Are Polyethylene Built Boats Good for Fishing?

The first boat I ever owned was built of polyethylene, and it was a good fishing boat. In fact, it was awesome – for a 10-footer, that is. You can’t find a boat much smaller then the Leisure Life Bass Tender, and you sure wouldn’t want to take one of these out into an open [...]

31st March 2010.
By Lenny Rudow

The first boat I ever owned was built of polyethylene, and it was a good fishing boat. In fact, it was awesome – for a 10-footer, that is. You can’t find a boat much smaller then the Leisure Life Bass Tender, and you sure wouldn’t want to take one of these out into an open bay. But when it comes to a pair of anglers probing small waters with light tackle, this little critter was tough to beat. Since then I’ve been “told” many times that poly boats aren’t any good, and stink for fishing. Yet not long ago I acquired another one (a 12′ Sun Dolphin) which has since proven its worth both in lakes and in the salt marsh. Why do I firmly believe that poly is a great boat-building material? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Con #1. Poly boats are heavier then similarly-sized aluminum boats. This is a fact. If you’re looking for a jon boat you can easily carry yourself, a poly boat probably isn’t the best bet because it’ll weigh 40- to 60-percent more then aluminum.

Pro #1. Poly boats are incredibly stable for their size, due to the weight. You can literally stand up and walk around in a 12-footer, without rocking the boat. In fact, in my experience poly boats are somewhere between 40- to 60-percent more stable then aluminums of a similar size… go figure.

Con #2. Poly boats don’t look good.

Pro #2. Well, they don’t. But the absence of a shiny gel coat also means there’s nothing to oxidize and nothing to wax. In fact, there’s also no wood to rot. Which leads me to…

Pro #3. They’re maintenance-free. I don’t mean low-maintenance, I mean no maintenance. Call the ugly little thing a Clorox bottle if you like – I don’t care. It’ll keep on floating for decades without one iota of work on my part, just like the real thing. Even if you do your best to destroy ‘em, because…

Pro #4. They’re virtually indestructable. Ram docks with a poly boat, drag one across a cement boat ramp, whatever – you just can’t hurt one of these things.

The bottom line? Polyethylene boats make for awesome fishing boats. And awesome hunting boats. And awesome whatever boats. If you want a no-frills, no-maintenance, indestructible pond-hopper, check poly out.

Polyethylene (plastic) is an excellent boatbuilding material. This Triumph was rammed into a piling repetedly, to check out its hardiness - no damage was done.

Polyethylene (plastic) is an excellent boatbuilding material. This Triumph was rammed into a piling repetedly, to check out its hardiness – no damage was done.


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About the author:

Lenny Rudow

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Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including Boats.com and Yachtworld.com. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design who has won 28 BWI and OWAA writing awards.
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