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First Time Boat Buyer - Shopping Used Fishing Boat

1/15/21 @ 11:31 AM
Big Lake Hoosier
Big Lake Hoosier

Any good links or threads you recommend on buying a fishing boat?  My experience is all tiller driven mainly 14-16' no-frills boats.  Given I don't know what I don't know, I'm looking to buy cheap, used, but reliable to get me through a few years while I learn what I want in more permanent boat.  Don't even know motor size, so currently targeting 25-40 hp based on my experience and the size of lakes I'll fish (mainly Three Lakes).  I've got my list of must-have and nice-to-have for features.  Trying to keep the investment between $750 and $2000 with a reliable outboard and solid, no leak boat, and a simple trailer to get it in and out of the water 2x a year as the primary objective.

Biggest thing I'm researching is buying from a dealer vs. buying independent.  Facebook Marketplace and Craig's List have over 30 currently that match my needs.  My biggest concern is having never owned one, how to test drive, check the motor, check the boat, etc.  I've got 4-5 articles bookmarked for this, but looking from this group to see if there's any threads already out there or any quick advice for this newbie.  Thanks!


TODAY @ 8:28 PM
Big Lake Hoosier
Big Lake Hoosier

These are all great replies and thanks for the advice.  Biggest tip I'm trying to use is casting a wide net of my friends and their friends to see if anyone is upgrading this spring.  As far as the discussion below, I'm pretty sure I'm just fine with 16' and based on some simple math today, 25hp would be enough motor.  If a great boat and deal shows up that's a 40hp with a center console, I won't rule it out.  I believe firmly in needing a stepping stone to figure out what I want, what I need, and how much it gets used before making a major investment.  Having said that, it's very tempting to spend $15K on a new tracker and be worry-free.  No plans (as of now) to visit other lakes unless pretty close by Three Lakes, but that could change too.  Thanks everyone!

1/19/21 @ 9:10 AM
mac da gaff
mac da gaff

Most boat owners will tell you that they wish they had made a different decision on buying their boat. I wish I had 3, one for Lake Michigan, one for Green Bay and a Twin Troller for bass fishing the small pothole lakes in Central Wisconsin.

Don't over think your stepping stone boat, a two year window is a very short time period for boat ownership. If you only fish the Three Lakes Chain a 16 ft tiller should suffice. If you goals are to travel and trailer it, wait to invest in a more permanent purchase. You can tolerate some flaws for 2 years. Look carefully  at used boats, insist on hearing it run and start when cold. Most older outboards are 2 stroke and have varnish in the carbs due to ethanol in the fuel and poor winterizing practices. Usually a  carb. clean/rebuild is about $150. For 2k your chance of finding a boat that is pristine are next to none. 

Good Luck on your purchase, don't rule out an older boat that has been kept up, My Brother-in-law has my old 16 ft. Lund tiller (1982) with a 50 hp. Merc. and It runs flawlessly. 

Let us know what you decide to buy,


1/16/21 @ 7:54 PM
One shot one kill

I bought  my pontoon off Craigslist  . Price was good and have been  pleased.  A larger one would be nice,  but I can trailer mine all over .

1/16/21 @ 4:53 PM
USER SINCE 8/16/05

dont buy a Lund. My 2000 Mr. Pike the transom rotted out.  Garage kept - took perfect care of it.  Lund use wood in the transom. Mine rotten out in 2011. Called Lund they would not give me the time of day. Look here you will see a lot of Lund transom getting repaired. this rotted transom season @ calumet marine.

1/16/21 @ 1:26 PM

One thing I would say on motor size don't just go by the size of motor you have to look at the rating for the boat. If its rated for a 100hp don't go below 50hp or you may be under powered. A good rule is 75% then you still have power when fully loaded and still good compromise on fuel. I've got a 17ft Lund rated for 150 with a 150 on it, its fun but you have to have everything tied down and passengers hanging on for hole shot and have to gas up more often. Have wished for a 90 to 125hp many times.

1/16/21 @ 3:19 AM
USER SINCE 3/23/20

A lot depends on how big a body of water your going to fish. Definitely don't buy in a private sale like Craigslist friend bought a new outboard motor for a high price complete junk. I prefer a 16+ deep v for larger waves and a 40hp motor tiller and a bilge pump and live well. Console seems to be in way when fighting fish imo. $2000 your should be able find a older one that has all those features. I spend $6000 on a boat like I described 2 years old when I bought it now 20 years later still like new. I'd go through  a dealer. You can add stuff like fish finder and trolling motor yourself.

1/15/21 @ 10:11 PM
USER SINCE 6/27/01

You are going about this the correct way.  When I upgraded from my 14 ft with a 9.5 hp I wish I would of bought used.  I can still feel the pain when I left the motor down  on my new 75 HP Honda and it bumped up the boat ramp.   

Make sure to check with relatives, friends and co-workers if they might be upgrading or have friends/relatives that are.  They will most likely give you a good deal, plus be completely honest with what is suspect on what you are getting.

If you buy from a dealer, ask what they checked over, such as a compression test.  A friend's son bought a used boat through a private sale and the motor blew up. He thought he had a great deal, but in the end it cost him more dollars to replace the motor.

Good luck,


1/15/21 @ 12:46 PM

Congrats on looking for your first rig, always best to ask questions , buying used is a  great way to get more for less . Never hurts to check sites on makes and models of boats and motors , you usually can find real quick which models have good reps and those  that dont. As far as buying from a dealer versus private , not all dealers are the same , just like buying a car . If you feel overwhelmed bring a friend,  would not hurt to have another person to help you look over what you are interested in buying, also always check NADA guides to give you an idea what the rig is worth that you are buying . Again ASK QUESTIONS,  you wont know if you dont ask . I bought a used boat in May last year from Cedar Lake Sales and love it, got a lot of boat for what I paid , it's not brand new and had a few  quirks but love it and now cant wait from spring .  Good luck on your search 

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