By Randy Gaines

With most of the hunting seasons winding down across the Midwest, many of us turn our attention back to the upcoming fishing and boating season. In the current economy, it’s no surprise the lure of a new, or new to me boat, takes center stage in many of our minds. Let’s chew the fat about a few of the steps in the boat-shopping process. 

    Choosing the Right Boat:

The first step is also the most important—determining what type of vessel will best fit the fishing style and the desires of both yourself and those you plan to bring along on your adventures. A few things to consider are: Are you going to engage in tournaments or recreation fishing with family and friends. Your intended angling activities can largely dictate both the design and cost of your new rig.


 Now that the decision has been made to buy a boat, how much can you spend? Your budget will likely be a discerning factor whether you purchase a new or used boat. With your budget determined it’s time to start building a prioritized list of “have to have” and “nice to haves”. It is through this exercise where we usually determine new or used. 

    Size Matters:

 What are your space constraints? Measure your existing storage for a boat. Most of today’s garages are a little wimpy which can make it hard to store a larger boat. This, sometimes, calls for getting creative. Thank goodness for the swing-away tongue! While doing your research, measure your potential boat and trailer in every possible way including, width outside to outside of trailer wheels, height at the highest point (note: with modern four-stroke engines the top of the engine can easily be the highest point). I typically measure the prospective boat in two ways. The first being what I like to call relaxed meaning, just like it sets as you tow it down the road. The second measurement process should involve the tongue swung all the way open, motor lowered off the transom saver as low as it will go and turned to the stops, either to port or starboard. This will give you the most compact measurements possible. The last thing you want to happen is to get your new baby home and not have a crib that fits it.


If you are trailering your boat, keep in mind that the size of the boat will directly impact the size of the vehicle needed to tow it.

    The Hunt:  

Now that you have listed your perimeters, let the hunt begin. Fire up your favorite internet search engine and dig in. Search on manufacturers websites, dealerships, along with the masses of online fishing and boating forums. These forums are a great place to find reviews. Someone out there has experienced both good and bad with just about anything you can think of. Lean on your friends who may own or know details about the boat you’re considering. First-hand friendly knowledge is hard to beat! If you’re going to be purchasing a new boat, a point well worth mentioning is creating a dialogue with the right dealer for you. Compare dealers. Just because he’s just down the road doesn’t make him the right one for you. Good dealers have a good reputation for a reason and are well worth a little road time to visit them. You’ll know you found your dealer when they are eager and willing to work hard for you, offering advice based on their experience and making for a less stressful shopping journey.

    The Boat: 

Once you’ve located “the boat” you’re considering buying, there are a couple of steps that should take place before agreeing on that final price. If you’re purchasing used, go for a ride and make sure everything works. Make note of what you find that may need repairing. These items can be useful bargaining points. If possible, securing a marine survey is always a good idea. At the very least, ask for any service records and get an engine printout (you may want a marine mechanic to help decipher it). It is advisable to check all the major mechanical and electrical components. And above all, check the trailers tires, breaks, bearings, and lighting hooked up to your tow vehicle.

New Boat

   Do the Deal:

If you’re purchasing a new boat, the process is quite similar to purchasing a new automobile. There will be dealer cost such as rigging and delivery. You will also need insurance on your new boat before it leaves the dealership or the private seller’s possession. This is one place you should not cut corners. Don’t be fooled into believing your homeowner’s policy has your back because quite frankly it does not! Do yourself a huge favor and call an insurance provider that specializes in Marine Insurance. I, as well as many of the professional tournament anglers and guides, use WorldWide Marine Underwriters Insurance, (517) 627-8080 and ask for Bob. He will customize a policy that makes the most sense for you. 

Buying a boat can be very stressful but also very exciting! Hopefully, you found value in these pointers and they will help you to have as much fun buying a boat as using it. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to chat further about this topic, I’m easy to find at 

About The Author

Midwest Hunting & Fishing

Midwest Hunting and Fishing magazine is a bi-monthly magazine providing relevant and timely content to our readers throughout the Midwest through our high-quality print and digital magazine. Fisherman and hunters alike find MHF there one stop shop to find the latest news and information on the hottest trends, fishing and hunting reports, destinations and quality content only found in MHF issues. We bring real-time outdoor news to our readers and viewers through our many digital formats such as this website, social media channels and our bi-weekly e-newsletter. To stay up to do date with all things Outdoors subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow along on our Facebook and Instagram pages.