First introduced more than a half-century ago, the center-console design represents one of the greatest advancements in saltwater-fishing boats. Today’s center-consoles shine when it comes to angler mobility — you can fish unimpeded from virtually any place around the perimeter and move quickly down the rail to follow a hooked fish. However, there’s frequently a trade-off for that wide-open, no-cabin design: limited dry-storage space for tackle such as lures, hooks, swivels and other gear that rusts away when subjected to salt spray.
In recent years, leading boat companies have recognized the need for more tackle storage and have incorporated innovative solutions. Everglades, for example, builds in abundant tackle storage, including compartments along the inwales of its 355T, which not only keeps tackle dry but also provides easy access when you need something, like a hook.
With older center-consoles, however, boxes of lures, hooks and terminal rigs usually get tossed inside the driest place in the boat — the console itself — along with jackets, rain gear, backpacks and camera bags. That’s a better option than leaving tackle bags and boxes on the deck where they get wet and become tripping hazards, but in the console, everything ends up a jumbled mess. To get to your tackle, you have to sort through the clutter. Fortunately, there are now a number of ways to add tackle storage that’s dry and more organized on center-consoles, thanks to creative designs by marine aftermarket companies. Let’s look at some.
Ready-Made Tackle Lockers
| |Tackle lockers (top) often install nicely on the front of a center-console, while glove boxes (above) can fit well near the helm. (Photos by Chris Woodward and Jim Hendricks)|
Companies such as Birdsall Marine, Boat Outfitters, SSI and Tempress offer prefabricated tackle lockers and cabinets in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Nearly all feature shelves to accept plastic tackle boxes from companies such as Plano. Prefab compartments require that you cut out a section of fiberglass. Screws around the face frame secure the locker in place, and a backing plate is sometimes supplied to reinforce the installation from behind the frame.
Before you install a premade tackle locker, you first need to determine where and how much room you have available. The center-console itself ranks as a likely location, either on the forward face (perhaps behind a snap-on seat back), on the sides of the consoles or below the helm. Sometimes you can find room in the transom bulkhead, the fiberglass housing of a leaning post or the inwales of a full-liner boat.
If you’re looking at the inwales, keep in mind that these interior areas usually offer minimal depth, but some cabinets have tilt-out designs that might not require as much depth as conventional compartments.
Once you determine the location and how much room you have, you can start shopping for a locker that fits. Some lockers, such as the Tempress model 44380, have gaskets around the frame with compression latches on the door to seal the interior from water. I prefer these, especially if the hatch is subject to spray or in the line of fire when hosing off the boat. If the locker frame is not gasketed, as with the SSI model 45310000, I like to use waterproof tackle boxes like Plano’s 3740-10 Waterproof Stowaway boxes.
Cubbyholes and Glove Boxes
Prefabricated cubbyholes and glove boxes are not necessarily waterproof but can hold items that don’t need much protection from moisture, such as leader material and sunscreen. Moving these items to cubbyholes and glove boxes creates more room in the dry-storage compartments for tackle. You can often find a number of places to install these relatively compact compartments.
For example, Attwood’s model 2638-1 plastic glove box requires only a 4¼-inch-by-12-inch cutout, and it is just 6 5⁄8 inches deep, so you might find room on your helm panel to install one. It also locks if you want to keep items like your wallet and cell phone secure. Boat Outfitters and SSI also offer glove boxes with gasketed frames and slam-latches for keeping small tackle items dry.
If you find the inwales too thin for a tackle cabinet, an open coaming box might fit nicely. SSI’s model 49800900 Cargo Net Storage Pocket, for instance, is only 3 5⁄8 inches deep — perfect for stashing items such as dock lines, once again freeing up dry storage for corrosion-prone tackle.
| |While designed for electronics, overhead boxes can also serve as tackle compartments. (Photo by Jim Hendricks)|
Having a hardtop or T-top opens up a couple of high-and-dry storage options. One is an overhead electronics box. While designed primarily for mounting electronics, you can also use all or a portion of these compartments for tackle storage. A number of companies offer aftermarket electronics boxes — including Boat Outfitters, Fishmaster and SSI — in various sizes. Measure carefully to make sure the box will fit above the helm. This includes checking how far down the box will hang; make sure it does not become a visual obstruction once installed.
You can also add zippered-canvas overhead storage. Pouches from companies such as C.E. Smith and Kwik Tek quickly secure with straps to the top’s frame. Many boating anglers use them to stow the crew’s life jackets in an out-of-the-way, yet easily accessible place, but you can also stow lightweight tackle items, tide books and charts.
When you don’t put ice in them, coolers keep gear dry (provided you keep them closed), even when subjected to spray. Coolers from companies such as Engel and Yeti feature gasketed lids and compression latches for airtight seals, ideal for tackle as well as camera and video gear. Most can be strapped to the deck with an optional tie-down kit.
Thanks to a plethora of marine aftermarket equipment, the tackle-storage opportunities aboard center-consoles are better than ever
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