best small fishing boats

The Best Small Fishing Boats: A Short Guide

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 16, 2021

Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Very few things in this world are as relaxing, calming, and, ultimately, liberating as a day of fishing.

Whether on a pristine alpine lake or taking to the high seas, there is a beauty to owning your fishing boat, one that owners know all too well. Reconnecting with your long-lost pal, spending quality time with the kids, or simply going out on your own for a much-needed opportunity to pause and think, a fishing boat is always money well spent.

However, the process of buying your boat, especially if it is your first, can seem daunting. Often it can feel like there are too many options, too many differences, and far too much boating jargon. This article will help you to decide the best small fishing boat

What to Consider Before Buying Your Boat?

Of course, the boats listed in this article are by no means exhaustive. There are thousands of high-quality, affordable vessels out there. Indeed, to find that perfect little vessel you have been dreaming of, in-depth research and patience are all required.

However, what we have done in this article is recommend a few makes and models from which you can set off on your boating journey.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty. There are some vital questions you must consider.

Firstly, what kind of fishing will you do? Freshwater fishing is vastly different from saltier waters and will determine what kind of engine or hull you require.

Secondly, where will you fish? This is an important question. Boats better suited to inshore marine environments will not require the same power as offshore fishing vessels. In contrast, coastal fishing vessels will likely need a shallower bottom to ensure good clearance of dangerous rocks or seafloors.

Thirdly, how many companions will you fish with? If you fancy more solo missions, then seating might not pose much of a concern. Yet, if you wish to accommodate family and friends, it is a salient consideration. 

Especially if you are planning on taking younger passengers, many boats have a range of in-built safety features that are a must.

Finally, what does a fishing trip look like for you? For those pressed for time, your boat should be light and easily transportable. It should be able to be moved without the need for expensive equipment or time-consuming practices. Or if you are lucky enough to enjoy something more leisurely, lounging areas and comfort ought to be top priorities.

The Best Small Fishing Boat(s)

First off, well done for choosing a small fishing boat. This is a wise move. Choosing a smaller vessel over a large one is likely to save you loads of time, money, and energy. Not only is this because they cost less to purchase, operate, store and maintain, but as they are less complex, they tend to break down less often – maximizing the time you can spend on the water. Besides, they are easier to launch, transport, and dock than larger crafts.

No matter what kind of fishing you envision, a wealth of small fishing boats are on offer. There are aluminum fishing boats, bass boats, dinghies, flatboats, bass boats, kayaks, skiffs, personal watercrafts, and many more.

Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC

When it first hit the water, the Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC made a splash.

It was widely praised by owners and critics alike. This is one of Mako’s most popular models. It has an Advanced Inverted hull which provides a smooth, safe ride, with agile handling and maneuverability. This boat is ideal for all types of inshore finishing. Particularly as it has rod holders to keep your rods at the ready in the console-mounted holders and a raised bow deck to provide a spacious casting platform, as well as deep storage. Cutting it short, the Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC has 360 fishability.

Time to get technical. 17′ in length and with a beam of 6′ 11″, the Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC has a maximum capacity of 6 people, making it well suited to larger families. Meanwhile, with its Mercury Fourstroke outboard engine capable of delivering speeds of 31 MPH at 75 HP, it will get you out of trouble if need be. As standard, it comes with a hot-dipped galvanized trailer and Mako’s superior Assurance 5+Life warranty.

View the brochure here.

Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 DLX

At a mere $13, 695, the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 DLX is an absolute steal. Splash out an extra thousand dollars on the Fish Package, and you have yourself the bargain of the century.

But before you read any further, take a look at this walkthrough and review of the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 DLX. Warning this video may cause an impulsive purchase!

The Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 DLX is a pontoon boat built for indulgence. It has an expansive 16′ long and 8′ wide deck complete with a Bluetooth stereo system, tinted windscreen, and a 7′ color-keyed polyester Bimini top. 

Who thought fishing could be so stylish? Speaking of which, the dual bow fishing chairs offer comfortable spots to cast off all day long and a forward-console seat.

And when you are tired of catching fish, the aft L-lounge is the relaxation space you need. For easy, quick access to the water, there is also an aft platform with a fold-down reboarding ladder. Plus, the boat is packed with a range of safety features, such as a fire extinguisher, LED navigation lights, and a motor-stop safety lanyard so that a fun swim is a safe swim.

Indeed, so confident are Sun Tracker in their boat, they have added in a 10+Life Limited Lifetime Warranty. You know this purchase will be the right one.

Carolina Skiff 18 JVX

Robust, no-nonsense boats are Carolina Skiff’s specialty. Optimized for shallow water fishing, the Carolina Skiff 18 JVX is a durable and reliable skill that will meet the demands of shallow water anglers everywhere.   

Available in 16′ and 20′ editions, the Carolina Skiff 18 JVX boasts a lightweight hill and modified V-hull design allowing anglers to carry more weight with less horsepower – something that is bound to save you money on fuel. It has an elegant shallow draft, which draws a tiny 4″ of water while weighing in at 1,073 pounds.

Despite its gentle price tag, coming in shy of $20,000, the Carolina Skiff 18 JVX has a lot of great features. These include binnacle controls, wiring harness, console cushion set, a lockable access door, control and steering cables, quick-disconnect windshield, and a stainless-steel grab rail.

And there’s more! A 4′ steel side rail, console baitwell with led lighting, front and rear deck padded seats with a swivel base, and a Maxi Flow recirculation system can all be added as extras.

Get your quote here.

Bayliner Element F16

Not to be confused with the might F-16 Fighting Falcon of the United States Air Force, the Element F16 builds on Bayliner’s boating excellence. 

Yet, a high-quality, dependable product need not come with an eye-watering price tag. With a 60 HP Mercury four-stroke outboard engine, the Bayliner Element F16 is listed at a mere $15,299. If you want to spend your hard-earned cash on a brand-new boat, this one’s for you. It has an innovative M-Hull design with a feature-packed deck plan. The overall length is a little over 16,’ and the beam is over 7.5′ wide. Meanwhile, the self-bailing cockpit keeps the important areas dry and makes cleaning up easier.

12V navigation lights, 12v horn, and a fiberglass floor, need I write any more?

Crestliner 1800 Kodiak

Last, but by no means least, is the top of the range Crestliner 1800 Kodiak. This crafty vessel can take you pretty much anywhere on the water thanks to its durable build, which is reinforced with an ultra-rugged .100″ gauge aluminum deep-V hull for maximum strength.

Some of its key features include a 22-gallon aerated livewell located in the bow, a complex side console configuration, complete with rocker switches, drink holders, phone storage and a windscreen, and a tiller configuration that keeps everything you need within reach.

For a fisherman who likes his gadgets, three large compartments, with outward-facing double doors and a dedicated battery compartment, provide ample storage for all your gear. Meanwhile, there is space to securely tuck away up to four rods in the quick access port.

Go on, have a look

Any of these boats would make a great choice, especially for those new to boating. Once you have decided on the boat that best fits your needs you can list it on Boatsetter to help offset the monthly costs!

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