Buying Your First Boat

What’s up, vlog? Today, I want to talk to you guys about buying your very first boat. I know that’s very, very exciting, because I’ve been there, and I’m going to try to give you guys a little bit of advice to hopefully help you pick the very best boat for you and your situation.

Buying your very first boat, man. I know that’s super exciting. I remember being there. I remember buying my first bass boat, and that’s super, super, super exciting. For you guys out there looking to buy a boat, you’re thinking about buying a boat, for you parents out there, I know there’s a lot of new guys getting into the sport now, and you’re wondering, “What boat should I buy? What size? What horsepower? Should I get fiberglass? Should I get aluminum?”

I want to talk to you guys a little bit about it, give you my spin on it, tell you some of my background, how I got started, and maybe that’ll help you make the final decision on what boat you buy. Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way right off the bat. I know where this is going to go in the comments section, and I’m going to go ahead and get it addressed before we even start talking about bass boats.

Bass fishing is expensive, okay? That’s never going to change. It doesn’t matter how much you grumble, complain about it, how much you comment on this video or somebody else’s video about the price of boats and the price of fishing. It’s always going to be just out of reach for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in bass fishing. And quite honestly, I know you can, because I come from a very normal, middle class family. I didn’t grow up rich, didn’t grow up poor.

Bass fishing is something that is accessible to everybody. Doesn’t matter where you come from, at what level you complain, what level you compete in the sport in. Everybody can do it, if you’re willing to put in the work and the sacrifice. I know where this is going to go. “Well, everybody can’t afford a $70000 boat. Everybody can’t afford a 50. Everybody can’t afford a 30.” Well, you know what? You’re right.

You’re absolutely 100% right, and that’s why there’s a ton of different options out there for you guys to buy, all the way from less than $1000 to probably over $100000 is what you can spend in a boat, and if you can’t spend 50, 60, 70, I promise you there is a boat and there is a rig out there that fits your price range, that will let you get out on the water.

I think it’s super important for you guys, and there’s a lot of high school anglers getting into the sport of bass fishing now. And I know that a lot of guys, a lot of parents, are not exposed to the boating world like I was. I was fortunate to grow up, my dad was a tournament fisherman, so I piggy-backed off a lot of his experience when it came time for me to get a boat.

But I know there’s a lot of confusion. Where do you buy? Do you buy aluminum? Do you buy fiberglass? How big? How much horsepower? And just to go into that, I think it’s always a great idea to start small. The kids that are out there now know a lot of guys are going in to the high school fishing, the competitive aspect of fishing, and I think it’s a good idea for every kid to probably have his own boat. I think that’s a good idea.

Tell you why. As I mentioned, I grew up around the aspect of tournament fishing, but as a teenager, as a kid, it was always in the back, on the back deck of someone’s boat. My dad’s boat, one of my dad’s friends or a friend’s boat, I grew up fishing in the back of the boat, and I got a lot of experience that way. That’s a great way to be introduced to fishing.

I think it’s a great idea for teenagers, 11, 12, 13, all the way up to 20, 25 years old, however you want to specify a kid to be, I think it’s a great idea for them to have their own boat. Let me tell you why I think it’s a good idea. I got my first boat when I was probably 15 or 16 years old, is when I got my own personal first boat.

It was a 12-foot Lowe 1236. I did not have a trailer. I hauled it around in the back of my truck, pick-up truck, and all I had was the boat and the trolling motor for the first year. That’s all I had. I didn’t have … Just the boat and the trolling motor, no trailer. I had a boat, trolling motor, and a battery, and I worked through the summer, and I finally earned enough money to get an engine.

That following season after I bought my boat, I was able to get a 7.5 Mercury, and my dad even helped me. I think he pitched in a couple hundred bucks. I saved a little over half of it, and got a 7.5 Mercury. It used to take me 30 minutes, 45 minutes to assemble this thing in the ramp, because I didn’t have a trailer. I put it all inside the boat, and assembled all the gas and batteries and trolling motor and tackle and all that gear. I slid it out the back of my truck and assembled it on the ramp.

That’s how I started, but I can tell you, having that boat was the best thing that ever happened to me, because having that boat, I learned how to put together a day of fishing on the waters. Once I got that aluminum boat, and I started hauling that thing around in the back of my truck, the sense of pride that I had when I went out on my own, figured out a area, a pattern, a way to catch fish all by myself, the sense of self confidence, self esteem, and pride that I got out of that is irreplaceable.

I think that is the best way to strengthen new anglers, kids in high school fishing, so forth. For them to go out on their own in their own boat and start to understand and develop some sense of angling skills is the best thing that you could do for your child personally. I think that’s the best thing you should do.

But with that being said, owning a boat is a huge responsibility, and that’s some of the things we’re going to talk about when you’re speaking of buying your first boat. Owning a boat is a huge responsibility, especially for a 13, 14, 15, 16 year old, a teenager or even a 20 year old, depending on how mature they are.

That’s a huge responsibility. A boat is a very, very dangerous piece of equipment. I would argue that a boat is even more dangerous than owning a car. When it comes to buying a boat, some things you need to think about, from my perspective. Number one, of course, is cost. Just what can you afford? What can you afford to buy and still be able to go fishing the way you want to go fishing?

For you, if that’s fishing BFLs, how much can you spend on a boat and still be able to go fish your BFLs? If you can’t afford a brand new Falcon and be able to fish every tournament of your given division, of AVAs or BFLs or club tournaments, that’s probably not going to be the right choice for you. You need to step it down, because the whole purpose of having a boat is to be able to go out and go fishing, right? If you can’t afford the boat and to fish, you’re probably overspending on the boat, so think about that.

Second thing you want to think about is, if this is your first boat, what kind of tow vehicle do you have? Think about that. If you have a midsize SUV or maybe you have a car, maybe you have a minivan. Who knows what he has? Think about your tow vehicle. That’s why I suggest aluminum boats a lot of times. A nice 15, 16 foot boat is a great starter boat for you guys. You can pull it with just about any vehicle.

I can pull this, this little boat right here. I can pull it with a midsize SUV. If I just had a car, I could pull it with the car. I think the thing weighs 11-1200 pounds all together, and I fish out of this boat all the time. Here’s another thing that you’ve got to think about when you’re buying your boat. Do you have somewhere to store it?

Do you have a garage? If you don’t have a garage, and you may have to keep your boat outside, aluminum boat. It doesn’t fade. Fiberglass is going to be fade. It takes a little extra care. You’ve got to have somewhere to store your boat if you’re going to look at getting a fiberglass boat. Think about that, where you’re going to store the boat. That’s very important.

Talking about horsepower, you see on my competition rig, I got a 250, and then on my aluminum boat, I have a 70 horse. I’ll be completely honest with you. I can fish all the same water out of my 70 horse as I can my 250 back there, so don’t be misled to think that you’ve got to have the biggest and most horsepower available. I use 250 on my competition boat, because I think that’s what helps me get the job done the best and most efficiency. In competition aspect, that’s really important to me.

Also, it’s got to do with the market. I sell my boat every year, and a lot of people want a boat with the biggest engine on it, so I get that so it’s an easy sell for me every year. Doesn’t mean that you, starting out, have to have a 20 foot bass boat with a 250 on it. Buy what you can afford. Think about what you really can fish as much as possible and still afford it.

For you guys that are kids, 11, 12 years old, a 12 foot Jon boat and a trolling motor, that’s something that’ll get you out there and that’s something that everybody that’s willing to put in a little work can afford, so think about that. Think about getting a 12 or 14 foot, flat-bottomed Jon boat and a trolling motor. You can probably get in that almost brand new for around $1000. Trolling motor battery and everything. I think you can get a 12 foot Jon boat for, brand new, $6-700.

That’s something you can afford, and that allows you to get out on the water and be able to become a better angler. There’s so many affordable options out there for you guys. I run … I didn’t start out with the 250 and the 20 foot bass boat. My first actual real bass boat was actually my dad’s bass boat that I bought from him when I decided that tournament fishing was something that I really wanted to pursue.

I think it was 2001, as soon as I got out of high school. I bought his boat, and it was a 19 footer. I had a 150 horsepower on it, and that’s also a great boat. For you college guys out there, if you can afford it, something like a 18 foot, 17, 18 foot with 150 horsepower on it. I think that’s a great tool for you guys out there that are getting into college fishing, looking to do that right out of high school.

That’ll allow you to go just about anywhere you want to fish in the country and do whatever you need to do just with 150 horsepower. That’s a good boat. You could tow it with a midsize truck. You always have to think about your tow vehicle when you’re picking out a boat, and how much you can afford. You’re going to get good gas mileage out of a 150, and it’s just a good boat to compete out of.

A lot of people are going to think about electronics, “What electronics should I buy for little Johnny, or what should I buy …” That’s going to be a subject, a matter of opinion. Buy what you can afford when it comes to electronics. If you can afford the HDS 12 like what I got here on my Falcon, go get that. If that’s what you can afford, go get it.

On my little aluminum boat, I do run one graph here up front, and this is a boat that I’ve added stuff onto as I go. I got an HDS 7 on the console, and that’s strictly just for navigating. Sometimes I take this boat to places that I don’t know, and it’s just nice to be able to see little backwaters. I didn’t start off with the Lowrance 7 on that one.

I wouldn’t suggest, you guys out there, if this is your first boat that you’re buying, I wouldn’t suggest a fixer upper. If this is your first boat you’re going to buy, I would buy one that is ready to go, because you don’t want to start off with a project. I didn’t make a whole bunch of money when I started buying boats. I never made a whole bunch of money, and I don’t want you guys to believe the lie that fishing is something that’s not accessible to you, because I know most of you guys watching are probably just like me, just normal folks, just normal people.

There’s a lot of kids out there that probably started out at 16, 17, with the nicest, fanciest competition rig, and that’s okay too if you can afford that. I don’t want to see you guys bashing the guys that they just can afford it, because you wouldn’t give it back if you could afford it. Think about that.

Start out small. My suggestion would be to start out small, especially for the high school anglers, the college anglers. Just buy what you can afford and get out there and start fishing. Consider your tow vehicle. Consider how much, what you want to actually fish. Figure out what you want to fish.

Are you going to try to fish BFLs? Are you going to try to fish the college series? Are you just going to fish club tournaments? Or do you just want to go fishing, period? Choose wisely. Keep it on fishing. Keep it fun, and I promise you everybody can participate in fishing. Everybody can have a boat, if you’re just willing to sacrifice a little bit and buy within your means.