Boat Rigging - What You Need, and What You Don't!

Each season I get a lot of questions from guys shopping out new equipment. Some are new boat purchases and some are just updating or replacing existing equipment. At the heart of the matter, we're all sort of alike - we want to save money where we can, but not lose one cent worth of performance. And that's a pretty reasonable expectation. So in lieu of boat show season coming just around the corner, as well as the predictable spring itch, I thought it might be important to shed some light on what I feel like are the necessities and options when it comes to rigging out your new boat.


  • Hydraulic Steering - improved safety / responsiveness, ease of use. Once you go hydraulic I think it's some kind of law of physics that you can't go back - it would be like disconnecting running water from your home.
  • Highest power trolling motor you think you could possibly need. This is the business end of the boat, why skimp here. My choice is the 36 volt Minn Kota 101. Depending on your individual needs and size of boat, a Minn Kota 74 may be enough power.
  • Max Horsepower - I've never met anyone who bought a boat with less than the max rated horsepower who didn't shop motor prices within the same season. My choice is the Evinrude E-tec H.O. (high output). While maintaining a Maytag reputation on the Pro Tours this direct injection motor makes gas and oil and has blistering performance.
  • Boat cover - Too many people try to save that couple hundred dollars, wind up going to some department store, paying half that price for something that doesn't fit and it scratches the boat up going down the road. Or in a lot of cases they never buy one at all and essentially trade the $300 boat cover for the $1,200 gell coat work that they'll have coming in the future.
  • On-board charger - Your batteries will stay healthier with an on-board maintenance style charger that you can leave plugged up. Too often we put off fighting those two or three stand-alone units until it's too late.


  • Tandem axle trailers - They give your boat the luxury ride by taking out the jolting bumps, they're safer, but ultimately optional on most models depending on your individual hauling needs.
  • Hydraulic JackPlate - Approximately a $600 to $900 add. I always run one, but it's definitely an option.
  • Electronics - Wait! I'm not suggesting that electronics are optional, but I do want to stress that you can shop smart when selecting your marine electronics. Many anglers today are utilizing gps units at both the console and bow of the boat. My choice each year has been to run combination sonar/gps units at each end of the boat. You can split the screen or toggle between screens depending on your needs at a given time. These models will typically save you a little money over buying both separately.
  • Lighted compartments, anchor reigns, etc? All these little gizmos can add up to the cost of the cover you should have bought.
  • Hotfoot throttles ? These devices were historically reserved for the so-called ?high performance ? fight it to drive it? models of boats. Today, however, we?re seeing more and more of them show up in all boat lines. I personally run one in all of my boats for safety. A foot throttle allows both hands to be on the wheel while turning and especially in rough water where boat control via the steering wheel and throttle control are equally important.

See you guys at the boat show!