Card's Catch - How I Rig my Boat for the Elite Series

By Brandon Card

March 29, 2016

When my new Triton arrives each year, I spend weeks customizing and rigging it to my liking. My boat is my office for the year, so each and every option and accessory I add serves a purpose and will hopefully make my life easier on tour. This year I will be running many of the same pieces of equipment as I did last year because I believe they are the best on the market. Here is a rundown of my setup for this year’s boat.

Triton Boat

Let’s start with the boat itself. I’ll be running a Triton 21 TrX again this year. It is a 21 foot boat and was built off of the same mold as the 21HP which is known as being a very fast boat. They used the same hull design but added a bigger deck. The result is a fast boat that has great fishability and room.

I love how much storage this boat has. It’s big center compartment holds over 25 size 3700 boxes. I really like having all my tackle in this giant compartment, because it saves time hunting around for boxes that are in other compartments throughout the boat. The rod lockers are just as big, and one thing I do to make them fit even more rods is to remove the rod organizer. This allows me to put way more rods and reels in there. Last year I counted 48 rods in there on one trip and they all fit nicely. Even if you don’t put that many rods and reels in, it is still nice to have that much space for easier access to them.

The livewells on this Triton are also good sized and this makes a big difference in keeping my fish alive. I add the Pro-Air system, which is basically another bubbler to keep the water aerated better. My fish are always very lively when I take them to the weigh-in stage and I know this is one of the reasons why.

Suzuki 250 SS Four Stroke

My outboard for this year is the Suzuki 250 SS Four Stroke mounted on a 10” Bob’s Machine Shop hydraulic jackplate. This is my fourth year running a Suzuki and I have yet to experience any breakdowns or issues that prevented me from making it to the weigh-in on time. They are very dependable.

I’ll be running the matte black finish again this year and really like how it looks on the back of my Triton. Besides the looks and dependability, the engine is very fast and fuel-efficient. I just got back from a pre-practice trip where I put eight hours on the engine while breaking it in and I didn’t even use a full tank of gas.

The holeshot on this engine is incredible and my top end is consistently between 68-72mph. That speed is tournament loaded with all of my gear, gas, full livewells and two guys in the boat. I was recently timed from 0 to 30mph in six seconds.

I can also run a much larger prop than most guys on tour and that is because of the lower unit on the Suzuki. It has a 2.08:1 gear ratio compared to most other brands that are around 1.75:1. This lets me use a 4-bladed 28P prop that is a monster compared to the 25 and 26P that most guys are running.

My Bob’s jackplate this year has the carbon fiber finish and it looks great holding up my Suzuki. I run the 10” hydraulic Action Series and it is the best jackplate I have ever used. I like how quickly it moves up and down and it is very rigid without any shaking.

Batteries and Power-Poles

My boat is equipped with Lithium Pro lithium batteries. They are so much lighter than traditional batteries and this helps me get a better holeshot and faster top end speed. The batteries are also much more powerful and give me more staying power, especially when I am fishing long days and in windy conditions or fast current.

One thing I add every year is a built in jumper switch in case of emergencies. This allows you to just push a switch if you need to jumpstart your battery without the need for jumper cables. This simple piece of equipment gives me peace of mind when I am on the water.

Another important feature on the boat are two 8ft Power-Pole Blades. These are vital for all of my shallow water fishing throughout the year and I really couldn’t imagine fishing without them. I have switches at the bow and console for easy access no matter where I am in the boat.

Electronics and Trolling Motor

To be able to find fish throughout the year I run three Lowrance HDS 12s. I have two mounted at the console and one up front. One thing I add that makes them even better is the Point-1 antenna. This allows me to get better positioning on those offshore spots and is much more accurate. I also rig the sonar transducer on the bow on the outside of my trolling motor. Many guys use the universal internal transducer inside of the trolling motor, but I have found that you get a better picture and less noise when you mount it externally.

I also always have my FishSens SondeCam in the boat to use with my Lowrance units to see what is below the surface. It’s a great way to see the size and species of fish below and has also really helped me to better understand what I am seeing on my graphs.

My trolling motor is a Minn-Kota Fortex 112. This is an excellent choice if you are looking for a powerful trolling motor that is very quiet. You don’t get the humming noise or vibration that some of the trolling motors produce and that makes a big difference in shallow water fishing.

Accessories

Last but not least are two accessories that I couldn’t live without; a Hydrowave and a KeelShield.

The HydroWave is a tool that I use often. I have seen many instances where fish become more active on my graph as soon as I turn it on. People still ask me all the time if it really works. It does!

The KeelShield from Gator Guards is another accessory that keeps my boat in great condition. At weigh-in, I can just beach my boat without worrying about scratching the hull. I like this better than trailering my boat before weighing in as I think that adds unneeded stress on my fish.

I put a lot of thought and time into the products I use to rig my boat each season. It’s important for me to use products that I believe in to keep my stress level to a minimum throughout the season so I can focus on what matters most -- catching bass.