The aluminum-versus-fiberglass debate has raged on ever since fiberglass arrived on the boatbuilding scene. While both materials have their own advantages, for some reason aluminum fishing boats over 20 feet have never really thrived in most saltwater fishing categories.

Take bay boats, for example. Why wouldn’t aluminum make for a good bay boat? It’s lighter, so all other things being equal it has less draft and requires less power. It’s rugged, so running aground isn’t as much of a problem. And these days aluminum builders are pretty good at forming curves and angles in aluminum hulls, so wave-splitting designs aren’t a problem, either. What gives?

The number one reason is silly, but it’s true: the biggest complaint fiberglass boat owners have with aluminum is that it doesn’t look as good.

lowe 22 bay

The new Lowe 22 Bay looks sharp, both inside and out.

Looking at this picture, you can make your own judgement as to whether this factor is much of an impediment or not. And note that the white interior is covered in Gator Skin, which is thoroughly grippy but a lot less painful to kneel on than molded diamond non-skid fiberglass. What about the console? Yeah, that’s actually fiberglass.

What other downsides are there to having an aluminum bay boat? Since it’s lighter, it’ll drift a bit faster in the breeze. And mounting certain accessories (like gunwale rodholders) can be more challenging. Plus, the narrow gunwales don’t allow you to walk from the stern casting deck to the bow, which is possible on most fiberglass bay boats. But this is a classic trade-off; on the flip side of the equation, the narrow gunwales net you more useable interior volume.

And here’s the kicker: aluminum isn’t as expensive as fiberglass in this case. You can get a fully rigged Lowe 22 Bay for under $40,000—and that price includes a matched dual-axel I-beam trailer.

electric trolling motor

The bow is designed with a saltwater electric trolling motor in mind.

On the fishing front, the expected bay boat attributes are ready for a day of fish-hunting: there are fore and aft casting decks, vertical rodholders in the console, a 30 gallon aft livewell and a 16-gallon forward livewell, a tackle stowage compartment with four trays, and a cooler in the bow flanked by a pair of locking rod lockers. Flip-up aft jump seats with stowage underneath are built into the aft deck. Plus, unlike most bay boats, both electronics and a trolling motor come standard. The boat is rigged with a (upgradeable) Lowrance X-4 Pro at the helm, and a 82-lb. thrust Motorguide 60 Great White saltwater edition 24-volt electric on the bow.
Displacement2,087 lbs
Fuel capacity41 gal.

One of the great things about running aluminum boat is their ruggedness. Ram an oyster bar with a glass hull, and you’ll be in for a day of gel coat repair. With aluminum, you’ll most likely bounce right off. And in this case, the hull has been beefed up to ensure it’s as tough as they get. The Lowe 22 Bay has 0.125” thick aluminum in the four-piece reverse-chine hull, and 0.110” thick metal in the sides. It’s all-welded, and the gunwales and keel are extruded.

Naturally, aluminum isn’t going to be the material of choice for all bay boat anglers. But if its assets fit the bill for your style of fishing and the detriments don’t deter you, the Lowe 22 Bay is going to be a must-see model.

Other Choices: All aluminum bay boats are rare, so shoppers should stack up the Lowe 22 Bay against fiberglass models like the Carolina Skiff Sea Chaser 21 LX Bay Runner.

See Lowe 22 Bay listings.

For more information, visit Lowe.