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7 Steps to Selecting the Best Boat for Beginners

The gentle lapping of the waves, the feeling of freedom on the water, access to the best fishing spots, the feeling of being surrounded by nature's beauty… there are many reasons to take the initial steps toward becoming a first-time boat owner.

But, how do you know which boat will be best? And, how do you start the process of picking out the right boat? Selecting the best boat for beginners isn't hard, but it does require you to ask yourself a few key questions.

The important thing to keep in mind that the best beginner fishing boat for one person may not be the ideal beginner fishing boat for another. Follow the below seven steps to find a boat that suits your fishing lifestyle:

  1. Ask yourself which types of activities the boat will be used for. Will you use your boat only for fishing? Or, do you want to use your boat for skiing and wakeboarding? If you plan to use the boat primarily for fishing, consider models with a livewell aeration system, along with plenty of open space for handling fishing gear and fighting fish. If other watersports are important to you, check into the fish-and-ski models.
  2. Where do you plan to store the boat? Do you have the room to store a boat at home? Or, will you need to store it at a marina or boat storage facility? If you are learning how to fish from a boat, you may want a small boat that is easy for you to store at home and simple to launch.
  3. Consider the waterways where the boat will be used. Do you plan to use the boat primarily on small freshwater lakes? Or, do you want a boat that offers you the ability to fish saltwater bays? You might want to consider jon boats or aluminum fishing boats that are intended for small freshwater lakes, while a center console model could be the best boat for beginners who want to fish saltwater bays.
  4. Do you want to be able to easily trailer your boat to different waterways? Or, do you intend to use it on the same waterway? You should know that each state has different towing laws that dictate the maximum allowable vehicle and trailer length.
  5. Think about how many passengers you generally plan to have aboard. Is the boat just for you and your spouse? Or, do want to take extended family and guests out for fishing trips when they visit? This is another consideration that will help you make a good decision about the best model and boat size for your situation.
  6. Attend an in-water boat show that will allow you to take a few of your final boat options out for a sea trial. Taking a boat out on a sea trial really is no different than taking a car out for a test drive. You want to pay close attention how the boat handles, assess engine trim, and play the role of passenger to consider comfort.
  7. Consider long-term boat maintenance and upkeep. Will you handle basic boat maintenance tasks yourself? Or, take the boat in to a service professional? Learn about specific engine service requirements, for example, which may apply to the boats that have made your final list.

When you make your final decision on the best beginner fishing boat for you, don't forget to sign up for a beginner boating course and register your boat. Look for US Coast Guard approved boating for beginners courses that will help you learn the state boating laws and regulations before you get behind the helm.


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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.