Headset Communication Becoming More Popular on Sportfish Boats

November 30, 2017

Headset Communication Becoming More Popular on Sportfish Boats

 This week we’re talking headsets and onboard communications for sportfish boats! We are a dealer for Eartec and have seen a lot of questions lately. This post discusses the pros and cons of headsets for crews, as well as advantages and disadvantages and setup options. As boats are getting bigger, communication as well as cockpit visibility, is getting tougher. We are seeing more crews with headsets on every type of boat from Viking Yachts, to Bayliss, Spencer, Merritt, Rybovich, Jarrett Bay, Weaver, and more,  as boat builders are building larger boats now.

  I recently fished on two boats using headset communication and witnessed the difference they can make. I quickly realized this was something we needed to offer our customers so we became a dealer. First, on the Jaruco, a 68 Weaver, in the Los Suenos Signature Series and also on the Sweet Thing, a 58 Merritt in the Custom Boat Shootout.

 First, let’s talk about the reasons for using headsets and then I’ll get into different options and setups, etc. Regardless of how you set them up or use them there are advantages.

  1. There is less yelling on the boat. I mean really, even the calmest crew finds themselves raising their voice when a fish shows up in the spread. 

  2. Improve your hookup ratio – With either the captain and/or tower guy talking everyone through the bite, anglers and crew have a much better opportunity of learning what the fish is doing in the spread at all times, or if there are multiple fish keeping things calm becomes a huge advantage.

  3. Improve mood and camaraderie amongst the crew – When all crew members and anglers have a headset you can talk to each other and tell stories throughout the day. This connection does several things. You don’t get as tired from yelling, you get to have a few laughs, and you have more fun and feel more alert.

  4. You can find out whether you’re getting mustard on your sandwich or not while the crew is inside :)

  5. Docking is easier when you don’t have to open fwd curtain or have crew directing the captain with extra eyes.

 Setup options…

 There are several ways you can set your boat up based on your crew, owner, or angler preference.

  1. Captain to cockpit – With 1 or 2 headsets and a belt pack hooked up to the stereo through cockpit speakers the captain and/or tower guy can communicate to crew and anglers calmly

  2. Crew communication only – a 4 person set up allows captain and mates to communicate throughout the day and discuss tactics, ask questions, etc

  3. Full crew – with base station it is possible for up to 12 users to have headsets allowing everyone on the boat to communicate at all times. To really take advantage of headset communications and improve hook up ratios, this is the preferred set up.

 Hardware options…

 Eartec is the preferred brand so here at SMS are an authorized dealer for them. The following hardware information is referring to their product options that we offer.

Wireless headset options…

eartec wireless headset for sportfish boats

Advantages - no wire, no belt pack, flip up microphone for mute

Disadvantages - slightly heavier and larger headsets


Wired headset to a belt pack

wired headset for sportfish boats

Advantages - Lightweight headsets
Disadvantages - No mute on microphone, a button on belt pack needs to be pushed to turn communication on or off.


Our biggest customer question is… How many can we use?

  1. wireless - 4 users - Master wireless headset with 3 regular wireless

  2. wireless - 7 users - 1 wired headset that acts as a hub with 6 wireless 

  3. wireless - anything over 6 wireless users with up to 12 - two bases wired together with up to 12 wireless headset users

  4. wired - up to 7 users all with beltpacks

  5. wired - link to base stations and have 12 wired headset users

This is a simple explanation of options. There are different headset options for single ear coverage or double etc. We have demo headsets in our showroom so make an appointment to come see us or call today and let us set up a system that fits you and your team the best depending on your needs! 561-537-5384

- Captain Eric Brush

Owner, SMS Sportfish Outfitters


Photo Creds: Robert "Fly" Navarro


Crew feedback…

 Capt. Kyle Liane, on the 86 Merritt “Bree,” prefers the wireless headsets and uses them with a full setup with crew and anglers. Biggest advantage to wireless… Flip up Microphone mutes the mic but he can still hear the rest of the crew through the headset.

Owner/Angler Clark Beaty, on the Sweet Thing, uses the wired system with beltpack and like that the headsets are lightweight but considering switching to wireless to ditch the beltpack and wire and take advantage of the flip up mic that mutes easier than pushing button on belt pack. Likes the fact that wired headsets are cheaper so if damaged its easier to have backups and switch out hardware.

Capt. Tyler Andreson on the Jaruco uses tower and captain headsets and has system tied into cockpit speakers. This allows captain and tower guy to communicate what they see and keep the anglers and crew in the cockpit informed

Capt Tiny on the Spencer “Bad Daddy” Wireless recently purchased a setup from us and says he will never fish without them. He likes the full setup with crew and anglers. He prefers the wireless with the flip up mic. He suggested getting extra batteries.









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