How to Rig Your Center Console Fishing Boat

Make upgrades to your center console with these accessories and rigging tips.

rigging your center console

The Ultimate Multitasker

Center console fishing boats are a perfect fishing platform for the entire family.George Poveromo

Versatility rules with center consoles. That's why I've owned nothing but center consoles for as long as I can remember. My current boat, a Mako 284 CC, is geared primarily for offshore fishing in South Florida and the Bahamas, but it frequently ships out of state for TV shoots. And whenever I get out on the water, my boat is set up to take advantage of any opportunity that may arise, be it inshore, nearshore or offshore.

rod storage on center console

Weaponry at Hand

Center console fishing boats offer plenty of rod holders for your fishing setups.George Poveromo

Center Console Rod Storage Ideas

A center console, even one considerably smaller than my 28-footer, can be set up to offer an immense amount of rod storage. For instance, my T-top and seating module rack a total of 11 rods. Add my under-gunwale rod storage and the number of outfits within easy access rises to 19. And that doesn't include the 14 gunwale-mounted rod holders.

When my main goal is local offshore trolling, I'll have a set of Penn International 30s and 50s ready for action. If Bahamas bound, it'll be International 50s and 70s. Yet, I always bring a range of light- to heavy-spinning outfits rigged with a mix of lead-head jigs, topwater plugs and single hooks, both circle and J style, with wire and fluorocarbon leaders, as well as conventional bottom-fishing tackle with flutter jigs and different bottom rigs. I also bring along a 50-pound-class setup with 300-pound-test leader and a large hook in case we're into dolphin and a marlin shows up. Some may think having all that gear on board is overkill, but I know from experience that it pays to be prepared.

center console tackle storage

Organized Storage

Storage on a center console is important to keep your boat accessories and fishing tackle.Alex Suescun

Center Console Storage Ideas

With properly labeled and organized tackle trays and gear bags, replacing any terminal gear is as easy as reaching for the appropriate storage container. I have trays designated for circle and J hooks, both further categorized by light and heavy wire, and for offshore trolling. I also have rigging trays for big-game trolling filled with crimpers, sleeves, waxed thread, sewing needles and copper wraps; trays with trolling and barrel swivels; trays with spoons and casting lures; trays for swimming plugs, for flutter jigs, for bucktails and deep jigs; and daytime swordfish clips, lights, sinkers. All of that in addition to the storage trays full of terminal tackle kept within my boat’s seating module and the various lure bags I bring along, packed with trolling lures for specific target species.

storage on center console

Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Bring along an array of rods and reels rigged for different target species and situations. Keep them stored neatly some place you can grab them and put them to use instantly.George Poveromo
accessories improving center console
If your boat does not come rigged with them, outriggers are an important center console boat upgrade to consider.George Poveromo

Important Center Console Boat Accessories

Certain key center console boat upgrades greatly improve a fishing boat’s versatility. For offshore trolling, I have a pair of 16-foot Lee Sidewinder outriggers and a 12-foot center rigger on my T-top. Each of the three poles is set up to troll two baits. Mounted underneath the T-top, I have a pair of Elec-Tra-Mate TR-300 teaser reels to enhance our chances for success by adding hookless lures, daisy chains or spreader bars to our trolling spread.

For kite-fishing, bow and stern power outlets provide the juice for electric kite reels. And a full array of Shadow-Caster Marine LED lights brighten things up when fishing at night or in low-light conditions. Of course, every multifaceted fishing boat should have a baitwell. Since live-baiting is big for us, my Mako has a 50-gallon livewell supported by a main 1,650-gph pump and a 1,100 backup, in addition to oversized drains with level-adjustment valves. If your boat did not come with a built-in well, there are many portable ones available in a wide array of sizes and configurations that fit in any boat. A quality livewell is a vital center console boat accessory.

center console electronics

At the Helm

Consider the layout of your center console. Is it designed as a good fishing platform?George Poveromo

Center Console Navigation Electronics

When it comes to navigation, fish-­finding and safety, marine electronics are worth their weight in gold. For precision bottom viewing, and bait and fish locating, I rely on the new Simrad 24-inch and 9-inch touch-screen units and Airmar through-hull transducer, which allows frequencies to be fine-tuned according to the conditions. My fish locating is also aided largely by high-res Structure-​Scan and Simrad radar with a 4-foot open array antenna for spotting birds. An ACR EPIRB, the most important safety item, resides just inside the console door. And to get to and from the fishing grounds quickly and reliably, my Mako 284 is powered by a pair of Mercury Verado 300-horsepower outboards, with Joystick Piloting for easy docking and Skyhook Digital Anchoring to hold the boat over a spot while targeting fish around submerged structure, hanging in the current.

center console boats

Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Based on your fishing plans, have your rods rigged and ready when nearing the fishing grounds.George Poveromo
center console boats tackle storage
Sorting through tons of tackle to find a particular hook or lure is insanity. Keep everything in tackle trays or storage boxes organized by a specific species or tactic.George Poveromo

Based on your ­fishing plans, pack the ­respective tackle trays into three or four soft-sided tackle bags and find a ­suitable spot for them. In addition, have trays containing the items you are most likely to need close at hand in TackleWebs or a ­similar organizing system.

gaffs on center console

Essential Sundries

Keep gaffs in varying sizes and landing nets stowed where they’ll be out of the way but readily accessible.George Poveromo

Gaffs Are Important Center Console Accessories

There’s no time to waste when boating a fish, so gaffs and landing nets should be readily accessible. I keep a few gaffs in varying sizes in one of my aft in-deck boxes, where they remain safely stashed out of the way but can be called into action within seconds. When a fish comes home for dinner, it goes into one of my in-deck fish boxes. Packed with ice, I’ll often add a bucket of salt water from the ocean to create a near-freezing brine. A boated fish is then immersed in this slush to preserve its meat. What’s more, the fish will be easier to clean back at the dock. And, yes, you guessed it, I keep fillet knives, a honing stone and freezer bags in a plastic box in my console.

gaffs for fishing

Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Make sure to have the right gaff for the job when you hook that quality tuna.Alex Suescun
saltwater fishing lures

Quick Pick

Pre sort lures by type and label tackle trays and storage containers for efficiency.George Poveromo
baits for fishing

Fresh Approach

A variety of baits, enough for a full day of ­fishing, brined and pre-rigged with hooks and leaders means uninterrupted fishing when the action gets hot. A bait tray that sits above the ice in the cooler prevents baits from getting waterlogged, yet keeps them fresh and firm. Note the rigged mackerel ready to deploy on a heavy outfit should marlin appear in the trolling spread.George Poveromo
emergency gear for fishing

Insurance Policy

Good emergency gear is even more essential than fishing gear. A reliable EPIRB, personal locating beacon, life jackets and all Coast Guard-­required equipment should be readily available for deployment.George Poveromo