10 Best Boats for Catfishing ( Top Picks for 2021)

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Even though practically any boat can be used for catfishing, there are many advantages to choosing the right one for you. Though people do not consider boats as important as rods, reels and other tackles, your catfishing experience, and the catch itself, can greatly improve if you match your catfishing boat to the specific needs you have. Take a look at some of the best catfishing boats we’ve listed for you, as well as the guide on how to choose the right one for you. You can also use these boats for difference purposes.

Here are the list of Top 10 catfish boats :

  • G3 Sportsman Series Boats
  • Tracker Pro 160
  • Pro Cat 200
  • Xpress Xplorer Catfish Series
  • Lund Renegade
  • Excel catfish pro
  • Angler Qwest Catfish Pro
  • Crestliner 2070 Retriever SC Heavy Duty
  • Lowe 20 Catfish

1. G3 Sportsman Series Boats

The G3 is a well-known boat company, that has partnered with Yamaha and uses their engines. Sportsman is their series of 19 different aluminum body boats.  They range from 16 to 24 feet in length. We’ll focus on the G3 1710 model, as it’s the most popular one and has an optimal length of 17 feet. It has two large casting decks and a centrally positioned steering wheel which makes it a good choice for catfishing. It’s fitted with a centrally positioned rod locker and 5 more lockable storage compartments, 3 in the back and 2 in the front. The boat has a total of 5 seats, three in the cockpit and additional two fishing seats on both bow and stern decks. Some of the standard equipment includes 3 engine trims, aerated livewell, navigational lights, cup holders, battery charger, bilge pump, and more.

Specifications :

Length17’10”
Dry weight1865lbs
Engine Power40-90hp
Fuel Capacity21 USgal

2. Tracker Pro 160

The Tracker Pro 160 is a compact fishing boat with a modified V shape type of hull. It’s as tough as they come, with its full welded body and stringer system that covers the full length of the boat. It features a special Diamond Coating paint that lasts longer and gives an incredible look. Minn Kota trolling motor with 45lbs of thrust and a foot controlling  mechanism will help you cast the bait exactly where you want it to be. A nine-gallon live well system will help you keep your cats survive long after being caught. Elevated casting and bow deck provide a firm foundation when battling trophy cats. It also has a port side rod holder for easy access to your rods, with up to 7’ rod support. Fish finder and sports steering wheel come as standard options for this boat. The trailer also comes with the boat, simplifying your purchase even further.

Specifications :

Length16’2”
Beam5’10”
Fuel capacity6gal
Engine powerUp to 40HP
Maximum loading weight855lbs

3. Pro Cat 200

The most popular catfish-specific boat on the market. An amazing 80-gallon stern livewell, together with a 25-gallon front one and self-draining bow deck, make this boat ready for tournament-level catfishermen. A 51-gallon aluminum fuel tank ensures long rides and never-ending fishing expeditions. Standard equipment also includes trolling motor, led navigational lights, oxygenator, bilge pump, wash down pump, hydraulic steering, and litter box system. However, they do not come with a fishfinder as standard. For the price, this is one of the best options when it comes to catfishing.

Specifications :

Length20’1”
Engine PowerUp to 150 Hp
Beam94”
Fuel capacity51 gal
Load weight780lbs

4. Xpress Xplorer Catfish Series

Xplorer catfish series is a true championship type of catfishing boat. With all-welded aluminum construction and outstanding performance, it represents the pinnacle of catfishing boats. You are offered two different lengths,  20 feet, and 18 feet variants. The two cockpit seats together with front and rear fishing seats provide enough space for a true family adventure. Other standard features include catfish livewell, storage box, Minn Kota trolling motor, lockable rod storage, fiberglass console, parameter gauges, aluminum trailer, and more.

Specifications :

Length20’ or 18’
Beam95”
Engine powerUp to 150 hp
Fuel capacity18 gal
Max weight1900lbs or 1345 lbs

5. Lund Renegade

Renegade is Lund’s series of mod v aluminum boats for bass and crappie fishing, but it’s also a good choice when it comes to catfishing. They are available in two sizes, 17’9” and 18’9”. It has three seats in the cockpit and two mounting platforms in the aft and the front for fishing seats. A very small draft of just 11.5” allows you to perfectly target backwaters and shallow waters and hit the big cats. Rod storage supports rods of up to 8’ of length, so you won’t have to worry about them fitting in. A total of 4 storage places are available, with a 12 can igloo cooler. The only thing missing is a livewell. Other standard equipment includes a trolling motor, navigational lights, steering console with instruments, self-draining splash-pan, large bow and stern decks, bilge pump, and more.

Renegade 1775 Specifications :

Length17’9”
Beam95”
Engine PowerUp to 90hp
Fuel capacity22 gal
Max weight capacity1225lbs

6. Excel catfish pro

When it comes to catching big trophy catfish, Excel’s catfish pro is second to none. Its flat hull design allows it to slip into shallow backwaters and coves just inches deep. A huge 66-gallon livewell will make even the biggest catfish fit easily. Comfortable seats and a 30-gallon fuel tank will make your rides longer and more convenient. Its large center platform is specifically designed for reeling the big cats in. Some of the standard features include a 16-gallon console aerated livewell, 3 cockpit seats, front, and aft fishing seats, troll motor harness, rod holder, cooler, navigation lights, front motor trim, bilge pump, and more. It has a durable welded aluminum body and tough camo or khaki paint job ideal for both catfishing and hunting.

Specifications :

Length21’ or 24’
Beam94”
Engine powerUp to 225
Fuel capacity30gal
Max weight capacity1700 or 1900

7. Angler Qwest Catfish Pro

Angler Qwest’s Catfish is a series of heavy-duty pontoon boats ready to handle any type of catfish and weather conditions. You can’t even tell how many rod holders they have, with its large radar arc and additional places across the boat.

 In case of some foul weather, it’s got a lot of storage for your additional gear. Another key feature is the double-wall system on the angler quest boats, it allows you to have a track system. If you come up to the front you’ll notice two fishing seats with that nice trolling motor. A vinyl floor covering this one’s a triple tube and very durable. Center fiberglass console allows you to walk down both sides, with nothing in your way when you’re casting or you’re pulling in your catch. A huge 70-gallon livewell will be sufficient even for the trophy blue catfish. Some of the other equipment includes a stereo system, aluminum ladder, windshield, lights, gauge panel, front benches, tilt steering wheel, and more.

Specifications :

Length25’11’’
Beam8’
Engine powerUp to 300
Fuel capacity45gal
Max Weight capacity2880lbs

8. Crestliner 2070 Retriever SC Heavy Duty

The 2070 SCHD is another rugged boat from the Crestliner family. Broad design, 20’ in length and a .125 aluminum gauge bottom and all-welded aluminum body make this one ready for any type of challenge. A large 60-gallon livewell together with the aluminum side console, easy access rod storage, and a big storage capacity make this boat best suited for catfishing. Comfortable seats offer additional storage space below them. With the vertical rod rack, access your rods hassle-free. Cushioned fishing seat with a folding backrest will provide the best experience during long catfishing sessions. A Trolling motor with an 8 gauge harness at the bow will ensure the smoothest control. An appropriate trailer is also included in the price, to complete this phenomenal catfishing setup.

Specifications :

Length20’
Beam96’
Engine power75-150hp
Fuel capacity19gal
Max weight capacity1862lbs

9. Lowe 20 Catfish

Lowe’s 20 Catfish boat is one of the few vessels designed specifically to handle catfish of all sizes and types. Its welded aluminum body with injected foam improves durability while keeping low weight. With a 60-gallon livewell, you won’t have to worry about anything you reel in. An additional 16-gallon livewell in the back is also available, and a great option for an eater size catch.  An intuitive side console and simple gauges will make the captain’s job more convenient. Foldable seats with concealed storage places provide plenty of space in any situation. A Rod holder that supports rods of up to 8’6’’ in length is ideal for your big game catfish rods.

And don’t forget the 45lb trolling motor in the front, ideal for a smooth glide across any type of water body.

Specifications :

Length20’
Beam95’’
Engine PowerUp to 150hp
Fuel capacity22gal
Maximum weight capacity1900lbs

Things to consider when buying a catfish boat

Buying a catfish boat isn’t a small thing. When spending that type of money you should be well informed on how to make your choice to best fit your needs. Catfishing is fairly different from catfish some other freshwater species, and that also reflects the boat features you’ll need for it. Here are some of the important things you need to take into account when buying a catfish boat.

Type of water

The size and type of water body will determine the size of the boat you’ll need. Picking up a large boat for small rivers can make your catfishing trip a nightmare. Bigger boats are more durable, offer way more options and amenities, but they can’t serve you in shallow waters.

For the smaller lakes and rivers, a 14 footer will be more than enough.

Horsepower

Powerful engines are always a good thing. They won’t necessarily consume a lot more fuel, but will certainly serve you longer even if you decide to switch to bigger waters. Always get as much as possible for the money you can, since it can even be cheaper in the end.

Size

You also need to consider your size. Smaller boats tend to have little and not so comfortable seats, which can be inconvenient for bigger individuals. Try out the driver’s seat, as well as the fishing seat, since you’ll be using it for longer periods.

Type of bottom

If you are planning on using your boat in relatively smaller and more gentle waters, a boat with a flat bottom is the best and most affordable option. The flat bottom and small draft allow you to access more shallow places, and make it easier to pull the fish on board.

On the other hand, if you need a boat that can handle larger water bodies and foul water with strong wind and waves, a V-haul is the go-to type. Their design improves stability and allows them to go through waves like a knife through butter.

Boat features

This, like the other points, depending on what you need in a catfishing boat. Some of the features you want to look at and compare are the sizes of livewell, number of seats, storage capacity, people capacity, type of construction, number of rod holders, and so on. If you want to keep your catch alive for a longer time, a decent size livewell is something you can’t go without.

Catfish boat setup

Before hitting the water with your new catfish boat check your catfishing setup. Make sure you have the right catfishing rod, reel, line, hooks, and baits. Also, some of the important things on the boat itself are working navigational and casting lights, since you’ll probably use it at night time. Also test the battery, since you won’t be able to do much on the water. Fill up your fuel tanks, and even bring some additional fuel if it’s your first time using a boat. Cople your trailer and you’re good to go.

Pontoon boat setup for catfish

You can find older pontoon boats for a good price, but you’ll probably need to set them up for a good catfishing trip. Here’s some useful equipment and featured you should install to be more comfortable when on the water:

Top or umbrella: Fishing in the mid-day drought or the rain will be a lot easier if you have the appropriate protection

Comfortable seats: Foldable and more comfortable seats are very important during long hours on the water

Rod holders: The more the better, since it will give you more options

Vinyl floor: More durable and effective than old carpet flooring

Others: Anchor and lots of rope, Long net, Cup holders on the rail

How do you anchor a boat for catfishing?

There’s nothing more stressful than fishing with a tight line of a boat that can’t standstill. To avoid this you need to make sure you use the right anchor, rope, and anchoring technique.

The best catfishing anchor is the one that’s big enough to hold the boat in place. And you’ll need two of them.

As for the rope, a nylon braided rope seems to be the best option for catfishing. Just make sure it’s thick enough ( ⅜ inch is optimal for a mid-size boat) and long enough (at least three times the depth you plan on anchoring).

The right anchoring technique consists of these steps:

Anchor the nose into the wind,

Use sufficient rope, and add some extra to tie it off,

Tie the rope close to the center of the nose,

Drop the back anchor and then tie it off on the back cleat,

Pull the rope of the front anchor to tighten it, until you feel that the back anchor is also tight,

Tie the rope on the front cleat,

This way your boat will stay exactly where you want it to, with as little movement as possible.

Frequently asked Questions

1. Are bass boats good for catfishing?

Yes, if you have a bass boat it can serve you well for catfishing. The main thing you’ll need to look after is the carpet floors since the catfish is slimy. They’ll get dirty, so regular cleaning is needed to maintain it properly.

2. Can you catfish on a kayak?

Absolutely yes. Catfishing from a kayak isn’t much different from any other catfishing technique. Kayak has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent years since it’s a lot of fun.

3. Do boats scare catfish?

There’s no consensus when it comes to answering this question. But it is known that engine noise can scare catfish. Some say even the fishfinder can make them run away from you. But when you anchor your boat and shut off the engine, you won’t have to worry about scaring them.

4. Who makes the best catfishing boat?

There is no single boat manufacturer that makes superior catfish boats. Instead, there are a few good and respectable companies that make some excellent boats for catfishing. Such as Lund, Sea Ark, Xpress, Angler Qwest, and Excel.

5. What are the other essential gears you can take with a catfish boat?

Other catfishing gear you’ll need depends on the type and size of catfish your after.

Rods: For bigger catfish use longer and stiffer rods. For a detailed guide on catfishing rods check out our catfish rod article.

Reels: Spinning reels are good for smaller channel cats, for bigger catfish go for baitcasting reels.

Line: Make sure you have a line that is strong and long enough for the catfish you’re after

Bait/Lure: Baits are generally more effective than lures. Live baits are the best option for trophy size catfish. To find out what are the best types of catfish baits check out our article.

Rod Holder: the more you have the marrier, you just need to make sure they’re wide enough to fit your rods

Fish finder: Fishfinders can make your trip more productive and save much time. To find out more about the best catfish finders, take a look at our article.

Rigs: There are many different types of rigs for catfishing. When using a boat u can try a traditional drifting rig that consists of the mainline, swivel, lead line, float lure, hook, bait, and a steel weight.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right catfishing boat can seem to be pretty complicated. But we’ve tried to make it more straightforward and focus on the important things you need to look at. It is a big investment, so any time you put into researching it won’t be a waste. We hope this article helped you understand what makes a good catfishing boat, whether you plan on buying a new one or trying to optimize your old boat. 

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