As you begin learning to fish it’s important that you get your boat ready for the water. Of course, regular care and maintenance is crucial, but having the right gear aboard your vessel is just as important. From packing the right clothing for your trip to outfitting your boat with the right accessories, this guide will help to ensure you have everything you need for your next trip out on the water!
Accessorize Your Boat with the Essentials
First and foremost, your boat must be outfitted with the right accessories. Your needs may vary depending on the type of boat you own, the area you’ll be fishing, and the type of fishing you’ll be doing but there are a few we highly recommend for any angler:
- T-Top - For owners of center console boats, the best investment you can make in the functionality and comfort of your boat is adding a t-top. Not only will the right t-top provide shade on sunny days and cover from the rain, they provide additional space for mounting accessories, rod holders, and so much more.
- Leaning Post - If you’ve opted for a t-top on your center console boat, adding a leaning post is the logical next step. Whether you’re replacing your existing helm seating or adding seating for the first time, leaning posts provide an extraordinary level of comfort for long days on the water.
- Rod Holders - Among our favorite t-top accessories are rod holders. Offered in single and 5-rod configurations, these simple accessories provide huge benefits in allowing you to keep multiple rods and reels at the ready for whatever catch might come along.
- Flotation Devices - Keeping everyone on board safe is a top priority. Every boat should be equipped with life vests as well as throwable flotation devices. These should be stored somewhere that’s easily accessible at a moment’s notice in case of emergency.
- T-Top Storage Bag - Keeping your flotation devices and other personal effects safe, dry, and out of the way is easy with a t-top storage bag. This bag is designed to hold six Type II life vests and has exterior pockets to hold everything from towels and clothing to sunscreen and cell phones.
- Navigation Light - The US Coast Guard requires that boats have 2 nautical miles of visibility in all directions. Installing a navigation light on your t-tops (or the tallest point of your boat) meets this requirement and helps to keep both you and other boaters safe.
Choose a Rod & Reel
Once your boat is outfitted with accessories for a comfortable day on the water it’s time to choose the right rod and reel for the job. The choice can seem overwhelming at first, so many beginner fishermen opt for a rod and reel combo matched by the manufacturer.
More experienced anglers might choose to match their own rod and reel, in which case it’s important to take into account the length, diameter, material, and action of the rod as well as the size and weight of your reel. A well-matched pair will be balanced and will meet your unique needs and specifications.
Keep in mind, you may need multiple rod and reel combos on hand especially if you’re venturing into multiple types of fishing. For example, a fly fishing rod and reel will look very different from a set you’d use for deep sea fishing.
Stay Prepared with Boat Electronics
Equipping your boat with the right electronics can help you make the most of your fishing trip, but can also keep you safe and prepared while you’re on the water.
- Fish Finder - To make finding your next catch easier than ever, having a fish finder on board allows you to see what’s beneath the water’s surface.
- VHF Radio - A VHF radio allows you to hear the weather at a moment's notice and easily stay connected with other boaters as well as with the Coast Guard for added safety.
- Radar - Having a radar on board allows you to track weather that might be moving in on you to ensure you don’t get caught out in nasty weather.
- GPS - Especially if you’re fishing offshore, a GPS is a must for your navigation needs.
- Electronics Box - Keeping all of these electronics safe around waters is a must so we recommend storing them in a t-top mounted electronics box.
Find the Right Apparel for Your Fishing Trip
Before you head out the door for your fishing trip it’s important that you dress appropriately for the day. The “right” fishing apparel will look very different depending on what kind of fishing you plan to do, where you’re doing it, and the weather in your area. To get you started, here are some clothing items we’d recommend wearing or having on hand for these popular types of fishing:
- Saltwater Fishing - Probably the simplest to prepare for, saltwater fishing doesn’t require much specialized clothing - especially if you’ll be fishing from a boat! You’ll want to wear something comfortable and lightweight as you’ll most likely be fishing under the hot sun, but you’ll also want to be prepared with jackets and additional layers to combat bad weather and cold temperatures that might arise. If you plan to fish from a kayak or canoe you’ll want to wear waders and wading boots for your trip. In either case, the top priority should be sun protection. Regularly apply sunscreen and bring along polarized sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face from the sun. Neck gaiters (also called fishing face masks) are often worn as well to protect the sensitive exposed skin on your face and neck from burning.
- Freshwater Fishing - Similarly, most freshwater fishing trips require only the basics when it comes to apparel. Because the weather can be unpredictable you’ll want to be prepared with rain gear in case you’re caught in a sudden shower. You might also want to have coveralls or a poncho handy!
- Fly Fishing - Fly fishing has incredibly unique clothing needs as you’ll be standing out in the water doing your fishing. You’ll need to be dressed in waders with wading boots and you’ll need to find a vest that can hold everything you’ll need while you’re out in the water. Of course, sun protection is critical here as well so be sure you’ve also got a pair of polarized sunglasses and a protective hat.
Pack Your Tackle Box
Finally, it’s time to pack your tackle box with anything else you might need for your fishing trip. The contents will depend on what you’re hoping to catch, but you can expect to fill it with things like:
- Bait and/or Lures
- Flies (if fly fishing)
- Hooks and Lines
- Fishing Tools (needle nose pliers, sharp knife, ruler, scale)
- Sinkers (or other weights)