boat as a platform to make some suggestions as to what you may want to include in a new boat or simply looking to upgrade some of the equipment in your current boat. First and foremost are the engine(s) that you hang off the back. After all, they are what transports us to our favorite fishing holes and even more importantly…back to the dock safely. For years I have been a fan of Mercury as they continue to develop the most technologically advanced power plants imaginable. Their SuperCharged 4 Stroke Verado is a testament to this. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience the quiet, smooth, and powerful acceleration these motors dish out, you owe it yourself to arrange a test ride with your dealer. I rely on the 300 HP model to push the deep hull of my V203 into the 60 mph range. Not bad for a true big water walleye boat that is heavily loaded with myself and admittedly well feed friends and more equipment, tackle, and bait than many shops keep in inventory.

For serious walleye anglers, a kicker motor is something you will want for pulling plugs and to also assist your bowmount electric when rigging live bait in heavy winds. Pointed straight forward and slipped into gear gives you the extra thrust to run the bowmount on a lower setting and help preserve precious battery reserves on long grueling days. I also use my Xi5 MotorGuide bowmount in conjunction with the kicker when pulling crankbaits. The quick response and precise steering lets me maneuver tight contours and you will find that even extreme turns from the front result in far less tangled lines than attempting this from the rear. An added benefit is that you can dial in your speed with incremental adjustments to the bowmount and there is no need to spend more money for additional devices. Most folks go with a 9.9hp but my personal opinion is that the added thrust of a 15 hp Pro Kicker gives a bit more control when just dropped into gear and ran at idle speed.

An interesting option I have been intrigued by and finally had the chance to test in my last boat are trim tabs. Now that I fully comprehend just how much you can fine tune the ride and attitude of your boat with separate controls for each tab, I will never be without them and strongly recommend them for any boat over 18 foot. Warrior offers Lenco trim tabs as a factory installed accessory and most anyone could retrofit a boat with them in an hour or so.

The most useful upgrade you can add to any boat are the electronics that help us to not only locate the fish themselves, but also give us the ability to narrow our search to the most likely areas in which to find the fish. These technologies continue to expand at a mind boggling pace. The good thing is that as sophisticated as today's electronics are, they are also becoming easier to use and interpret. That in my opinion is the most important factor to consider when purchasing new units.

You can have units that profess to have the most dazzling of capabilities, but if they are difficult and intimidating to use, the amount of usable information you actually obtain can become miniscule in comparison to the amount of money you have spent. Value is the key here and for that; I have been relying on Raymarine units for the past 15 years. The technology incorporated is second to none and more importantly, it's fisherman friendly. After having built a solid and deserved reputation in saltwater markets for decades, they have now made a dedicated commitment to the freshwater market. We as anglers will benefit from another option and stiff competition that will drive all manufacturers to continually deliver innovative products.

The author's Raymarine A Series Multifunction Displays secured with Balzout Mounts.
DownVision, SideVision, and CHIRP Sonar are the newest and most widely discussed features and are far more than fancy labels, fads, or marketing ploys to get you to purchase more options than you need. These are serious tools for serious anglers and in my mind, surpass wants and warrant the status of needs. Once you have had the opportunity to use them, you will quickly discover your understanding of the underwater environment expanding right along with your catch rates.

Mounting today's large screen models has been an issue, till now. The Balzout mounting system has solved this and allows me to keep the 12 inch screen Raymarine units I run snug and secure in the exact position I want no matter how rough the conditions without constantly adjusting and tightening. Something that we have needed for some time and is worth checking out.

My personal set up involves using a combination of A-Series and the surprisingly affordable Dragonfly units. Giving me the benefits of superiorly accurate GPS combined with Navionics Hotmaps Platinum back ground mapping featuring 1 foot contours. Navionics gives you the added capability and ease of daily updates right from your smartphone as well as building you own customized fishing maps. Truly amazing stuff and I for one will be making a concerted effort to put it all too good use this season. And with the intuitive touch screen format, with just a few swipes, even us older curmudgeons will quickly become comfortable and utilizing it to its full potential in no time at all.

Now that we have covered some of the higher ticket items, I will suggest a few great additions to quickly trick out your boat that are light on the wallet but heavyweights in function and value.

CrankCaddy has an ingenious storage system I have been utilizing to organize and keep all of my crankbaits accessible and tangle free for the last few seasons. They have taken the proven concept of the slotted plastic dividers that work so well in their storage boxes and made a vertical standing Dash Caddy. I use suction cups and mount several to my dash or any other flat surfaces to keep the daily line up of lures at the ready. No more dealing with dozens of lures haphazardly tossed on the dash only to soon become a completely fused and unusable mess.

GearGrabbar products fall into the same organizational category and work perfectly for mounting to more vertical surfaces. They employ incredibly strong magnets that will hold anything containing metal, no matter how bumpy the conditions. I have several mounted throughout my boat so as to have ready access to pliers, forceps, scissors, mouth spreaders, jigs, or whatever else you can think of.

Throw in some rod buckle straps to hold the extra rods you plan on using either on your deck or along the sides of the cockpit. This will protect your investment in expensive technique specific rods while still keeping them at the ready. Just making use of using these three quite simple and inexpensive systems, you will have cleaned up and organized your boat considerably and will immediately increase your efficiency, i.e. your catch rate.

With just a dab of thought, time, and effort you can guarantee that all of your equipment will perform flawlessly. Leaving you to concentrate on putting fish in the boat and enjoying yourself in the process. After all, isn't that the desired outcome of every outing?

Author Dennis Foster
Dennis Foster
Dennis Foster is a Hunting/Fishing Guide and Outdoor Writer from Mellette, SD. If you would like to book a trip or have questions or comments, he can be reached through his websites www.dakotapheasantguide.com and www.eyetimepromotions.com.