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Watercraft Article

Ten cheap ways to get yourself on the water

Date: 8/04/07
Tackle Type: Watercraft
Manufacturer: Various
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: Do boaters always catch more fish than shore anglers? Not always, but they do have a distinct advantage when it comes to being able to move around to locate the fish. In addition to mobility, anglers on the water are able to employ a wider array of lures and techniques. I would also argue the added element of fishing from the water adds to the overall experience itself, and for me there is nothing more therapeutic than a day spent "on" the water. So what stops anglers from boating? Usually the cost. Owning a boat can be expensive, and not everyone wants to store, maintain, or service a boat. But getting on the water doesn't have to be a costly endeavor, and we explore ten different ways to get on the water, for less than you might expect.   


The Water Skeeter Day Tripper Pontoon Float is ideal for the pack in angler


Water Skeeter Day Tripper Pontoon Float: Float tubes actually have the advantage of getting into waters that bigger craft can't access. For those looking for the opposite of a large boat Water Skeeter's Day Tripper is the ultimate in portability. This combination tube/pontoon float only weighs seventeen pounds, yet is able to support 350lbs of weight. The pontoons allow the float to ride higher than a normal float tube, and anglers have two 420 denier storage compartments for tackle. The Pontoons have .5mm PVC bladder with Boston valve protected by a durable 420 denier outer cover that's triple-stitched for added strength. The top section has a head rest and attaches to the pontoons with adjustable straps. When its time to go the entire pontoon packs into an included 420 denier backpack with adjustable shoulder straps. This option only costs $149.99 and allows anglers to get on the water quickly.   


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Low cost! L Anglers get wet
J Easy to transport L Unable to cover a lot of water
J Can operate in skinny water L Can't carry too much gear


The Outcast Prowler Tube comes with a full length inflatable floor and 54 ounce hydration bladder

Outcast Prowler Float Tube: The Outcast Prowler is the SUV of float tubes and offers anglers a heavy duty 600 denier PVC construction.
Designed for all-day fishing, the Prowler is equipped with a 54 ounce hydration bladder and a full-length inflatable floor, helping make this among the driest tubes for both anglers and equipment. The U shaped tube is more hydrodynamic and is designed for improved overall ergonomics. Outcast is known for quality, and they back this tube with a five year warranty. The Prowler will set you back $450.00, and is a good tube for serious trout and bass anglers.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Good for trout anglers L Anglers will still get wet
J Easy to transport L Unable to cover a lot of water
J Hydration pack L High cost for a tube


The Outcast Fish Cat Streamer XL gets angler out of the water, and is able to cover more distance


Outcast Fish Cat Streamer XL Pontoon Boat: I'm a big fan of inflatable pontoon boats. These versatile boats are not just for  trout anglers anymore, and more and more bass anglers are starting to make use of these boats. Anglers can carry plenty of gear, and many even customize the boat since it has a rigid aluminum frame. The Outcast Fish Cat Streamer is an extremely affordable boat and can be maneuvered with either fins or the 6 foot aluminum oars. This boat can be set up relatively quickly (not as quick as a float tube but still pretty quick) and is also easy to pack into a car. The Fish Cat retails for only 379 dollars and is a great way to get to fishing on your local river or lake.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Low cost! Great value! L Setup takes longer than a float tube
J Stable and anglers stay dry L Can't be carried over long distances
J Can carry more gear  
J Able to cover a decent amount of water  


The Water Skeeter Fish Guide is designed for serious pontoon fishing, and is a great boat for fly fishermen

Water Skeeter Fish Guide Pontoon Boat: Though not recommended as your first pontoon boat, if you do find that you like fishing from a pontoon and would like to step up to a premium boat here's the one you want. The Water Skeeter Fish Guide is a much more rugged and feature rich pontoon. Built with PVC-coated 1200 Denier pontoons and a heavy-duty powder-coated aluminum frame the Water Skeeter's can handle much rougher water, but when you get into motionless water you are actually able to stand up on the standing platform and cast. This is a great boat for fly fishermen but bass anglers will also like the raised storage deck, aluminum rod holder and multi purpose storage bag. Best of all if you don't want to row the Fish Guide has an aluminum plate motor mount capable of holding a trolling motor. The Fish Guide retails for 899 dollars.

              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Ability to handle rough water L Setup takes longer than a float tube
J Casting deck great for fly anglers L Can't be carried over long distances
J Can carry a lot of gear L High cost of ownership
J Motor mount  

The Kwick Tek Airhead is a great value, and is able to carry two anglers from point "A" to "B" quickly


Kwik Tek Airhead 2 person Travel Kayak: Want to go camping and still bring a two person watercraft? The Kwik Tek Airhead inflatable kayaks are excellent for camping, vacationing, exploring remote lakes. Perfect for the paddling enthusiast that doesn't want to drive around with a kayak on their rooftop, these travel kayaks fit easily into the trunk of your car, and setup in a matter of minutes. Not designed for serious white water, but good enough for moderate conditions, this boat's quality design allows you to get moving faster and easier than any of the boats we have looked at so far. The boat not only features low drag, but has superior tracking due to 4 bottom fins. This boat is able to support one angler and plenty of gear or two people with some additional tackle. The Kwik Tek Airhead 2 person travel kayak is a great overall value at only 299 dollars.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Great value! L Can't stand up and fish
J Portable and quick to setup L Not a kayak for the ocean
J Can carry two anglers  
J Ability to handle moderate water  
J Can cover decent amount of water quickly  

The Perception Prodigy is a good starter kayak for those that prefer a sit inside design for stability


Perception Prodigy 12 Kayak: Kayak fishing is all the rage now and there are really two distinct designs, sit in or sit on top versions. The Sit in version can feel more stable, but anglers do sacrifice some mobility when fighting fish. The Perception Prodigy 12 Kayak is a recreational kayak with a roomy cockpit and signature hull design for easy maneuverability. It can be customized and is a good starter kayak for those looking for a boat to do some exploring and fishing. The Prodigy retails for 699 dollars.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Decent value L More oriented towards kayaking than fishing
J Good starter kayak L Harder to transport, not packable
J Anglers stay dry L Not a kayak for the ocean
J Can cover decent amount of water quickly  

Like kayak fishing? The Prowler offers anglers a much greater number of features and is able to handle some ocean applications too


Ocean Kayak Prowler 13: Time to get serious about kayak fishing? The Prowler 13 is a mid ranged kayak that is able to handle rougher water, and even the ocean. An ideal choice for recreational paddlers who want performance from a sit-on-top kayak. Features an oversized tank well, side carrying handles, backrest, large bow hatch with neoprene cover, and a 6'' center hatch with storage bucket. This kayak offers anglers more customizable area, more stability, and generous fish fighting freedom. There are plenty of storage areas perfect for the latest crop of kayak specific bags. The Prowler 13 retails for 849 dollars and is a good boat for a wide range of angling applications.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Good overall value L Harder to transport, not packable
J Rich features  
J Ocean capable  
J Can cover decent amount of water quickly  

Simple, easy to use, and cheap, the Sevylor Fish Hunter

Sevylor Fish Hunter: If you don't want to spend a lot of money and like a more conventional boat the Sevylor Fish Hunter might be the boat for you. This simple inflatable comes in two sizes, 9'2" and 12', and retails for only 149 and 219 dollars respectively. These boats can be paddled or fitted with a motor mount, and for safety the boat is multi-chambered. The hull is constructed from 30 gauge PVC, and even comes with inflatable seats. While not my first choice for a watercraft if you are on a budget this boat does exactly what it is designed to do. If you do like this style of boat but want more fishermen friendly features you can also check out Sea Eagle's offerings.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Downright cheap! L Not the most durable boat
J Easy to setup L Doesn't have a hard floor
J Multi-chambered  


Zander's first boat was a Bass Hunter, and these boats though somewhat funny looking are serious fishing machines


Bass Hunter UBH: I've always had a special place in my heart of the Bass Hunter, as this was the first watercraft I ever owned, and really learned to fish from a boat on this curious looking boat. Though strange in appearance the Bass Hunter is a serious fishing boat and the UBH (Ultra Bass Hunter) is the latest version of a old favorite. Bass Hunter Boats have been known for their quality stability since 1977, and this little boat boasts a whopping 550 lb. load capacity and will easily handle up to a 5 hp. outboard and trolling motor. One of the best things about this boat is that it can handle both motors, one in the front and one in the back. Versatility is what this boat is all about and if you have a pond nearby nothing beats a Bass Hunter. The 9 1/2' version retails for 649 dollars, and you will need to invest in at least a battery and trolling motor right away.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Very stable L Harder to transport, need a truck or your strapping the UBH to the roof
J Carry plenty of gear L Needs power to move
J Customizable  
J Good overall value  



Ready to move up to a gas powered motor? A Jon boat is a good place to start

Tracker 1032 Jon Boat: A Jon boat isn't as close as you get to a real boat, it really is a real boat. These shallow boats are able to operate in just inches of water and can be powered with either electric trolling motors, low hp gas motors, or both at the same time. The 2007 1032 Tracker Topper is a light two person Jon boat capable of holding 314lbs and is made out of heavy duty marine alloy. This tough boat weighs in at 80lbs and is rated for a 3HP gas motor. The boat costs 479 dollars without a motor, and a good place to start would be a 50lb thrust electric trolling motor. Move up to a gas motor when you want to spend a little more money and cover more water.


              Advantages                                  Disadvantages

J Able to support a motor L Higher cost
J Cover more water L Needs a motor
J Carry more gear L Harder to transport
J A real boat!  


Conclusion: Getting on the water doesn't have to cost a lot of money, and determining which watercraft is for you really depends on your own personal requirements. Every angler looks for something different in a boat, and much of this is determined by the type of water and species that is being pursued. It is good to know that when it is time to get off the shore and onto the water there are choices. All of these watercraft are not only affordable but easy to procure as well. In fact. every single one of these boats can be shipped directly to you from Basspro.com. While you may not always catch more fish on the water, odds are you will still have a good time looking for the fish from your tube, pontoon, or Jon Boat. Always boat safe, and see you on the water!










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