To Make or Buy

Sometimes we look at something and think “Hey I could make that”. We then dive in hands first, making as many stops as we have to to re-create that cool item.

I am notorious for hands on re-creations. I’m sure that my wife appreciates it. For me the latest was creating my own bait tank / live well. Looking back over the last few days I would have never guessed that it would be such a process.

I managed to create the live well for around $100 in materials, excluding the 6volt battery and gas.  You may be asking yourself the same thing that I did, how complicated could it be? Well lets explore this.

To start you’ll need a long list of supplies. Everything from nuts and bolts to a Dremel tool. The most suitable container to start with is either a large cooler or one of those air tight pet food container sold at any pet store. I used a pet food container that holds 40 pounds of food and the lid sits at an angle.


Next you’ll need a water proof box for your battery, I prefer the kind made by Pelican. For a 6 volt 10 amp hour battery a perfect fit is the 1060. I recommend using a water proof electrical wire plug and waterproof switch cover so as to not replace your wiring harness and switch constantly.


The rod holders and camera pole along with everything else besides the pump is optional. Heck even the pump set up is optional to your liking. I used a Johnson 500 aerator pump. I chose this one because I didn’t like the idea of stuff hanging off the side of my kayak. There are a few other brands that make the same type of pump and others, the only real difference between them is price. The Johnson is in the middle of the pack and offers replaceable motor. So if it goes out all I have to do is plug and play rather then rip out my sealed piping.


Naturally everything has pro’s and con’s the inside rig using scupper holes for intake and outflow has the disadvantage of being hard to prime. While the over the side version using a bilge pump can be a bit of a hazard and is a bit annoying in the fact that it needs to be lengthy to hang far enough overboard to keep its flow, plus if your fishing kelp or other structure it may even get in the way (not very likely) my biggest preference is not having things hang off the side.

So if you were to buy a bait tank, either pre-assembled or ready to assemble, it will range from around $175 to $280 (Hobie Livewell). When I first looked at those prices I was shocked as I was sure I could reproduce what I had seen for far less. I was right, I made mine for $100, but was it beneficial? I did utilize military discounts and pro staff discounts saving me a good 40 bucks at least. Place me in the normal guys shoes and I may have just matched the lower priced wells.  Notice I didn’t say cheaper. Those wells at $175 or so are real bargains for the job they do and the time they take to make. If I didn’t like to build things so much I would say it was the wrong choice. Spending the extra $40 would have actually been convenient to have a tank ready to go.

My tank took around 4 days for me to complete. I took my time; however fun it was to make, I made a ton of trips to Lowe’s and a couple more to one of my sponsors for parts. It seemed I just kept missing things I needed. Or I simply bought something that would not work the way I needed.

All in all I am very happy with the way the tank turned out, I learned a ton about building bait tanks, however if I were to do it again I would totally go with one already made. Usually if you go to the rite source, they are very proficient at making quality stuff at a great price. Take my word for it, buy one and you will be satisfied, if you want to build one do it for fun after you have one so that your not tank-less when you need one and can’t afford to waste the money.

For more on this to include a video on the bait tank I made, visit my blog at and let me know what you think.

Tight Lines,
Joshua “Kayak” Christensen

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