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 that 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 16-gallon livewell, fore and aft casting decks with pedestal mounts for fishing seats, and vertical rodracks for six rigs.
We ran this boat when we shot our Crestliner 1860 Rertriever 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, pricing is only slightly above $20,000.
See Crestliner 1860 Retriever listings.
Lowe 22 Bay
This is the largest boat in our round-up, and as such, it’s also the most expensive. But with a price tag of well under $50,000 fully rigged and ready to fish – with a dual-axel trailer included – this package costs little more than many igh-end 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, a Motorguide VariMax V55SW electric trolling motor, a Lowrance Hook2 fishfinder, 7’6” locking rodboxes, and fore and aft casting decks.
Beefed-up construction features that make the boat appropriate for salty use include a .125” thick hull bottom, optional Seadeck bow and stern deck liners, a heavy-duty extruded keel, stainless-steel bow and stern eyes, fore and aft seat bases, and grab rails. To learn more about the Lowe 22 Bay, read Lowe 22 Bay: An Aluminum Bay Boat?
See Lowe 22 Bay listings.
Ranger RB 190
When we ran this boat (check out our Ranger RP 190: Bold New Aluminum Bay Boat review and video, which we created before Ranger decided to change the “RP” to “RB”), what really grabbed our attention was performance. How many inexpensive aluminum fishing boats can cruise at over 30 MPH and break 45 MPH at wide-open? Not many. But this one does, and it takes on a bay chop with no problem as it zips across the water’s surface.
That performance was with a Yamaha 115 SHO outboard, but you can get the prince down to well under $30,000 by opting for a 90 HP FourStroke Mercury, which is still plenty of power. And even at that very affordable price, the boat comes with a long list of standard features including big-ticket items like a custom-built Ranger trailer, hydraulic steering, Rawhide (bedliner-style) coating on the gunwales and interior, a Minn Kota Edge 70 electric trolling motor, a Lowrance Hook2 fishfinder, and an aerated livewell with a timer and removable divider.
See Ranger RB 190 listings.
Smoker Craft 162 Pro Angler
This little fishing machine looks so sweet, it 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 we ran this model, we were absolutely shocked at how tight we 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 in the mid to upper $20,000 range, though if you choose max horsepower and cram on the goodies it is possible to break the $30K mark. Either way, it’ll cost you less than some new Harley-Davidson models.
See Smoker Craft 162 Pro Angler listings.
Tracker Pro Guide V 16
Whether you choose the side console (V-16 SC) or full windshield (V-16 WT) version of this boat, with a standard Mercury FourStroke 60 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 $15,295 if you don’t mind slow speeds and are willing to de-tune to a 25 HP engine. 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 60 HP powerplant on the transom you can cruise in the mid to upper 20’s while burning just a few gallons per hour. That means the boat has plenty of range, with its 25.5 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.
See Tracker Pro Guide V 16 listings.
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 Five 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 the 10 Top Boats For Inshore Anglers.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in June 2015 and updated in March 2019.