Best Boats for Shallow Water – Our Top 10 Picks

There are endless shallow water boats on the market to choose from. The right boat for you depends on what you’ll use the boat for, for example, for fishing, leisure, or maybe speed. There are several factors to consider.

In this article, we’ve narrowed down our top 10 best boats for shallow water to make your search easier. Our top 10 picks are as follows:

  1. Beavertail 17 BT Strike
  2. Hell’s Bay Waterman
  3. Sterling TR7
  4. Bonefish Bohemian 17
  5. Dragonfly 17
  6. Skull Island 16
  7. Action Craft 1710 HB Flyfisher
  8. Sea Chaser 180FS
  9. East Cape Fury
  10. Yellowfin 17 CC

Read on to learn more about each of these excellent shallow water boats including their features and benefits.

Also, for an excellent at this boat cover, take a look at our top pick, the iCOVER Trailerable Boat Cover:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

10 Best Boats for Shallow Water

1. Beavertail 17 BT Strike

The Beavertail 17 BT Strike has ultra-shallow performance and handles a good load of storage. The Beavertail Strike is the driest technical poling skiff on the market today. This excellent shallow water boat is compact and efficient making it easy to transport and even store in your garage.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17’ 6’’
  • BEAM: 6’1’’
  • DRAFT: 6’’ – 8’’
  • WEIGHT: 550 lbs.
  • FUEL: 20 gal.
  • MAX HP: 90

2. Hell’s Bay Waterman

Hell’s Bay Waterman stealth is one of the top shallow water boat options you can get. It produces no noise and no-frills while in action. Waterman showcases a full range of trim and additional reach. It also has great tracking and can provide ease of poling.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 18’
  • BEAM: 6’1’’
  • DRAFT: 4.5’’
  • WEIGHT: 530 lbs.
  • FUEL: 23 gal.
  • MAX HP: 70

3. Sterling TR7

The Sterling TR7 is a powerhouse of shallow water boating. Sterling TR7’s outer hull and inner liner are bonded together to form one solid piece. Sterling TR7 is made entirely of Kevlar and carbon fiber. Poling is easier on the boat as well. Strength and fortitude in one.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17’
  • BEAM: 7’4’’
  • DRAFT: 5’’
  • WEIGHT: 575 lbs.
  • FUEL: 22 gal.
  • MAX HP: 90

4. Bonefish Bohemian 17

The Bonefish Bohemian 17 brings out a new look for shallow boating. The Bonefish Bohemian 17 shows a distinctive styling set that sets it apart from the traditional boat design. The boat boasts its marine-grade wiring, which is beneficial for performance.

This fast, slim, shallow water boat is built with epoxy, vinyl ester resin, high-grade UV resistant Gelcoat and a combination of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17’9’’
  • BEAM: 6’
  • DRAFT: 7’’ – 9’’
  • WEIGHT: 550 lbs.
  • FUEL: 26 gal.
  • MAX HP: 70

5. Dragonfly 17

Another option that might intrigue you in your search for the best shallow water boat is the Dragonfly 17. It is designed minimally and adds a smart factor to your over-all shallow boating experience.

Easy poling platforms, a quick-change pump, and safe steering are some of the top features of the Dragonfly 17. The smart-look makes the Dragonfly 17 stand out from the rest and sail smoothly on shallow waters.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17′
  • BEAM: 6’8″
  • DRAFT: 8″
  • WEIGHT: 700 lb.
  • FUEL: 24 gal.
  • MAX HP: 115

6. Skull Island 16

What makes Skull Island 16 is its impressive strength-to-weight ratio. Its unique engine design allows sailing experience on shallow water effortless. Skull Island 16 offers plenty of space, as its compartments are made ready for a room full of poling equipment.

Skull Island 16 is built with materials including 100% hand-laid glass and composite construction, 100% vinyl ester resins, and Corecell and ultra-light Kevlar to complete the easy poling and shallow water boating experience. It also offers various cockpit configuration.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 16’2″
  • BEAM: 5’0″
  • DRAFT: 5″
  • WEIGHT: 400 lb.
  • FUEL: 12 gal.
  • MAX HP: 30

7. Action Craft 1710 HB Flyfisher

If you want maximum rigidity and strength, then the Action Craft 1710 HB Flyfisher is for you. The boat boasts its combination of the latest carbon fiber and Kevlar construction, which adds up to its maximum endurance.

What I really like about the Action Craft 1710 HB Flyfisher is that it has easy access to the compartment and not only that, but you can customize the bench and backrest for your preferred shallow water boating experience.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17’2″
  • BEAM: 7’3″
  • DRAFT: 7″
  • WEIGHT: 650 lb.
  • FUEL: 23 gal.
  • MAX HP: 90

8. Sea Chaser 180FS

The Sea Chaser 180FS is built with wood-free components that make the boat tough and unsinkable. A combination of tri-directional fiberglass and woven roving is the best combination that is used to make the Sea Chaser 180FS tough and unsinkable.

One of my favorite features the Sea Chaser 180FS promotes is that the compartment and storage are roomy. Standard features of the Sea Chaser 180FS are not so standard, as they differ from many standard features of other boat models. The Sea Chaser 180FS will provide you with an excellent water boating experience.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17’10”
  • BEAM: 7’1″
  • DRAFT: 8″
  • WEIGHT: 1,500 lb.
  • FUEL: 33 gal.
  • MAX HP: 150

9. East Cape Fury

The East Cape Fury is a larger boat to fit more people, more supplies and just more comfortable. And even if East Cape Fury’s size is massive, it is great for shallow water. It has a new optional flush scooter deck. It also has a lightweight design, which enables the East Cape Fury to spin and glide with less effort.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 18’1″
  • BEAM: 6’0″
  • DRAFT: 5″ – 8″
  • WEIGHT: Not disclosed
  • FUEL: N/A
  • MAX HP: 90

10. Yellowfin 17 CC

The detail and workmanship of the Yellowfin 17 CC’s console and overall body are astounding. Poling is made easier due to its responsive weight and pebble-style nonskid finish. The great stability is another reason why you would want a Yellowfin 17 CC.

Effortless stable poling is unmatched with this skiff. The Yellowfin 17 CC is your companion, even when shallow water boating in tough, windy conditions. It also has a unique cockpit drain feature, which keeps the boat interior dry speeding and cruising in shallow water.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • LENGTH: 17’4″
  • BEAM: 6’4″
  • DRAFT: 6″
  • WEIGHT: 600 lb.
  • FUEL: 22 gal.
  • MAX HP: 115

Shallow Water Boating Tips

best shallow water boats

If it’s your first time boating in shallow waters, there are some important things to keep in mind.

When you get any new boat, it is a good idea to practice listing. Listing is when the boat tilts left or right when turning. To practice listing, make sweeping practice turns back and forth in an S pattern. This will help you become skilled at kicking an angle of the drive to the side and maneuvering on and off course.

Next is to know the tides. Never miss a tide schedule. Several coastal areas deal with a tidal change of up to several feet.

Another key reminder when shallow water boating is to watch your speed. If you know that the water is deep, stay on plane and you have a clear path back to the channel. Keeping your pace is essential as it is a key to escape as when your boat is on the plane.

Check the soundings. You can find the “soundings” information to know the depths of any specific waters you are traveling.

Watch out for wind ripples to indicate the transition of shallow water. Watercolor must also be checked as this shows elements that might interfere with your desired choice of boating experience.

Trim up the engine if you end up in water that is too shallow as this will let your boat float off.

These are just some of the most important tips and advice to keep in mind when you start shallow water boating.

Most anglers would tell you that Jon boats are the best for fishing. And they aren’t wrong because of the design of Jon boats with a flat-bottomed skiff, they are perfect for shallow water or inland rivers.

You have to consider the dexterity and strength of the boat. Most utility boats are perfect for everything from shallow waters, lakes, canals, rivers, or water reservoirs. Utility boats focus mainly on the storage capacity, ease of maneuverability, and stability of the boat when used.

Shallow water boats are also great for fishing, hunting, cargo and passenger transport, camping, or as a first responder rescue.

Importance of Dry Decks

Most shallow water boat buyers gradually check for the horsepower of the engine, the space they need for compartment, the stability of the boat when poling, and most importantly, the dry feature of the decks, as this is an unnoticeable but very important feature.

Several forums and groups have all been conversing about how great the specifications of their skiffs are, but almost all of them complain in terms of comfortability when shallow water boating. So remember to check not only the combinations of what the skiff is made of and what the skiff is capable but to check HOW it was built and how comfortable it will be. That is majorly important for getting the right shallow water boat for you.

Aside from the listed above, there will always be better skiffs in the future. Shallow water boats were introduced in the early 2000s as a “bay-boat” concept. This is a hybrid of flat-skiff and modified V-center console design. From there, they added more details and flair to innovate the old skiffs into new ones, and up to this date, many manufacturers are improving their models to rise above the standards of their old skiff models.

Conclusion – Best Boats for Shallow Water

So what are the best boats for shallow water? Here are our top 10 picks:

  1. Beavertail 17 BT Strike
  2. Hell’s Bay Waterman
  3. Sterling TR7
  4. Bonefish Bohemian 17
  5. Dragonfly 17
  6. Skull Island 16
  7. Action Craft 1710 HB Flyfisher
  8. Sea Chaser 180FS
  9. East Cape Fury
  10. Yellowfin 17 CC

The right shallow water boat for you depends on what you’ll use it for. Consider all the factors such as space, horsepower, comfort, durability, and cost. Jon boats or flat water boats are becoming more and more popular as they are now coming with greater features than ever before. They are also easy to transport and more affordable than bigger boats.

If you’ll be fishing or even just for fun, then you must pick the shallow water boat that has the most amount of volume in its compartment. For patrol or occasional family use, then wide cap skiffs are the best, as it can accommodate 2 or more people on board. And if it is a full-on adventure that you are into, then the resistance of the shallow water boat’s construction might be your focus.