If you’re new to fishing and want to take the next step and get your own boat, all of the choices can seem overwhelming at first. Even if you’re only planning to fish on a small lake or stream, there are several options to choose from.
Which type of boat you ultimately choose will depend on a host of factors, including where you plan on going, how long you plan on going out each time and your budget.
Before making a decision though, it’s best to sample different boats if possible. You can try and find a place that rents boats, or you can ask a friend if you can join them or borrow their boat for a short period of time.
Below are six common types of boats used for fishing in lakes, streams and nearshore areas. If you’re planning to fish offshore at all, you will need to explore larger boats that can handle the waves you will encounter out in the ocean.
- Jon boat – These are small, usually narrow craft with a flat bottom except for the front where it curves upwards. Jon boats range in length between 10 and 18 feet and are constructed using aluminum or fiberglass. Jon boats usually have a small gas-powered outboard motor, but many anglers also have an electric trolling motor for quietly moving around areas they’re fishing in.
- Kayak – These are small, narrow boats. Some models are covered except for the seating area while others are completely open. Anglers generally prefer the open, sit-on-top models since they provide ample space for keeping rods, reels and other gear. They have no motor, but their slender nature makes it easy to move them along using a double-bladed paddle. Kayaks are available as short as 5 feet in length or as long as 21 feet.
- Paddleboard – A paddleboard is a surfboard-like craft that’s slightly wider for stability. The angler will stand in the center and move the board through the water using a long paddle. These boards have become increasingly popular in recent years because they have no draft and allow you to reach very shallow spots.
- Dinghies – These are very small boats ranging in length between 7 and 12 feet. A dinghy is powered by either a set of oars or a small motor (gas or electric). They are wider than a kayak and most jon boats, so they’re very stable and ideal for the beginning boater/angler. Many dinghies are used as a secondary boat for larger yachts that can’t get close to shore. Older and less expensive models are made from aluminum or wood, while more advanced dinghies are made from synthetic materials.
- Inflatable Boats – These boats have a solid floor, usually made from aluminum, but sometimes made from wood. The sides and front though are pressurized and inflated with air, which allows you to deflate the boat for easy transportation and storage. They are ideal for someone living in an apartment or townhouse. Inflatable boats range in size between 6 and 14 feet long. You can power an inflatable boat using a paddle while some models can handle an outboard motor, which is ideal for reaching spots farther away from where you launch.
- Round Boats – Although the round boat concept has been around for centuries, the modern round boats for fishing are the most advanced. Rotationally molded plastic construction makes them incredibly durable since there are no rivets or points where water can leak in. These fishing boats are incredibly light as well and can be easily launched on your own. They also have more deck space for casting or moving into an ideal spot to land a fish. Round boats can be powered using a paddle, but they are ideal for a small electric motor. Their shape also makes them incredibly stable, especially if you encounter any waves caused by a larger powerboat.
Again, which type of boat you choose will depend on where you plan on using it. If you’ll be on a small stream for example, you’ll probably want to consider a narrower boat. Or, if storage is a concern, you’ll want to make sure you get a boat that can be broken down easily or one you can store in a tight corner.
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