best aluminum boat?

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, Grumman.

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.

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