The internet is awash in information on fishing boats, which should make finding the boat of your dreams a no-brainer. However, navigating the sea of options can be a bit intimidating, which explains why many buyers throw up their hands and make a snap decision on the first rig that catches their eye.
Unfortunately, impulse buys often result in headaches down the road. Don't let it happen to you. If you're thinking about buying a boat this season, use the following advice to land the right fishing platform, whether you're a first-time buyer or lifelong boat owner looking for a new ride.
The first step is identifying your boating needs. This entails a bit of self-examination, if not serious soul-searching, and is a critical starting point.
First off, consider how the boat will be used on the majority of its adventures. If you're buying a family boat, include everyone who'll be using the boat in the selection process. This will help steer you toward a style of boat that's right for the entire family.
Thankfully, there are types of boats to match virtually any application. Some even handle multiple duties. For example, if the boat will serve purposes ranging from serious fishing to waterskiing and family cruises, take a hard look at the fish-and-ski models available from a number of top boat makers.
Lund's Crossover XS series, for example, accommodates the diverse needs of serious anglers as well as fans of other water sports. "Crossovers are built for the family who wants to fish and recreate without sacrificing space, comfort or performance," says veteran fishing guide and boating expert Scott Glorvigen.
Fish-and-ski boats like the Lund Crossover XS serve multiple purposes including serious fishing and recreational boating.
"Lund took families into account, adding creature comforts including flip-up rear seats, a windshield, and extra floor and cockpit space," he continues. "There's also a ski pylon, in-floor storage for wakeboards or skis, and plenty of room for other gear, too."
On the fishing front, Crossovers remain a force to be reckoned with.
"Lund didn't forget Dad's desire to go fishing," Glorvigen adds. "There's in-floor gear and rod storage, plus a 5-rod bow rod locker up front and all kinds of storage space for tackle and other necessities. You can certainly rig the boat out to be a very effective fishing platform."
Available in two sizes from 17 feet, 10 inches to 18 feet, 10 inches, the lineup features Lund's patented IPS Hull for a smooth, stable ride.
Glorvigen strongly recommends the Crossover XS for families looking for a multi-purpose rig, but he says whichever fish-and-ski you choose, always outfit it with the maximum rated horsepower for optimum performance with a boatload of passengers. "If you hang too small a motor on the back, the boat won't perform as well as possible with everyone aboard," he cautions.
If serious fishing tops the agenda, Glorvigen suggests a deep V-hull design geared to the type of species and situations you expect to face most often.
"Buy a boat built for where and how you do the majority of your fishing," he says. "The worst thing you can do is get something that restricts your fishing. For example, if you fish 99 percent of the time on a 500-acre lake down the road, with a small ramp, a 20-foot big-water rig might be a limiting factor."
A number of companies offer hard-fishing V-hulls, so be sure to check manufacturer websites for specs and available features. Glorvigen recommends Lund's Pro-V family and says using the company's online Boat Builder feature can help you dial in the right balance of size, space, storage and other considerations.
"Pro-V's are geared to anglers beyond the novice point, and are ideal for fishing multiple bodies of water, weekend tournaments and nasty conditions without compromising your ability to go catch fish," he says. "There are a number of models available, including the 1875 Pro-V and 1875 Pro-V Bass XS, designed with bass, northern pike and muskie anglers in mind."
If you never quite get the nightcrawler dirt out from under your fingernails, Glorvigen adds another choice to the shopping list: an old-school tiller boat.
Tiller boats like Lund's Pro Guide are a favorite among diehard anglers seeking pinpoint boat control in all conditions.
"Look up hardcore fishing in the dictionary and you'll see some diehard driving a tiller into the teeth of a squall," he laughs. "This boat certainly has creature comforts and is built for folks who want total boat control even in the worst conditions."
Glorvigen says Lund's Pro Guides are his tillers of choice. "There are four models available from 16 to 20 feet," he says. "All carry a ton of fishing gear for extended multispecies adventures, and feature everything you'd want in a serious fishing boat."
Once you dial in the style of boat and features you desire, Glorvigen advises factoring such mundane but pivotal considerations as budget, tow vehicle and storage space into the equation to settle on a model that will engender years of affordable adventures.
"Put it all together and it's possible to purchase your dream boat without getting soaked," he says. "Trust me, the rewards of shopping smart are well worth the effort you put into the search."
For more info, see Scott's tips on multi-species boat rigging.
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