Bait Boats, like them or not they are now a big part of the carp fishing scene. There are a lot of anglers out there that don’t like bait boats but I believe it’s the user that’s the problem, not the boats themselves. Owning a bait boat doesn’t give you the right to fish anywhere the boat can reach, you should always stick to the confines of your swim and not venture into another anglers water, if you stick to this simple rule then you will avoid crossed words with other anglers, I’ve actually been the angler without the boat and I certainly didn’t appreciate some knob thinking he could fish in my swim as well as his own, if you own a bait boat, please don’t be that knob!.
Last year I joined a syndicate lake, the lake in question has 3 sets of power lines running parallel down the lake, it quickly became obvious that the carp where regularly sitting in safe areas of the lake which couldn’t be reached by casting. Any attempt to cast to these fish holding areas always meant a brush with the power lines so I avoided these swims and really struggled to catch. The lads who where consistently putting fish on the bank where all using bait boats and simply sailing them under the power lines and onto the fish. I had no choice in the end, it was either join them or keep on blanking so I had a look at what bait boats where available and eventually settled on the budget Viper Icon Bait Boat.
The Viper Icon bait boat is a cracking little boat, ideal for fishing in the UK. There is only one hopper on the Viper Icon so its one trip per rig when getting baits into position. A bait boat is simply a tool to be used when necessary so I only use the Viper Icon when I need to get my baits under the power lines, if I can actually cast to a chosen spot then I will, so one bait hopper is plenty enough for me. Its rare to actually put out more than 2 rods with the bait boat as I usually cover the margins and fish over bait with my third rod.
Bait boats all suffer from one problem, they really do hammer the batteries. The Viper Icon is no exception and the battery meter on the front is very handy to have, if the battery meter is showing anything other than green then I wouldn’t risk putting the boat out, I have run a battery flat on the Icon and it was a real pain having to go for the syndicate boat to retrieve it, in fact I was lucky to have access to a rowing boat so be warned and only use a bait boat with a well charged battery.
The battery problem with the Viper Icon bait boat eventually led me to seek out a couple of spare batteries just in case I had a good session and had to use the boat a little more than expected. I like my fishing tackle to cost as little as possible, that’s why I went for a Viper Icon in the first place and when it came to finding spare batteries that old favourite Ebay was the cheapest place I could find them. There are plenty of 12v 7 amp hour batteries on ebay but they require a few more little modifications before they will fit the Viper Icon bait boat.
The first modification is to add some velcro to the battery, as you can see from the pictures, the Viper Icon battery velcro’s to the battery holder and fits inside the boat. The batteries come without leads too and again these can be bought off ebay for a pound or two and soldered to the battery terminals as I’ve done in the pictures. The price of a couple of spare batteries, some velcro and a few connectors to fit the Viper Icon boat is not much more than the price of just one battery from Viper themselves so it really is cheap, if you buy more than 2 batteries its even cheaper!.
As well as a couple of spare batteries for a bait boat, its also handy to have a solar charger if your doing long sessions, I don’t personally fish for more than one night at a time and the spare batteries mean I don’t need a solar charger but I found one on ebay that was so cheap I bought it. Solar battery chargers are the biggest rip off of all, I bought mine from an ebay shop that specialises in camping accessories and they sold 12v solar chargers for caravans, they work perfectly with the batteries required for a Viper Icon bait boat and my little 2 watt solar charger was just £12 and that included delivery!. A 10 watt version nearly as powerful as the ‘solar suitcase’ sold by Viper was just £38 on ebay so again a massive saving . My little 2 watt solar charger takes quite a while to charge up a battery but for me, I’m happy if it gives me that little bit extra in a battery to get one more trip in, that’s all I ask and all I need as I carry a few spare batteries.
Having looked at spares for the bait boat, it’s worth remembering that the handset also runs off batteries and that Viper don’t supply rechargeable batteries or a charger when it comes to the handset. Again I found plenty of suitable rechargeable handset batteries and a charger on ebay really cheap and its worth getting a couple of sets of 8 rechargeable batteries, one for current use and a standby set in case the batteries you're using go flat, there’s nothing worse than running out of batteries, specially when the carp are feeding!.
In conclusion I’d recommend a Viper Icon bait boat to anyone, it’s a simple no frills bait boat that does what its supposed to. Spare batteries and other accessories can be bought easily and cheaply off ebay and it’s a bait boat that certainly won’t break the bank. Since using it my catch rate on the syndicate has gone up as I can now reach the fish when they are held up in areas I can’t cast too and above all, it means I can put my hook baits and rigs in place safely and accurately, if your thinking of buying a bait boat, give the Viper Icon the once over because it’s a really good buy.