Boat Tips That Will Help You Catch More Fish

Keeping your fishing boat in top shape can boost your angling success.


Drift Control

Adjusting the angle and speed of your boat’s drift can help you catch more fish. Here’s how. Rudder Angle: Many boats tend to drift with the bow pointed down-sea. This limits your spread to the width of the transom. However, sometimes turning the outboard or rudder into the breeze will cause the boat to drift beam-to, allowing you drift baits from bow to stern – a wider spread increases the chances of putting a bait in front of fish. Drift-Sock: Dragging a drift-sock (aka sea anchor or drogue as shown here from Minn Kota) from amidships not only helps turns the boat beam-to and expands your spread, but also slows your drift. That helps keep your baits on the bottom, which is an advantage when drifting for flounder and halibut. Bonus tip: Keep the drift-sock line short enough to avoid fouling the prop if you forget to bring it in before taking off.Minn Kota

Support Your Outboard

Outboard-boat transoms can flex and, over time, weaken, particularly when you trailer your boat over rough roads that make the outboard bounce. Yet, a device such as a Swivel-Eze 4000 Transom Saver (about $60) transfers the load to the trailer's rear cross member to eliminate the flexing. The device's length usually adjusts. Some captains attach it to the trailer's rear roller; others have a bracket that bolts to the rear cross member. With the outboard’s lower unit straight astern, use the power tilt to snug it down reasonably tight in the cradle of the Transom Saver to minimize bouncing or flopping side to side. Some multiple-outboard installations don’t lend themselves well to using a Transom Saver. In these cases, the Swivel-Eze Lock 'N Stow (about $90), which attaches to the tilt bracket, keep the outboard from bouncing or flopping over. If you choose not to use a support device, just tilt the outboard up enough to clear the pavement. Avoid using the outboard’s flip-lock bracket; these are not designed for the kind of shock impact experienced while towing.Jim Hendricks

Fresh Filters

With ethanol-laced gasoline and the threat of phase separation, marine engine companies such as Yamaha Outboards recommend canister-style, spin-on water-separating fuel filters rated at 10 microns, meaning they remove particles down that size. These filters cost about $20; each engine requires its own filter. What's more, Yamaha now recommends changing the canister every 50 hours of engine operation — twice as often as the previous recommendation of every 100 hours. Other engine builders such as Mercury and Suzuki recommend replacement every 100 hours. When the time comes, make sure the filter is the proper size for your engine and filter head. Here’s how to change it out 1.Turn off the fuel valve above the filter. 2. If there’s a collection bowl, open the valve at the bottom to drain the gas. 3. Use a strap wrench to loosen the canister; unscrew it from the filter head. 4. Unscrew the collection bowl from the canister (dispose of the O-ring, but keep the bowl). 5. Wipe off the mating surface of the filter head with a clean rag. 6. Lightly lube the new O-ring (supplied with the new filter), position it on the collection bowl, and hand-tighten the bowl on the new filter. 7. Fill the filter with clean gasoline. 8. Lube the gasket (supplied with the filter), and position it in the ridge atop the filter. 9. Screw the new filter onto the filter head; hand-tighten only. 10. Open the fuel valve and run the engine while checking the new filter to make sure there are no leaks Photo courtesy Racor Filters.Courtesy Racor