Combating Murphy

By Rob Brewer

Having essential equipment spares on your fishing boat can be the difference between a disastrous trip and a great day on the water.

Murphy's Law: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. We've all heard it before and experienced it at one time or another. I'm not certain just who the infamous Mr. Murphy was, but I do know this, he's not welcome in my boat, ever. A saying I'm prone to use is, "Luck favors those who prepare". While I didn't coin the phrase, I certainly agree with what it is implying. If you've ever experienced an equipment failure out on the water, you remember how it affected your game plan. It may have cost you the tournament jackpot or maybe you had to be towed back to the ramp. How often was it a simple fix that made you say to yourself, 'Man, if only I had a widget, I'd be back in action'? Lets look at some items that could potentially save the day.

On-Board Spares

Drain Plug

Mine is fastened to my trailer's tie-down strap. That way I CANNOT launch my boat without noticing it. You may laugh, but I've seen more than one boat launched and sink before anyone noticed. I keep a spare in my glove box just because of the vital role (and cheap cost) this item has.


Keep a pack of the same ampere rating as those in your fish-finder and any other electrical items (livewell timer, nav lights etc.)

Spark Plugs

Keep one or two pre-gapped plugs on hand. I have a two-stroke and I sometimes go a little heavy on the oil, risking a fouled plug.

Spare Propellers

This is the most costly item in the kit, but consider its value out on the water. Lose or destroy a prop and the day is done. I have been on both ends of the towrope. Spend enough time on the water and so will you. Keep both a trolling motor and outboard prop onboard.

Shear Pins

These are too vital (and cheap) not to carry. The funny thing is I've never had one do its job. If you're unfamiliar with a shear pin, it's the little pin that goes through your propeller shaft and propeller seats against. The purpose of this pin is to shear or break when the prop strikes and object hard enough to damage the prop. I started carrying only shear pins, since they've never worked; I've added the spare props.

Starter Rope

These rarely fail without neglect on your part. You should replace it once it begins to show signs of fraying. Next time you see a lawnmower in the trash, stop and cut off it's starter rope. It's free and it works.

Basic Tools

I keep a #1 flathead and Phillips screwdriver, spark plug wrench, crescent wrench, pliers, emery cloth, electrical tape, small can of WD-40 and a few miscellaneous hardware items (cotter pins, solderless connectors, wing nuts, washers etc.) onboard as well.


All of the previous mentioned tools and parts fit into an empty Army surplus .50 caliber ammo can with room to spare. The can is waterproof, durable, requires minimal space and weighs only a few pounds.

Tacklebox Spares

Rod Repair Kit

I keep a Fuji rod repair kit on hand. It has 5 or 6 different size rod tips, and some ferrule cement to install them.

Reel Repair Kit

I keep some oil and grease along with some small screwdrivers. I also have a small vial of screws and washers from old reels. I do not carry spare reels with me. Be sure to have some spare mono on hand too. You never know when the "bird's nest" will appear.

Vehicle Spares

Spare Bulbs

Carry spares for your trailer in the glove box. The cost of these is negligible when compared to a traffic ticket. I found that if I unplug my trailer's lights just prior to launch, I rarely ever have to replace a bulb.

Vehicle and Trailer Tires

Check the condition of your spares periodically. Check the compatibility of your vehicle's jack and lug wrench with your trailer. Waiting until you have a flat is not the time to discover your trailer's lugs are different than the tow vehicles.

Barring catastrophic failure, these items will keep you out on the water until you want to come home.