Boat Guide

Best Small Fishing Boat: Top 6 Budget Finds

best small fishing boat

You came to the right place if you’re looking for the best small fishing boat. This article wil list some of the finest fishing boats that won’t be a hassle to maintain and operate. More importantly, they will not cost an arm and a leg.

Best Small Fishing Boat

Fishing can be an expensive hobby. From the equipment used (rod and reel) to fuel costs and type of fishing to boat class, you can find yourself shelling out a ton of money. However, fishing is a hobby that need not break the bank.

Let’s start with your preferred watercraft. Fishing boats can easily cost thousands of dollars. There are even some with million-dollar price points. Consequently, one way to keep the costs of your hobby down is by choosing affordable and fuel-efficient boats. Usually, these are of the small variety – a few examples of which will be featured below.

1. Bayliner Element F16

element 16
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To begin this list, let’s start with a fishing boat from one of the most reliable brands in the market – the Bayliner Element F16. This fishing boat is known as a relatively affordable option, especially for shallow water anglers. In fact, it uses the tagline “How to catch a lot, without paying a lot.”

What’s more, it has Bayliner’s trademark M-hull design, which ensures stability as you find the perfect place to wait for your catch. Being a center console, casting your fishing rod is possible from any side of the boat so that’s also a plus. While it may not have other features such as an entertainment system, it is a solid fishing boat with forward and aft casting decks, fishing rod racks, leaning post, and swim ladder.


2. Tracker Pro 170

best small fishing boat
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Next, let’s talk about the Tracker Pro 170, which has the distinction of being one of the most popular aluminum fishing boats to have ever hit the market, and for good reason. Primarily, they are affordable, lightweight, easily trailerable, and durable boats that are great for beginner and experienced anglers alike. If you set out to catch bass, walleye, or crappie, this fishing boat can certainly be your trusty partner.

Regarding its features, the Pro 170 has been built with Tracker Boat’s trademarked technology for durability and impact protection. On board, it has comfortable seats with huge leg room. It also has storage compartments (open and lockable) to to store your gear in. While this model is already inexpensive, Tracker boats occasionally holds clearance sales. Thus, you’ll get even more of your money’s worth when purchasing new models or even prior year iterations of the fishing boat.

3. Crestliner 1800 Kodiak

Crestliner 1800 Kodiak
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Third on our list is another aluminum boat – the Crestliner 1800 Kodiak. Known for its durability, this fishing boat is suitable for a range of fishing environments. In fact, its hull is made of heavy-duty aluminum which can take on rough water and weather conditions.

In general, the 1800 Kodiak has everything you’ll need for a fishing trip. Specifically, it has an aerated livewell for bait or fish, bow storage, rod storage, deluxe seats, and a roomy floor plan. This roomy floorplan opens up the boat’s maximum person capacity to 6. For this reason, it’s a great option for fishing trips with friends or family.  

4. Tideline 235 Hybrid

best small fishing boat
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Another highly-recommended fishing boat is the Tideline 235 Hybrid. At 23 feet, it’s one of the largest in our list. While it doesn’t have the sleekest appearance, it gets major points for versatility. This fishing boat was designed for both inshore and offshore fishing.

Performance-wise, the 235 Hybrid is a delight to take out on the water, With twin engines and maximum horsepower of 400, you’ll get a very smooth ride with good tracking. Regarding its on board features, highlights include a 40 gallon lighted livewell, mounted rod holders, dry storage, dry storage, insulate fish box, walk-through transom, and trolling motor area.

5. Carolina Skiff 18 JVX CC

Carolina Skiff
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Following the 235 Hybrid is the Carolina Skiff 18 JVX CC. We consider it as one of the best small fishing boats because of its affordable and dependable qualities. In particular, this skiff is easy to handle and maneuver in shallow waters such as creeks and rivers, due to its lightweight and modified V-hull as well as positive tracking keels. These features also improve speed.

With ample storage, this Carolina Skiff also has a 12-gallon livewell, trolling motor plug, swivel seats, and rod holders. If the livewell on the aft deck seems insufficient, you can opt for an additional livewell by the console. For a no-frills economical fishing boat, the 18 JVX CC is a good bet.

6. Starweld Spark 16

best small fishing boat
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Also making its way to our list is the Starweld Spark 16. This boat aluminum boat has much to offer, with three basic configurations: dual console, side console, and tiller model. You can expect this fishing boat to be stable and sturdy because it was built with .100 gauge aluminum. This is quite higher than the usual .80 gauge used by other boats of this size.

Speaking of its features, the Spark 16 has moveable fishing seats, large casting decks, stowage for rods, an aerated 30-gallon livewell for captured fish, and a separate bait bucket. You can have up to three fishing seats, which as positioned to give each person ample amount of legroom and moving space to not feel cramped.

Choosing the Best Small Fishing Boat for You

In summary, fishing can be an expensive hobby but it doesn’t have to be. There really isn’t a reason to give up an arm and a leg just so you can sustain an enjoyable hobby. The bulk of your expenses may go towards investing in your fishing boat (including purchase, maintenance, and operating costs). Hence, choosing a smaller boat will significantly reduce your expenses.

Make sure you’re spending your hard-earned money on the best small fishing boat possible. The above-mentioned models are some of the finest out there, so feel free to use them as a guide.  

Lena Horner
the authorLena Horner
Lena Horner is a LA Galaxy fan who does freelance writing and marketing. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in Marketing, she enjoys the outdoor. Lena enjoys the outdoor and is constantly convincing her partner to live in an RV fulltime.

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