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  Article 4...

Picking Out the Right Rig for You
By Chad  Brauer

Being satisfied with the boat that you buy is often a function of how much thought you put into what you need out of a boat before you make that purchase. There are many decisions you make during the buying process that can lead you to be really happy or unhappy with your rig. Since my boat is where I make my living, I try to design my rig to allow me to perform to the best of my abilities. Advance planning is required in order for this to happen. Let me take you through my rig and explain the reasoning I use to choose the right rig for me.

Boat
I begin the process by choosing the model of boat that I feel will satisfy my needs. How do I make that decision, you ask. I basically try to analyze how I will be using the boat and then find properties of a boat that fulfill those uses. Here is a list of questions that can help you analyze your needs and help fulfill them:

What style of fishing do I do the most?
Do I encounter mostly calm or rough water?
Is speed important to me?
What can I afford?
How much storage space do I need?
What is the resale value?
There are many other questions you can ask but these will get you started, and are in my opinion the most important to being satisfied with your rig. As an example let's go through my boat and I'll explain why it fits my needs.

My personal boat at the time of this writing is a Ranger 518VX. I am primarily a shallow water fisherman and my favorite technique is flipping and pitching to heavy cover. Because of that I want a boat that floats shallow in the

 

 
 









 

 

 

  water, allowing me to get into shallow areas easily. Since I have to travel to water bodies that have both calm and rough waters I have to have a boat that handles both very well. The 518VX is long enough to take rough water well, yet very quick for calm water situations. I also prefer my boats to sit low to the water, allowing me to present my bait into tight cover as well as swing fish into the boat easily. I also need a fair amount of storage to haul all of my tackle around the country.

Motor
The best place to start with your motor is the horsepower rating of your chosen boat. Matching that rating with the size of your motor will generally give you the best overall performance from your boat. Though this will give you your best top end speeds, that is not the only reason for meeting the horsepower rating. You will also experience better hole shots, easier driving in rough waters, and better overall handling. Nothing says you have to drive at full throttle. Fuel economy is also an issue in picking a motor. The less fuel and oil you use the cheaper it is to operate your rig. I have an Evinrude 200HP on my Ranger 518VX. The boat is rated for a 200HP motor, and having a 200HP gives me excellent overall performance. The FICHT Fuel Injection also gives me excellent fuel economy. An example is a couple of weeks ago at Memphis, TN., I was making a 78 mile run down river to a backwater area then returning against a 7-10mph current. My total fuel usage was less than 40 gallons each day. That translates into about 4 mpg at full throttle, that was a huge advantage over some of my competitors who still had regular carbureted engines.

Having the right prop also plays a large part in your boat's performance. Props that give you the best top end speed often sacrifice hole shots and handling, and vice versa. I run a 24 Raker prop on my boat, this is sort of a happy medium. Good top end speed, yet excellent hole shot and handling.

Trolling Motor
To me this is one of the most important pieces of equipment on my boat. This is how I control my boat when I am trying to make my living. Make sure that the trolling motor you buy has enough power to maneuver your boat. Fishing in current and wind requires more power to move the boat. Having a quiet trolling motor is also important, a noisy one will be more likely to spook fish. Length of the trolling motor shaft should also be considered. Shallow water fishermen will be happier with a trolling motor that does not drag bottom, while an open water fisherman may want a longer shaft that does not come out of the water in rough water conditions. You must also decide whether you like hand or foot controls better, and that is just personal preference. My trolling motor is the Evinrude 74lb. thrust model with foot control. It has a 42 inch shaft which is long enough to perform in rough water yet does not drag bottom in shallow water. It also has plenty of power to maneuver my boat, even in the wind or current.

Electronics
These pieces of equipment on a boat are of utmost importance to some fishermen and of no importance to others. There are many places in the world where electronics mean the difference between having a successful trip and getting skunked. You must analyze your particular fishing situation to determine what sort of electronics you need and what quality your needs require. Throughout the year I use my electronics for many different purposes: finding structure, finding baitfish, locating brushpiles, eliminating water that is not in the productive depth zone, etc. There are also weeks in the year where I do not even turn my electronics on. It all depends on the situation.

Since I face many different situations I try to be prepared for all of them. I currently run four pieces of electronics on my boat. I have a Humminbird Wide Paramount on the bow of my boat, a Humminbird NS-25 GPS unit at the drivers seat, and two Zercom In-Dash flashers (one on the bow and one at the drivers seat). The GPS unit I mainly use on big bodies of water such as Lake Erie, the Louisiana Delta, and Lake Champlain. It functions mainly as a navigating tool to any productive areas I have found. The Paramount is my primary unit when I am fishing, it gives me a great picture of what I am going over as I fish. I use the In-Dash units for monitoring depth while I am driving and for shallow water fishing.

Extras
There are numerous other items you can put on a boat, and they can be extremely productive for you or a waste of money. That often depends on your particular use of the boat. What one fisherman cannot live without, the next does not use at all. Trailers, covers, jackplates, batteries and battery chargers are all items that can make you feel more satisfied with your rig if they are given some thought beforehand.


 
 
 

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