Fishing boats add new features to old designs

They continue to get more stable, maneuverable, comfortable and spacious.

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comFebruary 26, 2014 

Fishing's getting pretty personal - as in personal fishing craft.

Innovations rise to the surface every year as boat builders figure out new ways to make it easier to stand up and cast, store fishing gear and get to those hard-to-reach hot fishing spots.

Fishing kayaks and pontoon-style boats have continually grown in popularity over the decade, and the combinations of boat design and accessories are as mind boggling as trying to get a stubborn largemouth to hit a spinnerbait.

The industry continues to expand, and in many cases has dropped the name fishing kayak and substituted personal fishing craft.

"Kayaks can scare people off," said Chuck Cremer, owner of Alpenglow Mountainsport in Boise.

Even though a lot of the fishing boats look like kayaks, they are more stable, so you don't have to worry about doing an Eskimo roll or wet exit as in whitewater kayaks.

The stability, comfortable seats, and the fact that you don't need a motor or trailer make them very attractive for anglers, said Cremer.

"A lot have a seating system like a lawn chair instead of sitting down inside the kayak," said Cremer. "You're not sitting in a puddle of water."

The boats also allow anglers to get places where they can't on foot or with a motor boat.

Smaller, fishing-specific pontoon boats and variations in float tubes are continually surfacing on the scene.

There's even one that looks like a cross between a float tube and stand-up paddle board.

Check out these hot, catchy boats floating around.

JACKSON KAYAKS COOSA

This kayak is designed for fishing on a slow-moving river, much like the Snake River. The name? Well there’s a Coosa River in Alabama with plenty of warmwater fish. The kayak, just under 12 feet long, has a slight rocker (ends rise up) for maneuvering in moving water. The maneuverability doesn’t sacrifice stability. It is designed for stand-up fishing, but the up-and-down adjustable lawn-chair-style seat can keep you high enough for sight fishing while sitting. Lower the chair for more stability in running rapids. It has locking hatches for plenty of gear storage. Other features include paddle and rod holders, which offer quick access. Although is it a full-blown fishing kayak, it only weighs 70 pounds. Cost: $1,200 to $1,250; available at Alpenglow Mountainsport in Boise.

HOBIE MIRAGE PRO ANGLER 12

This is one stout fishing machine. It’s designed for everything from lakes and rivers, and even open ocean. The boat is 12 feet long and weighs 120 pounds. The weight offers stability with a 500-pound capacity. (You might think about a kayak cart for hauling it to the water). It’s hands-free fishing because of the kayak’s pedal-drive system, and you won’t miss setting the hook while steering. It has one-hand rudder control. A leaning bar ($200), which is an accessory, makes it easier to stand up and fish, although you don’t need it for standing up. The boat is stable. Other goodies: rod holders to store four rods horizontally and two vertically; and a four-way adjustable seat with lumbar support. Cost: $2,899; seen at Idaho River Sports in Boise.

DAVE SCADDEN'S 2015 OUTLAW FUZION

This is probably the craziest-looking fishing craft around, but you can stand up and fish and even shoot rapids. Dave Scadden has a bunch of personal fishing craft, but the Fuzion is an eye stopper. He has been inventing and designing pontoon boats since the late ‘80s, and things at North Fork Outdoors in Ogden, Utah, keep evolving. You can’t help be amazed by the futuristic design of the Fuzion, but it’s functional. The low profile offers good handling in the wind and also makes the boat easy to carry and store. It is 8 feet long, weighs 28 pounds and has an 800-pound capacity. It can be propelled with fins, oars, motor or stand-up paddling. There’s even more for convenience. It deflates and rolls up to the size of a sleeping bag for easy travel. Cost: $1,199; see it at northforkoutdoors.com or call (801) 392-5404.

OUTCAST'S OSG STEALTH PRO

This 8-foot boat is designed for anglers who want a lightweight craft that will take on tough water like on Idaho’s rivers. It is made with urethane bladders, whitewater-quality valves and a durable PVC shell. Since it only weighs 35 pounds, you can throw it in the back of the pickup truck or blow it up and launch at the put-in. It features a low profile for fin kicking and a rockered tube for rowing on the river. Included are an adjustable seat and foot rest, cargo space and a gear system that incorporates PVC sleeves with a movable base that accepts cargo pockets, rod holders and an anchor. Cost: $999; see it at outcastboats.com.

OUTCAST'S PAC 900

If you want a 9-foot pontoon boat with rocker so that you can fish rivers with rapids, the PAC 900 is designed for it. It’s large enough for overnight trips on a river but can also be used on lakes. It’s small enough to be maneuvered by fin kicking if you don’t want to use the oars. The inflatable has heavy-duty PVC, urethane bladders and a simple lightweight aluminum frame. Weight: 54 pounds. Cost: $1,399; see details at outcast.com.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

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