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November 08, 2012

How to Rig Your Cockpit

Keep these elements in mind when choosing your next boat.

Multiple kill boxes of various capacities allow more flexibility. There’s no need to ice down a 100-gallon box when your catch is a dozen yellowtails. When you do stick that trophy wahoo, though, you’ll want to chill it immediately. The largest boxes should have a capacity of 150 gallons and be at least 51/2 feet long. Thick insulation is a must, and removable dividers are handy too. Ideally, all fish boxes should drain overboard or at least be macerated to minimize the mess and clogging. Placement is a matter of personal preference, Davis says. Transom boxes are more accessible, but it’s often easier to drop a hot dolphin into a deck box. Don’t forget cleanup chores when deciding on box location — or weight and balance issues either. 


A fishing boat can never have enough storage, and the ideal cockpit shouldn’t skimp either. Davis strives for easy access to routine items like crimpers, scissors, terminal tackle and leaders. Side cabinets are handy receptacles for gaffs and tag sticks. The end of the mezzanine, where these items are out of the way yet accessible, is a ­user-friendly option. 

A built-in tackle center with a dedicated ­bait-preparation area, including a sink, is especially useful. It should be strategically located, with close access to both saltwater and freshwater washdowns. Hose-coil trays keep things orderly. To maximize organization, the center should have multiple-size drawers and racks for tackle trays. Don’t forget to include slide stops to prevent spills.

Rod-storage and -holder placement also deserve thoughtful consideration. Torres recommends lockable cabinets where extra rods can be stowed during fishing or safely secured at night. When sailfishing, Fields runs the trolling rods from the rocket launcher, and keeps spares rigged for schooling fish. Portable tubes with suction cups hold pitch baits. He keeps the bent-butt dredge rod in a straight holder next to the pilothouse so that it remains reachable yet out of the way.

Odds and Ends

If your float plan routinely includes ­kite-fishing or deep-dropping, Torres ­recommends adding plenty of electrical outlets to the cockpit. A built-in drink cooler that’s handy yet unobtrusive is always appreciated. So is flush-mounted hardware to avoid snags and trip hazards. He believes in an aggressive nonskid deck finish to provide sure traction in wet conditions.

Davis and Fields are both big fans of teak for the cockpit deck and covering boards. Besides adding a classy finish, teak offers sure footing without too much added maintenance, Davis says. Teak is also softer than fiberglass and cuts down on glare, and those two traits give the crew an advantage in spotting fish quicker and staying fresh. 

Finally, make sure your cockpit has a big enough transom door. Davis says bigger is always better if there’s room, but the width shouldn’t be less than 32 inches. 

Like beauty, the perfect cockpit is in the eye of the beholder. Before you start laying out yours, make a checklist of features that best suit your fishing style. Keep simplicity and accessibility at the top of the list. You can’t take your money with you, so you might as well splurge while you can.