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 during 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.
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 boats also allow anglers to get places where they can’t on foot or with a motor boat.
There’s even one that looks like a cross between a float tube and a stand-up paddle board.
Jackson Kayaks’ Coosa is designed for fishing on a slow-moving river.
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.
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.
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is one stout fishing machine. It’s designed for everything: lakes, 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 (extra $200) makes it easier to stand up and fish, although you don’t need it. 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.
Dave Scadden’s 2015 Outlaw Fuzion is probably the craziest-looking fishing craft around. You can stand up and fish and even shoot rapids.
Dave Scadden has been inventing and designing pontoon boats since the late ’80s.
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, and deflates and rolls up to the size of a sleeping bag for easy travel. Cost: $1,199.
Outcast’s Osg Stealth Pro, is an 8-foot boat designed for anglers who want a lightweight craft that will take on tough water.
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. It has a gear system that incorporates PVC sleeves with a movable base that accepts cargo pockets, rod holders and an anchor. Cost: $999 .
Outcast’s PAC 900 is a 9-foot pontoon boat with rocker to fish rivers with rapids. 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.