What Types of Boats Are Good for Different Types of Fishing?

What’s the Best Type of Fishing Boat?

There are many different types of boats that can support fishing, both as a hobby and as a commercial endeavour. So how are you supposed to choose the right vessel for your needs?

Choosing a Fishing Boat: The Main Factors to Consider

Before you start reviewing different types of fishing boats, you should think about these main considering factors:

  • Your budget. How much are you willing to spend? From inflatable kayaks to commercial fishing trawlers, boats vary wildly in price. If you're working with a limited budget, some options will be off the table.
  • Your desired location. Where are you hoping to fish? Fishing on a small pond isn't the same as deep sea fishing or fishing in rough waters. Different boats are equipped for different circumstances.
  • Your storage plans. Large boats offer lots of space, but they also present storage complications. Smaller boats are easier to store and transport, but they don't leave much room for your equipment or guests.
  • Your voyage length. How long are you planning to fish? If you're planning on a multiple-day trip, you'll need a vessel that can accommodate you.
  • The company you keep. How many people do you plan on bringing with you? You'll need enough space for all your guests and their equipment (as well as the fish they catch).

Fishing Boat Sizes

Fishing boats come in multiple sizes:

  • Small. Small fishing boats can be up to 20’, but most fall into the 12-16’ range.
  • Mid-sized. Mid-sized fishing boats are between 16-28’ in length, offering some overlap with small fishing boats.
  • Large. Large fishing boats are categorised as greater than 28’ in length.

Types of Fishing Boats

These are some of the most popular and most important types of fishing boats available:

  • Rowboats. Rowboats are manually powered, requiring human operators to physically row them. Rowboats are typically inexpensive, though some luxury rowboats can cost tens of thousands of pounds. If you’re looking for something basic, you can get an inflatable rowboat for £100. These are manoeuvrable and portable, but they don’t offer much space or versatility.
  • Kayaks. Kayaks come in many varieties, but they’re typically easily manoeuvrable and portable, making them friendly to new anglers. Managing your equipment can be difficult on this small vessel, but you’ll have a wide range of options to choose from.
  • Canoes. Similar to rowboats and kayaks, canoes tend to be longer; while suitable for most rivers, they struggle with rougher waters. For just a few hundred pounds, these vessels can get you through most short and solo fishing trips easily.
  • Rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). RIBs are growing in popularity because of how versatile they are. Typically small, but with high performance, RIBs come with many different hull options and can typically carry multiple people. However, they aren’t well-suited to longer or deep-sea excursions.
  • Skiffs. Skiffs are most commonly used for flyfishing, but they can be used in a variety of fishing contexts. Made from fibreglass or wood, these boats are small and sturdy, but they don’t offer much space.
  • Dory boats. Dory boats are usually 16-23’ long, offering relatively high capacity with a lightweight frame. Rigid hulls are used in combination with side-forming air tubes. Like most small boats, they can handle short voyages almost anywhere.
  • Jon boats. Jon boats are usually made from aluminium, and they’re known for their low price and ease of use, making them ideal for new anglers and fishermen on a budget. They can be easily transported with a truck, they have multiple benches that can be used as seats, and they rarely require maintenance. As with most smaller boats, Jon boats are best for lakes, ponds, and some rivers.
  • Deck boats. Deck boats are so named because they offer ample deck space, giving you and your guests plenty of room to walk around. From 15-26’, these boats typically cost at least a few thousand pounds – and they may come equipped with an outboard or inboard motor.
  • Runabouts. A runabout is an ideal choice if fishing isn’t your only interest. These relatively small boats have lots of seats and (typically) fibreglass bodies. They’re excellent for still waters, but they aren’t explicitly designed for fishing.
  • Bass boats. As you might have guessed, bass boats were explicitly designed for fishing. These boats are great for ponds, lakes, rivers, and bays, and are capable of going offshore too. With the right motor, these boats can get to a high speed – and simple models can be as inexpensive as £10,000.
  • Bay boats. Mid-sized and relatively powerful, bay boats are ideal for rough waters (which is important if you’re venturing into the ocean). Fibreglass is the material of choice here, and you can expect to pay at least five figures for a decent model. Expect to fit 3-4 people.
  • Centre console boats. Centre console boats come in a variety of sizes, but they all sport a “centre console” where you control the vessel. You won’t get overnight capacity with this vessel, but you can use this type of boat almost anywhere.
  • Cuddy cabins. Cuddy cabins are designed for fishing, and they come in a few different sizes. Larger sizes can handle a day or two at sea, while smaller sizes should stick to shorter voyages around bays, lakes, and rivers.
  • Downeast boats. Typically associated with lobster fishing, Downeast style boats are large, but simple, providing comfort and stability to operators. The hull style has a “fine entry” with a low profile and are handleable even in tough waters.
  • Longliner boats. Longliner boats are vessels specifically rigged for longlining, and are ideal for fishing for swordfish, tuna, and other large fish.

Commercial Fishing Boats

It’s also important to recognise some of the most commonly used commercial fishing boats:

  • Fishing trawlers. These vessels utilise trawler nets, dragged through the water, to catch a variety of fish. They’re used in many industries and are used in waters throughout the world. From small-scale fisheries to the open ocean, trawlers vary in size and power.
  • Seiners. Seiners are non-trawling vessels that are designed to catch pelagic species of fish (in other words, fish that lurk near the surface of the water).
  • Tuna boats. Tuna chippers are typically automated fishing vessels with poles and lines specifically designed to catch tuna.
  • Crabbers. Crabbers are sometimes called “fish trap” boats because they utilise specific design features (including trapping aids and windlasses) to catch crustacean species.
  • Sternpickers. A sternpicker is a type of gillnet boat that deploys its net from the stern. Gillnet boats are designed to use a vertical net that rests on or near the sea floor.

Are you looking for one of these fishing boats? Or another type of boat entirely? Chances are, we have what you’re looking for. Check out our selection of new and used boats for sale today!

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