6 best options for anglers who want to get in the water

Finding the best fishing boat is of course very subjective. In reality, you can fish anything from a kayak to a jet ski or even a megayacht

However, to simplify the job, switching to a boat specifically designed for the task can give the sportier angler a significantly better experience and even a competitive edge.

The first thing to consider is whether you want to fish on land or offshore, as this will determine the type of boat you need. A $7 million Viking sports yacht would be as useless trolling under a bridge in fresh water as a bass boat hunting big game 200 miles offshore.

Here are some of the features you are likely to need and should look for on your boat: dedicated storage for fishing rods when not in use and rod holders when they are; live bait wells with water pumps to keep your bait fish in top condition; tackle boxes to keep all your hooks, lines, lures etc. clean and tidy; fish finders to locate the best fishing spots. So here is our selection of the best fishing boats in five different areas of the market.

Hobie Mirage Pro 14 Kayak

The best kayaks for fishing

Fishing kayaks have become an extremely popular genre over the past decade, especially now that many of them can be fitted with small electric motors to increase their range and stability. One of the great advantages of a kayak is that it can be carried on a roof rack and easily driven to a chosen spot. Motorized kayaks have become highly usable fishing platforms suitable for both saltwater and freshwater applications that can safely access tight creaks and coves beyond the confines of larger watercraft.

A good starter boat is the Jonny Boat Bass 100 (under $1,000 excluding engine), while high-end examples of this breed include the Oldtown Sportsman Autopilot 120 (around $4,000) and the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 360 (about $5,500).

High-end features to look for include quiet electric trolling motors with GPS anchoring that can keep you in place. These motorized kayaks are steered by pedals connected to a rudder, leaving your hands free to fish, and have a range of up to 20 miles.

These specialist fishing craft have storage for up to four rods, lockers for bait and tackle, and can squeeze into shallow spots to cast a line in places land anglers can only dream of.

best-fishing-boats-sea-doo-pwc-jetski

Sea Doo Fish Pro Trophy

The best jet skis for fishing

To increase the range and reach of your fishing as well as the speed at which you can get there, a specialized fishing jet ski is the next step on the ladder. Sea Doo, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Honda all make dedicated fishing watercraft.

Expect a starting price of just over $14,000, rising to over $20,000. Typical features of these craft include GPS navigation systems, digital anchoring, up to five rod holders, and gunwale footrests for an aft-facing fishing position. And with up to 170 hp available, you can expect speeds of up to 100 km/h!

Fishing jet skis are significantly more stable than performance or recreational oriented variants, allowing some to be fitted with a rear mounted swivel seat and motorized livewells up to to 51 liters.

You can also expect options like side-scan Chirp sonars, built-in 7-inch flatscreens and a 100W stereo system. High-end jet skis like the Sea Doo Fish Pro Trophy also have systems dual battery for extended use of electrical systems.

Intended for use in relatively calm waters, fishing jet skis are a great solution for solo fishing expeditions, as even the largest three-seaters are really only suitable for one person at a time.

best-bass-boats-nitro-z19

Nitro Z19

The best bassboats for fishing

Bass Boats are highly targeted inshore fishing boats designed to get you to the best spots as quickly and efficiently as possible. With incredible flat water performance and a very shallow draft, they are perfectly suited for inshore fishing but even the best bass boats are not suitable for offshore fishing at sea.

100+ mph is available right out of the box from performance bass boat builders like Alison and Besscat, while even a $55,000 Nitro 10 with a relatively modest 225 hp outboard can run at more. of 70 mph.

The bass boat, with its very low freeboard, is designed to have very little drift so it can sit for hours above a fishing hole using a small trolling motor electric trolling. Packed with rod storage, bait wells and tackle boxes, the flat deck bass boat is a formidable tool, with long reach and serious speed.

best-ponton-boats-sun-tracker-fishin-barge

Sun Tracker Fishing Houseboat

The best pontoon boats for fishing

For a more leisurely coastal experience, pontoon boats are a great alternative to the bass boat. Offering more space, better stability and plenty of comfort, they tend to be a more family-friendly fishing platform than a high-speed bass boat.

With a shallow draft, acres of deck space, and quieter seating, the fishing pontoon boat is a great choice. Although not as fast as the bass boat, the versatility of the pontoon boat is hard to beat.

The Sun Tracker fishing barge is a perfect example of this style of craft. Starting at just over $30,000, it offers comfortable seating for up to 8 people with options such as an electric trolling motor, fish finder, dedicated rod storage fishing and aerated livewells, which makes it an essential boat for a day of fishing.

best-fishing-boats-center-console

Nor-Tech 452 Superfish

The best center consoles for fishing

The humble boating workhorse has evolved into a highly specialized and efficient fishing tool in recent years. For example, a 35 foot competitor (pelagic hunter) won the 2020 Big Rock Billfish Tournament, earning over $200,000 in prize money in the process, despite competing against boats costing over 10 times as much.

Fishing center consoles are getting bigger, offering higher speeds, better seakeeping and longer range, and they can now rock the cages of the world’s best sport fishing yachts.

The new Valhalla V55, for example, can exceed 90 mph thanks to five 600 hp Mercury V12 outboard engines. Their large deck spaces and deep V-hulls make center consoles perfectly suited to the saltwater fishing environment.

Even a smaller 22ft center console could make a great inshore boat, while craft over 28ft are more than capable of operating out of sight of land in rough seas.

best-fishing-boats-sportfish-yacht

Viking 64 Convertible

The best sport fishing yachts

Tried and tested is the best way to describe the formula at this level. Tournament sportfishing boats follow a layout and profile shape that dates back over 50 years – a long, flat foredeck, a huge flared bow, a cavernous flat-deck aft cockpit and massive power.

These fishing boats have to face extremely difficult conditions, over long distances and at high speeds in order to be truly competitive. A typical sport fishing yacht can navigate seas that would severely damage most luxury yachts.

The layouts are also more suited to sailing in rough conditions rather than quayside comfort, with outside bars only (on the flybridge and tuna tower) and cabins that can be converted into tackle shops.

Sportfish yacht cockpits tend to have large tuna doors aft with no swim platform, allowing you to back up on a large fish and bring them on board more easily. And the on-board technology is truly state-of-the-art – the new Viking 64 is equipped with a 360-degree side-scan sonar system for searching big game.

These boats can cost millions of dollars to buy and almost as much to operate. But when prizes reach seven figures, serious players compete for the best boats.

Manufacturers like Bertram, Hatteras, Viking, and Bayliss dominate this category, offering impressive specs, premium build quality, and rock-solid engineering.

Earnest A. Martinez