Save time, be prepared

My previous blogs discussed the importance of restocking and organizing tackle during the offseason, but carrying sufficient boat gear can make you more efficient on the water.

I’m probably over the top with everything I carry and some of the items have never been used. On the other hand, I want to be prepared to fix any boat or tackle problem that might occur that can save me time.

We have excellent service crews at the national tournamentsm, but I never want to take the time to go back to the launch for them to fix a problem if I can do it myself.

Maybe there’s an electrical issue, a battery malfunction, you get a hook buried in your skin or you break a propeller. I want to have what I need to get me going in as little time as possible.

Here is a look at some of the stuff I carry:

Fishing tools and accessories: I have my own line of Mustad tools in the boat. They include two sizes of needle nose pliers – one for small stuff and one for larger fixes or for removing baits from big pike, scissors and a braid cutter/split ring plier with a serrated edge. Most of these are kept in the tool organizer built into my Nitro.

Also in the tool organizer you will find my KVD line spray for relaxing lines to enhance casts and reduce the chance of snarls, my Fish Sticks fish attractant, magnum Sharpie for darkening braided line and a bottle of glue for securing soft baits to jig heads when necessary.

Boat accessories: I keep TH Marine’s Wave Away graph and sunglasses screen cleaner near the console.

In the rear of the boat, I have two ropes: one 8-10 feet long for tying to a dock and a 100 footer as a tow rope.

You’ll also find spare 2- and 3-blade trolling motor props with spare nuts and pins, complete outboard hub-and-nut assembly (my Z21 has a designated prop storage area), prop wrench, marker buoys, backup kill switch, retractable plug knocker for saving snagged crankbaits, jumper cables and a lithium starting pack that will jump a dead outboard battery or recharge a cell phone.

Inside one Plano tool box are side cutters, standard pliers and various sizes of screwdrivers, open end wrenches, small flashlight, head lamp, reel oil/grease and a Ziploc bag with assorted zip ties.

In another tool box I carry spare fuses that match what my electrical system requires, an assortment of electrical connectors and crimping pliers. I also have spare stainless steel screws, nuts and bolts.

Overkill? Maybe. But I want to be prepared. Many of these things can come in handy for trailer repairs as well. I’ve hit animals that damaged my trailer lighting and could make quick fixes because of my preparation.

Personal necessities: This would include sun screen, packets of Dude Wipes for nature’s call and for cleaning wounds from fish handling or hook injuries, Band-Aids and Nixall antiseptic spray, Repel Bug Spray, spare gloves for driving in rain or cold weather and Oakley Ski Goggles to help visibility when running in cold weather or heavy rain. The goggles have a coating that sheds water, plus they take up less space than a helmet.

I grew up in working in my brother’s tackle shop and marina where I learned how to troubleshoot electrical problems and other issues that can arise on boats.

But I never stop learning. When I visit the tournament service crews with an issue, I want to know everything they do in case it reoccurs on the water and I’ll know what to do.

Being efficient on the water isn’t only about making proper casts. It includes having the right equipment that can save 10 minutes or an entire day if something fails.

It’s all part of having the right attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.