There is nothing more fun than being on the market for a fishing boat. As you look around however you need to keep one thing in mind; fishing equipment and trips will come and go, but your boat needs to last you for years. Don’t just jump into a decision when buying a fishing boat. The watercraft needs to match your location, fishing goals and anticipated usage.
One thing to keep in mind is that no boat is perfect. There are pros and cons to any decision you make. Just remember to do your homework. Doing so will land you a fishing boat that will make you happy for many years.
Before buying, consider some key things like; the location(s) you are most likely going to be spending most of your time fishing. Is it a lake? Is it a river? Will you be on the go? Are you fishing with buddies? Will you have kids and family with you? How big is the water you will be on? Will you be pounding through big waves? Are you fishing competitively?
I break down buying a boat into 3 categories.
2.Small water fishing
If you are on the go every weekend and you know you might encounter some big, rough water – you need a boat to match. Generally, you need a boat at least 18 feet long. A boat between 18 and 20 feet will give you the stability you need on rough days and the ability to get to where you need to, fast.
To get in the money you will likely need an outboard pushing 200HP. An electric motor situated on the bow of the boat (and even another situated on the transom) will give you the agility to cut through the water like a surgeon. An electric motor should not be an oversight if you are serious about tournament fishing.
There are a couple of options as far as the hull of your boat goes. Aluminum will work great, but there are fibreglass options as well. Both will perform well in big water and will give you potential advantages when that bell sounds. Tournament boats can be monsters on the water, and in many cases are just what the doctor ordered!
Small Water Fishing
The recreational angler doesn’t need all the bells and whistles the tournament boats can offer. A smaller aluminum fishing boat can be a lot of fun. They aren’t anything you’d necessarily want to tackle big waves with, but they can get into fishing locations the “tournament guys” can’t.
Backwater and shallow locations are home to a large number of freshwater species, particularly in the early spring. Big tournament boats often can’t reach these locations. This is where a 14 foot aluminum has a definite advantage. They can manoeuvre dead-heads, logs and weeds better than most water-craft, a big advantage over other types of fishing boats.
A small water craft can vary in size from 14 to 16 feet and are typically aluminum. They have a V-hull and motors typically hover around the 20HP range. Don’t let the size of motor fool you. You aren’t pushing a lot of boat here – and 20HP will get you where you need to go faster than you think.
These boats usually seat 2 comfortably, but if you need to squeeze 4 in it shouldn’t be a problem.
They are terrific for reaching fishing locations other types of boats simply can’t. They give you a sense of adventure as you reach places that remain relatively untouched.
In Between Anglers
Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds (or close it)? If you want to get places fast but still squeeze into some shallow back-water locations, it can be done. Consider looking at a 16 to 18 foot boat to give yourself increased range and the ability to get into some tight places. There are both fibreglass and aluminum options.
As far as the size of the outboard, the range at the high end is up over 100HP and down to about 35HP on the low. These boats will give you the ability to tackle any location and almost any water condition. Just be sure to keep your wits about you and use common sense.
These boats will handle big water conditions, but they aren’t my first choice to battle very big water on a windy day. You will also want to be careful as you try to sneak into shallow water. A depth finder is a must. These boats can get to many locations, but not all.
As far as fibreglass versus aluminum boats, you need to ask yourself one question. Will you be pulling the boat to shore regularly? If that is the case, remember that fibreglass will scratch and show wear of sand and pebbles. Aluminum has the durability of a tank. If you can’t stand the thought of scratching your boat, consider aluminum.
Having said that, fibreglass is more easily moulded when compared to aluminum. What this means is manufacturers can “improve upon design” easier when working with fibreglass. This often results in a smoother ride in both rough and calm waters.
Fiberglass fishing boats can also be a touch more expensive than their aluminum counterparts. That is something you will want to keep in mind.
There are many things to consider when in the market for a fishing boat. Do your homework. Write down what your uses will be. Go to boat shows. Talk to dealers. Surf the net.
Above all have fun. When done right, your fishing boat can become your best friend.
Thanks for reading.
This article was written by guest author Craig Fiske of Freshwater Fishing Canada. For great ideas about Canada fishing trips, you can visit Craig at his website.