There’s no substitute for a properly equipped pickup. That’s why my rigs are modified with an array of aftermarket accessories. When I build a pickup, I’m thinking towing, ground clearance, traction, self-recovery and lighting.
If you want to rig a pickup for towing, look for modifications that increase torque and horsepower. Address intake, exhaust and electronics in the form of programmers, chips and modules.
Also look for products that help engine and transmission longevity, like increased air flow over the radiators, increased oil capacity, improved filtering, transmission fluid temperature gauges and aftermarket torque converters.
Suspension mods for a tow vehicle are all about keeping the vehicle level and stable while towing. This can mean adding on-board air systems for air suspension helper springs, anti-sway bars and improved shocks.
Boat-towing anglers usually use conventional hitches, while others add a hitch setup for a fifth wheel or gooseneck. A careful study of the owner’s manual tells the fisherman his vehicle’s towing capacity. Aftermarket modifications can make towing easier and safer, but they should not be used to exceed the original tow capacity of the vehicle. These ratings are based on too many factors to be addressed with aftermarket parts.
Trailer brake controllers need to be installed on vehicles that were built before the new generation of integrated brake controllers. Brake performance can also be enhanced with bigger brakes and improved rotor and caliper materials.
Also consider increased battery capacity, and lights for the trailer hitching areas and rearview cameras for your tow vehicle.
If your fishing pickup is primarily an off-road vehicle, your priorities should be a little different. Suspension changes dial in off-road performance and usually start with a suspension lift to accommodate bigger wheels and tires. The goal here is to gain ground clearance at the differentials and to lift the body above water crossings and mud.
A good off-road suspension system compensates for the changed ride height and handles the increased weight of bigger wheels and tires. It incorporates improved shock performance for stability, handling and rough surfaces.
Aftermarket tires are one of the most popular modifications to an angler’s vehicle. The main focus here is traction. Larger voids and more biting surfaces help in a variety of situations. A clean tread is a grippy tread, so look for a tread that is designed specifically to clean out.
When tires are overcome by the terrain, the well-equipped fishing rig has gear for vehicle recovery. The core is a winch with plenty of capacity for the vehicle’s weight and cargo. A box with recovery rigging is also a must. This includes snatch blocks, tree straps and shackles.
Of course, a winch needs to be mounted to the vehicle and often the best way to do this is with an aftermarket bumper or bull bar designed for that purpose. A good bumper not only houses the winch, it offers increased protection for the vehicle’s body and holds auxiliary lights, with minimal effect on the vehicle’s approach angle.
An onboard air system also aids the vehicle’s traction and recovery. Airing down tires is often the best bet for many terrains and having a way to re-inflate is a must. An air compressor can also operate air jacks, helper springs and air powered tools.
Increased fuel capacity is also a good idea, especially where fueling stations are few and far between. Auxiliary tanks can be quite useful, but a transfer tank offers more versatility with a nozzle for refueling other gas-powered machines such as generators, ATVs and chain saws.
Aftermarket lights are a big part of the fishing vehicle setup and include fog lights, driving lights, cargo lights and work lights that can illuminate the areas to the side of the vehicle.
Several of these systems call for batteries with improved deep cycle capacities and for heavy duty wiring harnesses to carry the juice to each corner of the vehicle.
When I test drive the newest vehicles as they come to market I think of them as a good start for what they can become – the ultimate fishing machine.
Locking differentials make a huge difference in 4x4 traction. Eaton officials say its ELocker differential is a driver-controlled, electronically activated locking differential that can easily replace a traditional differential to gain much more traction and off-road capability.
“During everyday use or on-road driving, the Eaton ELocker differential operates as an ‘open’ differential. This enables easy maneuverability in tight parking lots and good road manners while cornering. However, when the terrain gets tough, or ultimate traction is needed, a switch allows the driver to fully lock the differential. A locked differential provides 100 percent of the drive torque to both wheels at any given moment, enabling difficult obstacles to be easily overcome.”
To learn more, visit eaton.com