The Crappie Fishing Boat Buyer's Guide: Beware?
It is not easy picking the right crappie boat. For some, it's an overwhelming "nerve-wracking" process due to the many choices and options.
Just remember through it all - this is an important investment in a hobby you love... so be careful what you choose. There are basically 2 ways you can go. "Simple" and bare bones... or high-tech... (AKA exepensive!)
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Now...most crappie fishermen should (and will) go the simple route. So I'l start off here...with the more "cost effective" options. Let's be honest, most crappie fishermen are not professionals, nor do they wish to be. So you just need something simple that will get you into those "hard to reach" fishing areas.
My favorite? The allmighty Kayak! :)
You can take a kayak anywhere...saltwater...freshwater... excursions...and best of all: crappie fishing!
The 2 best types for crappie fishing are the "Sit On Top" (SOT) kayaks, and the "Sit Inside" (SIK) kayaks.
The SOT kayaks remind me of a "surfboard" with a place to sit. They are easy to get in and out of the water with, perfect for those die hard crappie fishing adventurers like myself. :)
Plus, it is really easy to get to all of your gear, depending on the type that you buy.
The down side is you are exposed to the elements because you are sitting right on top of the thing.
The SIK kayaks on the other hand are enclosed...you sit inside of them - and you are "sealed" from the elements with a spray skirt.
It is a little more of a "hassle" to enter and exit the water with them...and it's tougher to get to your gear...but if you plan on fishing in stormy weather or rough conditions, you might consider an SIK.
There are "touring" versions, "whitewater" versions, and a "recreational" version of each of these. For most crappie fisherman, it's a "whitewater" kayak, or recreational kayak you'll want because of their maneuverability.
You can also get "tandem" versions if you want to take a fishing buddy along.
Another benefit of kayaks (can you tell I prefer them for catching crappie in?) is that they can float in just inches of water...so you aren't limited by how close to cover/bottom structure you get.
Final word on kayaks: they are awesome in every way for crappie fishing. Inexpensive (most models)...the ONLY downside I can see is there is a bit of a learning curve. But that is half the fun!
Next up... canoes!
These are really the next step up. They do have some limitations when compared to a kayak, but they can carry more people, and lots of gar.
It's much more of an "ordeal" to go fishing with a canoe. They are much bigger, and they are more easily capsized.
But they are excellent choices if you plan to go crappie fishing with a group.
You can find canoes made out of aluminum or plastic/resin. I always commend canoes made of resin. Aluminum once are load and clunky. Plus there is a higher chance of them developing leaks.
The main difference between the different styles and brands of canoes are the length vs. beam specifications.
Long skinny ones are good for going fast and far. If you're looking for more stability and maneuverability get a shorter, wider one.
Other benefits... you can put canoes on the top of your car and tie them down for transport, and you can take them into almost any body of water relatively easily.
Oh, and make sure you know how to swim! :)
Ok...now we're getting into the more expensive area. Powered boats.
There are 2 main types you'll use for crappie fishing... flat bottom "Jon boats", and v-bottomed boats called "skiffs".
If you're going to fish calmer water, a Jon boat is a good choice. With most crappie fishermen, this is the way to go unless you plan on using it in the ocean as well. These do not handle rough waters or white caps.
You will have more comfort in a powered boat because of soft seat cushions and other emenities.
Jon boats are very stable, and very hard to capsize. They are also pretty fast, and have small to medium-sized engines. Plus, they can float in shallow water as well... so you can get over shallow bottom cover and structure with not too much worry.
You can drift through dense weed beds and swamp areas as well.
You "can" put them on top of your car, but people usually pull them on small trailers.
The Jon boat really is the "gold standard" for crappie boats.
I'd only recommend v-bottom boats if you plan on using them outside of crappie fishing. They will cut through waves better...and have more powerful engines. They are for "big water" fishing mostly.
A real benefit with powered boats is that you can go far, fast...with lots of gear (and a small group of people).
Of course, in most states you've got to register both your boat and your trailor...boat ramps and docks charge fees...engines cost money...gas costs money...etc.
Powered boats are just more expensive to operate for obvious reasons. The old saying, "The best day of your life is when you get a boat. The second best day of your life is when you get rid of it." was tailor-made for power boats. :)
You alos need a liscense to operate power boats in most/all states. There are a lot of accidents and even deaths from power boating.
And what about the specialty boats filled with all kinds of glitz and gadgetry?
In my mind, these are big time over kill for the common crappie fisherman.
For most crappie fishing needs, all you need, power boat-wise, is a Tri-Hull, and a shallow draft for maneuvering in cover. A 10-20 horsepower motor should suffice...a good live well, and a sonar unit.
I also highly recommend a trolling motor.
You can find a good powered crappie boat for $500 and up. New ones range from $1500 on up... way up. :)
Above all, look at the requirements you have of a boat based on where you fish crappie, how you fish crappie, and if you'r going to use the boat for anything else at all.
Then, choose wisely...and think it through.
Just wanted to give you some dieas and food for thought buying your crappie boat.
Keep it simple! :)
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