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Watercraft Accessories Review

Gain an upper hand on your drifts with the professional Para-Tech Boat Brakes

Date: 10/11/04
Tackle type: Drift sock
Manufacturer: Para-Tech
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.58

Introduction: Drift at your own comfortable pace with the high quality "Boat Brakes." This premium drift sock was designed by Para-Tech is high-performing, easy to use, features an adjustable drag control, and is extremely well-built. With the right drift you'll be able to enjoy more lucrative fishing by being able to work prime areas longer and more leisurely.


Para-Tech Boat Brakes (BB-48) Specifications

Material Nylon
Sizes Available (diameter) 24 - 72"
Size Tested 48"
Suggested Boat Length Trolling: up to 33'. Drifting: up to 26'
Stowed Dimensions 12" X 12" X 4"
Drag Volume 1 - 351 Gallons (Adjustable)
Weight 5 lbs.
Colors Yellow
Features Built-in floats and weights, adjustable drag, storage bag
Price $199.99


About Para-Tech: Based in Colorado, Para-Tech Engineering Company has been making quality offshore safety equipment since 1971. They design and produce products that meet the stringent standards of the parachute industry, and the same technology is applied to the Sea Anchor and Boat Brakes.


Para-Tech's professionally designed Boat Brakes

Impressions: We aren't just looking at any parachute here. From the very first glance the Boat Brakes showed signs of quality. The materials are first-class and the construction appeared top notch as well. The drift sock comes only in one color....bright yellow. The Boat Brakes is made this color because it allows for easier visual inspection of the chute when deployed in the water. The Para-Tech product has a few built on features that assist in functionality and performance such as a built-in float, weight, and adjustable drag. When not in use, the entire chute stows away in the included storage bag.


Construction: The Para-Tech drift sock is constructed out of a 4oz nylon sheet that is extremely heavy-duty. The seams are all well supported via one inch nylon webbing and finely stitched all throughout.  Some areas also feature double zigzag stitching for greater fastening, including all the main stress points. Four straps run from the tip of the Boat Brakes and terminate at the D-ring which attaches to a rope that will be secured to the front of your boat. All the points off of the four one inch straps are toughened because those are the locations where most of the stress will be placed once the unit is deployed. To further build a solid product, Para-Tech also placed one inch nylon webbing on the circumference of the Boat Brakes. This will prevent any ripping and also holds the 48 inch circle opening uniformly.


The entire Boat Brakes is well reinforced and finely crafted

Field Tests: With forecast of high winds, we thought it would be a good time to apply the Boat Brakes. We headed out drifting for rockcod over rock-strewn structure and also put it to use while fishing for landlocked stripers at the often gusty O'Neill Forebay.


Usage: Before you can put the Para-Tech Boat Brakes to use, you must rig it with two ropes. One rope is used to secure the drift sock to your boat while the second functions as your drag adjustment. The length of rope used is more of an user's preference, but we recommend one set about 15ft while the second being 20ft. To reduce any confusion, using ropes of two different colors will make it easier to identify which one is for the drag adjustment and which one secures to the boat.


The D-ring holds onto the straps while the other end secures to the boat.  The ring with the rope running through it is for the drag adjustment line


Deploying the Boat Brakes is much easier than other parachutes I have fished with. The reason why it is easier and faster to deploy this unit is because of the clever design. The Boat Brakes have a built-in floats and weights. Two packets of weights send the bottom of the yellow chute down into the water, while the floats ensure that the top stays at surface level, and immediately as the chute catches water the entire Boat Brakes will fully open. We tried this many times from our boats and it was simple. Neatly toss it out in the proper direction and see it come alive immediately.


You use a drift sock because you want to achieve that perfect drift speed, right?  Well, with the Boat Brakes that's quite easy because you actually have full control of the unit once it's deployed. One rope is used to secure the chute to the boat while the second is your drag adjustment. With the drag adjustment you can control the amount of water the Boat Brakes catches, thus allowing you to make a faster or slower drift. We first put the Boat Brakes in the water to test it at full drag, then played with the adjustment by simply pulling on the rope.  The more rope you retract, the less drag you achieve. If you pull the tip of the BB-48 to match the edge of the Boat Brakes, we found that you will achieve half of the drag pressure and your drift will become faster.  Finding that perfect drift while fishing for rockcod was quick, hassle-free, and allowed us to target the sweet spots for a longer period of time.


Four 1 inch heavy duty straps are used to hold onto the chute


When it comes time to retract the Boat Brakes, pull on the drag control line and bring the chute in. By pulling on the rope you're decreasing the drag and inverting the Boat Brakes, thus resulting in a drag-free setting.  Be sure to invert the Boat Brakes before deploying again.


Performance: The performance of the Para-Tech Boat Brakes was excellent. The chute did an exceptional job at decreasing the drift speed and was extremely easy to control the amount of drag. During one of my outings targeting rockcod, I brought a few rookie anglers who have never done much drift fishing, but all of them could tell the change in speed of the drift before and after I employed the Boat Brakes. One angler commented, "Man, are you sure we are going to be able to fish the spots marked on the finder with the wind blowing so hard?" Rather than respond verbally I turned to him as I deployed Boat Brakes and smiled. The speed decreased dramatically when the 48" diameter Boat Brakes BB-48 deployed, having a drag volume of 351 gallons, and we were able to jig vertically without having to always re-drop the lure or reposition the boat. Using the Boat Brakes allowed us to fish longer in one position, gave us control, and saved plenty of fuel since I didn't need to motor back onto the prime fishing spot every few minutes.


The two cylindrical floats seen on the top half of this picture holds up the chute and also prevents it from spinning when deployed.  The two pouches hold weights that opens the BB-48 quickly


Another great thing about the Para-Tech design is that it's truly hassle-free. The chute has built-in floats and weights that not only help it open up faster but also keeps it from rotating during operation. If you have a standard drift sock that rotates, it will twist the line and unit causing stress points that will weaken and eventually damage the parachute.  Simply not the case with the Para-Tech, even on the windiest days.

 A drift sock must be well built and durable to be able to hold such a large volume and drag pressure on the fabric itself and all points related to the product. The Boat Brakes is uses high-strength 4 ounce nylon, 1 inch straps all around, and is designed and constructed to endure the toughest sea conditions. We have been using it for months now in lakes and on the ocean and haven't experienced any failures or damage of any sort.


Application: To any angler, the Boat Brakes can serve as a tool to apply to a few different techniques such as trolling, drift fishing, and for emergency use. Trolling you say? This chute was designed to slow down a boat, what good is it to trolling? Boat motors all vary in speed during idle and while in gear. While some motors can achieve the perfect trolling speed for slower fish species, some cannot and push the boat too quickly for a proficient troll. If the lure is being trolled too fast, the optimum action cannot be achieved. That's where an angler will utilize the Boat Brakes, to slow down your troll improving the fish attracting lure action.


This is the tip end of the Boat Brakes.  The rope helps reinforce the opening, and also when pulled on the drag adjustment line closes the opening for volume control or when retrieving the unit


While drift fishing, the current and wind is in control of your boat. The elements will push and pull at different directions. To gain control while drift fishing, the Para-Tech BB-48 that will create drag to slow the drift, and allows you to control the amount of drag by a simple adjustment rig to vary the speed to your desires. Delivering a much more predictable and easy to control drift.


If you've ever listened in on a distress call by any boater to Coast Guard, the first thing they will ask you to do in an emergency such as losing power, is to drop your anchor to prevent getting off position,  running into obstacles, or even getting too close to shore. The Boat Brakes can also be used in such emergencies, especially if you don't have an anchor or find yourself in a bad situation far offshore. The chute will allow you to stay in one general area as you wait for help to arrive.  And on windy and rough days will also keep your bow pointed towards the wind and waves, minimizing the fear of capsizing and swamping.


Neatly pack the chute into the provided storage bag when not in use


Price: The Boat Brakes is a premium product designed by professional parachute makers that manufacture to the exact standards of parachutes that sky divers trust to get them safely to the ground. The quality of the Boat Brakes is like no other on the market and with the use of high-grade material and other components result in a higher price than generic drift socks on the market. But compared to surplus parachutes, the Para-Tech product is definitely a better value due to superior design and durability.



Para-Tech Boat Brakes (BB-48) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Excellent craftsmanship and use of quality materials ensure a long lasting product 8.5
Performance This drift sock excels in providing you with control on every drift even during rougher and windier days.  The chute allows easy deployment, drag adjustment, and will reduce your speed dramatically for the perfect lure presentation 9.5
Price A premium product with quality material and built that comes with a larger price tag.  Compare it to basic drift sock that's much lower in quality and the surplus chutes on the market, the price isn't all that bad 8
Features This chute features an anti-spiral design control via floats and weights, comes with a storage bag, and best of all, an easy to use adjustable drag system that can be done while it is fully deployed 8
Design (Ergonomics) Designed by professional parachute makers, the Boat Brakes meets many stringent chute standards.  This means not just a durable construction, but of something that you can trust to get the job done.  The drift sock is also great that it can easily be retrieved without fight the huge volume of drag 9
Application A great tool for any angler on lakes or in the ocean for trolling, drift fishing, and for emergency use 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Durable L Only one color available
J Easy to use L Must buy two ropes prior to use
J Adjustable Drag  
J Excellent craftsmanship  

Conclusion: Being in the parachute business for over three decades, Para-Tech has the expertise to produce a superior product such as the Boat Brakes. The Boat Brakes is a high-quality drift sock that's well constructed with much reinforcements all around. The performance of the chute is excellent, being able to slow down your drift dramatically and allow control over speed via an adjustable drag line allows anglers to fish key areas more successfully. The entire process of deployment, adjusting the drag, and retrieval comes easy thanks to the well thought-out design. The drag line doubles duty as a retrieve rope and the built-in floats and weights on the chute allow the unit to deploy quickly and also prevent it from spinning. The Para-Tech Boat Brakes is high performing, rugged, and easy to use, and not just for drift fishing but also for trolling and emergency use. We highly recommend this professional product to anyone that needs a quality chute to regulate drift speed, and stay on top of those hot spots long enough to hook into more fish.









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