By Ricky Shabazz
The excitement of purchasing a new bass boat is one the best feelings that an angler can experience short of catching a fish of a lifetime or winning your very first tournament. Bass boats are offices out on the water and many anglers spend countless hours perfecting the art of professionally rigging their boats. Rigging a bass boat is indeed a science. Every angler has their own individual tastes and needs for which electronics, outboards, trolling motors, electronic anchors, batteries, GPS, and host of other accessories to choose from when custom rigging a bass boat. No two bass boats are ever rigged the same. This article dives into the art of custom rigging a tournament bass boat to offer tips and tricks of the trade.
Angler’s Marine has been custom rigging bass boats for over 30 years. Owners Rick and Cindy Grover have two locations to serve anglers and are one of the largest Ranger dealers in the nation. Their main location is in Anaheim, California and they have a second store in Lakeside California that serves the greater San Diego area. Angler’s Marine sells Ranger, Triton, Nitro, Stratos, Tracker, and they also have a good supply of used boats on hand that they have taken in on trades. The Grovers sell bass boats to anglers all over the West and very rarely do two boats ever leave the dealership rigged the same. There are literally hundreds of options and accessories that are involved in rigging a bass boat to meet a customer’s expectations. “Every boat purchase involves a rigging sheet,” says Rick Grover. “The rigging sheet is where our customers get into the discussion of which brand of electronics, trolling motors and other accessories they want added to the boat and where the customer wants the items placed.” Building a custom bass boat is not only about accessories and options; it also includes a conversation about where the angler wants to place these items on the boat so that the fit is completely customizable to each individual customer’s needs. “We spend a lot of time with the customer going over what options are available and offering suggestions based on past experience,” says Rick Grover. “In the end rigging a boat is about what the customer wants.”
To dive deeper into the conversation about what goes into designing a custom rigged tournament bass boat I reached out to Angler’s Marine pro staffer Tony Lain. Lain is known for putting a lot of thought and effort into researching the components and accessories that he adds to his boats. “I start with a blank rigging sheet and I start surfing the internet looking at other tournament boats,” says Lain. “I like to do my research to keep informed about what the latest and greatest technology that goes into rigging my boats.” Lain spends a lot of time looking at websites like www.westernbass.com and www.bassboatcentral.com to keep pace with the latest approaches to boat rigging. Lain’s custom rigged Ranger boats have caught the attention of a lot of anglers out on the water. He has gone as far as replacing the standard rims that come with on the Ranger trailer with custom black 20 inch Lexani rims. If that is not custom enough, Lain’s Toyota Tundra is paired with the same Lexani wheels, only the truck boast 24 inch rims which makes for a heck of a first impression when he pulls up to the launch ramp in the morning.
Lain’s 2013 Ranger Z520c arrived at Angler’s Marine without the customary rigging that most customers usually have done at the factory. “Everything on my Ranger was custom rigged by Angler’s Marine,” says Lain. “Everything that you see on my boat was dreamed up by doing research on where and how I wanted things to be installed on my boat to meet my needs out on the water.” Lain’s boat arrived to Angler’s Marine as a blank slate where every detail down to the placement of electronics and props are planned out and discussed before the rigging team tackles birthing a dream machine into existence.. “The rigging sheet and tape serve as the focal point for ensuring the proper placement of all of the components and accessories.” Lain says,” I like to make sure that everything is exactly where I want them to be.” Lain’s list of accessories, options and component is extensive. An overview of Lain’s list of custom rigging included the following items:
- Four Optima Blue Top Group 31 Batteries installed with custom red Philips Products Battery Holders.
- Red One trolling motor cord replaces the standard Motorguide cord.
- Red Cool Foot for Motorguide foot pedal and Troll Perfect protector.
- Custom tool holder for Lowrance GPS puck.
- Custom laser cut plastic plates that go behind the standard dash cover plates for the fish finders that provide the proper stiffness to mount two Lowrance HDS 10s on their brackets.
- Two Navionics Platinum West map charts for improved chart reading and mapping.
- Custom red Philips Fishing Products Steering Wheel.
- Custom red Philips Fishing Product Fire Extinguisher installed near the driver’s seat.
- Two red Power-Poles to match the wrap.
- Custom Prop Blue Printed and Balanced for improved hole shot and mid range performance.
- The list goes on…..
Lain’s Ranger Z520c is totally customized by the staff at Angler’s Marine. In fact, Lain has so many customized parts on his boat that he has earned the name Team Bling on the tournament trail. There is no doubt that Lain’s Ranger Z520c stands out in the crowd and it is not only because of the yellow and grey wrap that his boat is sporting. Everything on Lain’s boat resembles a custom Harley Davidson or tricked out luxury sports car. While some of the items discussed in this article may come across to some as overkill or unnecessary. On the contrary, it shows the depth to which some pro anglers go to ensure that their boats are rigged to their individual expectations. Please note that everything on Lain’s boat does indeed serve a purpose.
Lain’s two Lowrance HDS 10 fish finders are linked together using Ethernet cords which allow the units to show waypoints on either location. Additionally, the heavy duty mounting brackets at the driver’s console and trolling motor which allows Lain to take his two fish finders off at night while staying at motels during tournaments. However, these units are extremely sturdy, much more than the regular faceplates, to firmly reduce vibration from high speed runs. Electronics are expensive and having break-in are fairly common during tournaments, which is why Lain has elected not to flush mount his electronics so that he can take them off the boat at night.
The Navionics Platinum Chart allow Lain to adjust his Lowrance units maps to the current water level as many of our Western lakes are very low due to drought conditions. The charts also show mapping software that is superior to what comes as standard on the units. He often switches back and forth between the internal mapping software and the Navionics charts. The Navionics charts also allow Lain to update his charts on a monthly basis via the company’s website. Lain mounts the GPS puck that is wired into his HDS units directly in front of his Lowrance unit that is on the deck. This allows for waypoints to mark locations that are closest to where Lain is likely to be fishing, which is on the front deck on the trolling motor. Much of the custom rigging is about fit, feel and locking down things like trolling motors and batteries so that his accessories remain firmly intact during rough water drives. The Philips Fishing Products battery holders are far more heavy duty than the standard battery holders that are in most boats. Additionally, Lain’s trolling motor is locked down securely using the Motorguide strap and the Bounce Buster. His trolling motor also boast a Troll Perfect which is a bracket system that keeps the lower half of the Motorguide tight with the upper shaft. Lastly, the Danny Miller’s The Red One is a steel trolling motor cord that replaces the standard Motorguide rope. The standard ropes are notorious for breaking and replacing it with the metal cord and mounting system that is included reduces the likelihood of that happening during a tournament.
For the past two years BASS Elite Series Pro Ish Monroe has produced boat rigging videos that showcase the depth that Northern California’s C and C Marine goes to rig his boats. “I make my living on the water and I need to make sure that my boat fits my individual needs.” Says Monroe,” I did the boat rigging video because I wanted everyone to see what goes into rigging a tournament bass boat.” Monroe’s videos have caught a lot of attention over the last couple years and more customers have entered dealerships requesting the items that he outlined in his YouTube video.
Seeing a custom tournament boat come together is breathtaking and downright amazing. The thought process, skill set and time required to rig a tournament bass boat is an art form worth watching. I adore watching each rig being birthed into existence. Rigging a bass boat the way that is outlined in this article can take 2-3 three people 3-4 days to complete. This is not a quick process by any shape of the imagination, and readers should take note that custom rigging can result in thousands of dollars in shop time not to mention the cost of the components. While many anglers may take for granted the work that goes into rigging each boat, the payoff is in each individual grin that appears on an angler’s face as they drive away with their new dream machine in tow.