There are tons of new fishing boats for sale, but the price of a modern fiberglass center console might make your eyes bug out. One affordable option is often overlooked by anglers: aluminum fishing boats. They’re less expensive, easier to tow, and require less power (which means less fuel) to operate. So, why do so many of us ignore this option? The biggest complaint about aluminum is that it doesn’t look as good as fiberglass. And while that was true at one time, modern baked-on enamel paint jobs have changed this conversation. Here are five aluminum fishing boats that look good, are ready for serious fishing, and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Crestliner 1860 Retriever
You want a fishing boat that can do double-duty as a hunting boat? Then the Crestliner 1860 Retriever is right up your alley. This is basically a fishing boat, with camo for clothing. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether you like the look or not, but the bottom line is that as far as fishing boats go, it’s ready for action. There’s a 23-gallon livewell, fore and aft casting decks with pedestal mounts for fishing seats, and a 52-quart cooler.
We ran this boat when we shot our Crestliner 1860 Retriever Center Console Video Boat Review, and found that with 90 horses on the transom it cruised at close to 30 MPH and hit 41.2 MPH at top-end. So, just how affordable is it? Even with that 90 HP powerplant, price remains under $20,000.
See Crestliner 1860 Retriever listings, or visit Crestliner for more info.
Lowe 22 Bay
This is the largest boat in our round-up, and the only one designed and built specifically for saltwater angling. As such, it’s also the most expensive. But with a price tag of under $40,000, dual-axel trailer included, this package costs little more than many new cars. Plus, it’s an extremely capable fishing machine. Stand-out features include twin livewells (30 gallons aft and 16 gallons forward), built-in tackle stowage, an 82-lb. thrust Motorguide 60 Great White electric trolling motor, and fore and aft casting decks. One knock: the gunwales are too narrow for flush-mounting rodholders. There are plenty of vertical holders on the console, but this boat won’t be the first choice of trollers.
Beefed-up construction features that make the boat appropriate for salty use include a .125” thick hull bottom and .110” sides, a spray-in Gator-Skin interior liner, a heavy-duty extruded keel, and stainless-steel bow and stern eyes, seat bases, and grab rails. Lowe even has an electronics flat at the helm with enough space to flush-mount a display up to nine inches, which is a rarity in any aluminum boat. To learn more about the Lowe 22 Bay, read Lowe 22 Bay: An Aluminum Bay Boat? Or, you can visit Lowe or take a look at some Lowe 22 Bay listings.
Princecraft Sport 177
When I ran this boat (watch Princecraft Sport 177: Video Boat Review), what really grabbed my attention was performance. How many inexpensive aluminum fishing boats can come close to hitting 50 MPH? Not many. But I cruised at about 40 MPH and when I nailed the throttle, hit 49.2 MPH.
That was with a 150 HP Mercury FourStroke outboard, but you can get the prince down well under $30,000 by opting for a 90—which is still plenty of power. And the Sport 177 brings some diversity to your boating, too, with family-friendly touches like a tow bit for water skiing and wakeboarding, big flip-up jump seats, and a deep cockpit with tall gunwales. Yes, it's true that this stuff adds cost without adding fishability, but if you’re an angler who’s also interested in performance and the occasional play-day on the water, this one’s a good pick. Here are some Princecraft 177 Sport listings; you can also find out more details at Princecraft.
Smoker Craft 162 Pro Angler
This little fishing machine looks red hot, and blows the “fiberglass looks better” argument right out of the water. You don’t believe me? Just watch our Smoker Craft 162 Pro Angler XL Video Boat Review, and get a gander at it for yourself – the multi-color swirling hullside graphics won’t disappoint. More importantly, this boat has some unique features that really set it apart from the crowd. Multiple strakes and a keel give it awesome handling, and when I ran this model, I was absolutely shocked at how tight I could carve out turns. A full wrap-around windshield provides all-weather protection. And Smoker Craft backs this boat with a six year stem-to-stern warranty.
What about the price? You’ll spend under $20,000—so it’ll cost you less than some new Harley models. See for yourself, by looking at some Smoker Craft 162 listings. Or, get the builder’s take on things by visiting Smoker Craft.
Tracker Pro Guide V 16
Whether you choose the side console or full windshield version of this boat, with either the minimum 25 HP or the maximum 75 HP powerplant, this rig comes with a custom-matched trailer and a sticker price that never breaks $19,000—and can be as low as under $14,000. And yes, like other Tracker boats that includes a five year stem-to-stern warranty and a lifetime structural warranty.
While a 16’ boat isn’t huge for open lakes and bays, the Pro Guide V 16 does have plenty of capability. The hull sports a deep 20-degree transom deadrise, and with the mid-sized 50 HP powerplant on the transom you can cruise in the mid to upper 20’s while burning just two or three gallons per hour. That means the boat has plenty of range, with its 15 gallon fuel capacity.
Check out Tracker Pro Guide V 16 SC: Fishing For a Winner to find out more about the side console version of this boat in specific, and visit Tracker to see the rest of the line. You can view actual Tracker Pro Guide 16 listings, too.
Your savings account isn't just thin, it's non-existent? And you still want to buy a new boat? Hmmm... maybe you should be reading Fiver New Boats for Under $1,000. All of them are rather petite, but all will get you out on the water. And if your savings account is feeling healthy, you may want to read about 10 Top Fishing Boats for Inshore Anglers.