What is the best aluminum boat on the market?
Which is better welded or rivet boat?
If your looking at fishing boats say in the 16 to 20 foot range, I
really don't think there's any clear best boats. Many of the aluminum
boats out there in this size are very similar in terms of quality.
Other than the boat hull and stringers, livewells and decking, you'll
find that most of these boats are equipted with the same third party
hardware. The best thing you can do is look at lots of different
boats and find a few with layouts that appeal to you. Look at storage
space, mounting surfaces, console space, casting platforms, live well
size etc. These are the kinds of things that differ many of these
boats. Brands to look at are Lund, AlumnaCraft, Smoker Craft, Sylvan,
Roughneck, Crestliner, Starcraft, PrinceCraft, Fisher, Ranger,
As for your question of whats better, welded or riveted condtruction:
Let me first say, don't let anyone tell you that rivited boats leak.
Yes, there are some out there that have developed leaks in them.
However, if you look at the rivited boats made by the manufactures
listed above, you should not have leak problems. Yes, you will
probably hear from a couple of people that have had problems.
However, it's few. I guess I'm saying not to get scared away from
rivited construction if you buy a decent brand. In general though, a
welded hull would be better because the bottom is smooth (no rivits).
You should get a little better speed out of the hull. However, this
assumes that you would be comparing two identicle hulls. One being
welded and the other rivited.
When I looked at boats in the 17 to 19 foot class in 96, I would up
buying a SmokerCraft 175 Ultima. The welded hulls were apealing to
me, however, I couldn't find a welded hull offering a similar enough
layout to what I was looking for. Ther are relativly few welded boats
out there compared to the large number of rivited boats.
I've been told that Crestliner makes the aluminum welded boats for
Ranger. Crestliner has had a good reputation in welded construction.
Their boats have the smooth cosmetic lines that attracts many people
to fiberglass boats. I found them to be well constructed (especially
with the SST transom). The layouts of their boats didn't have enough
onboard storage for my needs though.
The only negative I've heard about welded construction is that they
can crack along the welds if you operate them on ruff water often.
However, I've viewed this more as one or two cases rather than the
norm. Sort of like the old "rivited boats leak" myth. The couple of
people I know that have welded aluminum have not had any problems.
One of these boats sees rough conditions fairly often on Lake
Winnebago in Wisconsin.
As far as prices, I found that the same boat can vary as much as $3000
between dealerships so shop prices once you find something you like.
You'll find that the Lunds, Rangers, and Crestliners will carry the
biggest price tags in these boats.