The Best Pontoons For Fishing And Ideal Fishing Features To Install
More than 70% of the Earth is comprised of water.
And youre itching to explore it all, because in that water is an abundance of fish.
Fishing is one of the most popular marine sports of them all, largely because it brings us so close to nature and wildlifeand because its so darn relaxing.
And theres no better way to relax and fish than in a pontoon boat. After all, this is a unique boat offering stability, style, space and comfort. Plenty of space for fishing gear, rod holders and friends.
Whether you take pleasure in harpooning, gill-netting, bottom trawling or using open nets, pens, cages and traps to get your catch of the day, it goes without saying that youll need a good, sturdy boat to aid you in your questand pontoons make for particularly great fishing boats.
Not only that, but electronic navigation charts and fishing maps will turn a pontoon into the ultimate fishing boat, allowing you to plan your routes and find fish with ease.
Thats getting more into the features end of things. First, lets start with the pontoon brands that have the best options for fishing.
Top Pontoon Boat Manufacturers And Companies In The Usa
While most pontoon manufacturers create products for the leisure market, others manufacture pontoons for scientific investigation, rescue missions, or environmental cleanup applications. In this article, well be covering the top pontoon manufacturers according to Pontoon & Deck Boat magazines Whos Who list, as well as the most popular pontoon suppliers on Thomasnet.com located in the U.S.
At a glance:
Bennington S168 8 Narrow Beam Cruiser Pontoon Boat
Bennington is one of the premiere pontoon boat builders and their S168 is a model that was designed for pleasure on the water. Its one of the best selling luxury pontoon boats that can be ordered with Bimini Blue Ice LED lighting, and a Bimini Top Double Short of 10ft, a Mooring Cover storage bag and an upgrade to a 4 step stainless steel ladder. This boat can be built in a variety of configurations which include Pure comfort recliner seats which swivel from side to side to give you a panoramic view of your surroundings whether youre in motion or stationary.
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Lowe Retreat 270 Extended Wt
Starting at just under $50,000 this vessel features a massive passenger capacity for its size, holding up to 14 people across the almost 28 feet of onboard length. The boat features dual captains chairs and plenty of bench seating throughout, along with a raised console with premium technology, Bimini top, and plenty of under-seat storage for all your take-alongs.Manitou 27 XT SHP Dual Engine
This speed demon from Manitou features a premium dual-engine design that delivers powerful performance, and it doesnt compromise on quality or finish at that expense. 800 horsepower comes standard and the crisp handling ensures that you can enjoy the ride on any waters, with Sport Master gear gases and plenty of features that make showing off fun. At just over 28 feet, this boat is big enough for 15 guests and the custom details on the interior are sure to appeal to every style.
Visit Lowe Boats for more information.
Sylvan Mirage 820 Party Fish
Sylvan Mirage 820 Party Fish
The guys want to go fish while the girls want to cruise in the sun. Sylvans 820 Party Fish does both at the same time thanks to its innovative layout and clever design. Standard features include a Jensen stereo with Bluetooth streaming, twin bow lounge seats, a mid-ships lounge, a stylish fiberglass helm console and twin fishing seats in the stern complete with a full fishing station with rod holders, a live well and tackle storage. It all combines to make the Sylvan Mirage 820 Party Fish one of the most versatile small pontoons in the industry.
- Length: 20 10
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Nrs 14′ River Cataraft
Image from nrs.com
The NRS 14 River Cataraft is the luxury and yet ultimate sportsmans version of the basic inflatable pontoon boat. At almost 14 feet in length and weighing 72 pounds, it has a large upper frame allowing for 2-3 passengers, all the while carrying gear for those trips to that overnight campsite. The pontoons are made of heavy-duty Pennel Orca material which is super abrasion, chemical and UV-resistant for extra durability.
The tubes are comprised of three air chambers, allowing maximum peace of mind in any emergency situation. The Cataraft has a 10-year retail warranty, which goes a long way to ensure they stand behind their product. This is the inflatable you would raft down a river with and have no worries that it would pop on the first rapid you came across. The Cataraft is built to last, and strong enough to endure some major force in its everyday use.
Department Of Parks And Recreation
As well as law enforcement, the department of parks and creation also use compact pontoons. Its common for park rangers to have to clean up junk in difficult to reach places such as narrow creeks. A full-sized pontoon would have difficulty getting into these spots. Because of this, it makes sense for them to use compact toons which can fit into these tighter waters.
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Best Cruising Pontoon Boat: Tahoe 2585 Grand Tahoe Ql
The Tahoe offers the best all-round features to make it an excellent cruising pontoon boat. With a single Mercury Verado 300hp outboard, the Tahoe tops out at around 45 mph, with an effective range of just under 160 miles at 15mph.
Starting at just under $110,000, the Tahoe can be specced with innovative lifting strakes on its three hulls that help promote an efficient cruise and soft ride.
The Tahoe is brimming with standard equipment but the few upgrades youll need to cater for cruising include an electric roof, Garmin MFD and ottoman cooler.
Even allowing for all those upgrades you will end up with change from $125,000, so its hardly surprising that Tahoes flagship is a favoured touring pontoon for family and friends.
Why Are Pontoon Boats So Popular
The significant upsides of the pontoon boat design are a very shallow draft, low wetted area and a very stable, flat ride.
The fastest recorded pontoon boatTooned In, a South Bay 925CR with twin 330hp Promax engines, achieved an average speed over a mile of 114mph back in 2013.
The luxury end of this segment has a number of manufacturers vying to create the perfect pontoon boat for its customers.
With prices ranging from just over $30,000 to north of $400,000, the level of performance and luxury can be tailored to suit any budget.
There are options for fishing, water sports, lounging at anchor and of course long-distance cruising the 5,500-mile Great Loop from Florida to the Great Lakes and back has been completed on pontoon boats on more than one occasion.
Outboard power is the dominant option when it comes to pontoon boats
More focused examples of the breed include the fishing-orientated pontoon boats from the likes of Ranger and Sun Tracker.
These feature live bait wells, dedicated rod and tackle storage, electric trolling motors and ground anchors, providing the perfect boat for sneaking into shallow and hard to access fishing holes.
Easy-access sterns make pontoon boats ideal for watersports
Pontoon boats can be deceptively quick
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What Is A Small Pontoon Boat
A small pontoon boat is a smaller sized version of a regular pontoon boat. The boats come in many different shapes and sizes for each kind of use. They break down into a few key categories:
Narrow: This type of pontoon boat works best for narrow rivers and streams. This way, you’ll be able to navigate the challenging water much easier.
Compact: A compact pontoon boat fits best for families looking to get started on a budget. This combines luxury with affordability on the water. Not to mention, these small boats still feature many of the same comforts of a larger pontoon boat.
The following YouTube video from Sun Tracker shows their BASS BUGGY compact pontoon boat in action:
Mini: The lightest and smallest pontoon boats are the mini size. These work best for those looking to go on the water with 1 to 2 people max. Some larger mini pontoon boats can fit 3 to 4 people, yet it’s a very tight fit. They’ll fit a small amount of fishing gear, and there isn’t much room for anything else!
The following YouTube video shows one of the smallest mini pontoon boats available:
Misty Harbor Viaggio Del Mar U
Although Misty Harbor lists pricing for the Viaggio line without power at a hair over $21,000 for an 18-footer theres plenty of cha-ching left over for an outboard up into the 50 or 60 horsepower range.
And this pontoon boat has a stand-out feature that many affordable pontoons lack: four full-sized lounger seats. Most models this size utilize an L-shaped lounge aft with a walkthrough to one side. But the Del Mar U instead has a pair of facing J-shaped loungers with a walkthrough in the middle, both in the bow and in the stern, plus helm and passengers chairs.
Visit Misty Harbor Boats to learn more.
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Just When You Thought Pontoons Couldn’t Be Even More Luxurious
Forget the old days of the party barge with a picnic table on it. Todays luxury pontoon boats set entirely new standards of on-water decadence.
With their luxurious interiors, seating for the whole family and more, galleys complete with grills and refrigerators, exceptional stereo systems and all sorts of eye-popping options, todays top-end pontoon boats bring unprecedented luxury and performance to the water. With multi-engine designs that can handle twin 300s or even twin 400s, they deliver performance to rival the best speed boats, while innovative engineering ensures that power goes hand-in-hand with nimble handling for the ultimate thrill ride.
Still think of pontoons as just glorified rafts? Perhaps these luxury pontoon boats will change your mind, as we look at six of the years hottest tube boats.
Love the versatility of a pontoon but really like that open transom that only comes with sterndrive-powered runabouts? Bennington lets you have your cake and eat it too with its sterndrive-powered QX25. Featuring the companys popular Swingback stern seat, this pontoon blends stylish design with riveting performance and serious interior luxury. Standard features include everything right down to a kitchen sink so you can enjoy all the comforts of home. Just take one look at the QX25 and you can see that this is one of the best luxury pontoon boats around.
G3 SunCatcher Diamond Elite 326SS
Cypress Cay C 171 Cruise
Youd rather have a smaller boat thats loaded to the gills with every conceivable option and accessory, as opposed to a larger one with less glitz and glam? Then its time to check out the Cypress Cay C 171, which sits under the $18,000 mark with a 50 horse Mercury FourStroke on the transom. That leaves plenty of room in the budget to check off the box for each and every option.
The C 171 Cruise also offers a seating arrangement thats a bit different from the norm, with an aft forward-facing couch, helm and passengers pedestal seats, and a pair of forward loungers. So despite this boats relatively small size, all eight passengers still have a comfy spot to plop down.
Visit Cypress Cay to learn more.
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Sunchaser Geneva Cruise 20 Crs
Most pontoon boats have oodles of seating, but that comes at the cost of deck space. If youd like to have some open deck in addition to the couches and loungers, the Geneva Cruise 20 CRS is likely to catch your eye.
This model features facing couches forward and a big L-lounge with dinette aft to port, but the starboard side is kept wide-open aft of the helm chair. That means youll have plenty of elbow room as you get the tow toys ready for fun, or climb back aboard after a dip in the lake. Added bonus: add the third tube and this boat can take 200-horsepower, seriously amping-up performance and speed.
Visit SunChaser to learn more.
Pontoon Trailers Scissor Lift Pontoon Trailer
This pontoon trailer is a scissor lift style that features a cantilever center lift design. The style is the easiest for launching in shallow waters. The most notable features of this pontoon boat tailer include the high reliability of the lighting system. The wiring is fully grounded and all of the plug wiring is concealed for extra protection from damage. The single axle system is designed to provide a quiet operation because of the use of nylon bushings. The wheel bearings are easy to maintain because of the Sure Lube Wheel Bearing Grease system. The safety cables coil so you can store them out of the way when theyre not needed. The trailer is black powder coated for a durable and attractive finish and the tongue jack is included with the trailer.
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Tips For New Pontoon Or Tritoon Buyers:
If buying a new pontoon or tritoon, from a boat dealer make sure you are going to have a good relationship after the sale. One thing to consider is how close they are for when you need service.
When buying from a dealer, be sure you are not buying a pontoon that has extra equipment you dont need.
Often dealers will try to sell you the extended warranty and other upgrades that are often times unnecessary.
Venture Pontoon Trailer Tandem Axle Vpt 24
This is ventures premium tandem axle pontoon trailer with brakes. This premium trailer is available with galvanized wheels, and tandem axle brakes. It is made with stainless steel hardware and it comes with a dual wheel tongue jack. Its designed for strength, reliability and durability. Venture is a reasonably priced brand that offers basic trailers that can be upgraded upon request.
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Sweetwater 2086 Fc Model
The Sweetwater 2086 FC model is 20.6 feet long, but still maintains an 8.6 foot beam. It comes with a bow rod lockable storage box with tackle tray included, as well as an aerated live well and several rod holders for fishing convenience. It has two 23 foot pontoons, with an outboard of only 90 hp, although it has multiple captains chairs for the ultimate comfort while fishing.
Transhield Pontoon Boat Cover
The last item on this list is not to be belittled as it is still an excellent contender to beat the competition, thanks to its noteworthy characteristics and features.
Starting off its list of traits is its all-weather resistant construction. I subjected the fabric to different weather conditions, including rain, sun, and snow. All experiments returned with positive results. So, this durable polyethylene material does not joke about its hard-wearing traits.
This kit also comes with multiple underbelly sewn-in straps. With these components, they offer a tight and secure fit to pontoons from 18 to 26 ft. in length. Also, the range it covers is slightly better than others as some models can only cater to lengths of about 21 to 24 ft. or 18 to 21 ft.
As for its breathability, it is nothing short of impressive. The soft interior wicks away moisture while enabling proficient pass-through for water vapor. This translates to the reliable prevention of mold and mildew growth. Kindly note that my pontoon remained dry after a heavy downpour, which is a good sign.
I did find that the water pooled at the center. Still, removing the stagnant water is easy and doesnt take too much of my time.
- Waters pools at the center after a downpour
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Versatile And Easy To Handle
Have you ever heard that smaller vessels are difficult to handle?
Never! I believe.
Small pontoon boats are flexible enough to operate, dock, tow, and store due to smaller size and light-weight. They can be used to carry out many fun-filled activities, including daily routine tasks. This may include:
- Water skiing
Small pontoon boats are safe enough because they are usually made for beginners. And they are difficult to turn over due to moderate speed.
Godfrey Sr 180 Cruise
Godfrey 180 SR Cruise
Godfreys SR 180 Cruise packs a boatload of innovation into this boats 19-foot overall length, with standard features like twin bow lounge seats and a comfy L-shaped stern lounger all with generous storage compartments in the seat base. Durable vinyl flooring leans up fast at the end of the day, while a deluxe molded helm console treats the driver to their own world of comfort. You wont find many small pontoons that check as many boxes as the SR 180 Cruise.
- Length: 19 5
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Icover Pb6303 Pontoon Boat Cover
I have seen and used many pontoon boat covers with snaps over the years, but only a few can stand up to this products waterproof ability. Made with 300D PU marine grade polyester, this boat covers fabric does more than a good job in repelling water.
I left my boat outside when heavy rains started pouring. The heavy moisture pooled into the covers center area, which should be a relatively normal occurrence because of the heavy downpour. But, my surprise came when I opened the cover to see that the watercrafts internals were bone dry.
Aside from being waterproof, the 300D material is also tear and UV resistant. It grazed against some branches and twigs during travel, and the fabric remained relatively scratch-free.
Cleaning is also a breeze, seeing that all I needed was to brush debris off the fabric. A quick hosing is also necessary to maintain this material, albeit I dont have to do it often.
Theres also a heavy duty elastic cord sewn around this products hemline. With it, this cover provides a secure and snug fit on my pontoon boat. Installation is also quite easy and can be done with minimal effort. But, make sure to search for the tag that says FRONT. Otherwise, covering the boat with the fabric reversed can promote issues.
Once installed properly, this cover is quite roomy. The space it produces is large enough to allow room to make my boat into a temporary storage facility.
- Comes with large storage bag, tie-down straps
- Plastic buckles can be more durable