Stocked and Ready to Go
Basic fishing gear every center console should keep on board
Center consoles are popular with anglers because they are designed with many fishing-friendly features. Powerful engines quickly get the boat to where the fish are biting. Common amenities include fish boxes, lockable storage, raw-water washdown system, and tons of rod holders. However, there is some basic fishing gear that might not come standard. These are some items that every center console should keep on board.
Rods and reels
It goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway. They are two of the most essential pieces of fishing gear—you can’t catch fish without them! There are many brands from which to choose, such as Daiwa, Penn, Abu Garcia, St. Croix, and Shimano. Each offers a plethora of different rods and reels for every fishing adventure at any skill level. Do some “reel” homework to find out which combo best suits your needs.
You know what else you need to catch fish? Sure, a great personality helps, but can you put that on the end of the line? Lures are also essential to have on board for your fishing excursion. “You’ll want a mix of styles, colors, and sizes to match the local prey and cover the entire water column from top to bottom,” says fisherman and award-winning outdoor writer Tom Schlichter. Some of the more well-known lures are made by Rapala, Strike King, Panther Martin, and Heddon.
“In today’s world, it’s hard to imagine not having a fishfinder aboard your center console,” says Schlichter. “A fishfinder confirms your hunches and pinpoints the exact depth and coordinates of your quarry whether in the back bays, inshore ocean, or offshore grounds.”
The Furuno DFF-3D is a fishfinder that produces highly detailed images and turns the NavNet TZtouch MFD into a multi-beam sonar to let you see the direction fish schools are moving, while displaying the seabed condition in real time.
More center consoles are building tackle storage drawers into the console with new models, but every angler should have a durable, waterproof tackle box with compartments of various sizes and a large base storage area to keep lures, line, sinkers, pliers, and other items organized on board. In this “case,” size matters. The occasional fisherman can stick with a small or medium box, like the Plano Guide Series Waterproof Utility Case, while a more serious, experienced angler with lots of goodies will need a much larger box, like the Flambeau Outdoors Waterproof Tackle Satchel.
Big fish, little fish, red fish, blue fish—if it’s on a hook, the easiest, safest, and most effective way to land fish is by scooping them up in a net. “Collapsible nets are real space-savers, but be sure to buy a net large and strong enough to lift aboard the biggest fish you might catch in your home waters,” says Schlichter. “Frabill offers some great choices, including its Deep Knotless Conservation Nets which are less prone to tangle with your rigs and hooks.”
Fishing pliers are indispensable on board. Need to de-hook your catch? Cut the line? They even help with bending wire and changing split rings. The versatile tool should be corrosion-resistant with jaws that align properly and slip-resistant grips that are easy to use when your hands are wet or wearing gloves. Rapala, Bubba, and Umpqua, just to name a few, make long-lasting fishing pliers.
They keep your snacks and beverages cool, and the stronger ones like Yeti and Igloo can also serve as casting platforms if secured to the deck. Use separate coolers to store food and catch.
A 36-inch ruler sticker applied to both gunwales makes it easy to ensure that your inshore catches measure up to minimum size limits,” says Schlichter. A high-quality fish ruler, like ones made by SeaDek and Berkley, provide accurate measurements to prevent you from getting penalized. Go big AND go home!