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How to Choose the Best Fishing Boat for You

You’re finally getting a fishing boat! Or maybe it’s simply time to replace that old rambler you’ve had for years. But do you know how to choose the best fishing boat option out there for your type of fishing?

The best fishing boat for you depends on your individual needs. Finding it involves a lot of research and comparison shopping. This guide is a good first step in your buying process.

Questions to Ask Yourself

While there’s no one “best fishing boat,” some features can be more appealing than others. It all depends on the type of fishing you plan to do. You should ask yourself some important questions before beginning to shop for your fishing boat.

  • Will you be fishing in freshwater or saltwater? (Saltwater boats can benefit from closed cooling systems and flushing systems to better clear the engine. You also may want a boat hull made of fiberglass if fishing in saltwater.)
  • Will you be inshore, nearshore or offshore fishing? (Inshore fishing requires boats that work well in shallow water; offshore fishing requires a strong motor and amenities for more time on board.)
  • How many people do you plan to take fishing at once? (Consider the seating space.)
  • How long do you plan to stay out in one trip? (If you plan to be out a long time, you may want a fishing boat with some shelter, and maybe even a galley or other amenities.)
  • Do you want built-in fishing features? (Some boats come with features like built-in cold storage, tackle storage, or comfortable seats made specifically for fishing.) We’ll go into more detail in the next section.

Features You’ll Need (Or Want)

There are some things you should look for or consider adding on as you search for the best boat for fishing. There are dozens of options you can add or find in a boat, but you should narrow down your needs from your wants to be able to make the best decision.

  • High fuel capacity. Your boat needs to be ready and able to go the distance with you in order to catch that fish.
  • 316-grade stainless steel. You want strong stainless-steel fittings and parts to prevent corrosion.
  • Large fish boxes. Nothing’s worse than running out of room in your fish box when you’re in the middle of your fishing excursion. Get a boat that has a big enough insulated fish box and drains overboard.
  • Locking bulk stowage. You don’t want to have to haul your fishing gear back and forth from your boat all the time. You’ll need somewhere to safely lock away your rods, tackle boxes and reels.
  • Rod holders. The more the better when it comes to rod holders.
  • Raw water wash downs. If you’re a fisherman, you know that you’re going to make a mess: fish blood, chum and baits. A reliable raw water wash down is a must for your boat.
  • Sun protection. Since you’re going to be under the hot sun most of the day, it’s important to have proper sun protection. Your boat should have some type of top to escape the sun: T-top, Bimini or hardtop.
  • Hearty construction. Your boat will take abuse. Get a strong one.
  • A hull design that fits your needs. Did you know some hull designs are better than others when it comes to various types of fishing. Are you a troller or offshore angler? You’ll need a deep-V or a powercat. Maybe you’re a flat angler or a light-tackle bay angler? You will be better served by a semi-V. Like to drift fish? You should choose a boat with max stability.

Fishing Boat Options

There are many fishing boats to choose from and each one has unique features that make it ideal for certain types of fishing. Keep in mind that this list is not extensive, there are dozens of boat styles to choose from and you should do in-depth research before making your purchase.

Canoe

canoe
  • Description: Canoes tend to be lightweight, narrow and pointed at the bow and stern. The stern tends to be blunt in order to accommodate the small motor
  • Best Fishing Use: Inshore fishing in protected waters
  • Construction: Normally 12 to 16 feet. Made of wood, aluminum, fiberglass or molded plastic
  • Propulsion: Single-bladed paddle with one or two oars

Kayak

kayak
Image courtesy of Walker Bay Boats.
  • Description: Kayaks are very narrow and are usually pointed at both the bow and stern. They can have a covered deck or a sit-on-top design
  • Best Fishing Use: Inshore fishing
  • Construction: Eight to 16 feet. Made of wood, aluminum, fiberglass or molded plastic
  • Propulsion: Double-bladed paddles

Jon Boat

Jon boat
  • Description: Jon boats are flat-bottomed and include one or more bench seats. The bow and stern are both squared off
  • Best Fishing Use: Inshore fishing in protected waters
  • Construction: Eight to 24 feet in length and most often made of aluminum
  • Propulsion: Oars and a single outboard or electric trolling motor

Rigid Inflatable Boat

rigid inflatable boat
Image courtesy of Walker Bay Boats.
  • Description: Rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) have inflatable tubes for sides and include a rigid deck and hull made from aluminum or fiberglass
  • Best Fishing Use: Full range of fishing waters. Normally used as a tender for larger boats, but can be rigged for fishing
  • Construction: Can range from six to 30-plus feet in length
  • Propulsion: Single or multiple outboards

Runabout Boat

runabout boat
Image courtesy of Boston Whaler.
  • Description: Runabouts tend to include an open bow, seating and a swim or fishing platform
  • Best Fishing Use: Inshore fishing
  • Construction: Fourteen to 25 feet and made most often of fiberglass, sometimes aluminum
  • Propulsion: Stern-drive or single outboard

Convertible Boat

convertible boat
  • Description: The convertible boat, a classic offshore fishing boat, is often referred to as the “sportfisherman” or “sport-fisher.” It tends to feature fly bridge controls, an amenity-filled cabin and a tower
  • Best Fishing Use: All offshore water fishing and big-game angling
  • Construction: Tends to be 31 to 60 feet or more in length. Fiberglass hull with open cockpit and enclosed cabin
  • Propulsion: Single or multiple inboard motors

Bay Boat

bay boat
Image courtesy of Boston Whaler.
  • Description: This boat has a “beamy” center console with a low freeboard, sizable livewells, extensive storage and seating, and various fishing features
  • Best Fishing Use: Open bay fishing, and, if larger model, offshore fishing
  • Construction: Twenty to 26 feet long, constructed from fiberglass or composite
  • Propulsion: Single outboard

Express Boat

express boat
  • Description: An express boat features a step-up or level helm area that is open to the cockpit
  • Best Fishing Use: Offshore or nearshore fishing
  • Construction: Twenty-eight feet or longer and hull is made of fiberglass
  • Propulsion: Multiple outboards or inboard motors

Dual-Console Boat

dual console boat
Image courtesy of Boston Whaler.
  • Description: A dual-console boat, obviously, features dual side consoles with passage between them to the bow. Controls tend to be located on the starboard console
  • Best Fishing Use: All-water fishing, depending on size
  • Construction: Sixteen to 30 feet in length and is often made of fiberglass
  • Propulsion: Stern drives or single/twin outboards

Power Catamaran

power catamaran
  • Description: A power catamaran has twin deep-V hull sponsons, connected by a wide deck. This boat offers a soft ride and includes a cockpit and a console or cabin
  • Best Fishing Use: Nearshore and offshore fishing. Depending on size, adaptable to inshore waters
  • Construction: Twenty-five to 40 feet in length. Constructed from fiberglass, sometimes aluminum
  • Propulsion: Twin outboards

Cuddy Cabin Boat

cuddy cabin boat
  • Description: The cuddy cabin design has a forward cabin to replace the open bow area
  • Best Fishing Use: All-water fishing, depending on size
  • Construction: Twenty-two to 30 feet long and made of fiberglass
  • Propulsion: Stern drivers or inboard motors, single or twin outboards

Walkaround Boat

walk around boat
Image courtesy of Boston Whaler.
  • Description: A walkaround boat has a center console literally designed for all-access fishing from its unobstructed deck
  • Best Fishing Use: Offshore or nearshore fishing
  • Construction: Twenty to 30 feet in length. Constructed from fiberglass, sometimes with an aluminum hull
  • Propulsion: Stern drivers or inboard motors, single or twin outboards

Center Console Boat

center console boat
Image courtesy of Boston Whaler.
  • Description: The center console boat is often called the “open fisherman” due to its open deck layout. This boat also has abundant storage for fish boxes and outriggers
  • Best Fishing Use: Adaptable to all fishing waters, dependent on size
  • Construction: Fourteen to 50 feet in length and made of fiberglass
  • Propulsion: Stern drives or single or multiple outboards

Ready to Dock Your New Fishing Boat?

Once you’ve purchased your new fishing boat, you’ll want to look into investing in a boat lift and dock. Protect your fishing boat and keep it running for years to come by keeping it in a floating docks. Contact JetDock today for more information.

Create Your Own!

By answering a few quick questions we will be able to tell you which dock or boat lift is the perfect fit for you.

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