10 Bait Boat Tips
Because a bit of finesse will go a long way
1. Keep your rod attended
Top tip: Keeping a straight line angle is important when sending out a hookbait with a boat. Tuck your rod under your arm while using the remote control if you can, so you’ve got close control and can react to any tangle. You can put it on your banksticks, but pay close attention as the risk for line wrapping around something is higher.
2. Pay line off with finesse
Top tip: An open bail arm is best for paying out line, but don’t just let it tumble to the ground. A finger on the spool (if you can manage that while steering) while keep just enough tension in the line, or use a tool like RidgeMonkey’s Line Control Arm.
3. Get close
Top tip: If you’re using a boat to drop off a bait tight to a far margin, you can tape a bankstick or landing net pole to your boat almost like a jousting lance as first point of contact, which will save your boat from damage and let you know exactly when you’re in position from far away.
4. Use independent hoppers
Top tip: If your boat has two hoppers which can be individually opened, try loading your freebies in one and your hookbait in the other to lay the classic big-fish trap - hookbait off to the side of the main baited area.
5. Feel for a drop
Top tip: It’s still possible, even with a bait boat. It takes practice, but learn to tension your main line as you’re about to drop your bait. It’ll help your rig fall without tangles and present better on the lakebed.
6. Don’t forget foam
Top tip: Dissolvable foam is a great tool when casting, but it’s also very handy when dropping your rig by boat. Without the big splash of a cast it can be easy to lose track of exactly where you’ve dropped your rig - so foam rising to the surface is a good visual aid.
7. Ration that batter power
Top tip: Some venues insist bait boats are tethered to another fishing line (separate to the one attached to your rig) so they don’t become irretrievable in emergencies. This technique can also help you ration power - turn the boat off once it’s dropped its load and reel it in with the other line.
8. Be different
Top tip: Bait boats make introducing vast amount of food all too easy. If you’re on a boat-dominated water, fishing to popular spots, try boating out just a single hookbait. It’s unlikely many will others will have done it.
9. Watch out for the birds
Top tip: Swans and geese can wise up to the floating dinner tables trundling past them and have a habit of pecking at your payload. A simple cover over your hoppers can (taping down a flap of cardboard will do) can solve this issue.
10. Use it to tow
Top tip: You don’t have to use your bait boat for dropping bait. Tow out a castable echo sounder to map your swim, or even tow out your marker float or bare lead so you can get a real feel for the area in front of you.