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Published May. 12, 2022

Outfitting your vessel with boat accessories is fun, exciting, and necessary. The right accessories can transform an ordinary rig into a fishing machine. There are an endless number of gadgets, tools, and gear to choose from, but the best will improve safety, comfort, and even help land you a few more fish. The best options tend to be boat or technique-specific and offer something a boat otherwise would not come with. To make your time on the water more enjoyable, here are some of my top picks for the best boat accessories.

Things to Consider Before Buying

The boat accessory market is a multimillion industry with an unlimited number of options. Sorting through gimmicks to find the best accessories can be tricky. The key is to find products that solve a particular issue you might have with your boat. The best accessories tend to improve safety, comfort, or fishing-oriented goals. Here are some factors to consider before making a purchase.

Safety

Boating safety is the most important factor to remember on the water. We all want to enjoy our time on the water, but being prepared when things head south is a must. Look for accessories that will keep you and your crew safe regardless of conditions. Pieces of gear such as life jackets, first aid kits, and GPS beacons are invaluable when it comes to boating. Don’t cut corners to save a few dollars. You’ll be happy you are prepared if the time ever comes to use your safety equipment. Certain items like first aid kits may have expiration dates, so make sure your safety equipment is up to date.

Comfort

Not all boats are created equally, but you can make any boat comfortable with the right accessories. I like to look for easy-to-install accessories that will improve your time on the water. On an aluminum johnboat, a good seat can make a world of difference. On larger center consoles, accessories like grills or speakers can be fun come summertime when you want to enjoy the local sand bar. 

Fishability

Certain accessories can make finding and catching fish much easier. For starters, every boat can benefit from a good set of electronics. A fish finder can help you locate structures, drop-offs, or weed edges that will hold fish. In addition, it can help you navigate new waterbodies without getting lost. On a technique-specific boat, the right accessory can keep you fishing rather than rigging. For instance, fly fishing skiffs benefit from a line-catching device to keep the fly line from tangling when you need it most. Whatever boat you have, look for accessories specific to the kind of fishing you intend to do, and you’ll be much happier with your investments.

Durability

No matter what accessories you want for your boat, making sure they will last is the most important. Regardless of salt or freshwater, accessories must hold up against the elements. Gear made of stainless steel, aluminum, or reinforced plastic is a great option to ward off corrosion. Even running on plane can be tough on gear with constant bouncing and vibration. Pieces of gear with reinforced hinges, seams, and waterproof designs are great to withstand daily use on any rig. The right combination of components in any accessory will last years to come. 

Best First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Kits Waterproof Marine 600 Medical First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits

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Why It Made the Cut

A versatile and waterproof first aid kit with supplies for any situation imaginable.

Key Features

  • Weight: 3.9 lbs
  • Size: 12”x6”x11”
  • Durability: Fully Waterproof Housing

Pros

  • Fully waterproof
  • Treats a wide range of issues
  • Instructions specific to certain scenarios

Cons

  • Slightly oversized for smaller boats

Things can happen in the blink of an eye, so being prepared is a must. The Adventure Medical Kits Waterproof Marine First Aid Kit comes ready with anything you might need in case of an emergency. Injuries on the water present unique challenges since there is no easy way to get immediate help. This kit comes ready to treat burns, fractures, bleeding, hypothermia, and more. Regardless of experience level, you can never be too prepared. Do not skimp out on medical equipment. This kit also comes with a field manual specific to boating to help guide you on how to treat various ailments. What sets this kit apart from others is the ability to treat things like fractures. Treating injuries that may arise gives you the ability to get back to the boat ramp and call for additional help. It is all packaged in a waterproof case, so when you do need it, everything is dry and ready to go. 

Best Spotlight: Nebo Luxtreme SL100

Why it Made the Cut

The perfect light to cut through rain and fog for safe running at night and in subpar conditions.

Key Features

  • Weight: 1.3 lbs
  • Size: 6.3” x 2.36” x 3.54”
  • Durability: IP67 rated for dust and water

Pros

  • Magnetic base
  • Up to a mile in distance
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • The light beam is narrow

A good spotlight is an excellent addition for any boat when running at night or at first light. The ability to see far and let other boats know where you are makes it easy to operate in less-than-ideal conditions. One of the best lights is the Nebo Luxtreme SL100 for its distance and durability. This light comes ready with three different light features: a spotlight, floodlight, and redlight mode. Unlike traditional spotlights, this one works off a Laser Excited Phosphor (LEP) system. LEP systems create bright and dense light beams that shine incredibly far. With a distance of up to a mile, I like to spot channel markers or other boats when running at night. The back dial controls light modes and allows you to switch between the spotlight and floodlight or even run them simultaneously. Another great feature is the magnetic base which is perfect for mounting the light onto a center console for easy access. The fully aluminum design is great for saltwater and won’t corrode even if you take some spray over the side. The battery is USB rechargeable and even includes a car adapter so you can run it nonstop if you have an electrical adapter on your boat. 

Best Fish Finder: Simrad GO9 XSE

Simrad

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Why It Made the Cut

With crisp displays and a user-friendly experience, this is a great fish finder for any sized boat at a reasonable price.

Key Features

  • Weight: 6lbs
  • Size: 9.52” x 7.24” x 9.76”
  • Durability: Waterproof

Pros

  • Touch screen design
  • Side imaging and down imaging
  • Radar compatible

Cons

  • The startup process takes a few minutes to run smoothly

These days boats of any size are running electronics and for a good reason. They dramatically improve your ability to locate and catch fish. Like any boating accessory, there are countless models available, but the Simrad GO9 XSE is a great option for its price and features. I run this unit on my flats skiff and it has drastically cut down the learning curve in new areas for me. Looking for tarpon when they are not cruising the flats can be tricky, but this unit’s side imaging is super crisp and picks up fish up to 100 yards away. I can even see the tail fins of fish as I mark them, so I’m confident they are tarpon before I setup. The other features are just as impressive, including the 9-inch touch screen display, which takes the guesswork out of using it. If you run a larger boat for offshore reef fishing, the down scan marks structure like wrecks and reefs as well as fish sitting off them. If you find yourself venturing further out in search of pelagic species, the ability to set up radar lets you know where you are and what’s around you.

Best Fly-Fishing Accessory: Carbon Marine LineHut 2.0

Carbon Marine

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Why It Made the Cut

A well-thought-out and durable line management system to keep your fly in the water longer.

Key Features

  • Weight: 10.8 lbs
  • Size: The base is 13″ x 13″ with adjustable heights of 24″ to 38″
  • Durability: Fully corrosion-resistant and waterproof

Pros

  • Keeps the line from tangling 
  • Adjustable for different heights and casting platforms
  • Square base to prevent it from rolling around

Cons

  • Takes up space when running from spot to spot

Wind is a fly angler’s worst nightmare, add in a boat, and it is borderline impossible without the right gear. The LineHut 2.0 from Carbon Marine is the perfect solution to make the most out of your days on the water, even when the forecast calls for howling winds. The design is simple—a bucket to store your line as you strip your fly through the water. When it’s time to recast, your line is all in one place and ready to double haul back out. This keeps the line away from cords, trolling motors, or just blowing off the boat. Any product that keeps your fly in the water longer is certain to help catch more fish. You can even gain distance on your cast due to almost no drag coming out of the tube. Line management is not a new concept, but Carbon Marine folks took it one step further with a fully adjustable stripping bucket. Simply step on the edges and pull to move it up and down for anglers of different heights or taller casting platforms. If you want to focus on fishing instead of untangling wind knots, this is a must.

Best Boat Grill: Magma Kettle Gas Grill

Why it Made the Cut

A corrosion-resistant and easy-to-use grill with mounting hardware for any style boat.

Key Features

  • Weight: 11.5 lbs
  • Size: 15.6” x 15.3” x 6.5”
  • Durability: 100% stainless steel construction

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Rod holder friendly 
  • Corrosion-resistant construction

Cons

  • Best for bigger boats

There’s nothing better than pulling up on a sandbar for a relaxing day of grilling. It’s always a risk bringing fire onto a boat, so a marine-specific grill is necessary. The Magma Kettle Gas Grill is a safe, reliable accessory for flipping burgers and enjoying the sun. Unlike traditional grills, this is rod holder compatible, so you can keep the grill and heat away from the fiberglass deck. While charcoal models are available, this propane model is best for easy use. It lights like any propane grill and is hot in minutes. It is made entirely of stainless steel, so even saltwater anglers don’t have to worry about rust. I’ve also found this model makes for a great pontoon boat grill and with different mounting hardware, you can mount it to the side rails of any pontoon boat. 

Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: Turtlebox Gen 2 Waterproof Speaker

Turtlebox

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Why It Made the Cut

Loud and waterproof, the best portable boat speaker for quality sound in any condition.

Key Features

  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Size: 11.5” x 6.5” x 8.75’  
  • Durability: Waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof

Pros

  • Distortion-free sound
  • Rechargeable
  • Doubles as a battery pack

Cons

  • Directional sound

Not every boat comes ready with speakers from the factory, and installing them aftermarket can be tricky and expensive, especially for smaller boats. The Turtlebox Waterproof Speaker is a great boat speaker, and when you pull up to the dock, you can bring it with you. It’s essentially a marine speaker in a waterproof box. Even on the top end, the speaker has great sound quality to enjoy your tunes. On the water, the battery life is excellent and will last multiple trips. In a pinch, it can double as a battery pack to charge a phone. What makes these speakers unique is the ability to pair them with another. Running two speakers gives you surround sound quality, all with Bluetooth control through your phone. For small boats, it’s a great option when space is an issue or there is no spot to install permanent speakers. Any Bluetooth speaker will work on a boat but being fully waterproof gives you the assurance you need for those rough days on the water.

Best Boat Storage Accessory: Yeti Loadout Gobox 30 Gear Case

Why it Made the Cut

The only gear box ready to withstand any abuse you throw at it while keeping you organized.

Key Features

  • Weight: 11.8 lbs
  • Size: 14.6″ x 11.1″ x 20.5″ 
  • Durability: Waterproof and Dustproof

Pros

  • Stackable
  • Fully waterproof
  • Dividers keep gear organized

Cons

  • A little big for smaller boats

If you are a gear junkie like me, sometimes you need an accessory for your accessories. The Yeti Loadout Gobox is a bulletproof gear box ready for any conditions. I run one daily on my boat, and it keeps crucial things like headlamps, rain gear, and extra tackle dry for when I need it. The durable defender material is practically indestructible and can double as an additional casting platform in a pinch. They are designed to be stackable, so if you need to run two boxes for extra gear, they are out of the way and take up less space. Duck hunters will also be pleased with the Gobox. I bring one on my duck trips to keep things like extra shells, calls, and layers out of the elements. For choppy conditions, you can run tie-down straps to lock it in place so gear doesn’t jump overboard. If one does escape from you it is fully waterproof even if completely submerged. 

Methodology

As a fisheries biologist and dedicated angler, I’m either on a boat for work or on a boat for fun. Over the years, I’ve noticed what accessories make a difference. Two identical boats with different accessories can act nothing alike. With that said, you don’t need to buy a fancy boat from the factory to make it great on the water. Choosing key accessories that enhance the experience is crucial, especially with limited space. I start with outfitting my boat with the best safety equipment I can find. Next, you can move on to the fun stuff and look for gear that will improve your time fishing. Look for accessories that will last. Construction and durability should be top priorities. I sifted through some of the best boat accessories and evaluated them on these criteria.

  • Corrosion Resistance: Is it designed to stand up against saltwater conditions?
  • Durability: Is it impact and water-resistant?
  • Purpose: How does it add to the boating experience?
  • Ease of Use: Is the product user-friendly and intuitive?
  • Size: How big is it, and will it fit in most boats?

FAQs

Q: How much does a good boat accessory cost?

Boating accessories vary widely in price depending on the accessory. Most accessories will run you $100 and up, but it depends on what you need. No matter how much you spend, make sure the accessories are well built before you make a purchase. Accessories should be able to hold up against water, dust, and the sun while still performing like new. 

Q: What boat accessories are most essential?

The most important accessories are safety-related. Every boat should have first aid kits, life jackets, and signaling kits. Don’t skimp on these and opt for cheaper models. It’s not worth it when you need it most. In addition, I like to look for these accessories with waterproof cases. This keeps them dry and ready to go in case of an emergency. 

Q: What can you not take on a fishing boat?

When it comes to a fishing boat, you can bring most things. Depending on the size of the boat, you may need to pack light if space is an issue. Additionally, don’t bring anything that can’t get wet. You and your gear will get wet on the boat, so be mindful of this when packing. It also never hurts to check in with the captain or friend you plan on going with.

Final Thoughts

Boating accessories can make or break any rig, so take the time to plan out your boat. Look for accessories that will improve your time on the water. Things like organization, line management, or entertainment make for an enjoyable day of boating and fishing. No matter the accessory, make sure it’s rated for the conditions you plan on throwing at it. If it can’t get wet, you won’t find it in my boat.

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