No matter what sort of boat you may want to consider buying, a visit to our Boat Finder tool is sure to prove helpful. If you’ve narrowed your search to fishing boats, however, you’ll notice that there are many different types to choose from. Which would be most ideal for you and your family? What are the most important criteria to keep in mind? Before we dig into these questions, let’s take a brief look at the different options available, and the basic steps to follow when buying a fishing boat. Don’t forget that, you will need boater license test after buying a boat.

Buying a Fishing Boat: Step-by-Step

  1. Do your research—explore the different types of fishing boats available.
  2. Determine how and where you plan to use your fishing boat.
  3. Narrow down your list of potentials, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
  4. Consider features you’ll need: number of rod holders, baitwells, outriggers, tackle boxes, casting deck, etc.
  5. Decide on the right fishing boat for your lifestyle, and close the deal.

For additional details on where to shop for a boat, how to work with a local boat dealer, and exactly how to close the deal, be sure to follow the steps outlined by our Ultimate Boat Buyer’s Guide. In the meantime, start your research by exploring different types of fishing boats.

Types of Fishing Boats

All-Purpose Fishing Boats:  Versatile models are available in both aluminum and fiberglass, and since they aren’t specialized for a particular style or type of fishing, they allow for lots of experimentation and flexibility.

Aluminum Fishing Boats: Rugged, adaptable, and often surprisingly inexpensive, aluminum fishing boats are one of the most popular types on the water, especially for people who need to choose among relatively small boats.

Bass Boats: Bass boats are highly evolved fishing machines. If you plan to target bass, bass, and more bass, choosing one is a no-brainer. Just remember that they’re very specialized and don’t allow for much flexibility.

Bay Boats/Flats Boats: Anglers who want to probe inshore saltwater bays and flats will love this genre of boat. It’s another type that’s designed for fairly specific environments, however, and there are also many “hybrid” models on the market which blur the lines between different types of fishing.

Center Consoles: When it comes to all-around fishability in different environments, a center console fishing boat is tough to beat. Some are designed more or less for different types of fishing and/or sea conditions, but the basic design works for most anglers across the board.

Deck Boats: Though deck boats are more commonly seen in versions designed for watersports or lounging, there are plenty of fishing models out there, too. Most often, they’re targeted towards casual anglers who enjoy boating activities other than fishing, as well.

Fish-and-Ski Boats: These boats are exactly what the name infers: a cross between a boat designed for watersports, and one meant for fishing. They aren’t necessarily ideal for either sport but most are more than competent for both activities.

Motor Yachts/Power Cruisers: Most of us don’t think of motor yachts or power cruisers as perfect for fishing, and truth be told most aren’t. We’ve included them here in our list, however, because there are some boats of these types out there which are designed to offer basic fishing abilities.

Multi-Hull Powerboats (Power Catamarans): Power catamarans aren’t necessarily fishing boats, but most on today’s market are in fact designed for anglers. That’s because a multi-hull’s strongest suit is the ability to take on rough seas, and many saltwater anglers like to go fishing no matter how hard it’s blowing.

Pontoon Boats: While you could cast a line from just about any pontoon boat, many manufacturers offer fishing-centric models which are awesome for taking the family fishing on a lake or bay.

Sportfishing Yachts: When it comes to deep-sea fishing well beyond the sight of land, a sportfishing yacht is the ultimate option.

Walkarounds: With a cabin enclosing the bow, walkarounds are often the choice of dedicated anglers who fish when the weather is foul. They’re also a top pick for family anglers with small children, who may need a break from the action now and again.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Types of Fishing Boats

As is true of many things in life, the more specialized a boat is the less versatile it becomes. This is a huge consideration to take into account when you consider buying a fishing boat. And it factors into the decision in more ways than one, because some boats are finely-honed to accommodate specific fishing techniques or species, while others are designed for specific types of waterways.

Take those bass boats, for example. They will be the ultimate when you’re casting spinnerbaits along the shoreline, jigging over a submerged point, or running at high speeds from hotspot to hotspot on a sprawling reservoir. But if you decide you’d like to try trolling for walleye in a river or go drift-fishing for flounder in the bay, that bass boat will prove less than ideal in either scenario.