Anglers across the country browse the Internet, flip the pages of catalogs, and mosey through dealerships. Not car dealers, but rather boat dealers.
Even if you have a boat you are perfectly content with sitting in your garage, the urge to think about a new model is overwhelming. Maybe you might even be in the market. If you are, you may be struggling with the two major choices available to anglers – fiberglass or aluminum?
Fiberglass boats are heavier and less apt to struggle in the wind, yet aluminum boats are often more affordable to purchase. Traditionally, fiberglass boats have a more stable casting deck than aluminum, but an all-metal boat is more durable when fishing around rocks and stumps.
I have owned both types of rigs. I have fished from the high-dollar, tricked out, fiberglass beauties that zip down the lake at 70mph. I currently own an aluminum boat that is all-welded and built like a tank. What are the major factors to consider? Is one better than the other? Let me share my thoughts on the matter.
Weight of Fiberglass Bass Boats
First, a fiberglass rig is much heavier. Many of these models require a trailer with dual axles and they need more horsepower to move them along. These two qualities drive the cost up. It is not a surprise that the majority of a boat’s price is reflected in the size of the motor sitting on the transom.
Fiberglass Bass Boat Info
|Ranger Z520L||20’11”||1850 lbs||$71,895|
|Ranger Z519||19’9”||1750 lbs||$50,095|
|Skeeter FXR20||20’4”||2175 lbs||$71,795|
|Bass Cat Lynx||20’8”||1930 lbs||$69,999|
|Triton TR 20X||20 ‘ 5”||1790 lbs||$57.995|
|Nitro Z20 Pro||20’ 2”||2000 lbs||$52,595|
Aluminum Bass Boat Info
|Ranger RT198P||19’4”||1300 lbs||$31,195|
|Vexus AVX1980||19’10”||1300 lbs||$33,695|
|Triton 18TX||18’8”||1180 lbs||$25,995|
|Tracker 175 TXW||17’7”||1050 lbs||$18.995|
|Lund ProV 2075||20’10”||1850 lbs||$47,149|
|Lowe Stinger 175C||17’7”||1055 lbs||$16,226|
|Xpress X19 Pro||19’||1390 lbs||$31,995|
The additional weight can be a benefit as well. Heavier fiberglass models are smooth and solid in their ride, they are less apt to be blown around in the wind, and they offer an amazingly steady fishing platform.
Aluminum models are much lighter and because of this, they can get into areas where heavy fiberglass boats cannot go. If you are a river angler, this can mean crossing over silted in creek mouths and getting into tributaries that would otherwise be unreachable.
Durability of Aluminum Bass Boats
Another benefit to welded aluminum is durability. I can bump into rip-rap, scrape across stumps, and let my kids learn how to pull up to a dock without much worry. Fiberglass boats take damage to their hulls quite easily, especially if you like to fish waters with lots of rock.
I never worry about pulling up to the shoreline in an aluminum boat. Many times, state parks do not have their docks in the water yet when I fish, or they have pulled them out for the season. No problem. I just pull up the shore and drive the bow of the boat into the mud or grass.
The first fiberglass bass boat I had didn’t fare so well. A friend of mine was driving it towards the launch. The docks were not put in yet because it was still late winter. He gently pulled the boat directly onto the concrete ramp and soon I heard a popping sound. Upon further inspection, a sizeable chuck of fiberglass had broken off on the concrete.
This problem can be alleviated with a hull guard. They are relatively easy to install on your own, or a dealer will be more than happy to install one for you.
Bass Boat Storage
If you are anything like me, storage is always a huge issue. I take way more tackle than I need and if ten rods are good, then twenty rods are better. I can honestly say, I miss the cavernous storage space that my fiberglass boats offered.
There are some aluminum models, like the Lund Pro V Bass, that have excellent storage space, but most aluminum boats are lacking in this area. If storage is a major factor for you, then a fiberglass model may be worth looking at.
It is almost standard equipment today to include some sort of shallow water anchor. Most dealers offer either Power Poles or Minn Kota Talons. Fiberglass boats have super strong transoms and can handle the additional weight.
Many aluminum manufacturers suggest only one due to the extra load stress on the transom. This can be a problem if you are trying to use a shallow water anchor on a windy day because your boat will spin.
Cost of Bass Boats
Cost is also a factor. While there are aluminum models that break the $30,000 barrier, it is not unusual for a fiberglass boat to top $50,000. Much of the additional dollars are due to the extra horsepower needed to push the heavier fiberglass models, but, the water you fish may require a heavier boat.
In fact, as you can see from the table above, touching the $70,000 range is common for a top-end fiberglass bass boat. That is a lot of money to spend on something that may only hit the water twenty times a year.
Types of Water you Fish
If the waters you fish are smaller, then you do not need a heavy boat to fight the waves and wind. If you fish much larger lakes though, I would always prefer a heavier glass boat. I have fished Lake Erie from Detroit to Buffalo, and I felt comfortable in my fiberglass boat. I have also attempted to venture out their in my aluminum bass boat and quickly decided against it. As I mentioned earlier, there are aluminum bass boats that offer a Deep-V option which would be great on large lakes like Erie.
If you fish a lake with a lot of standing timber having a smaller aluminum boat will allow you to get into areas that are impossible to reach with a large fiberglass boat. This could mean you catch fish that others cannot reach.
I also prefer aluminum if I spend a lot of time on shallow river systems. Banging an aluminum hull off rocks doesn’t phase me. Doing the same thing in a shallow river with a glass boat gives me a healthy dose of stress and anxiety.
Family Needs and Bass Boat Consideration
Depending on the stage of life you are in, your wants-and-needs in a bass boat may be quite different. If you are looking for something to take the family out in, I have always preferred the fiberglass models. The extra stability and weight keep the ride “less scary” for little ones. A larger glass boat may also have the option for a removable ski pylon that just make make the family happy on those hot summer days when tubing is a must.
Some of the aluminum models on the market do offer flexible seating options that mean more space and great depth below the gunnel line. These options might just be the key factor in deciding what you purchase if the family comes along often.
If you are like me, and spend many days fishing alone or with one other person, than these factors may not play into your decision at all.
There are so many factors to consider when purchasing a boat. Think about how you like to fish, the places you prefer to go, and the features needed to make your time on the water both enjoyable and successful. Lastly, consider your budget. What can you afford?
When you have those criteria written down spend some time at your local dealer. They can help you find the perfect model that will serve you well for many years.
In the meantime, I better go and browse a few websites and dream about my next new rig.