Fishing boats come in all sizes, from small, like lightning-fast bass boats, to big, like luxurious offshore sportfish and convertibles.
Buying a fishing boat can put all kinds of great fishing spots within reach. There are important questions to consider before buying a fishing boat. Some may seem obvious, but others can make the difference between a fun-filled weekend on the water and a Sunday in the sun overshadowed by buyer’s remorse.
Here are 6 things to consider before buying a fishing boat:
- Usage (fishing only or multi-purpose)
- Boating destination
- Type of fishing
- Boat storage
Continue reading for an in-depth look at each one of these.
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What’s your budget?
Set limits that won’t leave you too poor to buy bait. Many people think— how much should I spend on a fishing boat? The better question is – how much can you spend?
Depending on the type and size, boats can be expensive. And it’s important to remember that the boat itself is not the only expense. Once you have chosen a boat, you may still need to buy safety gear, navigation equipment, and accessories.
READ MORE: What Are the Costs of a Fishing Charter?
Fishing only or multi-purpose?
Do you want a boat that is strictly used for fishing or the ability to stow the gear and go wakeboarding? If the boat is doing double duty, consider something with a small cabin or an enclosed head.
If your fishing style takes a lot of gear to support, such as downriggers and lots of extra rods, you might also want to look for models with extra storage space.
Where do you plan on boating?
Are you going to hunt for marlin off the Florida Keys, troll for salmon in Lake Michigan, or search for lunkers in the Tennessee River?
A 40-foot sportfishing boat will not work well for chasing smallmouth bass, and a 21-foot flats skiff would be unsafe when running 20 or 30 miles offshore. Basing your purchase on where you plan on boating is an unthought but crucial consideration before sealing the deal.
What kind of fishing do you want to do?
Similar to Boatsetter’s fishing boats, which include a local angler to guide your cast, many fishing boats include options like dedicated rod storage, fish boxes, or live bait wells.
Those are important features for the fishing you want to do, so think about the kind of fishing first. If you want to run electric downriggers, you’ll need room on the gunnels to mount them and a power source. If you want to catch bigger fish, you will need a fish box big enough to hold your catch.
Trailer or slip?
Do you want to haul your boat from place to place on a trailer or leave it in a slip? Each has its pros and cons.
If you are looking for a smaller boat for fishing in lakes and rivers, keeping it on a trailer might be a big advantage, making it easy to move from place to place. Alternatively, if you’re looking to use the boat for other recreational uses like wakeboarding, keeping it on a trailer can make it harder to take more spontaneous trips.
A slip may be expensive but will make it easier to head out for an action-packed day on the water or a quiet sunset cruise. For a bigger boat or one used for more than just fishing, a slip makes the most sense.
If you want the option to haul your boat to any fishing spot, anywhere, then a trailer boat is probably the better choice.
READ MORE: 10 Best Fishing Boats for 2022
What’s the climate like over there?
Climate should play a part in your decision-making. For example, if you live in an area where summer is short or conditions can be unpredictable, then a boat with an enclosed helm.
Or, a boat with more cabin space and a little heat can extend the boating and fishing season in places like the Great Lakes or Alaska.
Longtime and junior anglers love Boatsetter’s Fishing Guides & Resources; check it out for basics, pro tips, and everything in between.
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Chuck Warren fell in love with boats at 9 years old while helping to restore his grandfather’s 1939 44-foot Elco cruiser. A lifelong boater, Chuck has experience operating large and small vessels on the waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and the Great Lakes.
During his 35-year marine industry career, Chuck has been the driver for several offshore powerboat racing teams, the chief engineer aboard a Caribbean research and salvage vessel, captain of a Florida Keys sunset cruise, and more.
Today, Chuck is a boating industry writer, copywriter, and captain who lives on his 40-foot boat in the summer when he isn’t delivering vessels around the Great Lakes or teaching new boaters to drive. Winters are split between the West Michigan lakeshore and wherever his travels take him.