Building a striper boat

Posted by Scott Bice on April 23rd, 2012
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There are hundreds of boats in all shapes and sizes but anyone can turn their boat into a striper catching platform.

I started out many years ago with simple lake rental 14ft aluminum v-hull skiffs. Hey being a single dad on a tight budget you did what you had to, but these taught me that anyone with some simple modifications can have a boat capable of catching stripers just like the 20 thousand dollar plus boats. I chose my boat a Tracker 190 tw for the simple reason I knew I wanted a shallow drafting boat with a Aluminum hull, This boat serves as my fishing platform and my hunting platform! For me I knew I would be using it for multiple scenarios and it fit my needs.

It really doesn’t matter what type of boat you have if you can do the following. First is a good bait tank. Oval and Circle is best for shad as we all know. If your boat does not have one there are many companies now producing portable bait tanks from 10 gallons on up and I suggest getting one. Next is rod holders, 5 rod holders is all you need. I use 3 for flat lining 2 for deep baits.

The flat lines can be ran out on planer boards or just straight behind the boat, I actually prefer at least 1 behind the boat at all times with no weight, The others I will either run the same or run them out on planers. The down lines are again simple to do; Two rods with 15lbs test line simply attach a 4 to 6oz egg sinker on it and then a leader line of 6 feet to the hook. I actually prefer this method over down riggers and it doesn’t cost near as much as the rigger.

Too the boat just add 5 rod holders (I prefer mounted base and removable holder) to keep the protrusions sticking up to a minimum when using the boat for other activities. Mount two on the bow area of the boat; this is where the down lines go. Mount two on the rear section of the boat; this is for planers of straight behind the boat flat lines. Mount the last center of the stern of the boat; this is the dedicated flat line. (Questions on the down lines fouling the prop will be answered in a minute)

Next is the storage areas, If at all possible use the storage lockers and keep the boat clear, big stripers can and will make you run circles on the deck, I see rods broke all the time and people go in the lake from tripping. A clean deck is a safety issue. Also it makes it easy to get to things. If you do not have storage areas built in you can install rod racks on the sides of the boat (aluminum v or johns) the put an ice chest in the center of the boat and lay some plywood over is from bow seat bench to next back seat bench. You can also place your tackle and other gear under it.

Fish Finders: like boats are a million types and sizes and bells and whistles. Get the best you can afford but get one it will help you find fish but even the cheapest ones will work. What you want to look for on them is what the bottom depth you are catching fish in is and what depth are you showing marks in prior to it. This will help you stay in the productive zone.

Now for the rods and reels, please keep in mind these are my personal choices. But the general rod and reel types are what I also suggest. To many guys I see go out with guides and think they have to get the same set-up to be productive. Truth is guides are in the business to after the hook-up to be able to land the fish for the client. They for that reason in many cases use over powering gear that is designed to land the fish, I liken it to commercial fishing more than sport / recreational fishing.

First are my Rods and Reel preferances:
I prefer 7’6’ to 8’0’’’ medium/heavy fast actions for my flat line and outrigger rods I match these with 400 series reel. My actual set-up is St Croix TIC80MHF 8′ MH Fast 14 – 30lb test rating 1/2 – 2oz lure weight, I match these with Shimano Calcutta 400 series reels spooled with 12lb test you will want three rigs like this for the rear rods.

Next is the down line rods: St Croix TIC80HF 8′ H Fast 17 – 40lb test rating 3/4 – 3 lure weight I match these with Shimano Tekota 600 series line counter reels spooled with 15lbs test line, you will want 2 rigs like this for the bow rigs.

Casting rods are: St Croix PS70MF 7′ M Fast 6 – 12lb test line rating 1/4 – 5/8 lure rating I have two of these matched with Shimano Stradic FJ reels WITH 10lb test line, the reason for two is having the ability to have multiple lures tied on or long casting live bait with the option of a lure still present.

Then I have two St Croix PS70MLF 7′ ML Fast 4 – 10lb test line 1/8 – 1/2line rating, matched with Shimano Sahara reels and 8lb test. This may seem very light but I have managed many 20 pound stripers with this set-up. Remember you are in your boat and can play the fight from it and work it to a landing.

Finally, NO STRIPER BOAT is complete without the long rod for reaching way out with surface plugs at them. For this I use a St Croix TIS80MHF 8′ MH Fast 14 – 30 test line 1/2 – 2 lure rating I match it with a Shimano Spheros spooled with 15lb test line.

All my rods are 1pcs, I have just learned over the years they give greater hook set and feel not to mention they don’t rocket apart when you are casting. All are Cork handles, this is purely preference but I hate split/grips and foam as they just do not give me the feel or handling I want from a rod. Again you do not need these exact set-ups but similar and comparable will make your fishing much more fun and easy on you. Length of the rods aid in casting as you know, this is important when you need to stay back from rising fish or spooky fish.

Now for the Big deal. I will hammer home this is for personal use and not a guide. We are out there to catch fish and have fun not commercial fish to bulldog a fish in. Drifting is by far the most effective means of catching stripers “I’ll get into that in another article” But this is why you can run the down-lines off the bow and not worry about them getting in the propeller of the boat. Let out 40 ft of line drifting at 2 knot will keep your bait at 36 ft roughly and with the rods out from the boat 6ft roughly there is no chance of them getting in your prop.

Yes all my line is light. I can catch far more fish with the lighter line than the heavy commercial / guide gear. I am not knocking guides they have to get the fish in to make clients happy! But for enjoyment and catching fish lighter line matched with rods and reels that fit each other and you can hook and land stripers, and in far greater numbers than the guide boats, that and learning as much as you can about the fishes habits.

Now you have a fighting platform set and ready to fish striper’s there are many ways to fish for them but this will give you the platform to do it comfortably and safely.

I may have not answered all the questions so feel free to ask away if you have questions and I wil try to answer them.

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