The industry is full of products that we adore but narrowing them down to the top five essentials was difficult. When it comes to boat accessories every piece feels needed, the problem then becomes the cost of upgrading, accessorizing, and customizing. Our goal was to make a list of the top five products that we couldn’t live without while also not breaking the bank. We attempted to make this list based on “necessity” but that really goes for our opinion only.
- Humminbird Side Imaging
Too expensive! I might hear you say. Ridiculous! You might also say. “Cheating!” May escape your lips. I have a hunch that this train of thought is only the case because of the pricing of the SI units in the past. A couple of years ago if I would have told you about a $500 SI unit you would have hurled your wallet at me exclaiming “TAKE MY MONEY!”
Humminbird launched the 398CI SI Combo which is capable of doing almost everything the 1199 can minus a few features that likely wouldn’t concern you at that price point. If you did want to make the jump however to a bigger screen I cannot stress the 899ci HD SI Combo enough. For $1,000 you get a screen that has twice the usability plus all of the NMEA and other goodies you could ever want, minus the cross touch the Onix offers.
2. Jack Plate
Now, the one that comes to mind for most people will be the Atlas but there is a shop out of Tampa, Florida called Bob’s Machine Shop that we have been keeping our eyes on. I’ve been keeping my eyes on them since the Classic earlier on this year and I’ve been surprised with their quality and pricing. At the Classic they were showing off everything from Mini-Manual on up to the Extreme Series which mean they have you covered from 9.9hp on up to 350hp. The idea of a jack plate is to give you an extra push at the top end, many boats can see a 4-5mph increase adding one, that isn’t the only benefit though. If you’re good with a hydraulic jack plate you can get into super skinny water, increase top speed, and increase your efficiency. Jack plates really are a marvel to the boating world.
3. Onboard Charger
I really could just leave this at “You need one” but I won’t. The days of pulling out each one of your three or four batteries is over. We now have the ability to simply plug in an extension cord and walk away without the fear of overcharging and ruining your batteries. I’m a big supporter of the Minn-Kota brand, which is easy because they are likely the biggest brand when it comes to battery chargers. We run the MK-330D in the ol’ Quantum which is a three-bank with a total of 30 amp output. The digital series is a three stage charging system in which it’ll put out near the maximum 10 per bank before dumping off during the second stage, then finally during the final stage it’ll virtually turn itself off until it’s needed to trickle.
If you’ve got a little more money to spend then take a look at the precision series. Offering up your 1-4 batteries with 15 amps per bank while still offering everything the digital does plus they run a micro-processor that figures your charging out for you to get the fastest and safest charge possible.
4. Livewell Management System
There’s really two ways you can go with this, the first is the easiest and maintenance free, the V-T2 Livewell Ventilation System.
The way this works is by allowing the built up heat and gases to escape while the fresh oxygen is able to naturally rebuild inside the livewell. For around $50 this is likely the best bargain while also getting something worth actually buying.
If you’ve got a little more to spend and want something a little more on the cutting edge check out the Fish Guardian. I know plenty of tournament guys swear by these and I’ve even heard of a few new boats coming with these rigged from the dealer. This will run around $100 for the kit which includes just about everything you need to give those fish in your livewell the best liquid live release formula currently available. This system will actually set up a spray nozzle inside your livewell to dispense the liquid release aid. Either way you go keeping fish alive is the goal and both will aid in this mission.
5. Shallow Water Anchors
Ok, so these aren’t needed but man do they make life easier. I’ve seen them being used for everything from anchoring down for a swim on up to keeping the boat in place for duck hunting. While we likely wouldn’t use them for those purposes I love them for fishing out a spot that is prime for that winning fish. Probably the best thing about shallow water anchors is it is open to many species, whether you’re fishing largemouth on flats or pulling panfish out of the reeds setting yourself up with a couple of Talons is a decision you won’t soon regret.
Well, that’s our top 5 best marine accessories that every competitive rig or weekend warrior should consider.