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Aluminum boat recommendations


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Hey everyone, I am curious about how well  aluminum boats ride on the big lake.  I had a 19’ glass  CC that handled great but was a heavy haul from lake to lake since I trailer it everywhere I go.  Trying to split the difference between towing a lighter load and still not getting knocked around too much in 3’ers. Would love to hear what you guys have and how they are working out. Thanks

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I have a heavy glass boat (21' Angler)  I would never go back to an aluminum boat......the trailering is a little harder but the ride more than makes up for it.  There really is no comparison in my opinion.....

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I’m with Bandrus. I’m not out in 3fters if I don’t have to be. No enjoyment. If I’m living up on LO I’d be settling on glass maybe min 21 ft frame. I’m sold on the 19 ft alum due to fishing and trailering around finger lakes most of the time. If it’s calm on the big lake I can be there in 30min.


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I bounce around during the year between Oneida, Ontario and a couple of the smaller finger lakes but would also like to take it to the salt for some bay fishing during vacations but no way I would drive the glass tank out there along with my family and a weeks worth of luggage. Maybe I can’t have my cake and eat it too but would to at least know if it’s an option.

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I bounce around during the year between Oneida, Ontario and a couple of the smaller finger lakes but would also like to take it to the salt for some bay fishing during vacations but no way I would drive the glass tank out there along with my family and a weeks worth of luggage. Maybe I can’t have my cake and eat it too but would to at least know if it’s an option.

What are you pulling it with?
My kid pulls our 25 Whaler with a V6 Ram with zero issues. Don’t even know it’s back there.


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Trailering is really about matching up the boat weight with trailer tongue weight distribution and having a wide enough wheel base on the tow vehicle and towing capacity to keep the tail from wagging the dog with smaller boats, and getting the right hull design for the boat itself depending on use or purpose . My 18 ft Whaler is much like a 20 ft boat and can be pulled by pretty much any pickup truck or SUV. I can launch it solo, go out in very rough water without problems and in the 18 years I have had it I have never had any water come into the boat from waves because of the hull design. Fishing rough water is another issue because no matter what size boat you are in when the wind is up and the waves are cranking you can't control your lure speed properly;although some may be more comfortable to be on than others. I'm convinced there are no perfect boats - just some that perform better than others at some things.  After all is said and done it is  always a compromise of some sort ;whether comfort, expense, purpose (s) etc. and personal preferences seem to guide that decision. Most glass boats and aluminum boats "feel" different when in them and once someone gets used to this (either way) it can be a preference or desirability factor too which can later affect "satisfaction":smile:

Edited by Sk8man
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Have owned several aluminums including a 22ft.  I have a glass 20 ft now.  There is no comparison to the ride of glass because of weight.  Aluminum has gotten better as they have improved over time.  But everyone has their own preferences.  Towing kicks gas mileage down, often into the 12 mpg range or less.  Not going to get around that one.  And sure weight is also a factor in this but the vehicle is working harder to cover the same ground.   

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  • 3 months later...

I’ve had an 18’ Lund Alaskan since 2007. It tows easily and rides well. It can handle anything I care to fish in on Lake Ontario. It’s also a very versatile boat and can be used with a blind as a duck boat. If you are looking for something a bit larger they make a 20 footer. Many river rats on the SLR own Alaskans.


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I have an aluminum 19 foot Starcraft Islander and although I have no problem with 3 footers I would not go out in 4 footers. Going solo quite often I learned to always stay in the low parts of the wave (riding the valley) and I always have the otter boats out which makes steering very much easier also in waves. I also have about a 100 pounds of ballast in the bow. I guess it is aluminum ,but I made it as heavy as fiber glass.

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I used to trailer my aluminum boat exclusively, and it's the TRAILER that determines how good or bad your experience is going to be as long as you're within the weight limits of your tow vehicle.

 

As far a boat considerations, you should narrow down your search based on how you plan to rig it. If you're going to fish the big lake, and you want to extend your season, then you probably want to be able to have a canvas enclosure. That especially true if you've trailered a decent way and you plan to put in full days. My guess is that's why you see so few center consoles here vs Florida.

 

I'm totally surprised that you don't see more west coast style aluminum boats, like Hewescraft or North River. Crestliner makes a Commander model similar. Fully welded, heavy gauge. If you look at them from the side, the helm is moved toward the bow compared to most of our walk through windshield boats, giving you a larger open area in the stern. The compromise is that it reduces the size of the bow fishing area. Add a model that puts the motor on an extended bracket behind the boat and a 19 footer fishes like a 24!

 

Final consideration for me is freeboard. My gunnel height hits me in the thighs when I lean to the side of my boat, and I'd have to work pretty hard to fall overboard. Big disadvantage is that a taller boat, with the canvas up, has a lot more sail area that can make anchoring in the wind and boat control more difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes it pays to rethink the original problem. Some years ago I trailered my Whaler with a Ford Explorer V-8. It was capable of pulling the boat and I thought set up just right as far as the trailer etc. At about 60 mph  or more I could feel the front wheels lifting and the boat swaying behind despite having a full 60 gals. of fuel (to keep from sloshing around). I thought it might be the tongue weight distribution etc. and had things adjusted (PIA). It still did it the same. The trailer has a very wide wheel base and was controlling the vehicle which had a narrower wheelbase. I bought a used Expedition V-8 and have never had that problem since and am now on my second Expedition. Moral of the story: I would never have given up the boat as I love it and wanted to keep it no matter what so I reformulated the solution. Not cheap but necessary in that case. Something to think about....maybe a used pickup if you like the boat itself? Three footers plus will knock around about anyone in all but the largest boats and then you have a very different solution.

Edited by Sk8man
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  • 10 months later...

Of course, Aluminium Boats are a good investment and are cheaper than other types of boats. Even tho, not every single one of them is good. So, I understand why you need more pieces of advice, to make the right decision. I recently sold my old one, and I want to buy something new and that will last me a lot of time. While I was searching for options and descriptions I hopped on this site: https://crowoutdoors.com/best-aluminum-bay-boats/. It might help you or be an inspiration for you. I got some ideas from here and it also specifies some good tips.

Edited by Christan
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  • 1 month later...

Aluminum boats are known for being sturdy and durable, that’s why it’s easy to think that there’s not much effort that goes into maintaining them. However, it is still necessary to put in the extra effort, especially to maintain my boat’s good looks.

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Like most things-The devil is in the details. A hull is not just a hull, dead rise characteristics and how weight distribution is or isn't taken into account, overall length and freeboard make all the difference and so obviously does weight . I have a 245 Crestliner Eagle hardtop IO/kicker that I consider the equal of most glass boats in her class and most days she's more than enough boat- when it's too rough for that boat I am not gonna beat myself to hell in something else. I also have a 2105 Sabre 200 outboard/9.9 kicker that I use on the Niagara, early spring on the Bar and for browns and for walleye on Erie. It's obviously not quite the heavy sea tamer that the 245 hardtop is but it too is more than enough boat for most days( I don't have to pick really carefully). I think you will find there is a big difference between what I will call the late model 'tracker' style of boat and boats with a long standing tradition of structurally superior hull design, significant weight, and high freeboard like Crestliner, Starcraft, Lund , Alumacraft, etc. Not trying to badmouth anybody's boat but look at what guides and charter guys run. Our boats have to be safe and reliable every day.

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Been going back and forth for decades with the same problem.. A well designed 17 foot fiberglass boat { I had an aquasport 175 Osprey], will handle heavy seas better than most 20 foot aluminum boats.. However they also weigh twice as much... It all depends on where you are going, and what you have to tow with... Some guys have trucks that can tow a 25 foot glass boat with ease, other guys try and tow with compact SUV's or pickups that  will tow a small aluminum  boat, but have a hard time with even a 17 foot glass boat... I had a  18 foot Starcraft Islander, and old one, and miss it terribly.. It was light for the  size and space it offered,  yet took  rough water remarkably well... Overall, don't expect an aluminum "compromise" boat to handle rough conditions  close to as well as the same size glass boat...   I now own an older  aluminum17 Grumman CC.. Very heavily built, and designed for salt water use... I bought it because I tend to believe what I read... It  is mediocre at best, no where near as good as a comparable glass boat despite its very wide beam, and not as good as that old Islander... Personally, I would  stay with a glass boat if you can deal with the weight....... bob

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