Skip navigation


Boat Buying 101

My definition of a boat is a hole in the water you pour money into. The two happiest days of a boater's life are the day he buys it and the day he sells it. These thoughts can be discouraging when dreaming of all the fun to be had skimming across the lakes in search of the whopper fish you see on fishing shows. The good news is that those sayings do not have to be true. After all, there are hundreds of thousands of boaters enjoying the water every day. By following these seven steps, you will be more likely to be a happy owner of a new fishing boat.
  1. Before you begin to look at boats, you need to answer the question: what type of fishing are you going to be doing? Lakes and rivers both offer different types of fishing but require different types of boats. If you plan to mix it up a little then an all around multi-purpose boat is best.
  2.  The next question is probably the hardest to answer truthfully: who is going to be going out on this boat? You may have hopes for the whole family joining you on every fishing trip but in reality, unless you choose a boat that meets the needs of everyone on board, you will mostly be going alone. Keep in mind that not all spots on the boat are as comfortable as the captain's chair. Make sure that every person on board will be comfortable for a full day of fishing.
  3. One of the biggest mistakes new boat owners make is the size of the boat. Regardless of the boat you can afford today, the boat you can afford to run next week is a big consideration. Fuel consumption varies greatly between boats. Consider the cost of the fuel when contemplating power. If you are looking for speed, a smaller boat can offer similar speeds with less fuel consumption.  Too much boat can be an expense that ruins the experience as much as to little boat.
  4. New or Used? New boats come with warranties and high prices, while used boats come with previous owner's problems. If you plan on buying a new boat, don't buy features you will not use, but don't get caught out on the water wishing you had the features you passed up on in exchange for shiny aesthetics. When it comes to deciding on a new or used fishing boat, it all boils down to what you want to spend for the features you want. A used boat with all the features can bring more satisfaction than a new boat without.
  5. Lasting value is an important consideration. Like cars, boats depreciate faster than other assets. Before purchasing a fishing boat, it is a good idea to see what the resale value for the model that interests you is compared to other models. Some models depreciate faster than others. Spending a little more now may save you a lot later.
  6.  Test-drive the boat before you buy. No matter if the boat is new or used, if the boat does not perform to your comfort, it is better to know before you buy. New boat dealers have boats in show rooms that often deter customers from asking for a test drive. Do not let that deter you from asking. Many dealerships have demo boats available for test drives. All dealers will allow a test drive if they really want to sell the boat.
  7. Negotiate the sale the same as a car. Many new boat buyers assume the sticker price is set in stone. This is not true; dealers expect bargaining.
These are a few tips I consider important when purchasing or even considering a new boat. I hope they come in handy the next time you find yourself pulling out your checkbook for a new or used boat!