Many anglers across the country don’t have a nice 21 foot bass boat to sky rocket them to their fishing holes so that they can do well in tournaments. I for one know that I sure don’t, not as of this moment at least, and I’ve had many people ask me if it is possible to rig a smaller boat to be a bass tournament rig. My answer is most definitely yes!
I have a 16′ 2″ bass boat with a 50 horsepower outboard. Not the fastest rig on the lake, but it treats me well. When I first got the boat, it had everything I wanted; for the most part. I did tweak it a bit to make it more bass tournament ready. While I still am tweaking my rig a bit, it is a great little bass tournament rig, and it will treat me good for awhile.
Let’s begin with talking about the heart and soul of a bass boat, the motor. Now my boat is rated for a 120 horsepower outboard, but I am running a 50 horsepower. I recommend getting the highest horsepower motor that your boat can handle or that you are comfortable handling. You’re already going to be at somewhat of a disadvantage from fishing out of a smaller rig so I would get the biggest motor that I could afford and feel comfortable handling. I wouldn’t recommend getting a 120 horsepower if you don’t feel that you can handle it properly. Safety is a big issue out there on the water. Remember, a boat has no brakes.
With any boat, you are going to want to get the maximum holeshot that you can from your boat while not affecting your top end speed. Holeshot is the rate of speed it takes for your boat to get up on a plane from a dead stop. You want the quickest holeshot that you can get out of your boat. There are two ways to maximize your holeshot. One way is to go down in prop sizes, preferably going with a stainless steel prop. Another way is to get a hydrofoil or “Dol-fin” type foil. This will minimize the amount of time it takes you to get on a plane, which in turn will maximize your fishing time.
A big part to any tournament boat is the trolling motor. This is your means of transportation when your boat is not under power. For a smaller boat, I recommend getting the highest pound thrust motor you can get while still running off of a 12 volt battery. When I first received my rig it had an older foot controlled trolling motor on it. I got rid of the foot control so that I could maximize the amount of space on my front deck. I now have a hand controlled motor with the Big Foot push button and Big Foot extension handle. This lets me maximize space while still running the boat hands free for the most part. Also, make sure that you are running a big enough motor that will push you if the wind begins to pick up. You don’t want to get blown around like a balloon; that is never fun.
Electronics also play a big role in a tournament boat. Running a unit on the console and one on the bow would be the smartest thing to do in my opinion. That way you can see what is going on below you while you are cruising around and you can still have a good picture of the structure or cover that you are fishing while you are up front. A real good idea would be to run a fish finder and GPS unit on the console, that way you can mark spots and make sure you aren’t lost while under power.
If I had to change one thing about my boat, it would be my rod lockers and tackle storage. My locker isn’t big enough to put my rods in, so I leave my rods on the front deck, strapped down of course with Rod Saver straps. I utilize the rod locker by putting my safety equipment in it. Having a small boat makes it hard to carry a lot of tackle and baits. I utilize the space under my compartment lids with a Cook’s Go-To tackle system. I am able to hang spinnerbaits and bags of soft plastic baits underneath my compartment lids which enables me to carry more in the compartment.
These are just some tips that I have used to make my small boat into a fully functional tournament bass fishing rig. I hope this will help you in rigging your boat. Tight lines and God Bless! Remember to take a kid fishing, the memories will last a lifetime.