Bass boat cover-up

Have you ever hook the boat up to the tow vehicle and debate whether to trailer with the cover on or without it?

Did you ever hook the boat up to the tow vehicle and debate whether to trailer with the cover on or without it?

We all have.

For short trips, I prefer to leave the cover off, so I can see behind it better. I don't have to worry about a strap coming loose and flapping down the highway.

On the other hand, the cover keeps the interior clean and dry and boat contents are a little more secure during stops at a restaurant or gas station.

Major improvements in covers provided by bass boat manufacturers have made covering a boat easier. They're built to fit specific models, are made of lighter material so they're less cumbersome and they have adjustable, form-fitting straps and buckles to keep them tight.

However, a surprising number of Elite Series pros still don't cover their boats except in bad weather or overnight parking.

Texan Zell Rowland is not one of them.

"I travel with it on all the time," he insists. "I want to keep my boat immaculate for resale, and you can't do that when you trailer thousands of miles with the boat uncovered."

Rowland says boaters would be surprised by the amount of road scum that will collect in the carpet or upholstery. The problem is compounded when towing with a diesel, he adds.

"Some of the stuff you get on there won't come off," he says. "The cover is a lot easier to clean, fix or replace."

Rowland says boat manufacturer covers work fine for the average guy, but he prefers one he has custom built of lightweight, waterproof canvas for about $700.

"Each year, I take my new boat to a place that makes awnings and they build it to fit the boat and the equipment I have on it," he explains. "They pad all of the stress areas, such as around trolling motors, depthfinders, windshields — any place I need added protection."

His custom cover has three belly straps (standard models only have one or two) with adjustable locking clasps for snugging it up even tighter. The rear draw cord is attached with ratchet-style hooks that clip on the transom and allow him to pull it extremely tight from bow to stern.

That's important, he says, because a loose cover or strap will flap and rub against the fiberglass and cause damage.

Some anglers say they get better towing fuel economy with the cover off, but Rowland disagrees. He believes a proper fitting cover provides better gas mileage.

"It's like driving down the road with the windows up in your truck versus the windows rolled down," Rowland describes. "You get better mileage with the windows up. With the cover on, air moves over and past the boat. Without it, it goes into the boat and creates a vacuum."

He also believes a covered boat keeps people honest when the rig sits unattended in a parking lot.

"People don't know what's under there, so they're less likely to try to steal something," he says.