The price of fishing boats runs the gamut, and if you search through our Boat Finder tool, you’ll discover some fishing boats that cost little more than a moped, some others that are pricier than a house, and a few that could only be affordable to one-percenters.
What exactly is “affordable” or "cheap," of course, depends on your own personal finances. What happens when you break things down into different types of fishing boats, as you consider affordability? You discover nearly as wide a range of options.
1. Princecraft Hudson 170 DL WS
All-purpose fishing boats are ideal for anglers who enjoy a wide variety of different forms of fishing and going after various target species.
Starting under $30,000 for the boat-motor-trailer package including a 90-horse Mercury FourStroke, the Princecraft Hudson 170 DL WS gets the nod because it’s one of the most affordable ways to get into an all-purpose fishing boat that has the beef to hit large open waters with confidence.
The 5052-H36 aluminum alloy hull has a 13-degree transom deadrise and a steep V in the bow to take on waves, the bow to midships hull bottom is double-plated, and an oversized walkthrough windshield provides lots of protection to the boat’s occupants.
Visit Princecraft to learn more.
2. Tracker Super Guide V-16 SC
No matter what socio-economic category you might fall into, it’s a fair bet you’ll find the Tracker Super Guide V-16 SC very affordable, with its sticker price of under $16,000. And while this may be a relatively small boat, it does have enough size to fish in a huge range of waterways with up to four people aboard.
A stock 40-horsepower Mercury outboard and a custom-matched galvanized trailer are included in the package price, as are a few surprising big-ticket items like a bow-mounted electric trolling motor, a fish finder, and five different seat pedestal locations plus two movable swiveling fishing seats.
Visit Tracker Boats to learn more.
3. Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC
Light tackle fishing has become incredibly popular, and light tackle anglers have gravitated more and more towards bay boats and flats boats.
The $20,000 mark should count as reasonably affordable for most people, and that’s right where the cost of a Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC sits when equipped with the stock 60 ELPT Mercury FourStroke outboard and a galvanized trailer. What separates it from the competition is Mako’s “Advanced Inverted V” hull-form. The unique shape, which looks more or less like an upside-down V when viewed from the bow, allows the boat to compress a cushion of air under the hull somewhat like a power catamaran does. That cushions wave impacts as it runs.
It also offers enhanced stability, and carries the full beam of the boat all the way forward so the bow casting platform is significantly larger than those found on many bay and flats boats with significantly more length. Owning this boat will prove to be affordable, too, because Mako backs it with an eye-opening five-year stem to stern warranty and a lifetime limited structural hull warranty.
Visit MAKO to learn more.
4. Sportsman Masters 207 Bay Boat
If you value quality as much as you value affordability, the Sportsman Masters 207 Bay Boat is likely to catch your eye. This is one of few boats that keeps cost very reasonable (MSRP starts just over $35,600) yet maintains just as much of a focus on fit and finish as it does on cost. In fact, the Masters 207 looks every bit as good as many boats that cost tens of thousands of dollars more. And construction is also above par, with touches like Sileather marine silicon upholstery, recessed stainless-steel hardware, backlighted switches, and fully-finished hatches that rise on gas-assist struts.
This boat also excels when it comes to rigging, and it includes not one but two livewells (a 20-gallon well in the aft deck and a 10-gallon livewell in the bow), a nine-inch Garmin GPSMAP 942xs MFD at the helm, and six vertical rodracks on the console in addition to the two flush-mount gunwale rodholders.
Visit Sportsman to learn more.
5. Smoker Craft 162 Pro Angler
The Smoker Craft 162 Pro Angler is all about delivering big fishing potential for a relatively small price tag. Although it starts at just $22,438 with a 50-horsepower Mercury FourStroke on the transom, it rides on a 0.100” thick aluminum semi-V hull with a sharp entry that can take on serious waves. The anglers gain full protection, too, with a fold-over center windshield that closes off the walkthrough and shields the helm and passenger’s seat from wind and spray.
Sure, it has all the expected fishing features (like a 25-gallon livewell, a locking rodbox, pedestal fishing seats, and rigging for a standard bow electric trolling motor), but more than that, it has the capability to head for far-off hotspots out in open waters even when the weather’s tough.
Visit Smoker Craft to learn more.
6. Boston Whaler 170 Montauk
In many fisheries, center consoles are the hands-down choice for fishing boats among both serious and casual anglers, and it’s no wonder why: this design allows for 360-degree fishability, easy maintenance, and maximum adaptability to different types of fishing.
With a starting price of just over $36,000 for a relatively simple boat with just 17 feet of length, the Boston Whaler 170 Montauk may seem like an odd pick for affordability. But there’s more here than meets the eye, because even older model Montauks are just about always in demand. That means that these boats tend to maintain a higher resale value than most other brands. As a result, when you go to resell a 170 Montauk you’re likely to recoup a much higher percentage of your initial investment than usual. So in the long run, you actually end up spending less.
The big selling point of the 170 Montauk is, of course, Whaler’s famous unsinkable construction. These boats are built with fiberglass outer and inner liners, and the gap between them gets pumped full of closed-cell foam under high pressure. When the foam solidifies it bonds with the fiberglass, essentially creating a single unsinkable piece. And this boat come with a big performance perk, too, hitting a sporty 40 mph with the standard-issue 90 horsepower Mercury FourStroke outboard.
Visit Boston Whaler to learn more.
7. Sea Chaser 20 HFC
It’s very difficult to find a full-sized fiberglass 20-foot center console with a nationally advertised price below the $40,000 mark, but Sea Chaser 20 HFC lists at close to $38,000 rigged with a Suzuki DF150ATX3 on the transom. Sea Chaser is part of Carolina Skiff, so this is a high-volume builder which can pull down pricing thanks to economy of scale.
Just what do you get at this level of affordability? 100-percent fiberglass construction, padded coaming bolsters, stainless-steel hardware, a 25-gallon livewell, and a leaning post as opposed to one of the low-cost flip-back cooler seats seen on many price-point boats.
Visit Sea Chaser to learn more.
8. Godfrey SR Sunrise 180 F
Anglers who do their fishing on ponds, lakes, and coastal bays often favor pontoon boats for their fishing machines. While many pontoons (though certainly not all of them) aren’t appropriate for use in large, open waterways, these boats shine in areas where wave heights are limited and they can provide more comfort than just about any other type of fishing boat.
The Godfrey SR Sunrise 180 F is a simple, straightforward pontoon boat with fishing seats in the bow and stern plus a big L-shaped lounger. MSRP stays under the $25,000 bar if you stick with a 25-horsepower Suzuki outboard, notches up to just over $26,000 with 50 horses, and still remains under $29,000 with 75 horsepower on the transom.
An aerated livewell, two rodholders, and tackle stowage compartments are in the mix, but probably the biggest perk is that this boat can handle having nine anglers aboard at the same time and everyone will have a place to sit down. For a fisherman with a big family, that’ll be tough to beat.
Visit Godfrey Pontoons to learn more.
9. Lowe SF214
You can get into some seriously fishy action with the Lowe SF214, which is rigged out to be a competitive predator. It has a rodbox, integrated tackle stowage, four fishing seats, a 13-gallon livewell, and is pre-rigged for a bow-mount electric trolling motor. You’ll surely want that trolling motor as well as the optional Lowrance Hook2 4X fishfinder, but even with these added on to the $20,095 MSRP, price doesn’t go much beyond $21,000. Upgrade the 25-horse stock motor to a 90 HP Mercury FourStroke to put a spring in the boat’s step and the SF214 is still thoroughly affordable, remaining well below the $30,000 mark.
Note that this boat also comes with a huge L-shaped lounger, a dinette table, a heavy-duty Bimini top, and a stereo system. When the fish aren’t biting you’ll still have endless options for family fun, aboard this pontoon boat.
Visit Lowe Boats to learn more.
10. Jeanneau Leader 6.5 Series 3
Some might say that it’s a stretch to call any sportfishing boat large enough to have a cabin affordable. But even in the world of walkaround boats, there’s a huge degree of variability in bang for your buck.
Rigged out with the standard 150-horse outboard, Jeanneau manages to keep the list price of their 22’6” long, 8’2” wide Leader 6.5 Series 3 under $60,000. While the cabin is compact is does have a berth, stowage, and the option for a MSD, so the boat includes all the components that make a cabin a must-have for so many anglers.
The surprise feature on this boat is the foredeck, which is kept flush rather than arching up to expand cabin headroom. This allows Jeanneau to outfit the cabin-top with cushions, turning it into a huge sunpad. Add on the optional ski tow arch, and you have a do-everything, all-weather fishing boat that everyone in the family is going to be thrilled to own.
Visit Jeanneau to learn more.
11. Striper 230 Walkaround OB
Although base price for the Striper 230 Walkaround OB is the highest in our round-up at just under $74,000, in many ways, this boat also provides the most capability of any in the running. The protected helm station has a hard top over it for all-weather usability, and the cabin is large enough to include a convertible dinette table as well as offering perks like an MSD and reading lights.
If you want a boat you can weekend on or stay out on after the sun sets to enjoy some night fishing, this will be a top pick. On top of that, with almost 23’ of length, a wide 8’6” beam, a 20-degree transom deadrise, and 3,800 pounds of displacement, you’ll be comfortable aboard the 230 Walkaround even when the seas kick up.
Visit Striper Boats to learn more.
As we said at the outset, we recognize that “affordable” means different things to different people. But whether you’re blue collar or white, rich or poor, high income or low, it’s a sure bet that you can afford one or more of the fishing boats on this top 10 list.
But if you say your budget is strained and even these aren’t realistic options, check out this bonus boat...
Bonus Boat: Alumacraft V14
The Alumacraft V14 may be Spartan and simple, you can get this brand-new model with a nine-horse outboard (enough to get you on plane with a couple of people aboard) for about $6,000. While there may not be a bunch of fancy fluff and oodles or accessories beyond the bench seats, this sturdy, reliable little rig will have you out on the water and fishing for less money than it would cost to buy a 10-year-old Honda in sort of okay shape.
Which would you prefer: a plain but brand-new fishing boat, or an old used car? Call us biased if you must, but we’d claim that this choice is a no-brainer.
Visit Aluma Craft to learn more.
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