Picking the Right Pond Boat
By Bob Lusk
|So, how much does a good pond boat cost? Here are a few references.|
Lusk's favorite for small ponds - Twin Troller by Freedom Electric Marine - freedomelectricmarine.com. This one sells for $2,400 plus shipping. It's well worth the money.
Also, BassPro Shops sells a similar two-man boat. Go to www.basspro.com and click on "Boatincy" and follow their lead. Their boats range from $680-750.
The TwinTroller, by Freedom Electric Marine, is our pick. It fits the needs for our pond.
This inflatable boat is especially good for fly fishing. Its lightweight, stable, you can stand or sit and there's plenty of room to strip line. The wheels make it even more portable. It is easy to use, moves well and has plenty of storage.
|Top, left - Richmond Mill Lake, with 4 Triton and 2 Champion boats poised for a fishing tournament for King Fisher Society. Top, right - Boats provide opportunities for lifelong memories. Bottom, left - This smaller kayak is foot-powered, fun and manueverable. Bottom, right - Kayaks are easy to use, mobile and sturdy. Photo courtesy Mike Price.|
Bass Buster is a long time favorite pond boat for small waters.
Not many years ago, the choice was simple. You bought a jon boat, a flat-bottom aluminum job. Stable, comfortable, if you like sitting on flat metal seats. Put a trolling motor on the transom, add a battery and you were off to seek your pond fortunes of the day.
Today, start thinking about boats and the choices are bigger than the menu at Denny's.
Should you stay with tradition and buy a jon boat from the local marina or look at all the different boats at the big-box outdoor store? How about a Tracker from BassPro? Or, do you want something smaller, like a kayak or one of those cool two-person boats you see advertised on the Internet?
Here's how to choose.
First, decide the purpose you want your new boat to fill. Is it for pleasure, like maybe a paddleboat for the kids? Gonna fish out of it? Will a general purpose boat take care of all your needs? Planning on entertaining people with a sunset cruise on your lake? You might want a small pontoon boat. They're a little pricey, but hey, what price for impressing people? Is fishing your mission? There are lots of options out there ... and some reasonable prices, too.
You've heard the colloquialisms about owners looking like their dogs, er, dogs looking like their owners? You should see the boats I see ... and the people who own them. The same story.
Think it through, look at all your options, shop hard and then choose.
Who will use the boat? Family, guests and friends? Or, just you? Or, maybe the grandkids.
Wisdom, as well as your back pocket, rules.
Think practical ... are you planning to launch it and leave it? Or, do you want to bring it out of the water every time you finish using it? Fold it and put it in your trunk or deflate it so it will fit into your truck bed? You have all these options.
Do you want a tiller drive, meaning you will sit sideways while driving? Or does it need a console with a steering wheel? Foot pedal for the trolling motor? Paddles?
Think safety, too. What if you fall out? Can you get back in? What if someone else falls out? Can you get them back in?
If a one-person boat suits your needs, look at a kayak. Hobie makes some outstanding, stylish kayaks ... some of them for more than one person. Plus, they are easy to move and durable. Just load into the back of a truck or on top of a car and off you go. Hobie has lots of amenities, too. Adjustable seats add to the appeal.
Then there's the two-seaters... ranging from jon boats to Bass Buster to Freedom Electric's "Twin Troller", my personal favorite.
Bass Buster's "Original Buster" weighs about 155 pounds, has padded seats, can hold 610 pounds of you and stuff. It's prewired for a trolling motor. Price? Less than $1,000. Be prepared to bring it under cover if you aren't using it. The sun is hard on the plastic. Jon boats range in price beginning around $500, upward, beyond the price of your first home, depending what you want on it. It's not hard to find a used jon boat, either. Watch out for the riveted ones, they tend to develop leaks over time.
Freedom Marine's "Twintroller" got my nod. Saw it for the first time at Ray Scott's Presidential Lake months ago. When friend Don Watts asked me to fish with him on this world famous lake, I was excited. We headed to the dock; he made an abrupt right turn and told me to take the front seat of this little plastic job. "No way," I thought to myself. Don saw my hesitant countenance, sort of like a mule not wanting to load into a too-small trailer. He said, "Just get in the boat." I obeyed, and boy, was I surprised. Debbie and I have been looking for the "perfect" pond boat for our situation and I soon saw this was it. We are both in our 50's; need a stable platform and hands-free operation. Debbie recently had back surgery, so we didn't want her to have to maintain her balance getting in and out. Twintroller is the most stable two-person boat I have ever seen. I stood on the side of it just to see what would happen. A jon boat would flip. This one barely rocked. And, I'm a big guy. But, the thing that sold me most was the mobility and roominess. There's two trollinc, motors mounted under the hull, with a cage over them so they don't hang on underwater obstacles. Two foot pedals in the front of the boat operate the motors, a left pedal for the left motor and a right one for ... the right motor... forward and reverse. Hands-free for fishing, the boat turns fast and is surprisingly mobile and scoots along very well. It weighs about 135 pounds and costs less than $2,000.
Hobie puts out a great one-person kayak with lots of bells and whistles. This vehicle was on display at a writer's conference we attended. Outdoor writer Mike Price contemplates all the amenities.
Here's a different angle on the 'bells and whistles' Hobie kayak.
Brett Biery, long time Pond Boss fan, owns a Pelican. That company has a wide variety of boats well suited to pond use.
Months ago, we decided the mission for the type of boat we needed for us, shopped for a long time and when this boat came into our crosshairs, we pulled the trigger. It's our perfect boat.
Look at the photos, they show a variety of boats ... and this little expose' doesn't do justice to the marketplace.
Here's the moral to this story ...think think about what you want and know your boat is out there. It's your job to find it.
Oh yes ... be sure to wear a personal flotation device, unlike most of the people in these photos. A boat is fun, but I recently watched an athletic guy step from boat to dock. The boat pushed away, he turned as he did the splits, couldn't decide whether to get back in the boat or fall in the lake, so he lunged for the dock. He came up a little short and banged his knee hard dockside. He was inches away from the water and his leg wasn't working so well. Had he been alone and fallen into the water, this strapping young athlete could have been in trouble. Wear a life jacket ... like Ray Scott has told me many, many times, "You know why people don't wear PFD's? Because they haven't died, yet." Poignant and somewhat funny to hear, but oh so true.
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine