To a country boy with a good imagination, a good ole zip tie is about as useful as duct tape. I use these all over the place when it comes to fishing and thought it might be beneficial to some of you to compile a list of the most common and the most unique ways I use a zip tie. So let's layout 10 ways to use a zip tie in your boat.
Let's start off with the obvious. Most everyone has used a zip tie to bind wires together when rigging graphs and other electronics. It's quick, easy and clean. Just group whatever wires you have together, snip the tag end off and voila. I do recommend one additional step however. Once you have the zip tie secure and the tag end cut, cover it with a few wraps of electrical tape. The tag ends can be sharp and leave a pretty nasty gash if they're in a high traffic area.
Securing a trailer hook
This one is a little different. My dad first showed it to me and to my knowledge he's the first to do it. Just run your trailer hook on whatever bait you're using, then slide the point of your main hook through the clicker end of a small zip tie and you're almost done. Snip off the excess zip tie and you have a very durable trailer hook keeper that will not go back past the barb.
Converting traditional cull balls to a no-puncture set
When the no-puncture culling systems came out a couple years ago, I immediately wanted to get one. Fish care is extremely important to me. But I already had a perfectly good set of cull balls and a balance beam. Luckily I found Ardent Smart Cull Smart Clips on Tackle Warehouse. I was able to cut the traditional hooks off my old cull balls and then take these Smart Clips and attach them with a zip tie to the old balls.
Taming your cull balls
I hate looking for my cull balls. When I catch a fish, I want to put it in the well and get back to fishing as soon as possible. So I drilled a small hole in the hard runner trim inside my livewell. I ran a zip tie through it and left a decent sized loop that I could then hang my cull balls from. I can actually slide my hand in without even opening the lid entirely and pluck one of the cull balls off, snap it on the fish and slide the fish in without risking one of the others jumping out. Works extremely well.
A little extra cushion
A rough wave or two can slam a graph into the fiberglass and damage both the boat and the unit. Even if the unit doesn't actually make contact with the boat, there's often still a very jarring jolt. To try to cushion the blow a bit, I took a piece of hard foam and zip tied it to my mount. This has definitely alleviated some of the strain my unit goes through in really rough water.
Securing a skirt
If you've ever left a spinnerbait, jig, buzzbait or vibrating jig lying around a little too long, you know the rubber band that holds the skirts together can dry rot and break. Dad and I will often take a small zip tie go ahead and secure it over the rubber band before it has time to do so. They come in several colors so there's one to match almost any skirt.
A few years ago, dad started converting some of his buzzbaits from a large single hook to a treble hook. He does this by bending the main hook shaft around and effectively creating a large eye for the treble hook to hang from. This is very effective in turning short strikes into fish catches and we rarely have a fish throw a buzzbait now. The only issue is that the eye is never sealed off completely. So he'll take the clicker end of a small zip tie and position it between where the shaft meets itself and the treble hook. This makes it near impossible for the hook to ever reach the gap.
Don't lose your Rod Gloves
Dad and I fish team tournaments out of one another's boat all the time. So whoever has their rods in the co-angler position will often use a zip tie to bundle them together until we get to the lake. The Rod Gloves ensure that our rods don't get all tangled up and beat up on the bumpy road, and the zip tie ensures that we don't lose a Rod Glove. Just snip it off when you get to the water and your gear is exactly how you left it.
Keep your pliers handy
A lot of pliers come with some sort of holster. Using a zip tie to secure this holster to your seat pedestal will ensure that you at least know where your pliers should be the next time you go looking for them. Whether or not you actually return them to the holster each time is on you.
Don't forget how to run your wires
Anyone who has ever taken a battery out of a boat knows how helpful this next one is. Whether you're trying to remember how to run your trolling motor batteries in a series or trying to make sure you don't lose just one of the 2 dozen wires that are on your cranking battery, using a zip tie to bundle each battery terminal's wires together is extremely helpful. Once I have one battery's positives tied together and its negatives tied together, I'll then tie those two zip ties together. And when it comes time to put the batteries back in the boat, I know exactly where each wire goes.
Hopefully these zip tie tips help you with your fishing. Whether you're using them to modify baits or organize your boat, zip ties are a cheap but extremely versatile and helpful tool for me.