Best Salmon Fishing Boat: The Ultimate Guide

December 13, 2020

Best Salmon Fishing Boat: The Ultimate Guide

If you have been salmon fishing with a friend or a guide, you have probably thought about getting your own salmon fishing boat someday. Having your own salmon fishing boat gives you the ultimate flexibility in fishing, and can be a ton of fun if you have the time to use it. But what is the best salmon fishing boat?

The short answer is the best salmon fishing boat is a deep v hulled aluminum boat between 20 and 30 feet long. But it really depends on where you plan on fishing and what your budget is! There are plenty of boat styles and brands that are really good for salmon fishing.

In this article, we’ll go over the qualities of the best salmon fishing boat as well as some of our favorite brands and makers. We’ll explain the pros and cons of each as well as why we chose them as our best salmon fishing boats.

Let’s dive in!

What Makes a Great Salmon Fishing Boat?

Before we talk about the best salmon fishing boats, we thought it made sense to go over what makes a boat great for salmon fishing. If you’re looking to buy a boat specifically for salmon fishing, you should consider these qualities first.

Trolling Capability

Probably the most important ability your new salmon fishing boat needs to be good at is trolling. If you plan on fishing for king and coho salmon, you’ll most likely spend a lot of your time trolling for them. 

So what do we mean by trolling capability? Your boat should have a trolling motor that allows it to troll at 1 to 2 mph. Sometimes you’ll need to go this slow when trolling for salmon. If you try and use your main motor only to troll, you often won’t be able to keep the boat at such low speeds. 

So your salmon boat needs to have a trolling motor. We recommend getting a 5 to 10 hp trolling motor depending on the size of your boat.

20 to 30 Feet Long

Along with having the trolling capability, your boat needs to have enough room in the back for your equipment. This means room for your fishing rods and most likely downriggers. You should have room on the gunnels to mount at least two downriggers so multiple rods can be in the water at the same time.

Having extra room in the back also allows for more room for fighting a large salmon, as well as room for a large cooler. Having a cooler in the back is great for storing caught fish and bait. The extra room also means you can bring more people with you on your fishing trips!

This extra length however means salmon fishing boats are expensive. This is part of the reason why salmon itself is expensive!

Aluminum Over Fiberglass

For salmon fishing, we believe aluminum boats are better than fiberglass. We recognize that this is controversial! There are plenty of reasons why you might want to get a fiberglass boat. Here are the reasons we like aluminum boats better for salmon fishing.

  • Aluminum boats are less expensive. Probably one of the biggest reasons we like aluminum boats more is that they are significantly less expensive. This means you’ll have more money to spend on accessories, gas, and a bigger motor. 
  • They require less maintenance. Along the same lines as being less expensive, aluminum boats require less effort to maintain. You don’t have to wax their gel fiberglass coating to keep them in good shape, and aluminum is more robust than fiberglass.
  • They weigh less. Contrary to common sense, aluminum boats tend to way significantly less than a fiberglass boat of the same length. This makes them easier to tow, launch, and deal with in general. You’ll save money on gas towing them comparing to a fiberglass boat.
  • Aluminum boats are more durable. Another big one for aluminum boats is that they are more durable than fiberglass boats – which for fishing is great. Aluminum doesn’t dent nearly as easily as fiberglass does, and will put up with the elements better than fiberglass does.

Considering all these factors, we almost always recommend getting an aluminum boat for salmon fishing. Fiberglass boats are better for a few salmon use cases (their hulls tend to be better for open ocean salmon fishing) but for the most part, they’re flat out worse.

Best Salmon Fishing Boat Companies

Now that you know why we recommend aluminum boats for the best salmon fishing boat, let’s go over some of the top companies that make aluminum fishing boats. All of these brands create amazing boats and are a great place to start.

Alumaweld

First on our list and one of the most popular aluminum boat brands is Alumaweld. Based in Oregon, Alumawled makes various sized aluminum fishing boats from 18 feet to over 30 feet. They were founded in 1971 and have been making fishing boats for almost 50 years. 

Alumawelds start at low five-figure sums (the Stryker model is their entry-level boat) and can be customized up into the higher five-figure range (check out the Suer Vee). Compared to other brands, Alumaweld is quite affordable. 

There is also a healthy used market for Alumaweld boats, so we recommend checking out your local Craigslist or boat dealership to see if they have any on sale.

Northwest

Another common aluminum boat brand that makes great boats is Northwest. Northwest makes very similar looking boats to Alumaweld, however, they tend to be a bit more pricey. Many Northwest boats are inboards, which can be good or bad depending on where you plan of fishing for salmon. 

If you’re going to be fishing in the open ocean frequently, we recommend getting an outboard motor. This is because the benefits of having an in-board jet are limited in the open ocean. 

In fact, jet boats are usually much worse in the ocean because their hull designs are meant for shallow water in rivers. So they won’t handle waves and swell nearly as well as a deeper v hulled boat. 

Lowe Boats

Lowe Boats is another very common aluminum boat manufacturer. Lowe Boats make both aluminum fishing boats as well as other leisure boats like pontoon boats. Low also focuses on making smaller, more affordable boats than some of the other options on our list.

If you’re looking to buy a smaller open cabin aluminum boat, Lowe Boats is a great option. Their lower-priced boats that are between 15 and 20 feet long are great options for salmon fishermen that are on a budget.

Tracker

Tracker is a lesser-known aluminum boat maker that focuses on many types of hunting and fishing boats. Not only does tracker make grate aluminum boats for salmon fishing, but they also make lower profile aluminum boats for bass fishing and hunting.

If you want to get a Tracker aluminum boat for salmon fishing, we recommend looking at the Deep V models that are built for fishing in saltwater. They start at 16 feet and go up to 19 feet.

Crestliner

Another great aluminum boat brand for salmon fishing is Crestliner. Crestliner is similar to Tracker and makes smaller aluminum boats for various types of fishing. Crestline is an old company – they have been making aluminum boats since 1946.

Their boats feature both deep v technology and a four X hull construction that adds to their durability as well as effectiveness in various water conditions.

Lund Boats

A lesser-known brand than some of the others on our list, Lund Boats are highly customizable and great for salmon fishing. This means they are quite expensive, however, and should only be considered for serious salmon fishermen.

Many of their models start at over 20 feet long and go up to 30 feet. This makes them ideal for open ocean salmon fishing as their larger size will handle swell and rough conditions very well.

Alumacraft

The last aluminum boat manufacturer we’ll include on our list is Alumacraft. Alumacraft is similar to Tracker, in that they produce aluminum boats for all types of fishing and hunting. 

If you want to get an Alumacraft specifically for salmon fishing, plan on getting one of their larger models that includes a cabin. The Trophy and Edge models would work great.

The Best Salmon Fishing Boat for Each Technique

Before purchasing an aluminum fishing boat for salmon fishing, you should consider what type of fishing you plan on doing the most. This will impact the design of the boat you should buy significantly.

  1. Open ocean trolling. For open ocean salmon trolling, we recommend getting a larger boat with a deep v hull design. Larger boats will handle better in rougher water, and a deeper v hull will help you cut through waves easier. You also don’t have to worry about hitting anything in shallow water since you’ll spend a majority of your time in the ocean.
  2. River trolling. For river and estuary trolling, we recommend getting a medium-sized boat with a medium v hull. This will help with any wakes or slight waves you encounter, but you also will be able to get through shallower spots without worrying about hitting the bottom.
  3. Back trolling or bead fishing. If you plan on back trolling or bead fishing most of the time, get a smaller boat with a flat bottom. There won’t be any waves this far up the river and you’ll be more worried about hitting a log or the bottom in shallow water. A flat bottom will help with this!

Parting Thoughts

Finding the best salmon fishing boat for your hobby can be a ton of fun. If you’re anything like us, you’ll love shopping for a boat. Comparing different models, features, and customizations is a blast!

We hope you found this article on what makes the best salmon fishing boat useful and informative. Depending on the type of salmon fishing you plan on doing, different boats on this list will be better or worse for you. 

Did you recently buy a new aluminum boat for salmon fishing? Congrats! Let us know about it in the comments below. 

Happy Hunting!

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