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An overview of boat fishing tackle you need

Updated on May 24, 2013

Essential boat fishing tackle to increase your catch rate

The right sort of boat fishing tackle can be the difference between success and failure therefore it is important you have the correct boat fishing tackle for the job. With so many different species of fish and a few different fishing methods to catch those fish there arenât any all-round and general purpose boat fishing tackle that will deal with all situations, unfortunately.

If you are spinning for bass you will need different boat fishing tackle than if you were fishing for big game fish. Similarly, if you are jigging for cod you will need different boat fishing tackle than if you were sinker fishing for congers. If you want to succeed and catch fish it is crucial you have the best boat fishing tackle for your chosen method.

For the best boat fishing tackle for the different types of sea fishing methods (all of which are fishing from a boat) please do check out this page.

Boat fishing tackle for sinker fishing

Sinker fishing is a method whereby you have no idea what species of fish you are going to catch, which actually makes it quite exciting. When sinker fishing you could catch small flat fish or you could hook in to a large yellow fin or anything in between.

If you fish with boat fishing tackle that is too heavy you are not going to detect bites from smaller fish nor are you going to have a challenge getting them to the boat. On the other hand, if you use boat fishing tackle that is too light any large fish you hook are simply going to smash you up and break the fishing line. So, when buying boat fishing tackle for sinker fishing you need to compromise and go for an “all round” option that is neither too light nor too heavy.

One thing you do need to remember with boat fishing tackle for sinker fishing is that you are going to need some pretty heavy sinkers to take the bait all the way to the sea bed, and you are also likely to encounter some rocks, debris and other ‘snags’ so you are going to need some fairly strong fishing line to ensure the line doesn’t break if you get caught up.


All boat fishing rods should be short and the fishing rod I use for my sinker fishing is no different. I use a 6ft one piece rod that is lighter than a trolling rod but heavier than a spinning rod. To get the most out of sinker fishing you need a fishing rod that is sensitive (for bite detection and smaller fish) but one that has a bit of power in reserve for hauling up larger fish.

Penn sinker fishing rod

My choice of sea fishing rod for boat fishing is the Penn MB1530S60 boat rod. At 6ft in length I find this the perfect length for fishing on boats where space is an issue. It is not possible to cast big distances with short rods, but since you only drop the sinker over the side of the boat this is not an issue.

This Penn rod is rated at 15 - 30 pounds, which makes it sensitive enough for bite detection and catching smaller fish but also has the power in reserve for any larger fish that take the hook. This is a versatile boat rod that, in my opinion, is the best buy for sinker fishing. This rod has a nice action and is comfortable to use.

Penn are well known for making good quality boat fishing tackle and this rod is no different, despite its low price. The blank is nice and slim, the handle is well constructed, the reel seat is nice and secure and the eyes are well whipped on. The finish is a bit shiny for my liking but that's just me being picky.

I mainly use my Penn rod for sinker fishing but I occasionally use it for jigging, where it performs very well. I have also used this rod for trolling for barracuda close to shore with small lures, and once again this rod was excellent for this type of fishing as well.

Overall the Penn MB1530S60 is an excellent boat fishing rod for sinker fishing and one that I highly recommend.


When sinker fishing you need enough fishing line on your reel to allow the sinker to land on the seabed, and if you are fishing in deep water this could a quite a lot of line. Consequently you need a reel with a big spool that can hold a lot of reasonably thick line. You can use a fixed spool reel or a multiplier reel for sinker fishing, and since neither one is better than the other it is entirely down to personal preference what type of reel you want to use.

Penn v 9500 sea fishing reel

I learned many years ago the best type of boat fishing reel for my style of fishing is the fixed spool reel. Many anglers use multipliers, however when using multipliers I find the fishing line comes off the spool too quickly for simply dropping the bait over the side of the boat, and ends up in tangles and birds’ nests that are impossible to sort out.

I have used a few different types of fixed spool reels however the Penn V 9500 is the best I have found to date. Although the Penn V 9500 is described as a “spinning reel” I think it makes a better sinker fishing reel than a spinning reel any day, especially when you look at the size of the spool of this reel and take a look at the line capacity. I mean a spool that takes 360yds of 30lbs line, 300yds of 40lbs line or 220yds of 50lbs line is simply too big for spinning, in my opinion. It is easy to see the Penn V 9500 is a sinker fishing reel as opposed to a spinning reel.

The Penn V 9500 is well constructed and is a sturdy reel, and with the gold coloured spool and black body, it also looks pretty cool too. All you need to do is to make sure you rinse the reel in cold tap water (to get rid of the salt) after every use in order to keep the Penn V 9500 looking like new.

The Penn V 9500 is nice and smooth and a nice reel to use. The line doesn’t come off the spool as quickly as other reels but I actually prefer this as it makes controlling the sinker as it plunges t the seabed a lot easier.

Overall the Penn V9500 is an excellent sinker fishing reel and one I highly recommend, and I definitely wouldn’t be without mine.


Sinkers are an essential piece of boat fishing tackle you can't do without. I always make sure I carry plenty of sinkers (it is easy to get snagged up and lose them) of different sizes. The size of sinker I use depends on the depth I of water I am fishing, the swell and the weather conditions. Fishing in shallow water in a weak tide on a still day requires a smaller sinker than fishing in deep water with a powerful swell on a stormy day.

Terminal boat fishing tackle

When sinker fishing you need quite a bit of terminal boat fishing tackle, such as fish hooks, barrel swivels, rubber shock beads, plastic beads, plastic booms, metal booms, and other rig bits and pieces. The terminal boat fishing tackle you need depends on the type of rigs you are using (there are different rigs for different situations). I highly recommend buying a rig book to find out the best rigs for your situation and then buying the terminal boat fishing tackle you need to tie those rigs.

Fighting belt

I love my fighting belt and I consider it an essential piece of boat fishing tackle, even for sinker fishing. Reeling in large sinkers, and fish for that matter, from the deepest depths of the ocean isn't easy and a fighting belt allows you to "put your back in it" and get more leverage which in turn makes the whole process that much quicker and easier. In my opinion a fighting belt is a must have bit of boat fishing tackle that all anglers should use when sinker fishing. Don't believe me? All I can say is try one for yourself, and you will never go without one again.

Samurai fish fighting belt

There are plenty of different fighting belts available, some of which are exceptionally good and some of which are next to useless. A fighting belt is an essential bit of boat fishing tackle and it is important to get a good fighting belt. I have used a number of different fighting belts over the years and I have to say the Samurai by Braid Products is the best I have ever used.

This belt is extremely heavy duty and padded, and as it is large enough to cover both of your thighs as well as your mid-section, it offers the ultimate in comfort and protection. The Samurai is an awesome fighting belt and means you will stay comfortable and in control when playing big game fish.

The Samurai fighting belt isn't cheap, in fact there are other fighting belts that are a fraction of the cost however the cheap and nasty fighting belts are made from inferior materials and are nowhere near as comfortable, or durable, as the Samurai fighting belt. Many anglers seem to overlook the importance of a good fighting belt but, believe me, when you have experienced a fighting belt like the Samurai you will appreciate how pain free fighting big game fish can be.

So, would I recommend the Braid Products Samurai fighting belt? Most definitely, get one of these and you will be fighting big game fish in total comfort and pain free.

Boat fishing tackle for spinning

When spinning you are usually targeting smaller species of sea fish, such as bass, redfish, and sea trout therefore you don’t need specialist boat fishing tackle.

The majority of the species of fish caught using spinnerbaits aren’t that big therefore you don’t need heavy boat fishing tackle. In fact, if you want to really feel the fish fight and get the most out of the fishing trip you need your boat fishing tackle to be as light as possible. Spinning a lure a few feet under the water is a great way of fishing and a lot of fun, but what sort of boat fishing tackle do you need to do this? Let’s have a look.........

Boat fishing tackle for spinning

The essential accessories


First on the list of boat fishing tackle for spinning is the fishing pole. Even though most fish caught spinning are relatively small, compared to other species of sea fish that is, you still need a pretty strong and robust fishing rod. When I spin for sea fish I always use a heavy spinning rod as the medium and light spinning rods just don't have the backbone to cast out large spinnerbaits or play sea fish (even the smaller species).

A spinning rod needs to be long enough to be able to cast out a lure a fair distance but not so long that it is awkward and cumbersome, you are on a boat remember.

I find spinning rods 7ft - 8ft in length are ideal for spinning as these are long enough to get the spinner out a long way but not so long space becomes a problem when on a boat.

Tica UMGA spinning rod

My spinning rod of choice for boat fishing is the tow piece Tica 8ft medium spinning rod. Even though this rod is classed as medium it has the strength of a heavy rod, which means the Tica rod is sensitive enough to enjoy the fight when playing smaller fish but has enough backbone to deal with any larger fish that take the lure. This spinning rod has a nice through action and just feels 'nice' to play fish with.

At 8ft in length the Tica rod is long enough to be able to cast lures out a long way but not so long that it is awkward and cumbersome to use on a boat. In my opinion, this is the ideal length spinning rod when out on a boat.

The build quality of the Tica rod is second to none. It is tough, durable and very well made. The eyes are securely whipped on to the blank and the reel fittings hold the reel nice and tight. The overall finish is great and the rod looks the part as well.

There are other Tica UMGA spinning rods in the range, and with a variety of different actions and lengths to choose from there is something for all anglers. For the full line up of Tica spinning rods on Amazon use the drop down box in this link.

I can't confirm the quality of each individual fishing rod in the Tica UMGA line up but if it is like my Tica rods you will be impressed.


Next on the essential items of boat fishing tackle for spinning is the reel. You need a reel with a good line retrieval ratio for spinning, which means the spool turns the maximum amount of times for every revolution of the handle. You can use a fixed spool reel, multiplier or bait casting reel when spinning for sea fish. Neither of the reels is better than the others, and the choice is entirely up to you.

Shimano Tekota spinning reel

I have used fixed spool reels in the past however I now use baitcasting reels when I spin in saltwater. I find baitcasting reels are smoother and the line “files” of the spool during the cast, which means I can cast the lures further. I also find baitcasting reels are smoother when retrieving lures.

My spinning reel of choice is the Shimano Tekota Saltwater casting reel. Shimano are known for making top quality boat fishing tackle and the Tekota baitcasting reel series are no different. These reels are made from top quality components, are tough and durable and perfect for saltwater fishing. All you need to do is make sure you wash off any salt after use and this reel will provide years of trouble free service.

The Shimano Tekota reels are awesome casting reels and it is possible to flick out a lure a long way with little effort as these reels are so smooth. Retrieving the lure is also smooth. As is playing fish to the boat. The Shimano Tekota reels are a pleasure to use.

There are several difference sizes of Shimano Tekota reels, so there is the ideal reel for all anglers and all situations. Compared to other reels the Tekota series aren’t cheap but they are worth every cent. Besides, I think it makes sense to spend a little more on a quality product in the first instance.


Spinning line needs to be light enough not to hamper the cast but not too light that it can't deal with the species of fish targeted. When it comes to line for spinning there is a compromise between strength and casting distance. Some anglers prefer to use braid for spinning, which is very thing and strong. Braid doesn't have any elasticity, unlike monofilament fishing line, and you will find it "bumps" fish off the hook if you're not careful. Because of this I never use braid and prefer monofilament fishing line for all my spinning.


A swivel is an essential piece of boat fishing tackle that stops the fishing line form twisting and kinking, which weakens it. Many anglers seem to not to know why swivels are used or what their purpose is so make sure you are not one of them. Swivels are cheap and they are important bits of boat fishing tackle so make sure you have plenty in your boat fishing tackle box.


You can't spin without some spinnerbaits or lures, right? One of the most essential bits of boat fishing tackle for spinning is a lure or two. Walk in to any tackle shop and you will see hundreds of different types of lures. There are spinnerbaits, cranks, deep cranks, poppers, surface lures, jigs and shads to name just a few. The choice is huge and buying the "best" lures can be overwhelming.

When buying lures it is worth remembering that all lures will catch a fish or two so don't get too hung up on it. Personally, I always buy lures that are shiny and vibrate as you reel them in as these lures are visually attractive to fish and as they vibrate the fish can also sense them, which I think is important to evoke an attack.

Boat fishing tackle when trolling for big game fish

Big game fish, such as marlin, wahoo and yellow fin tuna, can reach several hundred pounds in weight and can grow several feet in length therefore the boat fishing tackle you need to land these monster fish needs to be very strong.

Many people seem to think it is the boat fishing rod that is the most important thing when it comes to big game fishing but this is not the case. Sure, you need a good quality boat fishing rod but it is the rest of the boat fishing tackle that determines whether you land the fish or not. If the hooks give the fish will escape, if the fishing line breaks the fish will escape, if the reel gives up the fish will escape etc. So the short of it is that if you haven't got the right boat fishing tackle you are not going to land the fish.

So, what boat fishing tackle do we need for trolling?

Boat fishing tackle for trolling

The essential accessories


There isn't much room on a boat and long sea fishing poles are cumbersome and awkward, therefore trolling requires a short rod. Obviously we need a strong rod that is capable of stopping fish weighing several hundred pounds and drag them to the boat as easily as possible. Bearing these two points in mind the perfect trolling rod is a 6ft one piece rod. A two piece rod or telescopic sea fishing rod is weak at the joints therefore these aren't really suitable for monster game fish.


A large game fish is going to "run" a few hundred feet once hooked therefore you need a reel with a spool that is large enough to hold several hundred feet of thick and heavy line. Trolling reels are large and heavy, which isn't great but it is what is needed when trolling for game fish.

Fishing line

As you've probably already guessed you need some strong line for trolling. When buying fishing line it is worth remembering that all fishing line is not equal and some brands are better than others. Never scrimp on fishing line and always buy the best you can afford. Buy cheap fishing line and you will regret it, believe me.


You can use dead (or even live fish) when trolling, however lures always seem more successful than natural fish baits. It's strange that big game fish prefer a lump of brightly coloured metal or plastic over their natural food, but that is just the way it goes. There are many different types of lures around for trolling and all of them will catch a fish or two.

Once you have a suitable rod, reel, fishing line and a lure you are good to get out there and catch some big game fish. The amount of boat fishing tackle you need for trolling is minimal, which is good given the amount of space there is on a game fishing boat.

Boat fishing tackle for trolling

Other accessories

Even though you can go trolling with the boat fishing tackle described above I wouldn't recommend it since there are other essential items of boat fishing tackle I never leave behind. "What are these items?" I hear you cry........................


The easiest way to get big game fish on a boat is to use a gaff, and I consider this an essential bit of boat fishing tackle. A gaff will damage a fish so I only use a gaff when I intend on keeping the fish and taking it home to eat. If I am intending on letting it go, i.e. catch and release (which I do a lot) I will never use a gaff and rather than getting the fish on the boat I will unhook it in the water and let it swim away.

Fighting belt

Big game fish are powerful and it takes a long time (sometimes several hours) to get the fish to the boat. When fighting big game fish I consider a fighting belt an essential bit of boat fishing tackle. A fighting belt has a hole in which you out the butt in which allows you to "put your back in it" and get extra leverage to haul big game fish to the boat. Fighting belts aren't cheap but they are well worth the money, and ask anyone who has caught any large game fish without using a fighting belt and I can guarantee they will say the same.


It is possible to remove the lure from the fish by hand but using a pair of pliers makes the job a lot easier, as well as safer, therefore it is always worth having a few pairs of long nosed pliers in your boat fishing tackle box at all times.

If you have any comments, thoughts or opinions please feel free to note them here. Similarly, if you have any other bits of boat fishing tackle you wish to share please do so.

Your comments are welcome - Any raves or rants?

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