Boating

How To Buy a Fishing Boat: The First Timer’s Guide

Buying a fishing boat for the first time is an exciting experience for you and your family. You now have the opportunity to hit the water differently—you don’t have to fish from the shore or rely on lakes that have boats for hire.

There are many different types of fishing boats, so you want to weigh the options of each type equally and make an informed decision about what works best for your family.

Get the right boat, and you’ll fall in love with it in no time.

What Kind of Fishing Boat Should You Buy?

There are so many different types of boats that you can quickly become overwhelmed if you get in front of a salesman who simply wants to sell you something. It’s best to go in educated on the type of boat you want so you don’t get sold on something you don’t need. We’ll talk about the most popular fishing boats within a reasonable budget.

Bass Boat – Bass boats run 14’ to 24’ and get used most frequently in freshwater fishing. Their low freeboard allows them to get into shallow waters and rivers. These boats are what you see most commonly in fishing competitions, and due to their high horsepower motors, they typically come at a high price.

Bay Boat – These boats have a lower profile, but they have a pointier and sharper hull, so they are not as good on shallow waters. These are more commonly found in saltwater bays and estuaries. Bay boats are typically fiberglass and contain an outboard motor. If you intend to do saltwater fishing on a budget, these boats are the way to go.

Bowrider – Climbing the ladder we have a bowrider which you will commonly find on large freshwater lakes, and they are popular for family gatherings and water sports. To launch a boat like this, it requires a deep lake, so they don’t make the best fishing boats, but if you have a large budget and are looking or a multi-purpose boat to fish and invite the family along, bowriders are the right choice.

Jon Boat – Coming back down to earth is the first boat I bought, the Jon boat. These are small and typically built to accommodate no more than two or three people. They are constructed of fiberglass and run 10-18 feet in length. They are the perfect beginner fishing boat because you can install a small outboard motor and have plenty of room to store everything you need. Jon boats are inexpensive and can get launched just about anywhere. 

Pontoon Boat – The last boat we’ll talk about is a pontoon which is not exactly a fishing boat, but it can get used as one. These have two or three aluminum tubes that run underneath and create a stable platform for you to walk on. These boats are commonly used for parties and events on the water because you have a lot of space and maximum stability. Pontoons range from 15-30 feet in length and get powered by an outboard or sterndrive motor.

The type of boat you choose depends entirely on where you plan to fish and what you intend on doing with it. You wouldn’t bother launching a pontoon boat in a small fishing pond because you would get stuck and damage your boat. In the same regard, you wouldn’t put a Jon boat on a vast lake where you’ll get surrounded by speedboats.

Before you shop think carefully about your budget and what types of lakes you plan to fish. You should easily be able to come up with the exact kind of boat to meet your needs.

Pay Attention To Features

When you are buying your first boat, you may be unsure of what typically comes with one so you want to pay close attention to the features you’ll need for your fishing trips. What comes in the boat depends a lot on what type you buy so it’s hard to say what you will or won’t get. My belief is to start small and work your way up, get a small Jon or multi-purpose boat that allows you to fish the smaller ponds and lakes first and you can upgrade later on.

If you are smitten on a specific type of speedboat and you do not want to settle for anything less than you can definitely go for it but do your research on what features you need to be included and do not settle for anything less.

Where Will You Store The Boat?

The last thing you want to think about is where you plan to store the boat. If you live in an apartment or gated community, you may not be permitted to store the vessel anywhere so you’ll run into an additional cost when you need to rent a dock.

If you have a small Jon boat you can typically store them at many lakes and state parks by leasing a space, but if you have a more substantial bass, bay, or pontoon boat you will need to rent space in a garage which could cost as much as $300 a month if you need indoor storage.


Now you should be able to make an informed decision about what type of boat is right for you based on your needs and capabilities. It always pays to do your research before getting in over your head. Take your time and make the right choice so you can enjoy your boat for years to come.

How to buy a fishing boat

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