types of fishing boats

Types of Fishing Boats

by KC Caslow

There is no shortage of brands and models on the market when it comes to fishing boats. Whether you are fishing in freshwater or saltwater, buying your first boat, or looking for a new adventure in a lifelong hobby, there are all types of fishing boats for you to choose. Below, we provide a quick guide for finding the right fishing boat.

Fishing Image

Inflatable Boat

  • Boat Length: eight to 16 feet.
  • Construction: Inflatable boats consist of PVC and Hypalon fabric construction.
  • Propulsion: Single or multiple outboards, paddles and/or sails.
  • Best for: Inflatable boats make great salt or freshwater fishing boats. Use them as recreational fishing boats or commercial fishing boats. They are highly versatile and work great in almost any outdoor environment.

Inflatable boats like the Takacat are among the most popular types of fishing boats. A hybrid boat consists of a rigid floor, a fully open bow, and removable tubes. Since you can deflate inflatables, they are easy to store and transport. You don't need to buy a truck and trailer to get them from point A to point B.


  • Boat Length: 12 to 16 feet
  • Construction: Wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or molded plastic
  • Propulsion: One or two paddles
  • Best for: A canoe is one of the smaller fishing boats you can buy. Although it is possible to use them for offshore fishing, they are typically freshwater fishing boats.

One of the reasons people like canoes is the slender design of the fishing vessel. They're easy to navigate and quickly get in and out of sticky situations. Plus, you can transport your canoe on top of your SUV, RV or in your truck bed without the need for a trailer. The only downside to a canoe is the limited space. Plus, they are easy to tip if you don't position all the weight in the canoe's center.


  • Boat Length: 8 to 18 feet
  • Construction: Wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or molded plastic
  • Propulsion: Double-bladed paddles
  • Best for: Kayaks are ideal for inshore fishing. One of the reasons kayaks are popular is that they give you great access to the fish - particularly in areas where the brush is heavy.

Kayaks may have a covered deck or sit-on-top design. You can buy kayaks for one to two passengers. They typically come with a covered storage area and built-in seating with plenty of leg room. Most models come with double-bladed paddles, making them super easy to navigate in almost any situation. Although many kayaks consist of wood or fiberglass materials, you can also buy inflatable kayaks.

Bay Boat

  • Boat Length: 20 to 26 feet
  • Construction: Fiberglass or composite modified V-hull
  • Propulsion: Single outboard
  • Best for: Originally designed to fish in open bays, larger seaworthy models allow offshore fishing. Bay boats are common fishing vessels in enclosed saltwater areas.

If you live along the coast or a large lake, it is not uncommon to see bay boats hovering close to the coastline or in the bay. Slightly larger than a standard rowboat, a bay boat has a center console with a low freeboard. It offers plenty of storage, larger livewells, fish boxes, and seating for up to four passengers.

Bass Boat

  • Boat Length: 16 to 26 feet
  • Construction: aluminum or fiberglass
  • Propulsion: Typically carries a single outboard motor
  • Best for: As the name suggests, a bass boat is a small boat that is designed and equipped primarily for bass fishing or fishing for other panfish. It is one of the more popular fishing boats for freshwater fishing.

Bass boats typically feature aerated livewells, a flat deck, and a powerful outboard engine. The whole idea of this boat is to allow for the best possible fishing experience. Bass boats typically feature aerated livewells, a flat deck, and a powerful, speedy outboard engine. Some fishing boats make great commercial fishing vessels.

Pontoon Boats

  • Boat Length: 18 to 25 feet
  • Construction: aluminum
  • Propulsion: Single or twin inboard motor
  • Best for: Although pontoon boats are often used for general recreational activities, some people like to use them for fishing. Pontoon boats are freshwater fishing boats used on lakes and rivers, and in some cases, on oceans close to the shore.

A pontoon boat is a flat boat that uses floats to remain buoyant. Pontoons contain reserve buoyancy with elaborate deck plans fitted with accommodations. They usually have plenty of room with seating for up to eight passengers. There is also room for storing all your fishing gear. While there are more popular fishing boats, people who own a pontoon boat are typically satisfied with their experience.

Jon Boat

  • Boat Length: 8 to 24 feet
  • Construction: Aluminum, fiberglass, wood, or polyethylene
  • Propulsion: Oars, single, small outboard, or electric trolling motor
  • Best for: Most people use Jon boats for inshore fishing in protected waters or fishing grounds. They identify a Jon boat as a standard freshwater fishing boat or 'rowboat.' For this reason, you will rarely see them used in offshore fishing.

A Jon boat is a flat-bottomed boat with one, two, or three seats, usually bench type. The nearly flat hull rides over the waves rather than cut through them. The shallow draft enables the Jon boat to cruise through shallow water. However, this type of fishing boat is best in calm water and cannot handle bigger waves or rough waters.

RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat)

  • Boat Length: 6 to 30 feet
  • Construction: Inflatable tubes for sides, with rigid deck and hull made of aluminum or fiberglass.
  • Propulsion: Single or multiple outboards, depending on size
  • Best for: A RIB is a fishing boat but is also often used as a tender on larger boats and for general recreation. The boat is flexible enough to be used as a freshwater and saltwater fishing boat. Combined with the inflatable tube base, the boat design makes maneuvering in any water environment easy. You can use it for fishing in rougher waters.

A rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is a lightweight, high-performance, unsinkable boat constructed with a rigid hull bottom and inflated tubes. The design is stable and fast, and seaworthy. Some inflatable boats like the Takacat are hybrid RIB and standard inflatable boats. Due to their rugged design, they make the perfect fishing boat.


  • Boat Length: 14 to 25 feet
  • Construction: Fiberglass and aluminum
  • Propulsion: Single outboard or stern-drive
  • Best for: The Runabout is a simple fishing boat that is most people use for inshore fishing. It is one of the more compact saltwater fishing boats and is perfect for weekend or overnight trips along the shore.

The Runabout fishing boat is known for its open bow and open floorplan. A fishing boat can typically hold up to five to eight passengers. They usually have powerful engines and a sleek design for added maneuverability. Plus, they are compact, which makes them easy to transport. You can use a runabout as a fishing vessel or for any number of activities.

Convertible Boat

  • Boat Length: 31 to 60 feet-plus
  • Construction: Fiberglass hull with an open cockpit and enclosed cabin
  • Propulsion: Single or multiple inboard motors
  • Best for: The Convertible boat is one of those fishing vessels designed for offshore waters, long-range cruising, and big-game angling. If you want to catch fish deep in the ocean, this is one of the more popular sport fishing boats.

Of all the fishing vessels on the sea, the convertible boat is more recognized and loved. Most convertible bats have fly bridge controls, a full cabinet, galley, berths, head, and a tower. If you are shopping for premier recreational fishing vessels, the convertible boat is great for catching fish.

Flats Scooter

  • Boat Length: 16 to 22 feet
  • Construction: Fiberglass flat-bottomed platform-like hull
  • Propulsion: Single outboard
  • Best for: The flats scooter is one of those small fishing boats that is perfect for inshore fishing, especially in wading depths. The fishing boat design allows you to creep through the bayous or fish in wide-open waters - one of the more popular fishing flats.

These fishing vessels are loaded with a ton of fishing features, such as a center console, low freeboard, towers, gunwales, fishing rod holders, and much more. Best of all, you can customize your flat scooter to perform well with your type of fishing. Use it to catch largemouth bass or saltwater fish.

Flats Skiff

  • Boat Length: 16 to 20 feet
  • Construction: Fiberglass or composite specialized shallow-draft hull
  • Propulsion: Single outboard for flats boats
  • Best for: Flats skiff fishing vessels are ideal for inshore fishing, especially in extreme shallows. It's one of those small fishing boats perfect for fishing in the bayous or heavily wooded areas.

The Flats skiff is a flats boat with fishing features such as a side or center console, low freeboard, fore & aft casting decks, and a platform over the engine to stand atop when propelling with a push pole. If you like all types of fishing and enjoy a center console, this boat's for you.  Use it to catch largemouth bass or other types of fish.