Proper gear, including a fishing boat, can be a significant factor contributing to your fishing success. Figuring out which boat to buy, however, can often prove overwhelming when you start considering makes, models, engine configurations and more. Here are a few tips to help sort through all the options.
The biggest variables to consider when narrowing your selection down include: how many people will use it, how much gear you’ll need and where you’ll do most of your fishing. What will work for one or two people in August on a small lake probably won’t cut it on a saltwater bay in January.
The more people you plan to join you on your fishing trips and the bigger the body of water, the more horsepower and larger a boat you will need for safety, storage and comfort. While hull type plays a role in stability and maneuverability, here’s an overall look at some of the most popular types of fishing boats:
Aluminum: Lightweight and durable, aluminum fishing boats come in a variety of styles and sizes. They can be configured with a tiller-mounted engine or a steering-wheel console. They offer more storage capacity and seating arrangements than inflatables — from lockers to mountable fishing-rod racks and bench seating to removable seats.
They’re also heavier than inflatables and can be designed with flat bottoms or V-hulls, giving you options for comfort of ride and drafting, as well as rating higher for engine size. From simple jon boats to more complex bay-style boats, aluminum boats offer an economical alternative to higher-end fiberglass craft; they can last for decades and can take a pounding in the best fishing areas available.
Bass boat: This is a general term for a style of low-profile, sleek boats that can access shallow water, provide plenty of storage and comfort for hours of standing fishing, and boast a live well to keep caught fish alive for a possible weigh-in and an electric trolling motor.
Bass boats can come in aluminum or fiberglass, and can cost from $10,000 to more than $50,000. depending on accessories, overall length and engine size, which can vary from a simple 25-horsepower engine to an unbelievable 250-horsepower motor that pushes 20-plus-foot fiberglass tournament boats across the lake at more than 70 mph.
Fish and Ski: For the family angler that needs a dual-purpose boat, fish-and-ski boats attempt to combine the best of the performance and angling worlds. Featuring a deeper V-hull for banking and turning with skiers and tubes, the fiberglass boats usually have a sundeck for people to lay out during fun time on the water, storage for skis, ropes and more, and requires a larger engine to get the boat up on plane and towing people. Almost like a Transformer, these boats swap ski-friendly attributes for a trolling motor, swivel-mounted seats and a live well when an angler wants to pursue fish instead of a fun in the sun.
The problem with most hybrids, however, is that they never perform equally in all realms. While you can fish deep water with fish-and-skis, because of their v-hull they can’t access as shallow of water as a bass boat, flat-bottomed jon boat or inflatable.