How to choose a fishing boat for inshore saltwater cruising

Learning to select a fishing boat for saltwater tours on land doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Although there are many models and brands to choose from, buying a fishing boat takes just a little bit of thought and research.

You may already know how to go boating but are thinking about transitioning from freshwater boating to saltwater boating. In this case, you should learn how to choose a boat made of special materials that can withstand a marine environment. You can also read a boat buying guide to learn about hull designs that have minimal draft for navigating shallow water.

When it comes to knowing how to choose a saltwater fishing boat for use on land, there are three main types of inshore boats to consider:

  • Skiffs are small saltwater fishing boats. In general, most skiffs are less than 18 feet long. These coastal boats are simple in construction and easy to attach. They offer distinct advantages for fishing, including the fact that they can reach many remote areas due to the super-shallow drawbar hulls ranging from 5 to 8 inches and smaller outboards.
  • Flat boats are trailerable coastal boats that typically range from 14 to 21 feet with a very shallow draft (7 to 10 inches) and open cast decks. As the name suggests, these are generally some of the best boats for fishing in the backcountry homes or in shallow bays. If stealthy approach in thin water is required, these boats can even be maneuvered by poling from a platform at the stern.
  • Center console boats are equipped with an oar in the middle of the boat and an open deck all around. As you learn to choose the best size fishing boat for inshore fishing, keep in mind that small center consoles in the 17 to 22 foot range are suitable for use in sheltered bays. Most center consoles have slightly deeper drafts than a flatboat or boat (usually around 11 or 12 inches), but often offer a slightly drier ride while still being easy to transport.

It doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated figuring out how to choose a boat for the coastal areas you want to fish. There is a boat for every budget and shopping for the right one is part of the fun!


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