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A new fishing boat can take your angling expeditions to a whole different level. Fishing from shore is fun, but it often limits the water you can fish. A good fishing boat will allow you to access more water, use different techniques, get away from the crowds, and give you the freedom that only comes from having your own fishing boat. And besides that, fishing from a boat is fun. Pack a cooler with some drinks and food and enjoy a day catching fish and making memories with family and friends.

Best Fishing Boats: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Jon Boat: Pelican Boat Intruder 12

The Pelican Boat Intruder 12 is a well-made jon boat tailored for fishing. Bass Pro Shop

The Pelican Boat Intruder 12 comes equipped with four vertical rod holders, which can be used for both trolling and multi-rod fishing. It has four bench seats, oarlock receptacles, two built-in motor mounts, and plenty of storage compartments that allow you to keep all of your fishing equipment close by.

Best Inflatable: Star Outlaw 130 Self-Bailing Fishing Raft

The Star Outlaw 130 Self-Bailing Fishing Raft excels at navigating tight water. Cabela’s

The Star Outlaw 130 Self-Bailing Fishing Raft is a small raft equipped with everything you need for a fishing expedition whether you’re fishing a fast-flowing river or your favorite bass pond. The boat fits up to three people and comes with a built-in anchor system, as well as swivel seats in the front and back of the raft. The raft is self-bailing, which is an important feature in any inflatable watercraft.

Best Kayak for Fishing: Lifetime Stealth Angler 110 Fishing Kayak

The Lifetime Stealth Angler 110 Fishing Kayak is a high-performance fishing kayak. It’s extra-long length gives it stability and speed. UV-resistant high-density polyethylene construction is sturdy and durable. Where this kayak really stands out as a fishing boat are the features such as the one deck-mount and 2 flush-mount rod holders, plus and roomy storage compartments for tackle.

Best Belly Boat: Outcast Fish Cat 5 Max Float Tube

The Outcast Fish Cat 5 Max Float Tube is a big belly boat that’s built to handle large anglers. Cabela’s

The Outcast Fish Cat 5 Max Float Tube is a comfortable and durable belly boat. It’s large enough to handle tall and heavy anglers, which means it is extra spacious for other body types. It includes easy-to-reach storage compartments to stash all of your fishing equipment.

Best Budget: Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series

The Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series is a low-price but functional fishing boat. Intex

The Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat doesn’t have any snazzy features like rotatable seats, but it does feature heavy duty, puncture resistant PVC construction. It has a capacity of more than 500 pounds, features two built-in rod holders, and allows you to get out to the fish in calm water conditions. What more could you ask for?

Features To Consider When Shopping For A New Fishing Boat

A fishing boat should be both dependable and durable. No matter what kind of fishing you’re doing, you’re liable to beat your boat up against rocks, docks, gravel shorelines, and whatever else you might encounter on the quest for a trophy fish. A good fishing boat is strong enough to up to whatever you put it through and keeps working no matter the conditions are

Beyond that, there are several key considerations you should make when searching for a good fishing boat. Do you want a small fishing boat that is lightweight and portable, or do you need something larger that will be able to fit all of your fishing equipment? What kind of water are you fishing? If you’re fishing fast-flowing rivers, you need something that will drift well, but if you’re fishing lakes, you need something that will get around easily. How many people do you plan to fish with? Some boats are small enough that they only fit one person. Do you want an inflatable fishing boat that you can break down for storage, or do you want an aluminum fishing boat that you’ll store in the shed? Have answers to these questions before pulling the trigger on a new watercraft.

Simplicity: The Jon Boat

A jon boat is a small aluminum fishing boat that typically has a flat or nearly flat bottom and a squared-off bow. A jon boat is about as basic as it gets. It doesn’t have many features, but will get the job done just fine for many anglers.

A jon boat often comes with bench-style seats. They aren’t good in fast water and will perform better on lakes. You can power your jon boat with a small motor. Look for jon boats with basic fishing features, like rod holders and storage compartments, to make fishing from it easy.

A jon boat isn’t particularly stable, especially in smaller sizes. Be prepared to get pushed around if you fish where waves are generated. You may have to do a fair bit of fishing while sitting down or risk falling off trying to stand up in rough surf. This is definitely not a boat that will always keep you comfortable, but a good jon boat is dependable and will allow you to fish where you want to fish without paying a lot for a fancy boat.

Portability: The Inflatable Fishing Boat

Owning a boat typically requires you to have space to store it. If you don’t have a garage or yard where you can keep it, an inflatable fishing boat is a good option—simply deflate for compact storage. To save time, you can inflate the boat at home and haul it to the water on top of your car or truck when it’s inflated, allowing you to hit the water quickly.

Because of their buoyancy, inflatable fishing boats sit high on the water with minimal draft. This means that you can go over shallow water and rock beds that a more traditional boat couldn’t. These are often good vessels for fishing rivers, because they’re easy to navigate. You can also use a small motor to jet around a lake with a good inflatable fishing craft without a hitch.

Maneuverability: The Belly Boat

A belly boat is a great option for fishing a quiet lake or pond. Also known as a float tube is an inflatable watercraft in which the user sits with lower legs immersed in the water. The boat is buoyed by either two inflated tubes, as in the case of a pontoon boat, or a u-shaped inflated float tube.

Belly boats only fit one angler at a time. They don’t include much in the way of storage. They can’t handle rough or even choppy, water. But they’re fun to fish from. Belly boats are portable and maneuverable. You can go anywhere, and some anglers say there’s no better way to fish stillwater. You will need to wear waders while fishing if the water is chilly.

On a Budget: What You Get for Less Than $85

You don’t need to buy a fancy boat to get on the water. A cheap fishing boat means you aren’t going to jet around large bodies of water quickly, you’re not going to have a lot of room, and you’ll have to use oars to power yourself. But you can get yourself away from the shoreline without spending a lot of money.


Q: What is the major danger of anchoring a fishing boat from the stern?

Never anchor your fishing boat from the stern. Boats are designed to go forward, and anchoring from the stern will prevent it from making necessary natural adjustments to the wind and current. That potentially allows the boat to fill with water and sink.

Q: How should you pass a fishing boat?

When you pass a fishing boat, do your best not to disturb it. Go slow and give a wide enough berth to avoid tangling any lines.

Final Thoughts: Best Fishing Boats

Buying a new fishing boat is an investment that can give you high returns. A fishing boat will get you to the fish wherever you are and have enough room to store all of your fishing gear. There are many different options available to you, from jon boats to inflatable rafts. Make sure you get a boat that works well in the water conditions you’re going to face. A good one won’t just be the envy of your friends, it will help you catch more fish.

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For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.