For many anglers, boats add a new dimension to fishing. They enable us to get to different areas that we can’t reach in our boots. Boats can help you cover more water, and in a lot of instances allows you to bring along some extra buddies. Boats can be expensive, but they don’t need to be. If you’re thinking about buying a boat this season and are worried about the cost, here are a few things to consider.
1. Look for an affordable hull that matches to your fishing condition. If you’re bass fishing on a local pond that doesn’t get whipped up by the weather you won’t need a modified or a deep v-hull. A flat bottomed aluminum boat will do just fine. Aluminum boats are far less expensive than fiberglass boats, they are easy to take care of, and they’re powered by lower horsepower engines. At the onset, these smaller outboards cost significantly less money than their bigger brothers, and they cost less to run, too. A fringe benefit to a simple boat is that you won’t have to spend a lot of time or money rigging your electronics, batteries, and trolling motors. They are wide open and accessible and that makes ‘em a do-it-yourselfer’s dream.
2. Buy Pre-owned. There are a lot of good pre-owned boats out there, some of which represent a great deal. If you’re unfamiliar with selecting a pre-owned boat, hire a marine surveyor to give it the once over. Here are a few reference guides for marine surveyors in your area: Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS).
3. Smaller boats, smaller costs. I’ve got two views on the subject as it pertains to low entrance fees. First, boat prices increase with every additional foot, so keeping the length down means that you have lower fees at the onset. But second, if you feel that you’re going to keep the boat for a while, you may be better off going with a bigger craft. The logic there is that you won’t lose money on the resale of the smaller boat, which is a cost savings unto itself. If you’re not sure which boat is best for you, check out the Boat Selector Tool to help you narrow down the choices.
4. Rent a boat. If you’re on a budget and want to hit the water, why not rent a boat? There are lots of marinas or boat liveries that rent boats by the hour, the half day, or the full day. Many places offer a variety of different types of boats from skiffs, center consoles, and sail boats.
5. Insurance. After you buy a boat you’ll be bombarded with marine insurance programs. Before you sign up, check your home owner’s policy. Riders are frequently available for a nominal additional fee, and those can save hundreds of dollars right there.
For more helpful tips on and resources on boating and buying boats, check out http://www.takemefishing.org/boating/overview.