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Assembling A Small Boat Tool Kit

With limited storage space, private boaters are constantly tested on finding the right balance of bringing the things we’ll need without being so overloaded that we might have to leave one of our fishing buddies at the dock. As a result, many boaters neglect to bring a set of tools capable of getting them out of a jam or just making a minor repair that can salvage a day on the water.

Here is a simple and inexpensive tool kit that you can assemble yourself for around $150.

As I said, space is an issue, so I chose the smallest tool kit that would hold everything I needed. This is the Husky 12″ tool bag ($9.97) available at Home Depot for around $10. The advantage of using a soft tool bag is that I can stuff it into of the weather tight totes that I use to store gear in my boat.

These are some of the most valuable items in the kit. Shop rags ($1.00) can serve double duty as cleaning rags; just make sure that if you get one wet, do not put it back into your tool bag. I’ll always carry an extra cartridge for my bilge pump ($41.99) at West Marine. This is the single most expensive item in the tool bag but it can make the difference between fishing and sinking, so it’s worth the investment. Tape is always handy to have on the boat. I pack electrical tape, duct tape and plumber’s tape just to be on the safe side (approximately $15.00).

If you use your boat in saltwater, things are going to corrode and need lubrication. I carry Get Some 1000 ($8.95) because I can also use it on the boat or to lubricate a fishing reel in a pinch.

Bolt Cutters are the one tool that you hope you’ll never need to use, but will be very glad to have if the need arises. I bought these on Amazon ($8.18) they may be small, but I tried them out and they’re going to be just what the doctor ordered if I ever need to cut a hook to perform an on the water lure extraction from a person’s body.

At some point you’re going to need to cut something on the boat and you won’t want to use your good fillet knife to do it.

I threw one of my older Forschner knives into the toolbox but you can get by with a box cutter and some extra blades ($6.47)

Boats have a lot of different sized screws, so it’s good to carry a variety of screwdriver types and sizes. I chose this set from Husky ($14.97) because it had the right angle screwdrivers that are great for getting to hard to reach screws inside the console. I also picked up a hex key set ($5.97) just to have in the bag if I ever need it.

Most fishermen carry a pair of needle nose pliers on the boat to remove hooks, but those pliers just won’t work well for most on the water maintenance issues. A good pair of cutters is a must and these 8″ Channel Lock diagonal pliers ($16.70) are the best I’ve found. The other three are part of a Husky Pliers Set ($9.88) that should cover any other needs that arise.

Electrical work is something that none of us want to do on the water, but sometimes you just need to do it, so you’ll want to have the right tools. I assembled this kit from things I already had in the garage. It includes; extra fuses, heat shrink butt connectors, shrink tubing and a few stainless nuts and bolts in sizes that are common to my boat. Throw in a cheap pair of wire strippers and a butane micro torch from Harbor Freight and you’ve got everything you need (approximately $20.00).

Stored in a weather tight box on your boat, these inexpensive tools should last for years before needing to be replaced. Just make sure to keep any wet stuff out of the bag and wipe the metal down with some of the Get Some 1000 once in a while and you’ll be good to go.

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Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California and Mexican waters. Erik is also an active freelance writer and the author of the weekly column So Cal Scene, which BD publishes every Friday. In So Cal Scene, Erik keeps all of the BD readers up to date on what's biting in Southern California. Erik divides his fishing time on local boats, long-range trips and Mexico excursions. For the past eight years, Erik has been competing in the SWBA (Saltwater Bass Anglers) tournament series and has multiple tournament victories to his credit. His sponsors include Batson Enterprises / Rainshadow Rods, Robalo Boats, Tilly's Marine, Abu/Garcia, Penn Reels, Navionics, Raymarine, MC Swimbaits, Uni-Butter Fishing Scent and Bladerunner Tackle.