What angler doesn’t want to increase the ability to put more fish in the boat. But some also don’t want to break the bank in the process. That’s understandable, but not insurmountable. Here five affordable ways to achieve your fish-catching goals.
1. More Rod Holders
Let’s start with the premise a boat can’t have enough rod holders. If your boat only has a couple on each side of the gunwale and a few on the stern, that’s not enough. Adding more holders is a great way to boost your boat’s fishiness.
- If you are adding more holders on the gunwale, get creative and angle the new ones outward. 45 degrees. That way you can create a mini trolling spread quickly without having to deploy the outriggers if your boat has them.
- Adding rod holders farther forward on the gunwale is useful if you are drift or kites fishing.
- Most fishing boats don’t have enough cupholders either, so you can kill two birds by installing a combo cupholder/rod holder like the models from Mate Series for about $120.
2. Manual Shallow-Water Anchoring Systems
While fancy, electric-powered pole anchoring systems are the preferred way to go when it comes posting up in shallow water, not everyone can afford them or want the vertical intrusion on the stern of their boat. Several companies have manual versions that consist of a portable pole and a receiver sleeve that mounts to the bow or stern of a boat and keeps you from having to dig out the anchor, which can rarely be done in stealth. The Stayput shallow water anchor costs $250 from $350, and has bow or engine bracket mounts.
3. Dehooking Station
The first de-hooker I ever saw was in the 1960s, which was nothing more than a thick wire (cut from a coat hanger) that had a small bend at one end and a handle made of built-up tape on the other. These are handy for dehooking nasty fish like saltwater catfish.
Recently I saw a version of this dehooker that you can mount to the side of your boat called the Overboard Pro ($89.95) that retracts when not in use. It can also be mounted over a baitwell to extract baitfish caught on a sabiki rig, without touching the fish.
4. Bow Casting Platforms
When sight casting for fish, having an extra foot or so in height can make all the difference. Some cash-challenged anglers just stand on their coolers but this can be an accident waiting to happen. The best bow casting platforms are made from carbon fiber but these can cost more than $1,000. There are several less expensive versions like the Fishmaster Casting Platform ($349), which has a turnbuckle to attach to an eye mounted on the foredeck to keep it steady and even comes with a leaning rail to steady the angler.
5. Track Systems
Track systems are a fantastic, inexpensive way to add versatility to your boat. If you can overlook the fact these systems originated with freshwater anglers, you’ll appreciate their clever design. A section of aluminum track is mounted to the gunwale and a host of accessories can be attached to it and slid around for customization. Items like rod holders, bait rigging stations, cutting boards, downriggers, electronic mounts and net holders can be added or removed as needed. One of the best systems is made by Traxstech with prices starting at about $38.