April 01, 2014

Who, me? Lucky? You bet! I have been able to create a career out of fishing for walleyes in tournaments, as well teaching others how to catch fish. It’s an occupation expanding well over three decades now – a profession that has seen a lot of changes for the better throughout the years.

Boats and the equipment found within and mounted on them included.

There’s no doubt in my mind the gear I have rigged my boat with would give any angler an advantage a thousand times greater over the fish when used correctly. But it’s got to be the right gear for the proper job, and, rigged right.

What are the most essential tools I rig my boat with that have made me a better angler, you ask? There are quite a few, actually. And in the words that follow I shall divulge.

Boats don’t have to be big vessels to be rigged right for fishing. Even small craft like this one should be rigged well. David A. Rose photo

It’s All In The Alloy

First of all is the very boat I fish from – a Lund Pro-V.

I have been fishing from within the gunwales of Lund aluminum boats since my career beginnings, and each and every one has impressed me to no end. From every rivet and rib being placed precisely where it needs to be for taking on whatever rough water may come my way without worry, to the amazing amount of storage and fisherman-friendly lay out, you can tell every Lund boat is designed and made my anglers at heart.

On the back of my Lund, you’ll find both my main and kicker motors are Mercury outboards.

When rigging any boat with an outboard motor, you ALWAYS want the main one to be as close to the maximum horse power your boat is rated at. This allows you to get up on plane fast, and then idol down for a smooth ride. A large outboard also saves on gas.

The kicker motor, on the other hand, is an essential tool for trolling. With it I can move along at speeds slower than 1 MPH, and up to as fast as needed. Overall, a 9.9-hp 4-stroke is sufficient for most any fishing boat as it will cover the trolling-speed gamut, and hold whatever speed it is you find triggers fish into striking.

Under Control

Mounted to both the dash and bow of my Lund are Lowrance sonar/GPS units. The one on the dash is within easy sight when I am traveling to and from likely fishing spots, as well when I am trolling. The one on the bow is trouble-free to read when I am casting crankbaits, jigging or bottom-bouncing. Both have an SD card from Navionics, filled with high-definition mapping.

Also on the bow of my Lund is a MotorGuide electric trolling motor, as well one at the transom. It’s all because boat control is the most crucial aspect of catching fish verses just fishing, and electric trolling motors are the perfect device for powering a boat into perfect position.

But no matter how powerful the electric trolling motor is, it’s only going to be as commanding and long lasting as the battery is it’s wired to. By far, I have found Optima deep-cycle batteries last the longest between charges of any I have ever used.

I also use an Optima cranking battery for starting my outboards and running my electronics from. Since using Optima batteries, I have never had to worry about being “that guy” at the launch who was wishing he was out fishing rather than putting the boat back on the trailer because his boat’s battery failed.

The Smaller The Details

The Bigger Results

I admit it… I ‘m getting older; thus comfort is key to helping me enjoy my day on the water.

It’s this very reason I have Smooth Move Seat Mounts installed under the chairs in my boat. Smooth Moves Seat Mounts are spring loaded and take the ‘shock’ out of every wave my Lund’s deep-V hull slices through. And not only have these mounts kept me as comfortable as can be while on the water, but have allowed me to keep my fishing career going by keeping my back, legs and neck injury free; which many of my professional fishing counterparts are now suffering through from their years on the water and waves.

But there’s more to being comfortable while fishing that just comfy seats. Not having to hang on to a rod while trolling, for example, makes fishing much easier, as well allows me to use more rods at one time.

New for 2014, Big Jon Sports and I have co-designed the Mark Martin Universal Rod Holder – a super-strong rod holder that can accommodate spinning, baitcasting and trolling rods of all shapes and sizes. It comes with an extension arm that brings the hold up and within easy reach no matter where they are mounted. And when it comes to rod holders, I have them mounted all over my boat as no matter the technique, there’s a specific spot in the boat where a rod works best.

Keep Your Cool

I have gone through a lot of coolers over the years, from bouncing around on the floor of my boat in rough water, to just the damaging effects from the summer sun’s intense rays.

For me, coolers are more than just a pace to keep drinks cold; they are also fundamental for keeping my the live bait in my Plano containers as lively as possible, as well my food cold (you don’t want to get food poisoning) and fish fresh after taking them out of the livewell. This is why I now use super-strong ultra-insulated (and American made) Orca coolers.

Orca coolers are built to withstand the extremes outdoorsmen and -women put their gear through on a regular basis. And the insulation value of these coolers keeps the contents cold longer than “standard” coolers.

Another way of keeping cool is by keeping your cool when mishaps happen. And believe me, mishaps can happen anywhere, and any time.

This is the very reason I now have an insurance policy with Worldwide Marine Underwriters; not only do they have the best boat insurance, but also cover the contents of your fishing boat as well those fishing with you better than any other insurance company out there.

Last but not least, keeping your cool on the water not only means having the best equipment mounted to your fishing boat, but making sure it’s rigged correctly.

Anytime I have an accessory attached to my Lund, I have the mechanics at Matteson Marine drill the holes and turn their wrenches. No matter what, I do not want any accessory to come loose or fall off while on the water, and that’s why I have the professionals rig my right boat rather than myself. Matteson Marine, on Gun Lake in Shelbyville, Michigan, has been my go-to for everything boat related since my career began.

Rig it right

Whether you are buying a new boat, inheriting grandpa’s old vessel or upgrading the equipment on one you’ve had a long time, make sure you rig it right.

All in all, fishing is supposed to be fun, and having the right gear in the right place can make all the difference between catching and fishing. Just make sure to have someone mechanically inclined do it correctly, and then insure it well.

Mark Martin is a touring walleye tournament pro and instructor with the Fishing Vacation/Schools found throughout the Midwest. For more information on Mark, the schools and all the equipment listed above, check out his website at markmartins.net.