4 Reasons Why Small Fishing Boats are Better than Charter Boats

Using a Small Fishing Boat vs Charter Boat. What's Better

The uncertainty of fishing is something that brings many fisherman back for more. There are many places on this planet to fish and numerous styles to go about catching those fish.

Rod and reel combinations are the most popular among recreational fishermen. You can travel into almost any sporting good store and find bait and tackle for rod and reel fishing.

When it comes to salt water fishing there is an argument as to whether using small fishing boats or large charter boats are best for your fishing experience. It can be very situational for sure, but I’m here to tell you the smaller the boat the better the catch.

As a seasoned fisherman myself I’ll point out the pros and cons of both types of fishing and why I’ll pick small fishing boats over a charter most of the time.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy deep sea fishing on larger boats, I very much do. I don’t normally target those larger species in my trips. I don’t have the desire to catch a multi hundred pound tuna. I mostly target the smaller (<30lb) salt water fish. As stated above, there are benefits to both styles of fishing, smaller vessel fishing gives most people access to salt water fish that they normally wouldn’t have otherwise.

Small Fishing Boats, Fishing Spots & Access

Where you’re fishing is just as important as how you’re fishing. There are some spots along the coast where you can drop a line and only hit sand, without a fish anywhere near. There are other places where there are fish everywhere but no legal access. Whenever you’re planning a salt water trip keep in mind where you plan to fish.

There are many kelp forests and coral reefs right off the coast. Many of these habitats can be easily accessed by a small fishing boat, kayak or paddle board. In some of these areas it is unlawful to access with a full size boat or engine. This really limits the number of vessels or personal watercraft that will be in an area. In other areas even if a full size boat is allowed access, there are benefits to being on your own water craft.

The first of which will be maneuverability. Larger fishing boats aren’t as nimble and can’t get into those tight spots where fish hangout. Fishing in shallow water (<75 feet) really gives the fish an advantage over larger fishing boats.

If your intention is to fish international waters several miles off the coast then a charter boat is definitely the choice for you. If you target some of the more costal fish a small fishing vessel may be the appropriate choice for you.

The specific fish you want to catch will really be determined by your fishing preferences. If you targeting rockfish and some other species known for hanging around calmer water such as halibut, bass, and salmon small fishing boats will ensure better success.

3 Examples of Charter Boats cruising on the sea

Why Not Charter Boats

Let me address the eel in the room. Charter boat fishing; why is it so bad? My main concern with charter boat fishing is the number of people. When you get more than two people fishing on the same boat you begin introducing hazards and unnecessary obstacles.

When you’ve got a fish on your line, the best thing you can do is keep it right in front of you. As you turn and maneuver around a boat, the other fishermen become obstacles. I can’t tell you how many fish I’ve lost because the person next to me wasn’t cooperating.

As soon as there is tension on a fishing line it becomes very delicate and fragile. If that same line comes in contact with, pretty much anything else, you can lose your catch.

Charter boat fishing isn’t cheap. Tickets on these boats start around $200 a day. If you go several times a year you can find you’ve spent nearly $1,000 to get tangled up with your neighbor; while the freezer is still empty. Take that same amount of money, over only two trips and you can have yourself a nice small fishing boat such is a kayak; something you can take out whenever you want without the need for an expensive charter ticket.

Numerous lines going out into the water can lead to tangled messes and miss opportunities. The fish don’t care what you’re on while you’re fishing so why not make it easier on you and your wallet to fish on a personal fishing boat/kayak/watercraft.

3 Examples of Small Fishing boats one at the dock, second man in canoe floating and small fishing boat being pulled

Some Pros & Cons of Small Fishing Boats

Small fishing boats come in many sizes and lengths. Some options could include a kayak, canoe, paddle board, float-tube, dinghy, and inflatable pack-raft. Each has it’s own style you can pick from to suit your needs.

Depending on your location and frequency of fishing you might want to consider some of the larger options. For example, a paddle board would be recommended in calmer and warmer water, where the possibility of falling in is larger. The kayak is probably the vessel of choice for most small watercraft fishermen.

One of the biggest downsides with small craft fishing would be the ability to travel. All of these are powered by you and your ability to row or paddle. To help with this you can choose any of the electric fishing motors here. My favorite of fishing motor would be the Bixpy J-1 Outboard Kit. It can be attached to just about any small fishing boat or watercraft with easy setup and installation.


Your style of fishing may vary compared to mine. I enjoy the consistent success I’ve had with small fishing boats. When I’m set out on a fishing journey I really only have one goal in mind; I want to catch fish.

I don’t want to deal with the ego of another fisherman or tangled lines. Small fishing boats is my preferred way of fishing. There are many species both small and large that can be caught on small fishing boats.

Smaller fishing vessels offer flexibility and agility that is normally not available for larger fishing boats. With access to almost anywhere, small fishing boats provide more of an inclusive fishing experience than a charter boat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Our New,
Free eBook

"A Quick Start Guide to Saltwater Fishing"

Enter Your Name and Email Below