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Fishmaster: Innovating through Engineering

Fishmaster: Innovating through Engineering
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If your fishing boat has a Bimini top or no top at all, the best way to turn it into a legit fishing machine is by adding a t-top from Fishmaster. You wouldn’t go out fishing without a hat, so why should your boat go topless? Our premium t-tops not only give your boat some stylish attitude, but they also add a new level of function like providing shade and protection from the elements. Fishmaster T-Tops also provide handholds for better safety when running and give new places to add rod holders. Thanks to our extensive list of accessories, you’ll also be able to store life jackets above you so they’re easy to retrieve when needed quickly and by adding an electronics box, items like your VHF radio are protected.

What Separates Fishmaster T-Tops From the Rest?

The level of engineering that goes into a t-top is perhaps the most important yet overlooked factor when deciding which brand to buy. Just looking at the specs and price doesn’t tell the whole story and if the price is really low that should be a cause for concern. The reason most manufacturers gloss over how a t-top is engineered is it’s their weakest link. No one in the industry can top the experience and resources that go into a Fishmaster T-Top. We’re part of the Marine Accessories Corporation that also owns Xtreme Tower Products (XTP). If that name sounds familiar, it’s not surprising since they are the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for some of the biggest names in boating like Boston Whaler, Sea Ray, Hurricane, and Crownline just to name a few. Not to be left out, Fishmaster is also the OEM for Bayliner. Experience counts too; we were the first to sell a folding universal t-top and we’ve sold more than 10,000 units since we began making them in 2005.

The Best Keeps Getting Better

One of the things that separates Fishmaster from the competition is the constant quest to improve our existing products through engineering and manufacturing processes. Although we’ve sold thousands of our Original Folding T-Tops, we’re always looking for improvements. The next evolution includes many features taken from our Pro Series, such as a larger upper support clamps that provide increased surface area, distributing unwanted forces from a concentrated area over a wider area.

We have also increased the size of the foot pads where the t-top meets the boat’s deck to provide more contact surface area to bond to the deck’s surface. By increasing the size of this pad, we are also able to gain better heat transfer through the welding process of these two separate parts being joined as one and improve our manufacturing consistency. Best practices continue to evolve in welding and by increasing the surface area of a weld, we not only gain a better area to lay weld bead down, we transfer the heat better as well. This advanced joinery creates a stronger weld bead that can lessen the chance of a failure due to the vibration and sometimes violent forces found just driving down the highway or even on waterways.

Using Geometry to Continue Improving

Chris Hill has worked with many of the aforementioned boat builders’ design teams — sometimes years in advance of a new model’s rollout — to help design a unique tower that’s both functional and enhances the look of each boat. Describing the collaborative experience, Hill said, “We take what we learn from working with each boat builder and turn that into information we can use for our other products. All that ‘tribal knowledge’ helps us design and engineer the best possible products for Fishmaster T-Top and its sister company, Monster Tower.” All our t-tops have a patented double-fold down feature to help your boat sneak under low bridges and in some cases make it possible to stow your boat in a garage, which is especially valuable if your homeowner’s association prohibits parking a boat on your driveway or lawn. It can also save you money if you store your boat at a marina, according to Hill. “A lot of people don’t know that boat rack storage fees are often determined by a boat’s cubic dimensions, so a tall t-top could raise your monthly storage costs significantly.”

"We take what we learn from working with each boat builder and turn that into information we can use for our other products. All that ‘tribal knowledge’ helps us design and engineer the best possible products for Fishmaster”

Chris Hill

Put to the Extreme Test

Our t-tops feature Sunbrella® canvas for our canopy which accents the aesthetics of your boat. Even though they are lighter and less top-heavy than a hardtop, our t-tops are still designed to undergo tremendous punishment. Different stresses require unique qualities and the only way to find out whether a t-top is built to take this abuse is to do physical testing; however, they are not designed for trolling without outriggers, rods and reels, or rod holders as too many variables can act as a deterrent in a quality product. Some companies simply rely on CAD modeling, which we also do but it is insufficient by itself. Being part of MAC, we not only have the resources to test our product’s brute strength but also its ability to withstand t-top-killers like extreme harmonic vibration. We use an independent national lab, which has some unique testing devices such as the “quake machine” that literally tries to shake a tower to pieces. Only by subjecting a t-top to such torture can you find out if a product will hold up in a harsh marine environment or being towed down a rough highway. All our t-tops are backed with a five-year warranty for peace of mind.

Materials Matter

Our Original Folding T-Top and Pro Series T-Top are huge hits with fishermen everywhere because they combine exceptional engineering with the best materials available. When you compare prices with our competitors and see another t-top that has a much lower price, ask the question, “How can they sell it so cheaply?” Often, the answer lies with its cheaper components; a t-top is only as good as its weakest part and in rough conditions, that weak link will be exposed quickly. Traditional tubing standards measure and control the outside diameter (OD), while traditional pipe standards are measured and controlled by the inside diameter (ID). Because of our quest to constantly improve manufacturing processes, we like to utilize the best of both tube and pipe standards. Our engineering team specifies the OD and ID that is intended to improve our manufacturing process and ensure more consistent quality of the finished goods. Our Original Folding T-Top uses 1.90” aerospace-grade 6061/63 T-6 extruded and anodized aluminum tubing, which has a high strength-to-weight ratio along with 316 stainless steel fasteners for strength and corrosion resistance and is the perfect choice for inshore and coastal fishing boats. If your boating takes you into more extreme conditions, the Pro Series can handle it with features like extra-stout 2.25” tubing.

pipes used to construct t-tops

For better ergonomics, its handholds are manufactured from 1” Schedule 40 tubing that is 1.30” in diameter. It features a two-tier truss canopy-support system, also made from 1.90” tubing, that tilts the leading edge down to act as a spoiler to reduce drag and prevent some boats from porpoising. You can choose a polished and anodized tube surface that’s attractive and highly resistant to corrosion or you can opt for a powder-coated finish that’s prepped with a phosphate wash for better adhesion. This environmentally-friendly, automated process creates an automotive-like and durable finish thanks to the premium Sherwin-Williams pigment used.

Even the smallest details matter such as how the threads are formed on fasteners. Threads can be cut or rolled. Cutting a thread can leave a rough finish and trap of stray metallic dust particles. Because any imperfection destroys the chromium-oxide finish, using this process is an open invitation for corrosion to form. Instead, we choose to roll out threads. Rolling the threads compresses the alloy, which does several things: the pressure makes the alloy denser, which adds strength and makes the threads smoother and more precise. It also bends the alloy’s grain direction, which adds shearing resistance over cut threads that have a granular structure that runs in just one direction. We then polish the surface to ensure the smoothest possible finish, which also makes it more resistant to corrosion.

sunbrella fabric with water droplets

All our t-top canvas is made with Sunbrella® fabric. This premium canvas material is treated with fluorocarbon-based chemicals during manufacturing, making it water-repellent, yet still breathable. Its acrylic fibers are UV resistant and are dyed before the fabric is woven giving it superior colorfast properties because the color permeates the entire thread, not just the surface. Sunbrella® has an industry-leading 10-year limited warranty for peace of mind that your investment will last. We use stainless steel grommets, rather than plastic, for longevity. For customization, there are several canvas color choices available.

Customize Your Boat

Fishmaster can help you transform your boat from an off-the-rack model into a pro-style fishing machine with a host of accessories designed to add function and comfort. Get rid of that clunky, uncomfortable helm seat/cooler that screams rookie angler and replace it with one of our stylish and functional leaning posts. The Original Leaning Post employs 1.90” tubing, has three rod holders and a flip-down footrest, while the Pro Series Leaning Post uses beefy 2.25” tubing and features a standard grab rail that can be upgraded to a Deluxe Backrest with four rod holders, three cup holders, and added comfort. Both have plenty of room underneath for a cooler. Add spreader lights, additional rod holders, outriggers, accessory mounts, a fishing platform for more functionality, or a T-Top shade extension for extra cockpit shade.

Do-It-Yourself Installation Made Simple by Fishmaster

If you’ve ever tried to install or assemble an item using the manufacturer’s instructions, you know how frustrating that experience can be, especially if it was written by someone whose primary language isn’t English. Our universal-fit t-tops and accessories come with clearly written and illustrated instructions to make sure the installation process goes smoothly. They’re so visually appealing that even those who typically don’t bother with the instructions may feel compelled to take a look! Because these instructions are fully illustrated, each step of the installation process is made clear to everyone, including those in other countries who are not fluent in English. In addition, there are videos for our Fishmaster Original Folding T-Top and the Pro Series T-Top that show exactly how easy they are to install. Special tips like drilling in reverse help prevent accidental damage to your boat’s gelcoat. The videos show every detail of the install such as what sequence to follow and even how to lace up the Sunbrella® canvas top. Our Fishmaster T-Tops will fit any center console that’s between 24 and 50 inches wide and we make it easy to do-it-yourself. Our t-tops are designed to be easily assembled by even those with limited mechanical skills. If you’re still not confident in your abilities, ask a handy friend to help but make sure to reward them with pizza and beer afterward! If you have any problems or questions during assembly, you can call our customer support line (877) 777-8693, located at our company’s headquarters located in Knoxville, Tennessee.

fishmaster customer gallery collage

We Have Thousands of Owner Photos

Do you want to see what your boat will look like with a Fishmaster T-Top? Our customer gallery is home to thousands of photos taken by happy customers showing their Fishmaster T-Tops installed on a variety of boar brands and styles. Take a minute to browse and it’s likely you’ll find a boat similar to yours for a preview of the finished product.

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