Small second hand tinnies are fairly cheap considering the cost of a comparable craft off the showroom floor. Not to mention the cost of a new power plant to push it! Most tinnies up to $4,000 can be fairly bare, so how do you add that personal touch? This doesn’t mean flashy paint jobs, name brand decals and expensive accessories. Just organising it and clearing up the clutter can make a fishing experience so much more efficient and enjoyable. This can be as cheap and cheerful as a length of plastic pipe to stow the rods to custom underfloor storage if you or a mate are handy with a drill and a circular saw.
Despite what people will tell you, you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on genuine marine ply for a false floor. Standard 16mm plywood is more than adequate. Painting standard plywood is a must to ensure its durability. I can hear a lot of old salts rolling their eyes and saying “It won’t last”, but I’m afraid it does - especially with coat of paint. And $50 is a lot better that $800!
Cutting it to fit neatly into your floor is another saga, but the neater the fit the less hooks and sinkers will make their way past the edges. Weatherproof carpet can be a handy addition to help catch all those stray pieces of tackle by cutting it slightly larger than your floor so it overlaps onto your hull. It won’t stop them all, but it stops a bit more than just bear timber. Even if you’re sure nothing has been dropped, you should remove your false floor once every couple of months and give it a good cleanout under the ribs with either an air compressor or garden hose on full jet. I blasted out 17 sinkers and 5 rusty hooks from under the ribs of my recently acquired second hand tinnie.
For smaller tinnies that can’t fit a false floor, a slab of old carpet on the floor can do wonders for cold feet in winter and help reduce the amount of noise in the boat as well.
Rod holders can have several purposes. One is to stow your rods while travelling to the boat ramp or in between fishing possies. Let’s call these Type 1 rod holders. The other is for holding the rod whilst bait fishing or trolling. Let’s call these Type 2 rod holders.
Type 1 generally stows the rod in a position from which fishing is not possible. By this I mean straight up in the air (ie. rocket launchers) or lying down somewhere in the boat securely out of the way.
Type 2 can be specifically designed to be fully adjustable, removable and give fast and easy access to your rod should you get a strike. Both can be shop built or home made and can be either stainless steel or a form of plastic.
For Type 2 rod holders, I prefer the shop built ones as they can be quite complex and have many positions they can be adjusted to. These can range between $20 and $60 each, but if you look hard enough sometimes you can find them in the bargain bins much cheaper. These should be mounted within easy reach of both the driver and passengers. If you can afford it, see if you can purchase additional mounts for them so they can be moved to different positions. For example, in a boat with forward controls and swivel seats; position one mount about 30cm in front of you for trolling and one 30 or 40cm behind you for bait fishing when you are facing the other way.
Type 1 rod holders are easily made with some plastic pipe and if you don’t mind having these less appealing versions in your craft, then by all means slot them in! Factory built plastic Type 1 rod holders are not that expensive anyway so you may want to go down this path.
It is not uncommon for a lure junkie to swap lures several times per session. When we put wet lures back in the tackle box, we are asking for rusted hooks. For this reason, I like to dry lures if possible before they go back in the box. A neat way to do this is to stick a piece of closed cell foam rubber to the side of the hull with silicone. Lures, spare rigs, squid jigs and flies can be easily stabbed into this, allowed to dry and ripped out of it with little effort and surprisingly it lasts for years. This also keeps lures from falling places where they stick into carpet, landing nets or feet. This sort of soft rubber can be purchase for just about nothing at rubber or refrigeration supply outlets.
Ah yes, the spare motor nobody wants to have to use. They take up a heck of a lot of room in small boats, but they are a must have by both law and common sense. To avoid them scattering about the boat, you can secure them together with thin electrician’s cable ties. These are easily broken when you need the oars and help stop that annoying vibration when you’re trolling.
Another one of those big, annoying things in the way when a day’s trolling is on the cards. I’ve seen a few pretty good ideas getting about small boat operators. One bloke had two thick pins either side of a large square bucket. The anchor rope was wound around these pins and kept well out of the way. The biggest disadvantage was getting the deckie (me) to wind it back on after retrieving it a few times per day! A small galvanised bucket can do the job quite well provided you haven’t got a lot of anchor rope or a very large anchor. Larger square buckets are excellent, but not all small tinnies have that sort of space up front. Personally, I’ve gone for a small patch of carpet laid down into the cavity of my bow. This has sort of acted like a shallow bucket and does contain the anchor rope quite well. Carpet, or course, doesn’t last too long (especially in the salt), but it does take a heck of a lot of the noise out of the equation and the anchor doesn’t rub on the inside of the hull like it used to.
This is the sort of stuff you’d like to keep dry. Thankfully, someone has been listening to us and you can now buy a flat tackle box with snap locks and gasket seal. These are under $20 and big enough to hold a pack of flares, some basic tools and a few essential spares such as shear pins, spake plugs, trailer globes and cable ties.
Fishing can be thirsty work so some bright bloke has invented a foldable, adjustable drink holder and yes, they do take those old styrene stubbie holders! Hunt hard enough and you’ll find them for around $7 each.
A long day on a bench seat can be hard on the rump and back. Seats can keep you keen to stay on the water and make those long mulloway night sessions slightly less painful. You can lash out and buy upholstered swivel seats, but I recommend you hunt down some of those old plastic school seats and purchase the swivel base separate.
You can also buy stainless steel cigarette lighters for dash mounting in boats. Now I’m not really one for smoking close to fuel, but these are an excellent source of 12 volts for spotlights.
Where possible, try to attach everything with aluminium rivets. This will help reduce electrolysis (aluminium corrosion). Some times it is impossible to get a pop rivet gun into tight spaces so, if you must use self-taping screws, always use stainless steel ones.
If you plan on staying out after dark then you must have navigation and anchor lights on your boat. You can buy removable lights that attach via suction cap, but I’ve already left one of them off Torquay (I attached a lanyard to my second set). If you’re hard wiring a set in, then make sure they earth back to the battery and nothing is using the hull as an earth as this can promote electrolysis.
It’s quite easy to just mount the port and starboard lights laying down but remember this is not the legal way of doing things and they should be mounted upright on a piece of (aluminium or stainless) angle so they can be easily seen from the side.
The anchor light is best mounted high on the windscreen of forward control boats or on a long shaft near the stern on tiller steer craft. If you mount your anchor light low on the bow or anywhere low in your forward vision, you will be staring into it while trying to navigate.
Now get in that shed and get to work!
Costs of Customising Your Craft
|100 stainless self-tapping screws||$10|
|100 aluminium pop rivets||$10|
|100 cable ties 4.6mm||$10|
|2 metres of aluminium angle (50 x 50mm)||$25|
|2 x 2 metres of 16mm plywood||$50|
|2 x 2 metres of weatherproof carpet||$40|
|Pneumatic jockey wheel||$60|
|Trailer lights – water proof||$40|
|Adjustable rod holders X4||$100|
|Transom saver and mount||$50|
|Thick tie down strap||$30|
|Seat belt material winch strap||$30|
|Stainless cabin lights||$22|
|45 degree flush mount rod holders||$7|
|Fold away drink holders||$6|
|Electrical switch board||$30|
|Horizontal rod holders||$15 pair|
|Waterproof tackle (tool) box||$15|
60mm poly pipe – ask your local plumber if he has any off cuts
Bear in mind the above prices are estimates or the very best price I’ve found.