DIY: Hobie Kayak Livewell Electric pump upgrade


We are well underway for the 2016 Season of the Hobie Daiwa Bream Kayak Series. The opening event at Bemm River in East Gippsland saw a record field of 105 Anglers battle it out over 2 days. As always Hobie ran a seamless event, but with the sheer number of competitor even with split weigh in times, there was always going to be a wait to get your fish to the bump tanks.  I was lucky enough, along with 80% of the field, to get my 3 fish limit each day, but over the two days I spent a lot of time “managing the livewell”.
This time could have been better spent with a lure in the water, so I made it my mission to look at upgrading the manual Blige pump I had on my  current livewell, to a more automated system .

After looking at what other competitors were using, a livewell setup I saw that Jason Deenan was using  looked like it fit the bill. It had the ability to pump in water as well as Recirculate the water, which is something a manual unit, just won’t do.  Jason was kind enough to send me some pictures and share some experience with his build to help me get started… So the project began!


For the livewell  project I already had the Esky from my old system, which was a Cool Ice/ Waeco 41 Litre Ice Box. The Cool Ice sits nicely on the back deck of the  Hobie PA14 and PA12 Kayaks.  The 41 Litres will ensure you have adequate space for your catch to swim freely, especially in waters like South East Gippsland and Tasmania where it’s not uncommon to see fish up to 2kg boated. The Cool Ice Esky has a really well insulated wall, to ensure that fish are delivered to the bump tanks in A1 condition.
Under the Hobie Kayak rules, a minimum 23 Litres is required for your livewell.  There are plenty of other options with the Esky, but this is one that has been tried and tested by many Kayak tournament anglers.

If you are looking to create this livewell setup on the Outback, don’t be disheartened there are options, but you may need to use this information as a guide and asses your list of parts to suit the space you have available.


Unfortunately there is no one stop shop to get all your components, but I am confident I can lead you in the right direction. The Esky can be readily available from Rays Outdoors, Anaconda or BCF. For the Attwood Tsunami 500 Pump, these can be sourced from most well established Marine Supply shops, and through Hobie kayak Dealers. It would pay to call the store prior, to ensure they have stock, or if they need to order in. The marine shop would also be the place to pick up the Non  Return Valve and Poly Bungee Hooks.

Your Weatherproof plugs, Heat Shrink, Cable Gland and batteries can be sourced though Jaycar, or if you know your way around Ebay, this may save you some coin and Footwork.

The Irrigation components, weatherproof case and all other components are readily available from Bunnings.

livewell upgrade


o    Electric Drill or Battery Drill
o    Soldering Iron
o    25mm Hole Saw
o    Small Round File
o    Hacksaw
o    Tape Measure
o    Adjustable Spanner
o    Multi Grips
o    Flat Blade Screw Driver
o    Philips Head Screwdriver
o    Stanley Knife
o    Black Texta
o    Heat Gun
o    6mm Drill bit
o    10mm Drill bit


o    One (1) 41 Litre Cool Ice/Waeco Ice Box
o    One (1) Weatherproof Tool Case
o    Four (4) Stainless Washers
o    Two (2) Poly Marine Bungee Hook
o    Two (2) Metres 5mm Black Bungee /Shock cord
o    One (1) Stainless Carabiner Clip
o    One (1) Attwood Tsunami 500 12Volt Aerator/Livewell Pump
o    One (1) Metre 32mm Black Heatshrink
o    One (1) Metre 20mm Black Heatshrink
o    One (1) 12Volt 7AH Battery
o    Two (2) Metres of Black 1.5mm Twin Tinned Flexible cable
o    One (1) 12Volt Push/Pull switch
o    One (1) 16mm Cable Gland
o    Two (2) Waterproof 2 Way Plug sets
o    Three (3) Poly Tank Inlet ¾”
o    Two (2) Poly T Pieces ¾”
o    Two (2) PVC Ball Valve Tap ¾”
o    Two (2) Poly F/F 90 Degree Elbows ¾”
o    Two (2) Poly M/F 90 Degree Elbows ¾”
o    Four (4) Poly M/M Coupler ¾”
o    Two (2) Poly Male ¾” to Barb 19mm
o    Two (2) Poly Female ¾” to Barb 19mm
o    One (1) 12mm Inline Non Return Valve
o    One (1) Livewell Strainer ¾”
o    One (1) Poly Screwed stop ¾”
o    One (1) Male ¾” to 15mm Reducer
o    One (1) Poly 100mm Riser 15mm Thread
o    One (1) Poly 15mm end cap
o    Two (2) Metres of Black Corrugated/Flexible hose 19mm
o    Four (4)25mm Stainless Steel Hose Clamps
o    One (1) Metre of 19mm Clear Hose
o    Two (2) 20mm PVC Double sided Saddles
o    One (1) 32mm PVC Double sided Saddles
o    One (1) Heavy Duty Black Cable Tie (Or you could uses a Pipe Clamp)
o    One (1) Thread seal tape
o    Six (6) 20mm Stainless Screws


In any Project, no matter how big or small , planning is crucial. Measure the area you have to work with, taking into account scupper sizes, and the distance they will sit away from the live well. To ensure the project runs smoothly, purchase all the relevant components, and use the right tools for the job.

hobie livewell upgrade parts


Place the Esky on the back deck of the Hobie. You will notice there are some Black factory fitted eyelets that sit behind the seat on either side of the Kayak. These work well as tie down points for the Livewell.  Using the 5mm drive a 6mm Hole at the top side of the Esky and feed through your 5mm Bungee Cord. Then place a Stainless washer over the cord inside the well, and then tie off with a knot to prevent the cord being pulled back through. Cut the cords so they are about 300mm, but do not install the Hooks as yet. On the lid of the Esky on the back Corners drill a hole in either corner, ready for Rear fastening Bungee cord.


The next step is to mark up the Recirculate Outlet on the Esky. This needs to be installed as low as possible inside the esky. Mark with a texta where the centre of this hole will be, but do not drill as yet. Build up the Elbow, Couplers, T Piece and Ball Valves, and ensure it lines up with the centre of your mark, and the Scupper hole Centre. Once you are confident this lines up, then drill a 25mm Hole with the Holesaw, and install one of the ¾” Poly Tank Inlets, from the inside out.
There will be additional thread , that can be trimmed back, taking into account what is required to thread your elbow.



Undo the Tap assembly, and connect them one by one to the Recirc Outlet, ensuring that you apply the Thread seal tape, as you do each piece.



Once you have screwed all the Tap assembly together, and you’re confident you have lined up the inlet elbow with the centre of the Scupper, install the 32mm Double sided saddle on the well behind the last coupler. Make sure the centre is the same as the Recirculate Inlet centre, to keep the assembly level. Then install your heavy duty Black cable tie, to fix in your pipework.




The Inlet pipe is the next thing to manufacture. Cut a section of Clear 19mm hose at approximately 300mm long. This will give you ample length to extend down through the Scupper of the Hobie into the water. Next thing to do is boil the kettle, and no it’s not coffee time just yet!
Once your kettle is boiled pour a cup of boiling water into a mug and then sit the hose within for approximately 2 minutes. Then get the 12mm Non return valve, ensuring the valve is pointing in the right direction, gently insert the NRV into the pipe so that it’s pushed in all the way, leaving about 32mm of spare hose.  Then at the other end of the pipe install the Female ¾” to barb adaptor on the hose. Tidy and secure with one of the hose clamps and some heatshrink.


Time to install the Pump. Place the pump thread beside the Central T Piece and mark the thread required with a Texta. With a hacksaw cut down the excess thread on the pump. Once again wrap  thread seal tape on the pumps thread and screw the pump in place till tight and the outlet is facing to the left of the Livewell.




Now grab one of the ¾” Poly tank Inlets and unscrew the Lock nut off it. Place the Locknut on the outside on the top left corner of the well,  and ensure there is enough clearance from the top of the  Well, Bungee cord washer, and internal side wall. If so, mark centre of hole with a texta. Then with the 25mm Holesaw drill yourself another hole.
Install the tank inlet from outside in, with excess thread on the internal side of the Well, ensuring you tighten the fitting with Multigrips.




Screw in one of the Male ¾” to Barb on the external thread of the Inlet fitting. Then with the Corrugated/flexible hose, slide it onto the Barb fitting. Roughly bend the pipe and measure to the Outlet of the Pump, allowing a nice sweep on all bends. Trim the pipe with the hacksaw or Stanley knife. Then slide your two Pipe clamps and heat shrink onto the hose. Screw on your Female ¾” Barb adaptor, slide the hose on, tighten the clamps, one on each barb, and apply the heatshrink over the Clamps.

hobie DIY livewell upgrade


On the inside of the well, screw on another T piece , and install the Screw cap on one side. Then on the other side screw the ¾” to 15mm reducer.  Now grab the 100mm Riser
With a 10mm drill bit starting from about 10mm from the thread, drill 5 Holes, with approx, with equal distance between each. Screw on the end cap, then screw the Riser to the reducer. You should have adequate clearance so you swivel the Spray bar vertical or horizontally.


Next is the Overflow. It could run out through the second Scupper hole, but I have made the decision to keep the second Scupper hole free, to ensure adequate drainage off the rear deck of the Yak. In saying that I have still lined up the Overflow, with the second Scupper hole. I feel you can never have too much water in the well so with a Texta mark where the overflow will be, ensure you clear taps and lid straps. Then drill a 25mm Hole, and install the final ¾” Tank Outlet from inside out. Do not trim the excess thread off as this offers clearance away from the tap. Then fit another 90 Degree bend, Male 3/4”  Male to Barb fitting. Slide on some corrugated hose, and allow enough to go to the side of the Yak, with some excess, so it will sit just above the water line. Install hose clamp and heat shrink for a Tidy finish.


With all the plumbing done, it time to tidy up the fastenings. Using one of the 20mm Double sided saddles clamp the pipe from the Pump to the Inlet Fitting, onto the front of the esky. Then use the second saddle to the side, using some stainless screws.
Now sit the Esky in place on the back deck of the kayak, ensuring the inlet pipe is also fitted.  In Step 2 you had your Bungee straps, pre-cut, so now measure 50mm short of the black eyelets and trim back the cords. Install the Bungee hooks on each side. At the rear/lid, with the lid open tie off one side of the cord and washer. Then measure to Rear Hobie fitted eyelet then over to the second hole drilled in the esky lid. Trim and tie off inside esky.
Fit the Stainless Carabiner, then clip it to the eyelet. Once the lid is closed this will tighten up the elastic to hold the well in place.

Congratulations on getting this far, you have now completed, the Livewell!, but now its time to work on the Electrics.



Grab the Waterproof Case and install the 12V Battery within, removing just enough foam within the box to hold the battery in place. I have removed foam on one side internally, as there is enough space to fit a second battery as back up if required. Then mark on the Case where you would like to fit the Push Pull switch (above the internal Foam line, and centre is best). Drill a 10mm hole and install the switch. At the other end of the Case mark and drill the hole for you Cable Gland, and fit.

Using the 2 Metre length of flexible cable (Fly lead), feed a small tail into the “Battery Box”, and terminate/solder to the + Positive wire to ‘Load’ side of the switch.  Make up another small stub lead with the Weatherproof Plugs, ensuring that the female connection is on the battery tail and the male side has connects + to Line side of switch and the – to the 2 Metre flexible fly lead.



With you battery box complete, you can now perform the final step!! Connect the last Weatherproof plug onto the end of the 2 Metre Flylead (Warning, make sure battery is not connected!!). Make sure you install Heat shrink on the Plug, as this will be out in the elements.

Then do the same with the Tail that comes pre-cabled to the Attwood Aerator pump.


If you have made it to here, trust me you’ve done well! (Pardon the pun☺). Although there may be some time in sourcing the components, and fabricating this project, it’s really time and money well invested, given the amount of effort and cost put forward into showing up to fishing competitions etc.

Better planning off the water equates to more time to concentrate on catching!

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Published on: April 20, 2016

Filled Under: DIY, GUIDE

Views: 45696

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4 Responses to DIY: Hobie Kayak Livewell Electric pump upgrade

  1.' Raymond says:

    Does this Tsunami pump require any priming or will it suck water up to it?

    • Nick Mace says:

      Hi Raymond . Thanks for taking the time to read the Article.
      The Tsunami pump does not self prime due to the outside water levels and height at which the pump sits on the well. I carry a small jug that i fill a couple of times and fill the well to the pump level. This only needs to be done once, then the well recirculates, and fill like a beauty!
      Cheers NM

  2.' Jack says:

    I built my live well as per your specifications. The recirculate works great however as soon as I close the recirculate valve and open the inlet valve the pump stops pumping the water even though the inlet tube is full of water.
    I tried with and without the one way valve thinking the pump wasnt strong enough to pump water through the valve, still had the same issue.
    Where have I gone wrong?

    • Nick Mace says:

      Hi Jack.

      You need to ensure the pipes are primed. If you have air in the line to it may not function properly.

      Also check to ensure your wiring is correct. If you have the + and – swapped around the wrong way the pump will work, but not to its fully capacity as the impeller will spin the wrong way.

      Hope this helps.

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