⛵ The Different Types of Recreational Fishing Boats

Fishing from the bank is fun but it limits the the number of fishing locations. A boat opens up many more possible fishing spots. So why don’t you have a boat now?

  • Can’t afford to buy a boat
  • I don’t have a place to keep or store a boat
  • Hauling a boat on a trailer is a pain to do
  • I don’t know anything about boating

Even if you already have a boat and trailer you might consider this post. Let’s set up some rules to apply to the water craft to choose from.

  • The boat is intended to be used by one person
  • The craft must be transported in the trunk or top of a car, or in the bed of a pickup truck
  • Cost must be less than $1000
  • Boat not be a problem to store

I like to fish by my self. Fishing with partners can be fun but one of you ends up in the back of the boat and the other controls where the boat goes. Fishing by my self is best for me because I can do what I want, I don’t have to be polite, I can be one with nature and most important is I can concentrate on fishing. Transporting a boat on or in a car allows you to fish any pond or lake that your car can get to. The best fishing is always at places that nobody else is fishing and if the place has a boat ramp the fish will be stressed. You should be able to find a boat that is much less than $1000. Don’t overlook used boats. The want adds can are a good place to look for a used boat. And don’t forget to check out Ebay and Craigslist. I have found some really great deals on the internet. Where can you put the boat when you aren’t fishing. If it is an inflatable craft you can roll it up and put it in a closet or leave it in the trunk of your car, ready to go at a moments notice. If the boat is ridged and not to heavy, suspend it with ropes and pulleys in the garage over the car ready to load up for the next fishing trip. Or if you have room behind the house turn it upside down sitting on blocks to keep it out of the dirt. Once I stored my boat in the space between the side of the house and the fence by placing the transom on blocks on the ground and the bow up under the eaves with the bottom side facing out. I put an eye bolt on either side of the boat and tie a rope across the bottom so the wind couldn’t blow it over.

Selecting a Boat

There are quite a lot of types of small craft to look at. Each has advantages and compromises. Here is a list of types of craft that I want to cover.

  • Float Tube and Waders
  • Pontoon Boat
  • Kayak and Canoe
  • Pond Boat
  • Building your Own

Tube and Waders

Waders alone will allow you to fish from deeper water. In some cases if the water isn’t to deep you can walk around and fish other side of a weed patch. Fishing from a float tube has a lot going for it. Tubes are inflated and are constructed with bags pockets and D rings. The tube has a seat built into it. Some tubes are shaped round like an inter-tube or U shaped like horse shoe. The fisherman wearing waders and fins sits in the tube and using diving fins on his feet can propel him self and have both hands free for fishing. Waders cost $60 and up and float tubes prices start out around $80. There is more stuff to buy but this is lowest cost way to get into the water. The photo to the right is a float tube that cost $85. The fisherman sit in it like an easy chair. what looks like arm rests are for storing tackle. The panel across the tube opening is a striping apron for fly fishing. If the lakes in your area are cold consider spending more money on the waders with more insulation.

Pontoon Boat

A typical pontoon boat is two long inflatable tubes side byside and attached to a metal frame on top of the tubes. The frame is made up of four or more sections that lock together using lock pins. The whole craft packs into a small package for storage or transport. The seat and other accessories are mounted to the frame. The boat is propelled using a pair of oars like a row boat. On either side of the seat zippered bags to store fishing tackle. A rack or basket is mounted behind the seat for more storage. Also behind the seat is a motor mount for an electric trolling motor. Never use a gas motor on a pontoon boat. In front of the seat are foot rests that are attached to the frame. The angler can sit on the seat and use diving fins or the oars or a trolling motor to move the boat. Pontoon boat prices start around $150. Here is a case where you might buy the cheaper craft and use it for a season or two. There are so many option to choose from I think it’s better to get some experience before buying a more expensive model. There are river or lake pontoons. Pontoons range from 6 feet to over 12 feet long. Frames can be make of aluminum, steel or stainless steel. Fishing from a pontoon boat is a lot of fun but there are some negatives. The boat takes longer to assemble than a float tube. Pontoons sit no the water just like a leaf and when the wind blows your boat will scoot all over the water just like the leaf. If the prevailing wind direction is known then work your way up wind in the morning and let the wind push you home in the afternoon.

Kayak and Canoe

I have a bias against canoes. As far as as solo person in a boat I think kayaks have it all over canoes. Unless somebody gave you a canoe I would buy a kayak if you are using it to fish from. There are two groups of kayaks, sit in and sit on top. For still water fishing (lake and pond fishing) I would stick with the sit on top kayak. Included in the sit on category is the inflatable kayak. Look for kayaks designed for fishing. Prices start at about $220. Kayaks are light and easy to car-top. You can easily car top two kayaks if you want. Take your time when choosing a kayak. Consider weight, load rating, seat, and cost. A heavy kayak indicates more material were used to fabricate the boat, but if it is too heavy it will be harder to car-top. Load rating is very important. If the rating is 300 lbs, that means that you and all your equipment must weigh less than 300 lbs. I would look for a load rating that is 50 or more pounds more than needed. If I weigh 250 lbs and my fishing equipment weighs 50 lbs. then I would want a kayak with a load rating of not less than 350 lbs. and most important to me is the seat. Sometimes the seat that comes with the boat isn’t the best seat for you. Buy your kayak locally because you should sit in the boat to test the comfort. Also shipping is high.

Pond Boats

Pond boats look like fun but I would only use the in protected water. This type of boat can load into the back of a pickup. It is a little heavy to car-top. Prices start out at about $550. Pond boats are made of plastic and foam filled between the top and bottom parts. Most pond boats are have two seats but you can remove one seat and move the seat base to the middle of the boat. This type of boat is easy to overload. Consider 2 guys with their fishing gear a 60 lb battery and 20 lb trolling motor. The total is already over 400 lbs. Try to buy this type of boat locally to avoid the high shipping cost.


Sea Eagle makes a boat that does not quite fit the previous categories. It looks like a pontoon boat form one end and a raft form the other end. Some of the features are, light weight 42 lbs, can be stored anywhere, inflates in 4 min. , no frame to assemble, has a floor you can stand on, base price $550, and can be rowed or use a trolling motor.

I had planned to include building your own boat in this post but building is a large subject that I will cover in a separate post. Also watch for posts on seamanship and boat and equipment maintenance. In the meantime please commit on this post or if you have question I’ll be happy to answer.