How to Choose a Boat for Sport Fishing

People fishing on a boat

Many people love the idea of owning a boat for sport fishing, heading out on the water in exotic locales to take advantage of new and interesting fishing conditions. Owning your own boat gives you more control over where you can go and what you can do, and can give you a sense of familiarity and home when you’re enjoying the sport.

But how exactly should you choose your sport fishing boat? This is an especially difficult question to answer if you’re new to the realm of sport fishing or boating, but in this guide, we’ll help you answer it.

Sport Fishing Boats to Choose From

Let’s start by covering some of the most common types of fishing boats, along with their core strengths and weaknesses:

  • All-purpose fishing boats. As the name suggests, these fishing boats tend to capitalize on the best features of multiple types of fishing boats, often utilizing both fiberglass and aluminium in their builds. They tend to be flexible and may be your best option if you’re interested in many different types of sport fishing—since they aren’t optimized for any single approach. 
  • Aluminium fishing boats. Aluminium is abundant, and therefore inexpensive, but don’t let that fool you—aluminium is also very durable, allowing you to take advantage of rough conditions. Aluminium also tends to be more popular for relatively small boats. 
  • Flybridge sport fishing boats. Flybridge sport fishing boats are the stereotypical picture of a sport fishing vessel. They tend to have powerful engines, allowing you to get to the open water fast, and offer a length of 30 feet or more. They’re arguably the best all-around boat for serious sport fishing and offer comfortable seating and other amenities for long trips. However, they’re less manoeuvrable and tend to be more expensive than other types of boats. 
  • Pilothouse boats. You might also consider a pilothouse boat. These boats tend to offer a comfortable, enclosed cabin in the front, with decent storage space and protection from weather elements. They tend to be 20 to 35 feet and may offer a less stable ride than some of the other options on this list. 
  • Bay boats (aka flats boats). These boats are designed for inshore saltwater bays and “flats.” For example, you’ll often find these boats in the flats of the Florida Keys. They tend to be flat on the bottom, allowing them to cruise over water with minimal depth. 
  • Pontoon boats. Pontoon boats aren’t specific to sport fishing, but they work well for some purposes. Pontoon boats offer a large open area, making them suitable for hosting large groups of people. They also offer steady, stable cruising, so you don’t have to worry too much about unsteady movement on the water. 
  • Centre console boats. Centre console boats feature the helm in a “console” located in the middle of the vessel. This is great for both visibility and mobility, and you’ll reduce your risk of getting your fishing lines tangled. However, they tend to be smaller boats, so they’re not ideal for going on fishing trips with your friends.
  • Catamarans. Catamarans are distinctive because they feature two hulls. They tend to be used more for offshore fishing, and fishing in rough waters, since the dual hulls afford you significant stability. These vessels are also fuel efficient, but they may be slower than other boats optimized for speed. 
  • Bass boats. As you might suspect, bass boats tend to be optimized specifically for bass fishing. These fishing machines are designed to be used in freshwater, and typically come with a vee hull with an open bow. Depending on what you buy, you may also get a powerful motor and a high-tech navigation system. 
  • Inflatable boats. Inflatable boats are inexpensive, so you may not need to seriously consider your decision to buy one. They tend to be small and designed to navigate freshwater rapids—though they’re not especially resilient to rough waters. An inflatable boat is a good option if you’re only going sport fishing locally and you want to save some money. 

This is only a partial list of the types of sport fishing vessels available on the market. The options get even more complex when you consider the number of hybrid vessels available – vessels that attempt to combine the aspects of different boats for a better all-around experience.

Questions to Ask Yourself

When shopping for a sport fishing boat, these are some of the most important questions to ask yourself: 

  • Where will you be sport fishing? Different waters will present different challenges, and some boats are better equipped to deal with them than others. You may want a vessel optimized for one area, or one that can be used to fish anywhere. 
  • What type of fish are you seeking? As you’ve seen, some types of boats are designed to be used to catch one type of fish. This can be advantageous, but you may be interested in a more well-rounded experience. 
  • How important is stability? Some boats are designed to remain stable even in choppy conditions, while others may be more susceptible to movement from the waves. 
  • How important is speed? Some boats are equipped with powerful motors that can get you to your destination faster, while other are slower going. 
  • How long will your trips be? Consider the average length of your intended fishing trips. If you’re going to be gone for many hours, or several days, you’ll need to think about an onboard toilet, and possibly other amenities, such as a living area. 
  • How many people will be with you? If you’re fishing by yourself, a small vessel may be sufficient. But larger vessels can often hold a dozen people or more. It all depends on the size of the party you want to accommodate.

Are you ready to start looking for the perfect sport fishing vessel? Take a look at our boats for sale, and see if there’s a model that suits all your needs.

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