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5. Big Boat Set-up

Between The Lines - Ch10: Boat Setup


1005_01_RivSmall boats can be fun and there is a lot to be said for catching fish that are almost as big as the boat. The bottom line is that big boats are safer, more comfortable and often are easier to maneuver and quite simple to set up for effective game and sportfishing.

Many of the previous pages have dealt with setting up boats regarding lure patterns, setting up outriggers, electronics, safety and indeed setting up small boats. This may lead you to believe that setting up a large boat may well be more complex than a smaller boat, indeed the added room that a larger boat offers, makes setting up much simpler.

Even though larger boats are safer than smaller ones they are still not infallible. Often safety gear should be strategically placed where it can be reached with consideration to the possible emergencies. There is no point having life jackets in the cabin as they are too hard to reach quickly. All safety gear should be P01AnimalConsoleaccessible from the bridge and cockpit. It is often advisable to have items such as EPIRBs, lifejackets and fire extinguishers available in both areas. If you are venturing wide in rough conditions your safety gear should be effective in those conditions such as better quality lifejackets, rafts that provide enough room and shelter for all those onboard - and a 406 EPIRB to minimise the time it will take for rescue.

The electronics on a larger boat should be the best you can afford. Consoles with integrated systems such as the HSB2 Raymarine units are a delight where the sounder, GPS, radar and autopilot are cleverly integrated and can be linked to additional screens elsewhere on the vessel such as the cockpit and tower.

The units are often larger on bigger boats as you generally sit further away from the units than on a smaller boat, in a large plush captain's chair rather than the bench seat on a smaller boat.

As the travelling range on larger boats is often further than on smaller boats added range is needed with electronic communications such as radios, and although VHF frequency has fixed power, increased range can be achieved by using longer and higher aerials as the range is based on the line of sight.

When it comes to setting up and choosing the rod holder configuration, consideration should not only be given to the current use of the boat but future possibilities which can easily be included. It is quite easy to set up for both light and heavy tackle.

1005_Cockpit_Stright 1005_Cockpit_Angled_Side 1005_Cockpit_Angled_Back
Fig 1 Fig 2 Fig 3

This configuration uses a combination of straight rod holders (Fig 1) angled rod holders facing straight out in the direction of the arrows (Fig 2) and angled rod holders facing straight back (Fig 3) offers the ability to run both bent-butt chair rods and stand-up rods with several alternative positions based on the prevailing conditions and pattern required as the following examples show.


6 Lure spread stand-up straight butt rods

- Outriggers run from angled rod holders facing straight out the side.
- Long and short corner lures run from angled holders facing straight back.
- Shotgun and centre lures are run from angled rod holders facing straight back in the game chair.


5 Lure spread combination bent butt chair rods and stand-up straight butt rods

- Outriggers using stand-up rods run from game chair angled rod holders.
- Long and short corner lures using bent butt rods run from angled holders facing straight back.
- Shotgun lure using stand-up rod run from angled rod holders facing straight back in the centre of the stern gunwale.


5 Lure spread using heavy tackle bent butt chair rods

- Outrigger rods run from straight holders on side of gunwales.
- Long and short corner lures run from angled holders facing straight back.
- Shotgun lure rod run from straight rod holder in the game chair.


5 Lure spread using heavy tackle bent butt chair rods variation

- Outriggers run from straight holders on the game chair.
- Short corner lures from angled holders at stern facing straight back.
- Long corner lures from straight rod holder in gunwale to give added height. (Fig 4)
- Shotgun lure rod run from angled rod holder in the game chair.


All rod holders should be heavy-duty stainless bolted, not screwed into position including those in the game chair. Safety lines are often run from the base of the chair to outfits to prevent these valuables getting lost over the side. (Fig 5)

1005_Bent P09SafetyStraps P10rocketlancher
Fig 4 Fig 5 Fig 6

Just as the positioning of rod holders is carefully planned, areas to store the rods when the action starts is just as important. Often this is the rocket launcher. (Fig 6) Game rods and reels will last a lifetime if cared for. Part of this is ensuring that rods are never just thrown on the floor in the cabin, that they are only ever stowed in holders. The care of the gear should continue off the boat where rods should also be stored in racks. (Fig 7)

P11RodRack P12ToolBelt
Fig 7 Fig 8

Bigger boats generally have sufficient storage areas to keep things in their place, there are several tools that should be easily accessible at all times. Certainly, the crew will wear belts with the appropriate tools such as nylon and wire cutters, rigging pliers and a knife when the action starts. But other tools may be needed which can be placed on a belt around the back of the game chair or somewhere that handy. (Fig 8) The tools should include hook removal tools, cutters that will easily cut through the thickest wire used, sharp knives to cut the rope and any other tools that may be considered necessary.

Bolt cutters that will cut through the largest hooks used are also on the list in case of emergency should also be within reach. (Fig 9)

Storage for other gear should also be considered in various levels. Gear that is on the boat but not needed for the current session should still be accessible. Gear that will probably be needed should be ready for use such as alternative lures, tag poles, gaffs etc, should be at hand, although out of the way. (Fig 10) And gear that will be cleared such as rods, leaders and lures should all have somewhere they can be safely stowed out of the way when the action starts. (Fig 11)


Fig 9



Fig 11


Fig 10

Setting up a boat for game and sportfishing is not difficult, though certainly a boat is always a work in progress as needs and wants change. Along with the changes made to boats comes a change in overall weight and its distribution which does affect the boat throughout its performance range. It is worth remembering that props may need to be altered to maintain or improve a clean wash. Other factors that help is keeping the hull clean of scum, weed and barnacles. Getting the props coated in lanolin or some of the other slick coatings apart from antifouling also increase economy and help reduce the prop wash.