Buyers Guide: 5 Factors to Consider for Your First Fishing Boat Purchase

Buying your first fishing boat should be an exciting chapter in your life story, however it can be daunting - especially when you're navigating it for the first time. Fear not, future angler! This quick guide is here to help you discover different types of fishing vessels and assist in your road to boat ownership. Let's set sail through the key steps that you need to follow when buying your first fishing boat in Canada.

1. Recognizing Your Fishing & Boating Style

All fishermen aren't created equal; we each have a unique style, preferred catch, and distinct needs when it comes to our aquatic adventures. This is where the search for the ideal fishing boat begins. Take a moment to self-reflect and jot down what truly matters to you while out fishing. While we go over the types of boats later on in this post, here are some key considerations to think about as a starting point:

Nearby Access to Waterways

Knowing where your boating journey will take you is essential to keying in on boat types and boat size. If you're only going to be visiting shallow lakes or rivers, smaller aluminum fishing boats should do the trick. A flat-bottomed Jon boat or modified v-hull could be worth exploring.

On the other hand, if you're on the shores of a deep lake, you might be looking for runabout boats, a deep-V hull or a pontoon boat set up for fishing. If you're oceanside, you may be looking for a deep sea trawler or a fishing-ready yacht.

How Fast Will You Be Boating?

Experienced boaters might be more interested in the idea of high speeds and thus will want a powerful engine. Boat buyers might push for a jet boat and, while it may not be the most practical, fish don't know one boat type from another. Obviosly the noise and vibration may be a detriment for most angles, it is up to you as a buyer to decide on the market you're aiming for.

How Many People Will Be Aboard?

The number of anglers that you plan on having with you will help you decide on a practical boating option. If you're going to have your family ride along on your fishing trips, you'll want a boat that has the ability to comfortably seat everyone.

How Much Storage Will You Need?

Different boat types have varying storage options available. If you're planning to have other anglers and their gear on board, you'll want to narrow down to boats that can accomodate. Luckily, most popular types of boats have ample storage, whether it be in the bow or built-in under the seats.

What Budget Can You Comfortably Handle?

An often overlooked aspect of the boat buying process is the budget. It's crucial to set a realistic budget based on your financial situation. Maybe instead of shelling out for the latest top-tier fishing boat, you find a deal on a quality used fishing boat. This will ensure you don't overextend yourself and set up feasible expectations when shopping around.

A family takes a boat ride in a Princecraft aluminum boat on a lake with a forest in the background.


2. Time to Shop

Armed with your research on personalized criteria and with your budget locked in, it's time to set sail on the shopping voyage. An array of options awaits you both in physical boat dealers near you and on the digital horizon. Online platforms like KIJIJI or Facebook Marketplace are fantastic places to begin your search.

In this section, we'll explore the pros and cons of buying a pre-owned boat privately versus shopping at a marine dealer.

Pros of Buying Privately

  • Without overhead, you can usually find a lower price in the private market.
  • Private sellers are more open to negotiation, potentially allowing you to lower costs.
  • If your location doesn't have a boat dealer, you can explore buying local to you.
  • You'll typically encounter more selection privately, opening up the option for different types of boats.

Cons of Buying Privately

  • There is a higher risk with a lack of warranty protection that a dealer may offer.
  • Without warranty or service noted, there is a higher potential for hidden, undisclosed issues.
  • Requires a higher degree of mechanical expertise to ensure condition is up to par.
  • Buyers must confirm liens and ownership to avoid hidden costs.
  • While financing may be available, it will likely involve extra fees.
    • Pros: Offers warranty, boats are usually mechanically inspected and professionally serviced, financing options available, fallbacks if you have issues.
    • Cons: Prices may be higher, less room for negotiation.

Pros of Shopping at a Marine Dealership

  • More security for boat buyers in knowing the vessel is inspected and serviced.
  • Opens up direct financing options.
  • With an efficient team, they'll likely have you set up for boating much quicker than if you shopped privately.

Cons of Shopping at a Marine Dealership

  • You'll almost always be looking at a higher price point as dealerships focus on profit.
  • Some sales teams focus on high pressure sales, stripping the joy of shopping for your next fishing boat.
  • You'll be tied to the fishing boat options that the dealership has in-stock.


A marina showcasing fishing boats

3. Narrowing Down Types of Boats

Every fishing boat has its unique characteristics. Here are brief descriptions of various types of fishing boats:

  • Center Console Boat: Perfectly adaptable for various fishing situations, these boats feature a fiberglass hull, ample cockpit space, and multiple outboards or stern drives.
  • Walkaround Boat: A versatile option for nearshore and offshore fishing, walkaround boats have a large center console housing a step-down cabin, providing 360-degree access to fishing.
  • Cuddy Cabin Boat: These boats are ideal for fishing in all waters and provide added shelter in rough seas, thanks to their forward cabin.
  • Power Catamaran Boat: With their twin deep-V hull sponsons connected by a wide deck, power catamarans are perfect for nearshore and offshore fishing.
  • Dual-Console Boat: Dual-console boats have matched consoles to port and starboard, providing fishing capabilities in all waters.
  • Express Boat: Best suited for offshore and nearshore fishing, express boats have a step-up or level helm area open to the cockpit.
  • Bay Boat: Designed for open bays, larger seaworthy models also allow offshore fishing.
  • Flats Skiff: Inshore fishing, especially in extreme shallows, is best done on a flats skiff.
  • Flats Scooter: Designed specifically for inshore fishing in wading depths.
  • Runabout: Perfect for inshore fishing and general inshore use.
  • RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat): Often used as a tender on larger boats, RIBs can be rigged for fishing in a full range of waters.
  • Jon Boat: Suitable for inshore fishing in protected waters, these boats feature a flat-bottomed design.
  • Convertible Boat: Also known as "sportfisherman" or "sport-fisher," convertible boats are the classic offshore fishing boats, suitable for long-range cruising and big-game angling.

4. Financing Your Boat

Thanks to various financing options available in Canada, you may be able to find your dream boat without breaking the bank. Boat loans are offered by most major banks in Canada, boat dealerships and online brokers. For a full breakdown of options, check out our guide to marine financing in Canada.


A customer signs boat loan documents in an office

5. Closing the Deal

Sealing the purchase of your boat purchase is the final step in our journey. Here are important points to consider when finalizaing:

  • If you're financing your boat, make sure you thoroughly read through your loan documents. Understand the terms, conditions, and repayment plan fully. If you have any questions or uncertainties, do not hesitate to seek clarification.
  • Acquiring boating insurance is another essential part of the process. If financing, your loan provider may require comprehensive coverage as a part of the loan agreement. Even if it's not required, it's a smart move to protect your investment against potential damage or loss.
  • Ensure you are properly licensed to operate your boat. Be sure to check with your local regulatory body to secure the appropriate license. Your pleasure craft or vessel can be registered at no cost through the Goverment of Canada's website.
  • Get to know your boat by reading over the owner's manual or finding information online. Familiarizing yourself with your boat's features, capabilities, and maintenance needs is key to owning and operating it responsibly.
  • Ensure you have a proper bill of sale, which should include the boat's details, sale price, and the signatures of both the buyer and seller. This document serves as proof of your ownership, so keep it safe and accessible.

With everything we've touched on in this article, you should be better eqipped to buy your next fishing boat. By simply accounting for your needs, shopping carefully and planning your finances, you and your family will be set to enjoy your new fishing boat purchase!

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