Inside Elite Boats

Inside Elite Boats: Chris Zaldain

Ever wonder what Chris Zaldain keeps in his tournament rig? Take a quick tour in this gallery.

Chris Zaldain is a young but talented Elite angler that has definitely made his mark on the sport. One example: Zaldain landed in the Top 10 of three Elite events in both 2013 and 2014. This impressive tally includes a Top 3 finish at the 2014 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Chris Zaldain is a young but talented Elite angler that has definitely made his mark on the sport. One example: Zaldain landed in the Top 10 of three Elite events in both 2013 and 2014. This impressive tally includes a Top 3 finish at the 2014 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake.
Chris Zaldain's Skeeter FX20 is powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Chris Zaldain's Skeeter FX20 is powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO.
Zaldain trolls with a 36-volt Motor Guide trolling motor
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain trolls with a 36-volt Motor Guide trolling motor
On his front deck, Zaldain uses two Raymarine E97 units networked together with down vision and side vision capabilities.
Photo: Seigo Saito - On his front deck, Zaldain uses two Raymarine E97 units networked together with down vision and side vision capabilities. "The one closest to the trolling motor gives me what the trolling motor is reading," Zaldain said. "I mainly use it for regular sonar and down vision CHIRP sonar. I have two different sonars on the front one, and then on the 9-inch unit next to it, it's all mapping. I get 9 inches of map and 9 inches of sonar."
In his left rod locker, Zaldain carries his Megabass rods, mainly Orochi XX with a few Black Jungle Rods and some Tomahawk GTAs.
Photo: Seigo Saito - In his left rod locker, Zaldain carries his Megabass rods, mainly Orochi XX with a few Black Jungle Rods and some Tomahawk GTAs.
Zaldain carries a little bit of everything - swim bait rods, flipping sticks and three spinning rods as well as nine other baitcasting setups.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain carries a little bit of everything - swim bait rods, flipping sticks and three spinning rods as well as nine other baitcasting setups. "I keep two or three rigged with braid and the rest rigged with fluorocarbon," he said. "Those rods stay with me all the way from January through December."
In the center box closest to the trolling motor, Zaldain keeps the tackle boxes he's most likely to move out from tournament to tournament.
Photo: Seigo Saito - In the center box closest to the trolling motor, Zaldain keeps the tackle boxes he's most likely to move out from tournament to tournament. "Those boxes are always dedicated toward whatever lake we're fishing," he said. "So it's always a mix of things in there - tackle boxes as well as bags of plastics. I don’t open it so much daily."
One box of terminal tackle.
Photo: Seigo Saito - One box of terminal tackle.
And another...
Photo: Seigo Saito - And another...
Zaldain uses boxes with three latches for a water-tight seal to keep certain important tackle from getting wet.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain uses boxes with three latches for a water-tight seal to keep certain important tackle from getting wet.
The center box farthest from the trolling motor is where Zaldain keeps his hard baits like crankbaits, jerk baits, topwater and big swim baits.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The center box farthest from the trolling motor is where Zaldain keeps his hard baits like crankbaits, jerk baits, topwater and big swim baits. "Those usually stay in my boat all year long," he said. "I don’t switch those out as much as I do the ones in the front compartment."
One of the boxes from the center compartment that holds crankbaits.
Photo: Seigo Saito - One of the boxes from the center compartment that holds crankbaits.
Zaldain's jig box.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain's jig box.
When he said
Photo: Seigo Saito - When he said "big swim baits," he meant "really big swim baits."
There's a swim bait with a few teeth marks.
Photo: Seigo Saito - There's a swim bait with a few teeth marks.
The right-side rod locker is where Zaldain keeps lighter items like his rain gear, light stick, lure retriever and push pole.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The right-side rod locker is where Zaldain keeps lighter items like his rain gear, light stick, lure retriever and push pole. "The boat is always gonna have my weight on that side when I'm running, so I make up for that weight with all of my light stuff on that side," he said. "Those are all lightweight and don’t take up much room."
The right-side rod locker is also where Zaldain keeps his ingredients for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The right-side rod locker is also where Zaldain keeps his ingredients for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The day box is the compartment Zaldain says he's in and out of the most.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The day box is the compartment Zaldain says he's in and out of the most. "With that one, I’ll replenish baits daily," he said. "I move baits from either my truck or the top compartment into the day box. If I go down to South Texas and I’m throwing real big worms, all of my big worms will be in here. If I’ve got one particular soft-plastic bait dialed in during practice, I’ll have several different colors of that bait in my day box. It’s also where I keep my sunscreen and an extra set of sunglasses."
The Strike King logo is displayed prominently across Zaldain's windshield.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The Strike King logo is displayed prominently across Zaldain's windshield.
On his console, Zaldain has a Raymarine E127 12-inch graph unit.
Photo: Seigo Saito - On his console, Zaldain has a Raymarine E127 12-inch graph unit.
The unit is a touch screen/button hybrid, allowing an angler to use whichever he likes best.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The unit is a touch screen/button hybrid, allowing an angler to use whichever he likes best.
Zaldain typically uses three different applications on the unit - mapping, down vision and regular 2D sonar.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain typically uses three different applications on the unit - mapping, down vision and regular 2D sonar. "When I go up north or the structure tournaments come into play, I’ll also add my side vision on there," he said.
Zaldain said the glove box in front of the passenger seat is the driest storage in the boat. He uses it to store personal items like his wallet, phone, keys, gloves and beanies.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain said the glove box in front of the passenger seat is the driest storage in the boat. He uses it to store personal items like his wallet, phone, keys, gloves and beanies.
The box behind the driver’s seat holds tools, an extra life jacket, toilet paper, a fire extinguisher, livewell treatment, and any other thing that Zaldain considers too heavy for the front.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The box behind the driver’s seat holds tools, an extra life jacket, toilet paper, a fire extinguisher, livewell treatment, and any other thing that Zaldain considers too heavy for the front.
Zaldain keeps culling tags in his livewell and tags every fish he catches, whether it weighs 2 pounds or 10 pounds.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain keeps culling tags in his livewell and tags every fish he catches, whether it weighs 2 pounds or 10 pounds. "I always want to be sure I have five," he said. "I don't ever want to risk losing count."
Zaldain usually keeps the box behind the passenger's seat mostly open for guests like marshals or co-anglers when he's fishing an Opens tournament. He tries to keep bottled water in the box in case those folks don't bring any.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Zaldain usually keeps the box behind the passenger's seat mostly open for guests like marshals or co-anglers when he's fishing an Opens tournament. He tries to keep bottled water in the box in case those folks don't bring any.
The back box houses Zaldain's batteries, charger and Power Pole pumps.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The back box houses Zaldain's batteries, charger and Power Pole pumps. "I rigged all of that myself, and I'm a firm believer in that," he said. "If you rig your own boat and something goes wrong, you know where to look to start fixing it."
Thanks for the tour, Chris! Good luck on the 2015 Elite Series.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Thanks for the tour, Chris! Good luck on the 2015 Elite Series.