Sometimes I like to pretend that money isn’t a factor. I’ll scour the internet checking prices for sprawling ranches in the Dakotas, river-front lodges in Idaho, or maybe a beachside house on Maui. And, yes, sometimes I dare to check out the latest offerings from bass boat builders…including prices.
A fully-loaded 20-foot boat from a top manufacturer will run you around $80,000. Step up to the 21-foot model and you’re into six-figure territory. Yep, that’s right. We’re talking $100,000-plus for a bass boat.
Used boat prices of late haven’t exactly been easy on the eyes either. That said, we can always hope that this crazy boat market will settle and, in the meantime, do what we can to make our current rigs into just what we want. Honestly, I’ve found the customization and personalization of my boats one of the most enjoyable parts of owning them. Here are a few ways you can upgrade yours.
I’m not one to roll around the lake with music blasting, but I do spend a lot of hours fishing by myself, and turning on some music or a good podcast is something I enjoy. I’ve never found the need for a full onboard audio system, but Bluetooth speakers are ideal for boat use.
I have an older Skeeter ZX series that included a flasher in the dash. Obviously, my electronics are a bit more sophisticated these days, and I have literally no use for the flasher. But, that circular mount was perfect for a Bluetooth speaker. I measured the available space and hit Amazon in search of the perfect option. What I found was a round speaker for less than $25 that claimed to be waterproof.
I put velcro to the back of the speaker and attached it to the flasher’s mount. The fit was perfect, and I can charge the speaker using the USB charger on my boat (more on that in a bit). The sound quality isn’t going to win any awards, but I can hear it easily at the front of the boat while I’m fishing, and that’s all that matters to me.
2) LED Lighting
You’ve probably seen boats glowing like July 4th on the lake. LED lighting on boat trailers, decks, and seating areas is a popular trend today. I’ve added LEDs on my boat as well, but I spent well under $100 to do it.
Rather than focus on the bling factor, I opted more for practicality and installed LEDs in my rod lockers and storage compartments plus a single cluster of white LEDs near the step where I sit when prepping tackle before a tournament or just a day of fishing.
When choosing LEDs make sure you’ve chosen ones made for marine use. They need to be sealed and waterproof. I chose 120-lumen LEDs that have a simple two-wire installation.
To make things even easier, and safer, I added a basic fuse panel (for about $10). The fuse panel also makes trouble-shooting a bit simpler should there be an issue.
3) A USB Charger
I took advantage of an outdated accessory on my boat by removing the antiquated 12-volt “lighter” type plug-in from the dash and replaced it with a dual-USB charger that I picked up for about $10. Installation was stupid easy since the wiring was already in place for the lighter plug.
4) Tool Storage
I’m constantly losing pliers and line-cutters. They end up buried somewhere in the bottom of a compartment and are never handy when I need them. To keep my tools organized, I went full DIY and designed a simple three-slot tool caddy that attaches to the side of my boat in the step area. I made it from a piece of PVC trim I had left from a house project and used epoxy to attach the caddy to the boat. There are also commercially-made caddy’s available online including an excellent option offered by PRO-Cise Outdoors which I had in a previous boat.
5) Trolling Motor Tamer
I fish almost exclusively for smallmouth in the Great Lakes. Even the inland lakes I venture onto are pretty big—like 20,000 acres big. Rough water is a relative term, and for folks who chase brown bass around here, rough water is something we’ve learned to live with. Trolling motors take tremendous abuse when bouncing across the waves, and I’ve tried just about every system available to keep mine secure.
The very best solution I’ve found is the Troll-Tamer from T-H Marine. It’s well worth the price and installation doesn’t take long. Once you have it in place and lock your trolling motor in, you’ll know it’s not going anywhere no matter how choppy things get.
6) Cold Storage
If you have a fancy new rig, you likely have built-in coolers that are fully insulated and hold ice for more than an hour or two. This isn’t the case on older boats including mine. I had plenty of holds to use as a cooler but none of them are actually insulated. The solution was quick and cheap.
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I picked up a cooler bag for less than $10 that stashes nicely under the passenger seat of my boat. It has plenty of capacity, and I can load it up with ice, several drinks, and whatever else I want to keep cold for the day. If I need more cooler space, I can add another to the driver’s seat storage area.