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From the SIERRA Experts

What is a FISH AND SKI BOAT And Who Should Buy Them?

A metallic blue, black, and purple fish and ski boat moving on place across freshwater

If you’re boat shopping online or cruising the boat show floor, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the many Fish and Ski boat models - sometimes called Fish ‘N Ski.

But can a boat that’s designed to do it all live up to expectations on the water? This is something that boat buyers often grapple with when shopping around for a boat that is going to give the entire family the most satisfaction. These types of boats are going to compromise some specific features found in boats designed specifically for fishing or family watersports. 

Common design traits of Fish and Ski Boats

There are some common design traits found in most boats that fall into the Fish and Ski class. They tend to run between 15 and 23 feet in length, use outboard power, and are meant to be easily trailered to your favorite lake or river. They are primarily for freshwater use, but there is nothing stopping you from venturing into protected bays and saltwater environments if you keep up with maintenance. 

Deckboat or Fishing Features

They tend to fall into two categories — models that take a family bowrider or deckboat approach and add fishing features like a bow-mounted trolling motor, livewells, rod storage, and removable pedestal casting seats to make them more fishable. Others are based on bass boats or other fishing boats and add features to make them watersports and family-friendly. These would include additional seating, a removable tow pylon, integrated boarding ladders, underdeck storage for tow ropes and toys, and more. 

In other words, some have origins as family watersports boats and take a turn towards fishing, while others begin as fishing boats and add features and amenities to allow for family watersports fun. 

Aluminum versus Fiberglass Construction

Depending on the size and the hull design from which it traces its origin, Fish and Ski boats can be found in both aluminum and fiberglass construction. Aluminum models will cost less to purchase, require less outboard power, and can be towed with smaller vehicles. Fiberglass models will offer superior performance and more streamlined looks, but you’ll need to spend money on more horsepower.

Whichever way you go, Fish and Ski models represent some level of compromise. A Fish and Ski model isn’t going to be as good a fishing platform as a tournament-rigged bass boat or big-water walleye machine. It won’t have as much open cockpit space, room for anglers to stand and cast, or unfettered fish-fighting mobility around the boat. Conversely, a Fish and Ski model won’t be quite as good for family watersports as a boat designed specifically for this purpose. 

These boats are intended to be hybrids that can used for fishing and family fun. With a well-equipped Fish and Ski boat, you can take your fishing friends out for some piscatorial action, enjoy some tubing, skiing, and swimming with the family, and even do both on the same day. 

Are Fish and Ski Boats Right for you?

Whether or not a Fish and Ski boat is right for you — and which type would suit your needs best — depends on your recreational lifestyle. If you’re a hardcore angler, for example, you’ll probably want to stick with a full-on fishing machine. However, if you love fishing, but also enjoy the lake with family and friends, a Fish and Ski might be a great solution.

If you’re looking for family-friendly features, you’ll likely be most satisfied with a boat that’s equally single-minded. However, if you like to slow it down occasionally and spend a lazy evening casting for bass, walleye, or trout, a boat that does both might be right up your alley. Consider Fish and Ski platforms with bowrider/deckboat DNA, as this will likely give you the best of both worlds. You’ll have a bowrider or deckboat layout with seating, features, and storage that’s appropriate for spending a full day on the water towing tubes, skis, and boards. At the same time, you’ll be able to carry along rods, drop down the bow trolling motor, and make a few casts when fishing. 

One of the keys to getting the most utility out of your Fish and Ski rig is to outfit it with optional extras and accessories that make it yours. For example, adding extra rod holders, a trolling motor (if it’s not standard equipment), and tackle storage will equip your boat for fishing. The same goes for adding recreational accessories to make a fishing-oriented Fish and Ski a more comfortable family-friendly platform.

Think about how you’re going to use your boat most frequently and choose accordingly. A hybrid Fish and Ski boat can extend your time on the water and open new ways to have fun with friends and family. 



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