Fishing is one of America’s favorite pastimes. What’s more relaxing than going out on a lake with a few buddies and a case of beer, talking until the small hours and just getting away from civilization for a while? In reading this article, you may be looking for the best aluminum boat available for purchase, and we will certainly try to answer that to the best of our abilities.
Fishing is a more integral activity to human history than some may know. We have been fishing for over forty thousand years. For the vast majority of human history, fishing has been an activity of sustenance. If you didn’t bring back a good catch, depending on where you lived, your family may not have had food to eat.
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In some geographical areas, fishing was the primary form of sustenance for entire communities. These communities thrived or died based on their catches. Even today, there are many areas of the world where fishing is the primary economic activity.
Recreational fishing started some time in the 1500s, but even then, it was an activity that was reserved for members of high society. Lower class people, such as peasants and serfs were usually too busy tilling their fields or contributing to their basic survival to have time to fish recreationally.
Compared to commercial fishing (fishing to earn money) and subsistence fishing, (fishing so you can eat) recreational fishing has been around for less time, but that doesn’t diminish it in any way. Recreational fishing can vary between freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing, and the type of boat you use and the types of fish you catch can vary depending on this.
Your style of fishing depends greatly on your fishing tackle. Your tackle is the catch-all term used to refer to your equipment used for fishing. Your tackle can consist of anything from nets, to rods, to bait to anything else that facilitates your fishing experience.
An important thing to consider before you go fishing is to make sure you have your fishing license, and you should check the fishing by-laws and regulations in your area, to make sure you won’t get fined or have your fishing experience unfortunately cut short.
These rules and regulations are in place to conserve fish in the waterways and prevent overfishing. Rivers and lakes are delicate ecosystems that can be unbalanced very easily by irresponsible fishing, so while the need to acquire a license and adhere to the rules enforced by your local fishing authority may seem a little stringent and annoying at first, it helps maintain the health of the waterways for future generations.
Before you make the decision to get your fishing boat, make sure that you are able to fish in the first place. If you buy a boat between seasons, or once the quota for your local fishing waterway has been filled, you will find that you have to wait until the next fishing season to even make use of it, so take note of your local fishing seasons and make sure you remember them.
You will also need to make sure that you are adequately supplied with bait before you go out fishing, because nobody wants to run out of bait while they are out fishing, having their trip suddenly cut short by a lack of adequate supplies.
Another important aspect to your supplies is making sure you have adequate provisions to go fishing, such as enough water to stay hydrated, and some back-up meals just in case you have difficulty catching fish on that particular day.
Nobody wants to be hungry on a fishing trip because they overestimated the number of fish they would catch, and ended up with just a few panfish that are barely enough to make you feel full.
There are many ways and techniques you can utilize while you are fishing recreationally, but the most common way to recreationally fish in the western world is with a fishing rod and bait or lures.
Fishing rods are simple in concept, it is a long rod with an attached fishing line that can be extended or retracted in order to catch fish, the bait or the lures are a way to ensure that the fish bites on the hook, with bait often being a kind of insect or other food for the fish to attempt to eat, or lures which are brightly colored and patterned and may attract the fish’s attention and lead it to bite.
Of course, one of the most integral parts to consider about your fishing supplies is your boat. You may be looking for the best small fishing boat for your money, and these reviews will try to answer any questions you may have about the subject. Be warned, though, that there is no singular best small boat for your money, as we all have different budgets and different requirements for our fishing.
Here is an overview of the most important aspects of a fishing boat:
Your budget is always an important aspect to consider when you’re planning on making any purchase. This goes doubly for a purchase which is usually on the more expensive end like a fishing boat. Your budget depends upon your willingness to spend money on your fishing boat, your intended use for your fishing boat, and the quality that you think you will need.
Naturally, more expensive boats will have better build quality and reliability than less expensive boats, as well as coming with more added amenities, such as having oars included, added cupholders, more comfortable seats, and much more.
In the end, your budget comes down to you personally, and no buying guide will be able to tell you what you want and how much you’re willing to spend on your new fishing boat, be it $200 or $1200.
This is the deciding factor in terms of whether you will be able to take your boat fishing in only freshwater waterways, or also have the added benefit of choosing to take it out on saltwater fishing trips.
This all depends on the availability of freshwater or saltwater fishing locales around you. If you are surrounded by nothing but freshwater lakes, you have no reason to drop the extra money on a corrosion-resistant hull, unless you believe that the rain may have an adverse effect on the skin of your boat.
The main drawback to corrosion resistant hulls is the sheer expense involved in a well-applied anti-corrosive treatment, which can up the price of your boat from anywhere from 50 to 150 dollars. Some of the more expensive hull treatments can also reduce the damage to your boat from collisions and other unfortunate events.
There are many materials from which a fishing boat can be built, and your seakeeping characteristics and suitability for use as a fishing boat can be affected by these materials.
Many boats are of the inflatable variety, and these can vary greatly in terms of price and durability. From rigid-hulled high performance models, to standard inflatable boats, this category encompasses a great many price ranges and applications for your prospective boat.
The next building material is plastic, which is often affordable and has good durability. Unfortunately, these qualities come in exchange for a lack of buoyancy in terms of boat comparison to inflatable boats, usually represented with smaller maximum weight capacities.
Our Top Recommendations
Lets take a look at some of the best fishing boats:
Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat
- 8-foot 10-inch length
- 18 inch tube diameter
- 5-foot width
- 101 lb weight
- 1067 lb max load
- 3 person maximum capacity
- 10 hp max power
- 24mm thick marine wood floor with aluminum framing
- Made from 0.9mm corrosive-resistant PVC
- Includes aluminum bench seat
- 2 aluminum oars
- Storage bag
- Miscellaneous amenities such as oar holders, carrying handles, drain plug and repair kit
Newport Vessels’ eight-foot ten-inch dinghy is a decent choice for the beginner recreational fisherman. It is ideal for smaller groups due to its relatively small weight capacity and its limit of three people in capacity. The support for an outboard motor up to 10 hp may seem slightly anemic at first, but for a lightweight boat such as this one it is adequate.
Newport Vessels reviews usually tend to be positive due to their adequate build quality and their reasonable price-points. This is one of the best offshore fishing boats you can find.
The anti-corrosive coating on the boat’s PVC hull also makes it a good contender for a saltwater fishing boat, however it does not quite have the durability that other, purpose-built saltwater boats are capable of matching, but it will do in a pinch if you want a small, affordable boat that is ideal in either saltwater or freshwater conditions.
For an affordable boat, it certainly comes with a nice amount of amenities, such as a repair kit, a drain plug, towing rigs, a storage bag, etc. The boat is also versatile when it comes to choosing an outboard motor, as it is capable of handling both 15” motors and 20” motors, however the manufacturer recommends the use of a 15” outboard shaft for ideal performance.
The setup process for the boat is relatively simple, though the instructions may seem a little convoluted, but the assembly process is straightforward enough that the unclear instructions are not much of an issue.
One of the main problems that we noted with this model of boat is the relative fragility of the boat bag/cover, which seems a little too susceptible to wear and tear. This is certainly one of the best inflatables you can purchase for under $1000.
Sun Dolphin Water Tender Row Boat
- 9.4 feet long
- 55 inches wide
- 15 inches tall
- 114 lbs in weight
- 480 lbs of capacity
- Rated for a 5 hp motor
- Plastic molded bench seats with drink holders
- Comes with a 2 year warranty
- Tri-hull design
- Stainless steel oar locks
- Drain plug included
- 179 lbs shipping weight
This Sun Dolphin boat is another beginner level model that takes a slightly different approach than the previous model. This boat features a plastic hull, which unfortunately lacks the corrosion resistance of the anti-corrosive PVC coating employed on certain inflatable boats, so don’t expect to be doing too much saltwater fishing in this particular boat.
On the other hand, this boat is much more affordable than other boats within its category, so if you are just starting off as a fisherman, or you consider yourself somewhat of an amateur and don’t wish to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a boat, this may be perfect for you.
The price-point does cut down on some of the included amenities, however this boat still comes with oar locks, a drain plug and molded benches with included cup-holders. Unfortunately, oars do not come included with this Sun Dolphin fishing boat, so you will either have to invest in oars or an outboard motor. The upside to this is that you can purchase your prefered brand of oars, depending on your budget and your needs.
This boat may be a little on the small side if you plan on going fishing with a group, due to the relatively light maximum capacity, at 480 lbs, so this is an ideal option for those fishing trips where it is just you and a friend or even solo fishing. This model in specific is one of the best bay boats currently available for purchase.
Another aspect to this boat which is a nice touch is the tri-hull design which allows a smooth ride over calm waters and provides plenty of space within the boat itself, which always helps on those long fishing trips where your legs may cramp up in more confined spaces.
Newport Vessels Catalina Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat
- 12-foot 6-inch length
- 18 inch tube diameter
- 5-foot 6-inch width (inflated)
- 160 lbs in weight
- 20 hp max power
- 1603 lbs max load
- 6 person max capacity
- 24mm thick marine wood floor with aluminum frame
- 0.9mm thick anti-corrosion coated PVC skin
- Aluminum bench seat
- Includes 2 aluminum oars
- Includes storage bag
- Oar holders
- 2 carrying handles
- Towing D-rings
- Drain plug
- Repair kit
This model is essentially an extended version of Newport Vessels’ 8.10 foot model. Newport is one of the best boat brands for the money, due to their combination of build quality and reasonable prices, and these qualities also show in this model.
The corrosive-resistant skin ensures that your boat will have a long lifespan regardless of whether your choose to fish in freshwater environments or saltwater. The seakeeping qualities are slightly better than those of the 8.10 foot model, due to the increased hull size, however it is still an inflatable boat and its relative light weight means that you should in no circumstance be using it during inclement weather or rough water conditions.
This boat is ideal if you want the aspects common to Newport’s inflatable boats but you have a slightly larger fishing group than would be recommended for the 8.10 foot model. Five people can fit comfortably in the boat and six is the maximum recommended capacity but it starts to get a little more cramped.
The assembly/inflation process is just as simple as that of the smaller model, and it shouldn’t take you any longer than a quarter of an hour. While the instructions may be unclear at points, there are many videos available demonstrating the process, so if you find yourself lost while building the boat, don’t hesitate to search online.
Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set
- 129 inches in length
- 57 inches in width
- 19 inches tall
- 77.6 lbs in weight
- 880 lbs weight capacity
- Inflatable keel
- Reinforced vinyl
- Quick fill/deflate boston valves
- Oar locks and oar holders
- 2 fishing rod holders
- 3 inflatable seat cushions
- 2 carry handles
- 30 day warranty
Our Intex Mariner 4 review is a great source of information on one of the most affordable and reliable smaller fishing boats on the market. This boat is better for aspiring fishermen on a budget. It is arguably the best fishing boat under $500 which is available due to the sheer amount of extras available and the decent build quality for the price range.
You can’t expect the build quality to match that of boats in the $1000 range but the Intex Mariner 4 is effectively one of the most durable boats in its price range. Unfortunately, it is not corrosion-resistant so you cannot take it fishing in saltwater environments.
The inflatable seats don’t have quite as much support as other seats available in more expensive models, however they are quite comfortable in comparison to plastic or aluminum benches due to their inflatable nature.
A great aspect to this boat is the two included fishing rod holders, which shows that this boat is more specifically geared towards fishermen than other models. It is also an amenity which you would not see often on boats within this price range.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of a pair of 54-inch aluminum oars, some models which are much higher in terms of price range even lack oars. Another great attribute is the inclusion of four Boston valves which allow you to rapidly inflate or deflate your boat in a hurry, which is great when you want to get out on the water and don’t want to sit and watch your boat inflate for a while.
Classic Accessories Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat
- 9 foot pontoons
- 47.5 inches in width
- 29 inches in height
- 77 lbs in weight
- 350 lbs maximum capacity
- 2 year warranty
- 2-position trolling motor mount
- Padded plastic seat
- 2 7-foot aluminum oars
- Includes anchor system
- Transportation wheel
- Removable gear bags
- 20 pockets
- 2 insulated drink holders
The Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat is somewhat unique in that it is the only pontoon boat that we have reviewed in the list and it may just be the best fishing boat. This boat is built specifically for solo fishermen who want a stable and comfortable platform from which to fish.
The pontoons provide excellent seakeeping in stable waters and the included anchor system ensures that you will not be drifting during your fishing. The boat is unfortunately not rated for outboard gasoline motors so it is recommended that you use an electric trolling motor if you wish for powered propulsion.
An important piece of equipment is a manual air pump, due to many electric pumps not having enough pressure to fully inflate the pontoons.
The side-bags on the pontoons make for perfect makeshift tackle boxes, so you can keep all of your lines, hooks, lures, bait and everything else within quick arm’s reach while you’re out on the water. A downside to the boat is that it gets rather unstable with a trolling motor and battery attached, so you will want to try and find a more lightweight motor to counteract this.
The seat and footrests are adjustable so you can feel comfortable in this boat regardless of your height. Arguably the most crucial aspect provided by the pontoon construction is the stability it gives you as a fishing platform.
All of these aspects combined make the Classic Accessories Colorado XT one of the best available fishing boats in 2017 for under $1000.
In the end, there are many great choices for your personal best fishing boat, and it will usually depend upon your needs and budget. In our opinion, the best boat for the money is the Classic Accessories Colorado XT due to its purpose-built design for fishing, and the effectiveness and stability of its pontoon hull.
After reading this article, you can be confident in your knowledge as a prospective buyer of your new fishing boat, knowing many of the necessary aspects to consider before your purchase.