A fishing boat

The Complete Guide to Fishing Boats

The Complete Guide to Fishing Boats

There are many different types of fishing boats for sale, and deciding which one is best for you can be a lengthy process. That's why we put together this Fishing Boats Guide to help you narrow down your options and make an informed decision.

Fishing Boats: Types

 There are various types of fishing boats: Small Jon boats used in ponds and inland lakes to large offshore sport fishing boats that may travel many miles off the coast and quite distant from land. The type of waterways you fish in, the marine species you'll be targeting, and, of course, your budget will determine which of these fishing boats is best for you.

The following are the different fundamental popular types of fishing boats, broken down into freshwater fishing boats and saltwater fishing boats:

Boats for freshwater fishing

Freshwater fishing boats are vessels designed exclusively for freshwater fishing rather than saltwater fishing. Freshwater fishing boats are lighter than saltwater fishing boats, with less freeboard (shorter height), a slender profile, and shallower draughts. Furthermore, many freshwater vessels may be equipped with heavy-duty carpeting and other materials that degrade more quickly in salt water.

Freshwater fishing boats include:

Aluminum Fishing Boats

Aluminum fishing boats are popular on ponds, lakes, and rivers since they are tiny and light. They're cheap, easy to haul behind a trailer, and come in a variety of shapes and layouts tailored to specific fisheries. Side and center consoles, fish-n-skis, tiller steers, and multi-species dual consoles are among the many shapes and designs available.

Bass boats

Bass boats are among the most popular freshwater fishing boats on the water, which is not surprising given that bass are the most popular freshwater fish species among anglers. We'll delve a little more into angler boats constructed exclusively for bass fishing because they're so popular. Above all, any boat buyer should be aware that the best bass boats are highly specialized bass fishing machines.

The ideal bass fishing boat will have plenty of horsepower so you can be the first to reach the hotspots; it will be low-slung so you can swing those bass straight over the gunwales or reach down and grab them by the lip; and it will be built for two anglers because competitive bass anglers fish in pairs.

Nothing beats a dedicated bass boat for largemouth bass fishing. Bass boats, on the other hand, aren't necessarily the greatest choice for individuals who want to fish with a large group of friends, go to a saltwater bay one day and a lake the next, or tow the kids on wakeboards and water toys.

If you've determined that a bass boat is the boat for you, you still have a lot of choices to choose. They are available in both fiberglass and aluminum types, range in length from 16 to over 20 feet, and are equipped with a variety of features like electronics, livewells, and electric trolling motors.

Jon Boats

‘Jon boats’ is a catch-all phrase for most tiny, open, basic, flat-bottom boats. These are quite adaptable and practical. They're also some of the most affordable fishing boats on the market, therefore they're pretty popular.

Pontoon Boats Designed For Fishing

There are some pontoon boats that have been purpose-built and engineered from the ground up to be used exclusively for fishing. Fishing pontoon boats are ideal for more casual fishermen who wish to unwind while casting a line. They have enormous livewells and insulated fish boxes, as well as stable casting platforms and plenty of onboard storage for tackle and rods. Over the last decade, fishing pontoon boats have considerably improved in terms of performance and onboard equipment.

There are, of course, numerous sub-categories and specialty freshwater fishing boats. Fish-and-skis are available for those who enjoy both fishing and water activities. There are walleye boats intended specifically for that species, as well as boats designed specifically for panfish like crappie. It's vital to realize that when fishing boat designs become increasingly focused on a single sort of fishing, they become less adaptable. Some people's fishing interests are particularly specific, so a specialist boat makes sense for them. However, if you want a boat that can be used for a variety of activities, avoid choosing one that is so concentrated on a single species or style of fishing that it can't be used for others.

Boats for saltwater fishing

Saltwater fishing boats are designed to withstand the caustic nature of salt water and harsh ocean conditions. Although they vary in size and hull shape, they are constructed with greater stability, strength, and endurance than freshwater fishing boats. Classes include:

Center Console Fishing Boats

Center console boats have an open deck all around with a steering station in the center. Small ones are frequently used for fishing in protected coves, but larger ones regularly venture into the ocean, and many people consider them to be the best inshore fishing boat available.

Dual Consoles

A steering station is positioned on the starboard-side console, while a passenger's seat is located behind the port-side console in dual console boats (i.e. two consoles). Although not meant for fishing from the start, these types of family-style boats can be set up for fishing while also giving some extra comfort for those who aren't tossing lines. Because the cockpit features an additional console for storage (or a head), a comfortable "automotive-style" passenger seat to the port side of the driver, and a dedicated bow seating area in front of the console, this saltwater fishing boat is a popular option for recreational cruisers and family anglers. This cockpit arrangement and style is also suitable for watersports, swimming, and other family-oriented activities.

Flats Boats

Flats boats are small boats with shallow drafts and spacious casting decks that are used only for fishing flats, shallow bays, and the backcountry. They are frequently maneuvered by "poling," which involves the captain pushing the boat along with a pole on a platform on the stern.


Any open, tiny fishing boat is referred to as a "skiff." Although there is no formal definition, most people consider a skiff to be a boat under 18 feet in length. Because of their shallow draft hulls and smaller outboard engines, they have many advantages for fishing, including reaching hard-to-reach fishing spots and sandbars.

Convertibles and Sport Fishing Yachts (Sportfishermen)

There are no hard and fast regulations about what qualifies as a sportfishing boat, but as a general guideline, if a boat is large and seaworthy enough to sail out onto open bodies of saltwater and is utilized to catch sportfish species, it qualifies. There are center console fishing boats, flybridge fishing boats, express sportfishing boats, and a slew of additional vessels that could be classified as "sportfishing boats." Of course, a 20-foot center console used on a coastal bay and a 35-foot convertible used on 50-mile voyages to the offshore canyons are worlds apart.

Sportfishermen is a catch-all term that can refer to a variety of boats, but it's most commonly used to describe larger saltwater sport fishing yachts, such as convertibles, express models, and flybridge boats (mentioned earlier). It can also be used to describe boats in various sub-categories, such as "express boats" (offshore fishing boats with canvas cabins instead of closed backs), walk-arounds (boats with side hallways that go around to the bow area), or even center console fishing boats dubbed sportfishermen.

Lobster Boats or Downeast Boats

Lobster boats, sometimes known as "downeast" boats, are a unique form of fishing vessel that some anglers may be interested in. These are the fishing boats you see with rather sluggish but stable hulls, a cabin forward, and an open cockpit aft that seem more or less like they have commercial boat ancestry-because the basic design is based on historic workboats used for lobstering and other commercial fishing methods.

Lobster boats, unlike most modern fishing vessels, are often propelled by inboard engines. This restricts lobster boats to bay and ocean anglers who don't mind traveling slowly or into shallow water. They're a unique form of fishing boat, and despite their drawbacks, many people who don't even go fishing are drawn to them because of their classic lines and historical allure.

Inshore vs. Offshore Fishing Boats

Many of the fishing boats listed above can be used both offshore and inshore, and for a variety of different types of fishing. However, there are certain similarities between boats designed for use in the ocean and those designed for use in bays, rivers, and other more protected waterways.

Offshore Fishing Boats

If you're asking, "What kind of boat do I need for offshore fishing?" larger center consoles (often in the mid-20-foot range and higher) are fine, although enormous flybridge boats and convertibles are normally regarded the pinnacle in deep sea fishing boats. Many people also feel that when operating a boat outside of sight of shore, having two engines is necessary.

Long cruises to the hotspots may be required for offshore fishing, from certain ports- offshore angler boats travel 50, 60, or even 70 miles one-way. Recreational sport fishing vessels, unlike commercial swordfishing boats or long-liners, aren't designed to spend days at a time offshore. So a sportfishing boat that will be used offshore needs to be speedy, comfortable, and have enough fuel storage. Fortunately, most of the greatest sportfishing boats produced in recent years have sufficient speed to cruise out to the fishing grounds and back without running out of fuel.

Inshore Fishing Boats

There are several unique regulations for inshore sportfishing boats that differ from those for offshore fishing boats. The best fishing areas are frequently found in the shallows, or you may have to cross shallows to get to them. This is largely determined by topography and the location of your fishing. As a result, in many sections of the country, a shallow draft is essential.

Many inshore fisherman prefer casting lures, and higher casting decks are great for this technique. To reduce draft and improve stability, several center consoles in the 20- to 26-foot range constructed expressly for these purposes (often referred to as "bay boats") use semi-V hulls rather than deep-Vs. A semi-V hull, on the other hand, isn't necessarily as good at smoothly splitting open enormous waves, and the trade-off may be a rougher ride when the seas get strong.

However, just like bass boats, the more specialized a boat you buy, the less flexible it will be. That enormous convertible, which is ideal for offshore fishing, is too big to transport to new waters. The twin-engine center console, which is fantastic on the ocean and bay, certainly pulls too much water in the shallows for light-tackle casting. In inclement weather, the inshore fishing boat that performs wonderfully in coastal bays may prove to be extremely uncomfortable if taken through the inlet and out into the open ocean.

Every fishing boat design has advantages and disadvantages, therefore it's critical to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before making any decisions.

Which of these fishing boats is the most suitable for you?

Only you can answer that question. However, now that you're aware of all the various kinds of fishing boats, you can match the knowledge to your specific fishing interests and make an informed decision.