At first glance, most pontoon boats seem to be luxury cruisers with comfortable couches, tables and pop-up change rooms on their deck. They don’t look like the average weekend fisherman’s boat.
However, take another look, as upon close inspection you can begin to see a lot of potential if fishing is your thing. In fact, there are many people who solely fish off of pontoon boats.
The main selling point is how versatile they are.
One weekend you could be off on a solo fishing trip, and the next taking your kids out for some leisure time on the water.
Whilst the dual functions of these boats are a large reason to buy, many of the major pontoon boat manufactures are building pontoons that cater directly for fishing, and fisherman alone.
These fishing pontoon boats still have a long way to go to be true purpose-built fishing boats, as they refuse to let go of the luxury amenities such as the comfy lounge chairs.
But that’s why I love mine.
I am in comfort, and almost a home from home whilst out on the lakes.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the positives, negatives, and features that all add up into making pontoon boats illeat for fishing – and it’s not just me who thinks it, there are thousands upon thousands of pontoon fishermen out there who will say the same.
Pros and Cons to Pontoon Boats for Fishing
Before we get into the features, how about some top-line pros and cons if you are in the middle of a purchasing decision? These benefits (and negatives) might help you make your own mind up.
- More fishing space – you have loads of room to move around on deck and a stable platform to fish and cast your lines from.
- Ride smoothly over waves – the elevated pontoon platform offers a far smoother ride than traditional fishing boats over bumps and chops.
- Much more comfortable – you could almost be sat in your living room, so what’s not to like? Put some music on, cast your line, and then grill it on board.
- Taller than deck boats – this means you will have to reach further to get the fish into your boat. Always take a net with you so you don’t lose those fish!
- Not great handling – the turn radius won’t be the same as a normal fishing boat and you might not be able to operate efficiently in channels or coves.
- You can’t deep sea fish – pontoon boats are not for the ocean and should only be used on deep wavy water. They aren’t built for that.
And now, as promised let’s take a closer look at the features which will help you to make your own personal choice on whether pontoon boats are good for fishing or not. It really is a personal decision based on how you plan to take to the water and the things you plan to do across the seasons.
A pontoon boat has a lot of room. Nobody can deny it, they have a large open area that is perfect for fishing as you can easily throw in multiple lines with different baits without risking a massive entanglement mess.
They are also ideal for fly fishing as you can comfortably stand up straight and fly your lure. If you are slow trolling, you will also have more than enough space between your lines.
The boats are higher out of the water than normal fishing boats, this makes it a bit of a challenge to pull fish out of the water, you would have to lean over the side to grab the fish in the net and this can result in you possibly losing a catch or in worst cases, taking a tumble into the water
Most pontoon boats position their fishing chairs and rod holders at the front or rear of the boat where there is normally a door in the railing, this does make it a little easier to take the fish out. Though as you well know, the fish don’t always like to cooperate.
Handy Hint: You can find list of the top 21 pontoon boat fishing accessories that you simply must have.
Boat Stability & Safety
This is a major advantage, especially in a fishing situation. I have personally fell victim to the over excitement of a fellow fisherman during an expedition.
A smaller boat with two people on it exists on a knife edge, any sudden movement can result in a very dangerous event, sometimes even tragedy. I am talking about the kind of sudden jolt that happens when you have a fish on the line.
On a pontoon boat you can co-exist in peace with your fellow fisherman and share in their excitement without risking an involuntary dive into the lake.
A pontoon boat is basically a floating pier and you can move this pier to where the fish are biting.
Their size and footprint also make them ideal for moderately choppy waters, but as I mentioned in the pros and cons, pontoon boats can never be used for deep sea fishing.
You can use them close to the shore but once you take it out onto deep water you are risking both your boat and your life. That dream of pulling in a record blue marlin will have to wait until you get a more seaworthy and built for purpose boat.
A pontoon boat is perfect for taking the family on a boating or fishing trip as everybody has free space to do their thing without bumping into each other; larger pontoon boats can carry 10 people.
However, all ten can’t be fishing at once as there will always be a tangling of lines, but they are very for up to two families on the boat, where perhaps only 2 or 3 are fishing and the rest are relaxing.
Handling & Performance
Pontoon boats won’t offer as great handling experience if you want to do sharp turns or manoeuvre in small spaces. They have the turning circle of a battleship and are not quick to respond to control inputs.
Tritoons do however offer better steering and handle significantly better than a normal pontoon, but they are still not comparable to a deck boat for handling and performance.
If its sharp fast turns you want, then look elsewhere.
But, pontoon boats do have a shallow draft which allows it to reach places where normal boats can’t go, this can result in you gaining access to undisturbed fishing waters.
My Final Thoughts
Pontoon boats are ideal for long fishing days, the boats are very comfortable, spacious and stable. This can be a perfect mix of attributes for a relaxing fishing trip.
If the sun starts getting a bit too much, then you can always open up the shade netting which will bring a welcome relief.
Newer pontoon boats come with multiple live wells, rod holders and swivel chairs, you’re your typical depth-finder and fish finders can be installed onto the boats if needed. You can also consider adding an electric trolling motor onto the front of the boat. You might even be able to buy a pontoon that has been specifically designed for fishing – you can read my views on what the best fishing pontoons are here.
The general layout of a pontoon boat can customized a lot, so you actually decide on the layout and either work with a manufacturer, tech, or do the changes yourself.
This level of customization proves how versatile these boats truly are.
I have many weird and wonderful pontoon configurations customized to suite fisherman in the last few years.
Lastly though, the most remarkable thing is that these boats is that you can have all the luxuries on-hand you could ever want. This is what separates them from other styles of fishing boat as it’s almost like you are casting your line out of your living room window.
I love fishing on my pontoon boat and hope you will too should you decide to buy one!