Tips for buying a fishing boat

Adventure 4 min read

When you’re ready to take the exciting step toward boat ownership, there are certain things you should consider before making a decision on buying the best fishing boat for you and your family.

Today’s fishing boats are designed with features like GPS units, fish finders, rod holders, livewells, secure storage compartments, and corrosion-resistant parts. All contribute to enjoyable days on the water filled with memorable catches.

To make sure you invest in a fishing boat that you’ll be happy with for years to come, take the following tips into account:

1. Look for features that contribute to fishability

The boat should have enough seating given the number of people you plan to have on board. There should also be enough open deck space for casting and fighting fish.

Built-in rod holders and storage space for fishing tackle and gear are two other important features to look for.

Woman holding fish on boat

2. Think about the type of fishing you plan to do most often…

…and where you plan to do it! For a comfortable family fishing experience on a calm nearby lake, a pontoon fishing boat might be the best option.

However, if you want to fish in saltwater or in larger waterways, a fiberglass center-console could be your best choice.

3. Consider how long you plan to stay on the boat

You’ll want a larger boat with a galley, comfortable cabin features, and additional headroom if you’re planning for long weekend fishing trips that involve staying overnight on the water.

For shorter fishing adventures that are close to home, you’ll want a smaller, lighter, less-powerful boat that’s easier to trailer and launch.

4. Find out the difference in draft for different fishing boat models

Draft is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull—this determines the minimum depth of water that a boat can safely navigate.

By learning more about the drafts on various fishing boats, you’ll be able to make a good decision on a boat that has an appropriate draft to fish in your favorite waters.

For example, you’ll want a boat with a shallow draft for fishing back bays or your favorite bass fishing spots. For offshore fishing, or when fishing large lakes, you’ll want a boat with a deep draft vessel. These are made for deeper bodies of water, such as the ocean or large lakes, because they can handle rough water and waves.

Several boats in the water

5. Take the time to read online boat reviews or attend local boat shows

Useful sources of information can be online reviews and unbiased feedback from other boat owners at local boat shows. Look for online reviews that give you an idea about what current owners are saying about any advantages and disadvantages with certain boat makes or models. This feedback can help steer you in the best direction when buying a boat.

6. Learn about the types of boat-building materials…

…and why those materials are optimal for each model.

While an aluminum fishing boat might be a good choice for freshwater lakes, fiberglass boats are the best choice for saltwater environments. Keep in mind that fishing boats designed for saltwater should also contain sacrificial anodes, which serve as protection for the boat’s metal components.

Two fishing boats

7. Look for a warranty program

When considering different boat makes and models, look for a warranty program that clearly explains what is covered and what is not.

Do any parts of the boat offer lifetime coverage? Is the warranty pro-rated? How is labor covered? These are all questions to ask and consider when buying a boat.

8. Ask for the previous owner’s maintenance records

Be sure to ask for the previous owner’s maintenance records. You may also want to have a mechanic look at the boat before finalizing the sale.

9. Ask a local captain or boating professional for a recommendation

Professional boaters can offer valuable advice if you are new to boating. Ask about the best fishing boat features, hull designs, and models, depending on what type of fishing you plan to do.

Woman offshore fishing on boat

10. Factor in the costs associated with owning a boat

Costs for maintenance, storage, insurance, and license fees should all be researched before you purchase a boat.

Find out what you should expect to pay for routine maintenance and storage at a local marina (if needed). Get an idea of what insurance rates might be for the type of boat you hope to own.

If you take these factors into consideration when buying a fishing boat, you’re more likely to be happy with your purchase for years to come. Plenty of time to reel in countless special memories on the water with family and friends.

And whatever fishing boat you choose, be sure to always keep it protected with Progressive. Learn more about comprehensive boat insurance here. 

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