Small Fishing Boats

Small Fishing Boats: The Crafts We're Putting on Our Wish List

If you're looking for a fishing boat that doesn't cost a ton or take up a lot of space, then you might want to check out this list.

With all due respect to virtually all the types of boats used for fishing, most of the angling community can't quite afford to put a fully-loaded cabin cruiser in the garage, tow it to the launch, or pay to operate it year to year.

Even with that, there might be one or two on this list of "small fishing boats" that might be a bit out of your price range, but bear with us. This is a wish list, after all.

We like to think the small fishing boat was born from pond, lake, and river bank fishermen that got sick and tired of watching all the big ones jumping out of their casting reach. They decided that it was high time to start fishing and quit wishing, but they knew a giant fishing boat would be overkill.

With that in mind, and necessity being the mother of invention, fishing engineers started making their best plans to get us closer and closer to our quarry in smaller crafts, and by golly they did an amazing job of it!

We aren't touching on big crafts like pontoon boats, flats boats, bass boats, or center consoles. You don't have the horsepower of a motor boat, but you can get through shallow water a lot easier than other crafts. The hull design for a small fishing boat is often a small engineering miracle. They make boating and fishing come together in an easy to transport option.

Let's look at some of the possibilities for fishermen and women of every type and see if we can't come up with one or two small fishing boats that might fit.

Jon Boat

Not only are these a great starter boat for the younger fishing crowd, they often times double ad a great duck hunting swamp boat. Jon boats are generally made with aluminum by nature, but they also come in fiberglass and can even been found in plastic, rotomolded versions.

Jon boats are inexpensive, easy to store and haul, (sometimes right in the bed of a pickup truck) and need very little in the way of power- an electric trolling motor can be plenty.

The only downside is that they're mostly made for smaller, calmer waters. The Pelican Intruder shown above is a great example of a basic Jon boat.

Fishing Kayaks

With so many new versions of these stealthy, low-profile fishing boats available, the biggest problem may simply be picking one out. These incredible popular watercrafts are as good for your personal fitness as they are for sneaking up on wary fish.

Then again, you can go the route of the motor-powered kayak like the Old Town Sportsman Autopilot with a Minn Kota Trolling Motor. It's the ultimate in luxury, go-anywhere kayak fishing.

There are many inexpensive models out there to choose from, but the buyer should beware that not all fishing kayaks are equal. Some of the cheaper, molded models are less reliable. They can be a bit tippy and they spin on a dime making it more difficult to work a spot.

Inflatable Dinghies

Though they weren't originally inflatable, the new age of technology has allowed these boats to get less expensive and more accessible. Like a Jon boat, they're great as a starter boat for youngsters, but shouldn't be written off as a toy.

Dinghies are excellent freshwater fishing boats for ponds, small lakes, and quiet rivers where an angler can use the oars to get them around easily. They can be used in saltwater too, but with a higher risk in currents and waves.

These are as basic as it gets as far as a two-man boat goes. They can come equipped with a couple of rod holders, have room for some gear, and even a small outboard motor, but owners will want to make sure to stick to smaller waters.

Float Tube

Small Fishing Boats

Craig Raleigh

Sure, these aren't really a boat, but back in my day they were called "belly boats," and I still call them that.

The float tube, as it is more commonly referred to, is not only stealthy, but they can get an angler into backwater areas that don't have great accessibility with even the smallest of watercraft, and that's where the big ones are, right?

Today's float tubes can be equipped with special features like multiple rod holders and gear, to even a battery and a trolling motor! A belly boat angler can paddle his or her way around ponds, bays, and even lakes for the exercise alone, but if you want to give your arms a workout then don't forget your favorite rod and reel combo.


Skiffs are open boats which have little more than a hull, an outboard motor, and some seats. You see them in and around saltwater fishing spots and brackish areas, especially in the gulf region of America.

They're more often used for activities like fishing, catching crustaceans, or just puttering around small bays, estuaries, and tributaries. These boats can certainly get large, but we're referring to the smaller skiffs for these purposes. They are meant to be built and operated in a simple manner.

Honorable Mention

Personal watercrafts or PWCs can be outfitted with bolt-on rodholders, cooler racks, and even livewells. This is not what the designer's original intention was, but since we are fishermen and there's still water out there with fish in it, why not?

Also, we've got to mention the Ultraskiff 360, a one-of-a-kind craft that caters to anglers and would definitely turn some heads at the boat launch. It's been dubbed as the ultimate fishing machine.

Small Fishing Boats

Since we graduated from inflatable boats to pedal boats to outboard engines long ago it stands to reason that the small fishing boat was next.

Standing on the band of the pond or of the river still holds a place in our fishing g hearts, but when you've had enough of watching the big ones escape your clutches, it may juts be that the time is right for your first boat.

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