Whether it’s your first time setting foot in a boat show or just your first time walking the aisles as a serious buyer, there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed. A visit to a boat show to buy a boat can be the best shopping trip of your life. Here’s how to get started.
Narrow Down your Choices
Start by getting familiar with the basic boat styles and decide what makes the most sense for you. The fishability of a bay boat? The big-water potential of a center console? The blend of family-friendly features that come in a dual console? Or are you ready for a sport fisherman to get you offshore and back?
Consider your needs and your wants, set your budget, and the overwhelming aisles of the boat show will quickly shrink down to a manageable size.
As the name suggests, bay boats are popular with inshore anglers. Built with a flatter bottom than a deep-V hull and less freeboard than an offshore boat, they offer plenty of stability in calm water and lots of room for unrestricted fishing.
Less deadrise also means a shallower draft, allowing bay boats to run in shallow waters of the back bays. The obvious trade-off is a less comfortable ride in bumpy conditions and, due to their low gunnels, they are less seaworthy in rough conditions. However, not all bay boats are built the same and improved technology and design have expanded the bay boat category, blurring the lines between a bay boat and a center console. They tend to be no frills and no nonsense craft, with large casting decks, storage, rod holders, livewells and very little else—however, as the bay boat’s popularity has grown, you’ll find more options in the category than ever before. If inshore fishing is your main focus, it’s worth checking out what bay boats have to offer.
If you’re in the market…