When it comes to jet ski fishing (what we like to call “jet angling”) and attaching cooler racks, it really boils down to “to drill or not to drill.” Typically, cooler racks that are mechanically secured by drilling mounting hardware to the watercraft are more stable and durable; that is until recently. In our experience, racks secured by straps almost always tend to fail even a simple fishing trip off the coast of Southern California. That is until now. We finally have found a strap-on rack that passed the rigors of fishing off the Southern California coast in the Pacific Ocean.
When we received the Kool PWC Stuff Jet Ski Fishing Rack (with 6 rod holders) from watercraftstuff.com by UPS, the rack was not wrapped in any packaging. Sent from Ft. Myers, Florida to Orange County, California without any newspaper, bubble wrap, nothing. We thought that was a bold statement, in and of itself. Amazingly, there was not even a scratch in the black powder coating covering the rack. Shipped without packaging and made it in perfect shape. Test one, pass.
Upon inspection, everything needed to strap it to our watercraft was there: high quality Velcro straps, nylon straps, and adjustable rubber straps/cords. Six total rod holders are welded vertically to the stainless steel rack, the coating covering all of the welds. The instructions were a single piece of paper that we tossed aside (because we knew so many would do that too). Instead, we went straight to their website and found the instructional video showing the installation, step by step. Test two, pass.
Not all watercraft are designed the same, and the ubiquitous “one size fits all,” never really works, right? Many watercraft have sloping rear decks that make a level installation of a rack system difficult, if not impossible. Kool PWC Stuff has engineered a simple adjustable leg system that allows you to level the rack on your ski’s rear deck.
Once installed to the deck of our Honda F-15, we grabbed the rack and proceeded to lift the entire rear of the watercraft off of the trailer by the Kool PWC Stuff rack. Test three, pass.
The rack we tested had 1 3/4-inch diameter rod holders that were restricted by a rubber insert. The rubber insert protects the shaft of the rod from damage in the violent extremes in rough conditions or simply going fast. We were able to fit a variety of fresh and saltwater rods with all butt types, including trolling rods with gimbals-style butts, so you can actually set the position of the rod in the holder. With the rubber insert removed, we could even fit our largest outfit perfectly. Test four, pass.
The only thing left to do was go out and fish offshore. The day we tested the rack we had typical Southern California summer conditions: light variable winds up to 8 knots in the morning and 15 knot wind in the afternoon with wind gust past 20 knots. The sea conditions were a combined 2-feet long duration [ground swell] swell from the south and 3-feet wind swell that picked up to 4-feet from the northwest in the afternoon. We set off at sunrise from Dana Point Harbor. We ran 18 mile southwest at 40 mph into the 2-feet ground swell.
Once we arrived in the area, we were fishing. The rack sat firmly in place and all of the gear was secure. As we started Phase Two of the day, we headed northwest straight into a 3-to-4 foot wind swell. We were cruising barely on plane between 10-15 mph hour. This leg of the trip was a lot rougher. For safe measure, all lures and any weights were secured so they would not come lose. After 15 miles of punishment, we noticed a slight shift as the rack had moved a couple of inches but everything remains tight and secure.
During the brutal 20 mile ride back to Dana Point, with us reaching speeds up to 50 mph, we even managed to catch some of air along the way. The Velcro and adjustable rubber straps held tight, with all the gear still where it should be. After long day riding on the Pacific Ocean we had every piece of gear we started with. The rack did shift on the deck a little, but still kept everything secure. This phase of the test has caused other rack designs to explode [PVC tube rack], warp and bend [racks made of lower grade material], and tear-off the watercraft and scatter all our of equipment on the bottom of the ocean. The Kool PWC Stuff Jet Ski Fishing Rack passed Test Five.
The biggest issue we encountered was finding a cooler that fits it. Unfortunately, cooler manufacturers constantly change sizes, so one year everything fits, the next year nada. If they’re not going to offer one, we’d like to see a list of suggested or recommended coolers from Kool PWC Stuff.
Nevertheless, when considering the value of the equipment one expects the rack to keep secure while jetting around your local waters, spending the $390 for the Jet Ski Fishing Rack (6 rod holders), a quality rack that does not damage your watercraft and keeps your investment safe, is well worth it.