Written by George Nielsen
I remember the days of being stranded on shore and seeing all kinds of fishing craft target all the spots I wanted too. I remember admiring the decked out bass boats and the smaller budget fishing craft alike. I just didn’t want to be restricted to shore. Fortunately, bank tangling no longer has to be the only choice for anglers as there are so many fishing craft options on the market these days. Which is best for you? Do you want to save up for that dream bass boat or would a fishing kayak suffice?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of both and see what might suit you best.
A fishing boat is what most fishermen likely dream about and aspire towards. These craft have come a long ways from the ole’ traditional rowboat you might be thinking of.
Types of Fishing Boats
Bass Boats: These are the Corvettes of the fishing boat world, having all the bells and whistles. They usually have 250-350 HP engines, come with live wells, trolling systems for working the shoreline, and plenty of storage for gear. A brand new bass boat typically costs upwards of $20,000-$50,000, depending on the features you want. A used one could range anywhere from $7,000-$15,000.
Aluminum Fishing Boats: These are the most common fishing boats you’ll see and have a variety of uses, such as drift fishing and trolling. ‘Deep V’ aluminum boats are the most popular and fair well in most freshwater fishing situations. Jon boats, which are flat bottom aluminum boats are used in shallow waterways and are popular with bowfishers and duck hunters.
Pontoon Boats: These are floating BBQ parties. Large, flat, boats with pontoons on each side. These can often hold 10-12 people. This is the fishing craft you want if you have a large family or want to have lots of company on the water. Brand new, these cost $50,000 – $100,000+. Used, you could find them anywhere from $15,000 – $30,000.
Pros and Cons of Fishing Boats
- Comfort – Boats have a larger variety of seats and seating options than kayaks
- Room/Space – This one’s self-explanatory
- Many models to choose from – Fishing boats have been around much longer than kayaks, there are many more models to choose from
- Downriggers – Downriggers allow you to fish deeper water and the equipment is a bit too much for kayaks
- Speed – You should be able to cover lots of water and zip to all of your fishing spots
- Expensive – You’ll likely pay hundreds for a kayak, but thousands, or tens of thousands for a boat
- Hassle to launch – You must have a trailer and usually need 1 other person to back the boat off the trailer
- Price of gas – Gas money can really pile up if you’re on the water often
There are many kayak models and kayak styles on the market, but most fishing kayaks tend to be the sit-on-top style, so we’ll dwell on that style for this article.
Types of Fishing Kayaks
Economy: These are more your beginner kayaks that have minimal accessories. These may have a single rod holder and maybe some strap down paracord towards the front or rear. These are meant for the casual angler that’s on a budget. Pricing would range from $200 – $500.
Angler: These would be more for your serious anglers and enthusiasts. These models would have a plethora or features and kayak fishing accessories. A great example would be the Bonafide SS127. The price range for these more premium kayaks would be $600 – $2,000.
Pedal: Premium pedal kayaks would be considered your top of the line kayaks. In addition to a paddle, a pedal system allows you to be hands free and use leg propulsion to get around the water. The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 17T, which has a price tag of $6,199, would be the ideal model in this category. This approaches the price of a full fledged fishing boat and have all the bells and whistles.
Pros and Cons of Kayak Fishing
- Affordable – Pay hundreds instead of thousands
- Portable – A kayak can be strapped to the top of your car, loaded in your truck bed, or wheeled to your favorite spot if you’re close enough. You can fish spots that would otherwise be inaccessible
- Stealth – Usually you won’t run a trolling motor, so you should be able to sneak up on fish if you paddle light enough
- Slow – Getting a around your favorite fishing hole is fine, but getting to the other side of the lake could take awhile. Even faster kayakers won’t break 10 mph
- Mobility takes physical effort – Paddling all day will leave you exhausted
- Limited space – You’ll need to prioritize the gear to take with you out on the water. Especially if you decide to bring along your dog
Now that we’ve taken an in depth look at the differences between fishing boats and fishing kayaks – which is best for you? You guessed it… it’s a case by case basis, there’s no blanket answer. It depends on your budget, your physical fitness, what kind of water you fish, your fishing style, etc. You need to go down the pro/con list and decide what’s most important to you.
If you have the money to spend and are physically unable to haul around a kayak, then a fishing boat is for you. If you want to take family and friends out on the water, then a boat is also for you. In contrast, if you don’t want to break the bank and like the idea of paddling out on the water, then a kayak is for you. If you want to launch at inaccessible fishing spots, then a kayak is also for you.
The important thing is to get out on the water and escape the crowds. You have plenty of worthy fishing craft to choose from.