Tips and Techniques

A collection of some of the best boat and fishing tips.

Wiring for Newbies

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A pinch and pull is still effective and won't put novice wire men in dangerous situations.

If you're a novice angler and get lucky and hook and fight a really big fish up to the boat, I hope for your sake you have a wind-on leader, especially if you don't have a really expert wire man on board. Crewmen with little or no experience should never take wraps on a big fish. Forget about pulling the leader with wraps.

Instead, while wearing gloves and using both hands, pinch the leader between your thumbs and forefingers, with your thumbs facing up and the leader going through your hands to the fish. The angler can now go to full drag, and with the help of the pinch and pull on the leader, the two can raise the fish to within gaff or tag range.

If the fish reacts to the increased pull with a sudden dash for freedom, let go and ease off the drag a little bit. As long as you don’t break the leader, you’re still in the game. Learning when to let go is more important than learning how to pull hard with wraps!

__****Capt. Peter B. Wright**** _- _Stuart, Florida__ __

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_Protect Your Puller Holes

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No matter where you go, marine growth can slow your speed and rob your vessel of precious fuel. Not only that, but if it grows in the wrong places, it can make taking off your props a much bigger hassle than it need be. To keep marine growth from growing inside the PropSmith puller holes on my prop hubs, I always install stainless-steel setscrews to fill up the holes, prior to putting on the prop nuts.

Depending on the depth of the holes, it may take two setscrews to completely fill them. My current props take two setscrews of differing lengths to fill to the top. On the first screw, I apply some Super Lube on the threads, in order to make sure I’ll be able to get them out. On the outer screw, apply a good coating of TeffGel to the threads for anti-seizing and sealing purposes. Grainger.com is an excellent source for setscrews of all shapes, sizes and thread. I also keep the appropriate-size tap for the bolt hole, along with my puller, just in case.

I also carry a little prop removal and installation kit that I use for the prop nuts, consisting of a hammer/striking wrench and a 5- to 10-pound sledgehammer. A hammer wrench is a six-point box-end wrench made of forged steel with a 12- to 18-inch-long square handle that’s designed to be struck with a large hammer to free or tighten large-diameter nuts. They are widely used on pipelines. With one of these, you can impact on the prop nut easily as tightly as you want and still easily remove them. They come in a wide variety of standard sizes. The prop nuts I have now measure 3⅝ inches.

Since I was unable to find a wrench that size, I use a 3⅞-inch wrench with two eighth-inch aluminum spacer blocks inserted to fill the gaps. Go to gearench.com and click on the Petol Striking Wrench to get one for yourself.

Capt. Randy Baker - Destin, Florida

Improve Your Engine-Room Lighting

It’s hard enough to do your job out in the daylight, but getting stuck down in a dark, hot engine room can be the worst. A lot of boatbuilders use 24-volt DC lighting to try and illuminate some pretty dark spaces. The 24-volt DC lighting in my engine room left a lot to be desired, so I decided to upgrade by adding Imtra LED strip lights throughout the space. The lights are relatively tiny, extremely bright, put out no heat, use very little power and last forever. Imtra.com has a wide variety of lighting choices in 12- to 36-volt DC.

Capt. Randy Baker - Destin, Florida

Utilize Every Space

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There’s never enough storage space on a boat, especially on one that does a lot of traveling. Long trips mean that you bring everything with you, and it’s amazing to me how much stuff you can get on a boat and still float. Sometimes you have to think outside the box a little bit when trying to find space for that special tool or bit of gear.

For instance, since I didn’t have any heavy-tackle rod storage built into my boat, I utilized the backs of the closet doors in the master stateroom. I made a custom teak-wood block to hold the bottom end of the rods, complete with holes for the ferrules to fit into. There are also pins in the holes to lock the rod and keep it from spinning around.

I used to tip half of a Lee’s Tackle rod-hanger set to hold the tips in place and use a small section of foam pipe insulation to help keep the tips tight in the holder. With the bottom half of the hanger I store the curved Storabutt from each rod by screwing them to the inside wall of the closet near the floor.

For even more space saving, without limiting access, I custom-built a holder made to store the cutting board in the galley. One of the blocks has a second “keeper” block screwed onto the top of it, allowing it to pivot. Just turn the “keeper” at the top left and the cutting board lifts right in and out. This could also be done as a cockpit application.

**Capt. Randy Baker - **Destin, Florida

Make Your Fittings Stand Out

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Routine cleaning and scrubbing of the bottom of the vessel is a must. Nothing cuts down your speed and fuel burn more than a hairy bottom. If you travel a lot, it’s not always easy to find a good place to haul out and clean the bottom. To make it easier to locate your scoop/screens on your through-hull/seacock fittings while underwater, use white bottom paint as the final coat after proper priming of the metal fitting/housings. This goes a long way when you have to go overboard in areas with murky water and low visibility. In most places where you wind up going over, the quicker you can get in and get out, the better.

**Capt. Randy Baker - **Destin, Florida

Trace Leader Length

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I see a lot of crews that use wind-on leaders turning to very short trace leaders (5 feet or under) when using lures. I think this is a mistake, for two reasons. First, if a fish jumps out of the water and gets the lure out of the water as well, the lure can whip around and become a dehooker when it comes tight against the swivel.

Also, a longer trace leader lets the lure stay in the water and keep tension on the hook-set as it’s dragged backward through the water. No matter which way the fish runs and jumps, the lure will help keep the leader tight. The fish will never get slack at the hook if it keeps forward motion. With this setup, you do not have to gun the boat to try to keep tight; the lure will do it for you.

**Capt. Peter B. Wright - **Stuart, Florida