You never know quite what to expect when you show up to film a video boat review, and one of the biggest surprises I've had yet was filming the Smoker Craft Pro Angler 162 XL. What could be shocking about a small aluminum fishing boat? In this case, it was the boat’s level of refinement. For a small, inexpensive aluminum rig, there had been a lot of thought put into its design. But for a lot of us, no matter how well-designed a boat is, 16’ of LOA and a 7’7” beam simply aren’t big enough. In that case, it’s time to get cookin’ with the Pro Angler 171 XL.

smoker craft pro angler

The Smoker Craft Pro Angler 171 XL is a compact little fishing machine, but it has quite a bit more beef than its smaller siblings.

From the model designation, this wouldn’t seem like a much larger boat. But another 15 inches of length and five inches of beam actually add up to a significant difference. In fact, the 171 weighs about 30 percent more than the 162. That also means you can pile a lot more power onto the transom, and the 171 XL can handle up to 150 HP. Not that you need them; top end with a Yamaha F115 easily goes beyond 40 MPH, and that engine keeps the price below the $30,000 mark even with an included trailer.
Deadrise17 degrees
Displacement1,350 lbs
Fuel capacity24 gal.
Water capacity0 gal.

The Smoker Craft Pro Angler 171 XL is built with 0.10” thick aluminum in the hull bottom plating and ribs, and 0.08” thick aluminum on the hullsides. The floor is pressure-treated ply, which some will see as a downside. Yes, it does add a lot of weight, but remember that this stuff also carries a lifetime warranty. When they say it won’t rot, they mean it. Another construction highlight is the urethane paint job, which is baked to a super-hard crisp. From the sides, it looks every bit as sharp as gel coat.

The 171 XL has a roto-molded helm, with a relatively small windscreen. Some anglers prefer this arrangement since it allows for more fishing room. Personally, I like a larger wrap-around windshield and the additional protection it provides. That’s why Smoker Craft also has a Pro Angler 172 XL, which is essentially the same boat with a full windshield and a passenger’s side console. Naturally it raises the cost a bit but if this were going to be my fishboat, I’d pay for the upgrade in a heartbeat.

smoker craft 172 xl

Take your pick of windshield arrangements; moving up to the 172 XL adds about $1,200

Since “Pro Angler” is right there in the model name, you probably guessed this boat has some fishing features, too. There are twin livewells, a 15 gallon well in the bow and a hefty 25 gallon well in the stern. There’s also plenty of rod stowage, with locking boxes centered and to port which can hold rigs up to eight feet long. The bow is pre-wired for a trolling motor, and an onboard battery charger is optional. And if towing the kids around the lake on water toys is in the cards, you’ll also want to get the optional ski tow eye.

smoker craft

Three fishing seats also come standard on the Smoker Craft, with additional pedestal mounts in the bow and aft decks.

Performance Data
Test conditions: Winds of 5 - 10 MPH, 2 POB
PowerSingle Yamaha F115 four-stroke outboard, swinging a 13" x 19" three-bladed SS prop. Performance figures courtesy of Yamaha.

Here’s another surprise about Smoker Craft aluminum fishboats: they handle like larger, heavier, more powerful fiberglass boats. The boat carves and banks into turns much better than you’d expect, and doesn’t porpoise at all. Credit goes to the hull design, which is unusually complex for a small aluminum boat. The hull has multiple keels (five in all), a deep V entry, and 17 degrees of transom deadrise. The marketing people at Smoker Craft call it “Hydro Lift."

Now, are you ready for another surprise? Sorry—that’s all I’ve got. But believe me, it’s plenty. Ninety-nine out of 100 small aluminum fishing boats are little more than meets the eye. But in the case of the Smoker Craft Pro Angler 171 XL, you can expect more. And in the long run, that should help you catch more fish.

Other Choices: A boat that tilts a bit more towards family features is the Polar Kraft Kodiak Sport 170. Another that's bound to be of interest is the Princecraft Sport 177.

See Smoker Craft 171 listings.

For more information, visit Smoker Craft.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, 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, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.