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I was considering putting a bimini top on my boat, just to keep the sun off any passengers I might have with me on the water.  Has anyone done this?  Is it as easy to install as it looks?  Any gotchas I should watch out for?

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I have an RT 188 that came with a bimini top. I took it off and stored it. As far as install and removing it on and off, it was super easy and takes a matter of minutes to put on/take off. My boat still has the mounting brackets to put it back on. I figure if I bring my fiancee or family out in the summer I can just reattach it.  

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My wife had a bimini top on her boat.  It was near worthless.  In order to keep anyone in the shade I couldn't fish where I wanted to.  It really was only good around noon in the summer.  She takes an umbrella when she goes with me and wants shade.

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Had one on my last boat. It never left the garage. I'd say pass unless you plan on just cruising around without fishing. 

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I did this on a 1448 jon. I'd rather have to put the top down to fish than go without the top on a sunny day. But even with the top deployed, it came just to the seatbacks of the front and rear pedestal seats, so you could sit and cast without it getting in the way (mostly).

 

 

Gotchas & tips:

 

Measure twice. Or more. They typically come in several beam widths. The bows have some adjustment; mine could cover a range of about +/- 6 inches, but obviously get as close to your beam with as possible.

 

My kit was relatively cheap so fabric was thin and finish on the bows was a little sloppy.

 

Some kits have single-piece bows, others like mine had three-piece bows. Given the boat's narrow beam, even with the narrowest kit I still had to cut down the middle section of each bow (couldn't do that easily with a single piece bow). This also required drilling new holes for the spring clips to pop into. Long story short, it was a little tedious so measure carefully before buying.

 

Having a gunwale track system, like a C channel that runs along it, is convenient. Instead of mounting the pivots permanently to the gunwale I mounted them to an L bracket which was in turn mounted to the channel with a carriage bolt inside the channel and a nut to tighten it down. Similar L brackets for the tie-down pad eyes. This lets you slide slide the entire top forward and aft to adjust it for best coverage, or to not interfere with pedestal seating positions.

 

Shorter lengths (say 4 ft instead of 6) give you more clearance for casting and may look like they'll give you good enough coverage but depending on the angle of the sun you may find the shade isn't where you want it, and the longer top may help there.

 

Another benefit of the top besides protection from heat is relief from eye strain. Hours on the water squinting in bright sunlight can be headache inducing.

 

The bows aren't grab rails. It's tempting but no.

 

Biggest downside to the top is it limits you to certain fishing positions. But even if you deploy it to just take a break a few times during the day it can make the day of fishing more comfortable.

 

 

 

tracker.jpg

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I had one on my boat. It now sits in the garage. They are a pain to try to fish around. Also you can't run very fast with it up, so you end up putting it up and down all day. It only shades a small portion depending on the angle of the sun. The worst part is with the top up, you now have a huge sail boat. Any wind will blow you right off the lake. I would pass.

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On 3/2/2019 at 10:08 PM, billmac said:

I was considering putting a bimini top on my boat, just to keep the sun off any passengers I might have with me on the water.  Has anyone done this?  Is it as easy to install as it looks?  Any gotchas I should watch out for?

We have a Bimini top on our boat and we love it, However don't expect to fish underneath it. We use it during the summer when we need a break from the heat or like recently when we want to get under it out of the rain so we could eat or re-tie. I would definitely go for it if you think you will use it. Ours came with our boat and we didnt expect to use it much, now we use it all the time. 

On 3/3/2019 at 10:14 AM, rboat said:

I had one on my boat. It now sits in the garage. They are a pain to try to fish around. Also you can't run very fast with it up, so you end up putting it up and down all day. It only shades a small portion depending on the angle of the sun. The worst part is with the top up, you now have a huge sail boat. Any wind will blow you right off the lake. I would pass.

we have never had a problem with running with the bimini top up. However when it gets really windy you want to tighten it down so you dont catch wind as bad.

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I have one.  It's off and stored now, but on certain days, you just can't beat it to take a break.  Fishing isimited, but it's not be used all the time, just when you need it.  You cannot beat the comfort when you want a break.  It's not just a few degrees, but double digits in comfort.  

 

I purchased mine from Amazon for $150.  20 minute install.  My wife and I fished a catfish tournament and this thing made our time comfortable.  She approved it for breaks.  For fishing, it's limiting

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