Freshwater fishing boats take many forms ranging from teched-out bass boats to simple Jon boats, but with all those options it can be tough to figure out which are the best to choose from. Truth be told, what constitutes “best” is quite subjective, since different anglers have different needs and priorities. Still, no matter who you are nor how you do your fishing, there’s an excellent chance that one of these top 10 picks will fit the bill for your angling needs.
Crestliner 1850 Fish Hawk
The Crestliner 1850 Fish Hawk has been improved for 2023, and this boat boasts key features like a sleek console design that can accommodate 12-inch electronics, has lighted toggle switches, two beverage holders, and a 12-V outlet. It also has an eminently fishable bow, with an elevated casting platform, tons of stowage, and a 12-gallon aerated livewell with a timer. That’s on top of a 15-gallon livewell in the stern. The center locking rodbox holds a whopping 10 rigs, and in an intelligent move, also has a recessed area for stowing a spare battery. Also note that the 1850 Fish Hawk features a 0.10″ gauge bottom, a 0.125″ transom, and 0.09″ gauge sides.
See Crestliner 1850 Fish Hawk boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Crestliner for more information.
Lowe SF 214
Hardcore anglers probably won’t choose a pontoon boat as their fishing machine, but for many family fishermen who ply lakes and inland waterways and want the flexibility to fish one day and pull tow tubes the next, a pontoon boat can be the ideal choice. The Lowe SF 214 is perfect for this sort of multitasking with features like plenty of comfy seating on an L-shaped couch plus four swiveling seats and a fishing station that houses a 23-gallon livewell and four rodholders, a rodbox, and a tacklebox. Factory-installed bow-mounted trolling motors and fishfinders are also among the offerings. Plus, the SF 214 still enjoys all the goodies usually found on family-oriented pontoon boats, like tons of stowage, a nine-foot Bimini top, and a four-step boarding ladder.
For more information on pontoon boats, including fishing pontoons, see Pontoon Boats: A Comprehensive Guide.
See Lowe SF 214 pontoon boats for sale on BoatTrader.
For more information, visit Lowe Boats.
Lund 189 Pro-V GL
The Lund 189 Pro-V GL is designed to handle the big waters that many walleye anglers prowl, with a deep-V entry, a tall protective windshield, and a 2’3” cockpit depth. The fiberglass hull has the Lund IPS design (version 3) with integrated strakes, reverse chines, and large footprint, producing excellent stability and speeds up into the 50-mph range when powered with a 200-hp outboard. And while this isn’t an inexpensive boat, it is a fishing machine that’s rigged to the teeth with goodies like Pro Ride seats on Air Ride pedestals, a four-bank battery charger, integrated tackle rod stowage, a lighted livewell, and a Rockford Fosgate stereo system. Walleye anglers looking for a top-shelf fiberglass offering in a compact, easy to tow package will want to check this one out.
See Lund 189 Pro-V GL boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Lund Boats for more information.
Ranger Comanche Z521R
Competitive bass anglers looking for the best performance around will be checking out the Ranger Comanche Z521R. It’s an absolute top-shelf model (and is priced accordingly) with luxury touches including handmade bucket seats on Soft Ride bases, a padded front deck, tilt hydraulic steering, and flush-mount remote throttle control. Every detail has been addressed on this boat, right down to power-venting the rodboxes so your rigs don’t sit in moist compartments. The package comes with a custom-matched trailer and a 250-hp outboard standard, which puts speeds in the upper 60s. If you want to go 70-plus, you can opt up to a 300-hp powerplant.
To see more dedicated bass boat top picks, also see Best Bass Boats of 2023 and our Bass Boats Ultimate Guide.
See Ranger Comanche Z521L boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Ranger Boats for more information.
Smoker Craft Sportsman 1660
The Smoker Craft Sportsman 1660 can fill a number of needs, as it’s available in a range of configurations. This is basically a big Jon boat (though it has a bit more deadrise than most at 10-degrees), with available options like bow-mount trolling motors, fishfinders, and fishing seats. That makes it ideal for use as a dual-purpose fishing and hunting boat, rigged just the way you want it. Additional notable features include 3/4″ marine ply decking with a vinyl covering, diamond-plate hatches, and locking stowage compartments.
To get more intel on this type of freshwater fishing boat option, check out Jon Boats Guide: Fishing & Hunting Boats.
See Smoker Craft Sportsman 1660 boats for sale on Boat Trader.
Visit Smoker Craft for more information.
Thunder Jet 210 Luxor and Luxor Limited
While it’s a specialized boat with less versatility than many freshwater fishing rigs, the Thunder Jet 210 Luxor (and the Luxor Limited edition) will be a top pick for anglers charging through areas where striking rocks or logs is a distinct possibility. Along with the jet drive, the boat features an unusually thick 0.190” 5086 aluminum hull bottom and 0.125” thick hullsides, plus a 0.250” thick transom. Additional strength comes from fully-welded box stringers and a continuously welded heavy duty keel guard. If you fish in waterways that common boats simply can’t handle, the uber-rugged Thunder Jet will be a top pick.
See Thunder Jet 210 Luxor and Luxor Limited boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Thunder Jet for more information.
Tracker Pro Team 190 TX
Finding a reasonably-priced bass boat that offers good performance and a long list of standard features is not easy in this day and age, but the Tracker Pro Team 190 TX proves it is still possible. The boat-motor-trailer package costs less than most moderately priced new cars, but includes a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard that gets you speeds in the mid-40s, a 21-gallon livewell, a 55-pound-thrust electric trolling motor, a Lowrance Hook5 fishfinder, a two-bank battery charger, a pair of folding fishing seats, an integrated tackle organizer, and rod stowage boxes for up to 16 rigs. In other words, it has everything you need to get serious about bass fishing at a very reasonable cost. Note that the new 2023 model gets special Tracker 45th anniversary badging.
See Tracker Pro Team 190 TX boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Tracker Boats for more information.
Triton 206 Allure
For many anglers pleasing the entire family will be just as important as catching fish, and for them, there are “fish-n-ski” models like the Triton Allure 206. It’s rated for a whopping 250 horses so pulling a water skier out of the hole is no problem, and the Family Package gets you a ski-tow bar plus bow cushions, snap-in cockpit carpet, and a Bimini top. Additional kid-pleasers include a Clarion stereo system, 12-V accessory plugs, and lighted cupholders. Don’t think for a moment that the boat isn’t armed for fishing, though. Stock equipment includes a pair of livewells, rod lockers, a Lowrance Hook 5 fishfinder, a Minn Kota Terrova 80 electric trolling motor with iPilot, and an onboard three-bank battery charger.
See Triton 206 Allure boats for sale on BoatTarder.
Visit Triton Boats to learn more.
The Vexus DVX20 might look like a sport boat at first glance, but under that slick exterior lies the heart of a multi-species freshwater fishing machine. Inside a package built with infused composite construction you’ll find a layout designed for applications ranging from bass fishing to big-water trolling, with an elevated forward casting deck, integrated tackle stowage, an aerated livewell, room for a pair of 12” MFDs at the helm, and a keel-mounted, baffled, epoxy-coated fuel tank system that helps lower the boat’s center of gravity to improve seakeeping and performance. If you can’t choose between species and you want to put some sport in your sport fishing, this one’s a top pick.
See Vexus DVX20 boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Vexus for more information.
Xpress H20 Bay
Though it’s expressly built to withstand the marine environment the Xpress 20 Bay belongs in this round-up, because countless anglers buy a freshwater fishing boat but they also want to be able to fish in the salty stuff now and again — without worrying that exposure to saltwater will destroy their treasured fishing boat. The center console design plus raised fore and aft casting decks with pedestal mounts for raised seats means you can cast for bass one day and hunt barracuda the next, and standard features include an aerated livewell, integrated locking rod boxes, six rodholders, and a prewiring for Garmin or Minn Kota electric trolling motor options. Construction features include all-welded aluminum plus injected foam, and the console and leaning post are aluminum as well.
Find out more about how aluminum boats can play multiple roles, in Aluminum Boats: Everything You Need to Know.
See Xpress H20 Bay boats for sale on BoatTrader.
Visit Xpress Boats for more information.
What sort of freshwater fishing boat lies in your future? Only you can answer that question. But there are plenty of options out there ranging from large to small, expensive to inexpensive, and versatile to mission-specific. Yes, choosing just one may be difficult. But it’s difficulties like this that make life worth living.
See Fishing boats: The Ultimate Guide for a broader look at fishing boats of all types, shapes, and sizes.
Editor’s note: This article was last updated in June of 2023.