Even if you’re a fishing pro, you’ll still require some fishing boat accessories to make your life out there in the water easier. Read on to find all you need to know about essential accessories for your fishing boat.
From one coast to another coast, fishing has been a favorite and sometimes a necessary activity for thousands of years. Each year more than 3 million people fish recreationally around the world today.
But did you know there was a time that fishing was about grabbing fish out of the water with bare hands- or at least trying to? Well, that was in the pre-historic period. With the initiation of tool usage, people began crafting lures and hooks to catch fish, which all evolved into the fishing gear we now have.
As a boat fishing enthusiast, I can say that being a skilled angler and owning a boat is an excellent start for fishing endeavors, but the focus shouldn’t end there.
Any serious angler will agree with me that equipping your vessel with some important gear and accessories will elevate your fishing experience and make a difference between what you catch and how much you catch.
Whether you’re looking to equip your fishing boat with new gear or update the existing ones, you’re in the right place. We have an ultimate checklist for the right items you need to have in your boat, hoping to make your expedition more fun, comfortable, safer, and productive.
Fishing Boat Accessories
Fishing hard or fishing smart? It’s likely that you’ll have to do both to be prosperous. Gear is one thing that can make or break a fishing excursion, and investing in appropriate fishing boat accessories is an excellent way to make days on the water prolific and even more exciting than they already are.
Apart from the indispensable fishing gear and the basic safety equipment, there’re a whole lot of things out there meant to help you land trophy fish and be proud of being an angler.
So, should you buy everything? Maybe yes, or maybe no. It all depends on how necessary an item is, how badly you need it, and the type of angling you want to master. It also comes down to the complexity and size of your boat. But all in all, see that you have all the handy accessories you require.
From the over-the-top to the must-haves gear, here’s my detailed list of the little helpers every boat fisher should consider having.
Related: Types of Fishing Boats
1. Fishing Boat Tool Kit
A toolkit is essential to carry on your fishing boat. You’ll need it to repair other fishing gear or the boat itself.
I’d highly recommend having a good multi-tool. My Leatherman Wave serves me right, and I take it almost everywhere I go — at sea and on. But if you’re on a tight budget, consider the Gerber Gear 22-01471N.
Other basics I find necessary on my fishing boat are an adjustable wrench or spanner and driver bits you might need for my engine. I also include cable ties, super glue, and electrical tape.
You can find ready-made toolkits, but you’re possibly better off creating your own to pick good quality tools and have what you require and nothing else. You’ll also want a toolbox or some sort of case to keep your tools organized.
2. Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
A personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket, is an essential gear to take out on your watercraft. In most places having this attire is more than a good idea; it’s a law requirement, and you can be fined heavily should you ignore it.
The PFDs only become problematic for being bulky and uncomfortable fit. Luckily, there have been some significant strides towards refining them. You can now find comfortable and slim-fitting life jackets.
The Jet Ski Life Jacket is expressly designed with freedom of movement and flexibility in mind. It’s relatively lightweight and less of a hassle to put on for the day.
3. Safety Kit
Safety matters everywhere, and every fishing boat should carry some first aid kit on board.
You can either buy a pre-made safety kit or make one yourself. Whatever route you take doesn’t matter as long as you have first aid supplies to care for misfortunes like sea sicknesses, fish bites, stings, or cuts from corals and rocks.
Your kit should have the basics like disinfectant wipes, burn cream, bandages, scissors, tweezers, medical tape, dressings in various sizes, and medicines, including pain and fever relief such as Ibuprofen, seasickness prescriptions, and cream or oral antihistamines for allergic reactions.
If you’re in tropical seas, have a bottle of vinegar to treat wounds from sea urchins and jellyfish stings. I highly recommend Surviveware for a fully waterproof first aid kit.
Of course, you don’t want to leave your long-awaited catch out in the sun and stink up your boat the entire day. You want it fresh so you can enjoy a delicious meal once you’re out of the water; thus, keeping it in a cooler is necessary.
A cooler lets you keep your lunch cold and rewards you with an ice-cold drink to celebrate your catch while you float around the lake. This makes it a high-priority item you shouldn’t fish without.
Fortunately, the market is full of some nice coolers, and finding the one that’ll do the trick for you is a big deal. You may pick the soft or solid-sided cooler or one with wheels instead of one with handles, it’s about what excites you.
What you should pay more attention to is ice retention and durability. Your winning combo should be thicker insulation and sturdier construction, mainly if you go for longer fishing trips in the summer months.
The 120 Quart Xtreme 5 Marine Cooler has been a great choice for my boat. I bought it some years back at a surprisingly affordable rate for its durability and strong performance. But if you have a budget for high-quality gold standard coolers, you can go for Yeti Tundra 110 and enjoy the peace of knowing you have the best.
No matter your fishing boat size, you’ll need an anchor. Your anchor can help you keep your boat shielded in a cove whenever stormy weather hits or keep you in place when you find a fish sport but the current is strong.
Finding an ideal point to set up your boat may take some time, and an anchor is a way to prevent it from drifting away from the spot. But you need to get the right anchor size for the boat.
You’ll also require an anchor line or rode, which should be at least three times the water depth. One more requirement is a lead chain to attach the line to the anchor.
I’ve always preferred buying an anchor, anchor line, and lead chain kit. I recommend the 8.5 lb fluke style anchor that includes all three items and works well even for smaller boats.
Related: 6 Different Types of Boat Anchors
6. GPS & Fish Finder
Adding a GPS and fish finder to your fishing boat can up your fishing game. Whenever you head offshore in the pursuit of blue water inhabitants, makes these powerful tools your number one ally. They’ll help you be in the right place at the right time always.
Knowing your depth, accessing charts to discover better spots, seeing the bottom structure under your boat, and noting the honey holes to come back and fish another time are incredible game-changers.
A GPS also makes boat fishing much safer, whereby you use charts for navigational insight and avoid unsafe areas. And if you ever find yourself in danger, you can give your exact coordinates as you call for help. That alone makes it worth it.
You can easily spend more than a thousand dollars on your fishing boat’s GPS and fish finder. However, there’re plenty of options for lower budgets too. For my small watercraft, I use the Compact Garmin Striker 4, and I can’t complain. But if you want a bigger screen and still aren’t ready to spend big bucks, you can consider the Hummingbird Helix 5
7. Fishing Rod Holder
Fishing and boating go hand in hand, and a suitable rod holder is a must-have fishing boat accessory meant to make life easier out there on the water.
Most fishers aim to keep a fishing line in the water as long as possible waiting for the catch. But I don’t think it’s fun to have your fishing rod in your hand the whole day; perhaps you’d want to grab a snack or just rest your arms for a while.
For that matter, a fishing rod holder is a great tool to have. You can have your pole secure and your fishing line in water while you engage your hands elsewhere.
There’re plenty of rod holders in the market. Just ensure you invest in a quality one. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing your fishing line and the rod as well. Also, check if the holder comes with a mounting system. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to purchase one separately.
You might want to carry multiple rods whether you’re fishing alone. This is especially nice if you’re fishing in an area with multiple types of fish that require different rods, reels, and tackle sizes.
You’re possibly hoping to catch as many fish as possible. But as you continue fishing and the day passes, your first catches will eventually lose their freshness. Yet, this shouldn’t worry you if you have a live well on your fishing boat.
Livewells are onboard fish tanks that keep your fish catch or bait alive and fresh. Depending on which waters you’re fishing, they’re filled with freshwater or seawater.
Often, livewells come with a pump to keep the water circulating and are insulated so that the water temperatures stay consistent. The tanks can vary in size, though they’re usually not less than 20 gallons. I find a Livewell that offers 1 gallon of water for each inch of fish the most effective.
9. Spotlight and Headlamp
Even if you don’t plan to stay out until it’s dark, always keep light and a spare battery on your fishing boat. You never know what could come up and when you’ll need a light.
Whether you find yourself night fishing, reading charts, or repairing your boat, a portable, rechargeable, waterproof, and hands-free LED spotlight comes in like a crew member you didn’t know you needed most.
You can get very resilient spotlights at reasonable prices. Some have slippery-proof handgrips and floating properties, making them less vulnerable to damage, and others also boast a lifetime warranty.
I recommend a pistol-grip style flashlight that’s waterproof, can float, and has 550 to 1000 lumens, or more if you like to see a long way. Streamlight Waypoint is good quality and reasonably priced option that you can buy battery-powered or rechargeable.
For smaller boats, a headlamp should be enough. I use my Black Diamond Storm 400 head for both when on water and land, and I love it!
10. Trolling Motor
Next on my list is the handy trolling motor, an incredible fishing boat accessory worth investing in.
Whether you’re saltwater or a freshwater angler, stealth and precision determine how fruitful your hunt will be. That’s where a trolling motor comes in – giving you control over noise and maneuvering to maximize your chances of seizing that elusive fish.
Trolling motors are often electric and have smaller propellers than your vessel’s main engine prop. They open the doors to more fishing opportunities, and you’ll no longer worry about spooking the fish.
The motors are further helpful in turning the fishing boat in the correct direction when pulling in a fish. They also guarantee smooth sailing by allowing you make trivial adjustments to navigate strong currents or obstacles.
11. Dry Storage
If your boat lacks a cabin or any dry storage area, you need to have some dry bags to keep things like phones, cameras, extra clothes, and other camping gear from getting wet.
Though I like super thin dry bags for my navigations, I often find that they are poked too much or thrown around on my fishing boat.
I’d recommend getting a typical vinyl roll-top dry bag. You can find good-quality ones at give-away prices, available in 5, 10, 20, 30, or 40-liter sizes. Go ahead and grab a few bright colors from Marchway.
Flares are not only necessary to carry onboard but also a legal requirement in most cases. There are several options to select from, including l flare guns, lights, smoke signals, whistles, and air horns.
Note that flares must be replaced regularly since they have an expiration date. Furthermore, you should get a radar reflector, more so if you operate in areas with more ship traffic. This may also be a legal requirement you must keep up with.
As a bare minimum, I find it necessary to have a whistle on your boat. But for spearfishers, preserve one more on your buoy or yourself.
13. Boat Fenders
Boat fenders or bumpers protect your precious investment and the neighboring crafts. Regardless of your angling skills, it’s always worth it to minimize the risk of having your boat damaged should it get too close to a docking post.
The fenders serve as removable cushions that soften the anchorage settings. All you do is pad your vessel with the boat fenders; they’re the best solution to save the hull and your money.
Depending on your docking environment and boat size, you can decide on the fenders’ shape, placement, and quantity. You go can for the cylindrical or round ones. However, ensure that you have enough of them and align them evenly.
Since boat fenders are universal, you need not worry about shopping around for a specific brand. So long as they measure up to your requirements.
14. Depth Finder
A depth finder is almost similar to a fish finder in terms of function, only that it’s a little easier to use. There’re two key reasons why you should buy this fishing boat accessory:
First, the tool helps you escape waters that are too shallow for your boat, which can save you from sustaining costly damages. Second, with a depth finder, you can quickly locate areas where your wished-for catch might be. Some species dart in the deep bottoms, and others hover around shallow zones; the finder will direct you.
Generally, your depth finder only shows the lay of the sea floor. But you may find two-in-one models that show the floor and the fish in the water above it.
In case your fishing boat is small enough to paddle, you should have oars when you go fishing. Some boats are already equipped with such accessories at purchase, but if not, you can find yourself a set locally.
On average, boat oars aren’t too expensive. In fact, some costs less than beer on a regular fishing excursion.
It’s a great idea to carry a fire extinguisher or firefighting device on your fishing boat. It’s also a legal requirement, though this is highly dependent on the place and the type of boat you own so you should check the regulations carefully. But even if you find it’s not required, remember it’s a pretty good idea to have it on your boat.
17. Power bank
A power bank is essential to recharge other electronics. And if you rely on your phone for GPS, it becomes a must-have accessory. You may also want to go for something standard or more splash-proof; it all depends on your fishing boat size.
If you intend to go out for several miles from shore, ensure you carry a VHF radio on your boat, for it could save your life.
Since my boat isn’t one of the biggest, I carry a handheld VHF radio with floating properties. For larger vessels, you may opt for a fixed mount radio that’ll semi-permanently live on your boat.
19. Extra Fuel Tank
Actually, it’d help if you started with enough fuel before worrying about extra fuel. One of the top reasons boats have to be towed is running out of gas, so you better check your fuel tank and save yourself the embarrassment.
You can never regret having an extra fuel tank. Even if you don’t use it, you’ll have a reassurance that you can take longer trips and chase that dream catch for as long as it takes without worrying about gas.
20. A Knife
I believe you should always have a knife or some cutting tool as you go fishing. May it be on your multi-tool or filet knife, you need to have something to cut whatever needs to be cut. If your boat is inflatable, carry a knife that can fold or have a sheath.
A bucket is pretty cheap and easily available; thus, unless you have limited space on your fishing boat, you should carry one.
For spearfishermen: If you’re in shark-inhabited water, always bleed your fish into a water bucket on the boat and only pour it overboard after all the divers are back in the fishing boat.
If technology fails, a manual, handheld compass can help. Have it on your fishing boat if you go to large lakes or sea. It may as well be a legal requirement in some places.
A camera is welcome to capture worthwhile memories and kick up your fishing experience a notch higher. You can also invest in a phone with a good-quality camera. But ensure that both your phone and camera are waterproof, you don’t want to end up with lost memories on top of a broken device.
24. Measurement Gauges
There are local fish and game laws in almost every area. These require you to equip your fishing boat with a tape measure or ruler to measure fish lengths and standard gauges to size things like shellfish and crabs.
No matter where you’re boat fishing, you probably need to carry some licensing or documentation to be allowed to fish. It’s up to you to determine the requirements your local authority or state requires you to comply with.
26. Extra Snacks and Water
The last but not least item on my list is also a must-have. Don’t forget to bring extra food and drinks with you. Eatables can save your life in an emergency, but more likely, they’ll just allow you to stay out longer on days when the fishing is too good to stop.