How to Maintain and Equip Your Fishing Boat

Here are 3 ways to improve your sport-fishing boat

Boat Tips That Help You Catch Fish

Sport Fishing's Boat Tips

One of this month's Boat Tips focuses on how to spread out baits and lures.Jim Hendricks

_Sport Fishing'_s Boat Tips department focuses on accessories, equipment, do-it-yourself projects, advice from the pros, and practical suggestions, because keeping your fishing boat in top shape can boost your angling success.

CHECK BEHIND THE PROP

Regularly removing the propellers on your outboards and checking the prop shaft underneath can save you a bunch of grief and money. That’s because your prop can suck in a length of fishing line at any time or place.

Monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid can inflict damage to an outboard as the line winds its way around the prop shaft between the back of the propeller and gear case. It melts and becomes a disc of destruction. The disc’s sharp edges can slice through and destroy the engine’s prop-shaft seal, allowing salt water to enter and corrode the gears, shafts and bearings. Milky-brown fluid streaming out from under the propeller is a sign to get the boat to a service shop to replace the seal and put in fresh gear lube.

Before you head out again, pull your props and look for signs of fishing line underneath, and do it again every other trip to keep you fishing all season long.

SPREADING YOUR BAITS

Let’s say you want to spread out your trolling lures or baits a bit more, but your boat is not equipped with a pair of outriggers.Devices known generically as “out-rodders” can help.

Such devices are offered by a number of brands, including Abaco, C.E. Smith,** E-Z Out-Rodder,Tigress** and Whitecap, with prices ranging from $170 to $240 per pair. Most are either stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Used in pairs, these have vertical tubes that slide into gunwale rod holders; a gimbal knock engages the pin at the bottom of the gunwale rod holder to prevent the out-rodder from rotating.

Place your trolling rod in the tube atop the out-rodder. While this doesn’t add the elevation you get with outriggers, it widens your trolling spread anywhere from 6 to 7 feet on either side of the boat, depending on rod length. This also makes room for more trolling lures or baits to the inside of the spread.

Because the rod is less secure in a horizontal holder than in a vertical one, it is important to attach a safety line to each rig in case the rod butt slides out in rough seas. Some boating anglers also use out-rodders for drifting in order to cover a wider swath and keep the rod tip at a lower angle.

PHONE CHARGES

On just about every trip, someone on my boat needs to charge a mobile phone. So I’ve figured out three ways to accommodate that, because you never know when buddies might call us in on a hot bite.

** 1. USB 12-Volt Adapter**: Most boats have one or more marine, 12-volt, DC cigarette-lighter-style sockets. If not, Blue Sea Systems and Marinco sell aftermarket versions ($10 to $20). Once you install these sockets, you can use just about any USB adapter to create a port for charging your phone. Blue Sea Systems offers a USB adapter ($25.98 MSRP) with two USB ports and a cap to shield it from moisture.

** 2. Install a USB Port:** Blue Sea Systems also offers a dedicated USB-charger socket with dual ports to charge two phones at once ($25.98 MSRP). It's as simple to install as a 12-volt socket and has a cap to keep water out when not in use.

3. Carry a Small Inverter: An inverter that plugs into a 12-volt socket and has a 110-volt AC receptacle lets you charge your mobile phone with a household-style plug. I like the compact ProMariner ProSport Power Inverter (about $35), which fits in a cup holder to keep it from sliding around. I also use it to charge camera batteries between shoots.

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Prop Check

Regularly removing the propellers on your outboards and checking the prop shaft underneath can save you a bunch of grief and money. Photo by Jim Hendricks.Jim Hendricks
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Spread Out

Outrodders widen your trolling spread anywhere from 6 to 7 feet on either side of the boat. Photo by Jim Hendricks.Jim Hendricks
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Charge It

A marine USB adapter creates a port for charging your phone. Photo by Jim Hendricks.Jim Hendricks