Healthlytalks.com is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
A boat that is capable of navigating shallow water is important whether you plan to boat on inland waters or near the shore, or fish in creeks, ponds, rivers, or just laze on the lake.
There are shallow water boats that are suitable for different shallow water activities, but we all know that not all shallow water boats are suitable for all shallow water activities. Do any boats suit shallow waters better than others?
Flat bottomed boats with shallow drafts are the best boats for shallow waters. There are different types of shallow draft boats that are suitable for different marine environments and activities.
It is important to consider the exact environment and activities you will use the flat-bottom boat for when choosing the right one. This guide will help you in choosing the Best Boat For shallow Water and also below we provide some factors that you must read before buying anyone.
8 Best Boats For Shallow Water
1. Beavertail 17 BT Strike
2. 2022 Hewes 21 Redfisher
3. Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set
4. Scout 251 XSS
5. Lifetime Kodiak Canoe with 2 Paddles, Red, 13
6. Sea Chaser 180FS
7. 2022 Maverick 18 HPX-V
8. Yellowfin 17 Skiff and 17 CE
1. Beavertail 17 BT Strike
- LOA: 17′ 6″
- Draft: 6+ inches
- Beam: 73 inches
- Fuel Tank: 20 gallons
- Power: 60-90 HP
- Gross Weight: 550 lbs
The boat is capable of handling ample storage and has ultra-shallow water performance. The poling skiff is the driest on the market right now. This compact boat’s best features, including its efficiency and ease of movement, make it easy to store or move into your garage.
The semi-tunnel makes up for its low horsepower with its ability to race on the skinniest flat tracks.
2. 2022 Hewes 21 Redfisher
- Length: 22′
- Year: 2022
- Model: Redfisher 21
- Make: Hewes
- Class: Other
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
The Hewes 21 Redfisher is a shallow water fishing boat that is specifically designed for backcountry use and inshore fishing, balancing accessibility in shallows and functionality in open waters.
Following an update and launch last year, several modern enhancements were made to the model. Boat speeds are easily exceeded at 60 mph, and the boat cruises at upper 40 mph with a 350-hp power rating.
The boat is built using Hewes’ VARIS vacuum-assisted resin infusion system. Although its 14-inch draft means this won’t be the boat of choice for flats fishermen, it can still access relatively shallow waters and is capable of easily handling open bays compared to most shallow draft boats.
Moreover, the 21 Redfisher is unique in that it can hold up to six passengers, whereas many shallow-water boats cannot carry more than three or four passengers.
3. Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars
- Material: Plastic
- Brand: Intex
- Color: Green/Blue
- Item Weight: 25 Pounds
- Style: K1 Kayak
Kayaks are smaller boats than canoes, making them ideal for solo trips on lakes. If you want to go fishing on your own, then the Intex Challenger Kayak is the best choice for you. Due to their small size, sit-in kayaks are extremely versatile due to their sit-in design.
Intex Challenger Kayaks are perfect for water activities like fishing, cruising, and exploring. You will not be disappointed with the use of this boat, as there are thousands of reviews on Amazon.
You May Like This: 10 Best Inflatable Boats – Buyer’s Guide
There is a small amount of storage space on board, but it is ideal for your needs when you are out on the water. Additionally, there is no deck space because it has a closed cockpit. There is a cargo net, however, which gives you more storage space.
Must read: 12 Best Deck Boats 2022 – Buyer’s Guide
It has an inflatable seat with a backrest and a very comfortable cockpit design. Due to its welded construction, this boat is extremely durable. To ensure safety in choppy waters, the design has attractive graphics that make it easy to detect.
84-inch aluminum oars are available for this boat. With just 27.2 pounds of weight, it is an extremely lightweight boat. The boat can be transported very easily this way.
In the event that you decide to step into the river a little more curiously and would like to steer your boat in more challenging areas where there may be water turbulence, a sit-in kayak is ideal for you. You will be able to control and stabilize yourself better.
4. Scout 251 XSS
- Length: 25′
- Model: 251 XSS
- Make: Scout
- Class: Bay
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
Bay boats are popular with boaters who want to reach fishing spots that are hard to reach by boat. The Scout 251 XSS is perfect for this task. Fishing or other water activities can be enjoyed on the boat with a maximum of 10 passengers.
Inshore and offshore waters are equally suitable for the boat’s hybrid model. This boat has a draft of about 13 inches, making it ideal for backwater fishing.
Approximately 2300 pounds of weight is carried by boat, which measures 24 feet and 10 inches long. 400 horsepower and 68 gallons of fuel capacity are its main features.
Because of their v-shaped hull design, they can operate in shallow water without any problem. Also, the boat’s deep freeboard, deep bow, and deep depth enable it to easily cross shallow water.
The tow pylon on this boat allows you to use it for other activities besides fishing, like hauling your children around their water toys. In our list of the best 8 shallow water boats, we have included this boat because of its versatility and functionality.
It is also possible to take this multipurpose boat out on open water for offshore adventures. In addition to holding your fishing rods and your catch, the boat also has raw-water washdown capabilities.
5. Lifetime Kodiak Canoe with 2 Paddles, Red, 13′
- Color: Red
- Item Weight: 96 Pounds
- Brand: Lifetime
- Material: Polyethylene
Among the oldest models for shallow water, the canoe is one of the most common. With thousands of years of use, it has faithfully served the purpose it was designed for. The Lifetime Kodiak Canoe is a great choice for this reason and it is easily available on Amazon.
As a result, its structure can hold about three people at a time due to its relatively narrow shape. Whether you’re out on the lake fishing or simply relaxing, it’s the perfect retreat for a solo trip or a couple’s getaway.
You May Like To Read: 12 Best Boats For Lakes
A single-bladed paddle has been used to maneuver the boat, which is pointed at both ends. In order to propel and steer the boat, the driver must sit in the direction in which the boat needs to move. If you want to steer the boat with oars, you can also use an outboard motor.
As the draft is shallow, you have no need to worry about the boat’s bottom being damaged while sailing through rock-strewn river areas. Because of its versatile design, it can be used for a wide variety of occasions and environments.
It is safe to choose the canoe boat for your adventurous travels because it can withstand turbulent rivers and whitewater rapids.
A Quick-Release seatback is available on this boat to make your experience as safe as possible. Boats can be easily transported on and off planes using luggage-style handles. It has a hull design that provides high stability. Organize your fishing rods using the centralized holders.
6. Sea Chaser 180FS
- Fuel: 33 gal.
- Length: 17’10”
- Draft: 8″
- Beam: 7’1″
- Weight: 1,500 lb.
- Max Hp: 150
In order to make the Sea Chaser 180FS tough and unsinkable, wood-free components were used. Sea Chaser 180FS is designed to be tough and unsinkable, tri-directional fiberglass is combined with woven roving.
Sea Chaser 180FS promotes roomy storage and compartments, which is one of my favorite features. Sea Chaser 180FS’ standard features differ from many other boat models in many ways, making them not so standard.
Your water boating experience will be exceptional with the Sea Chaser 180FS.
7. 2022 Maverick 18 HPX-V
- Year: 2022
- Model: 18 HPX-V
- Length: 20′
- Class: Center Console
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- Make: Maverick
Known for its incredible stability and nine-inch draft, the Maverick 18 HPX-V is a favorite among countless guides. This powerful transom motor provides top-end speeds of just over 61 mph, and a cruise speed of around 40 mph, while achieving exceptional fuel efficiency at 48 mph, it gets over 5.6 mpg.
Additionally, the 18 HPX-V can be customized according to your fishing style, with options such as offset console mounting; pole platforms with or without lean bars, rod holders, cushions, and seating; electric trolling motors and Power Poles; pull-pole holders; as well as tender lifting gear suitable for mounting aboard your sportfishing yacht.
8. Yellowfin 17 Skiff and 17 CE
- Model: 17 Skiff
- Make: Yellowfin
- Class: Skiff
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- Length: 17′
Unlike most flats skiffs, the Yellowfin 17 comes in standard 17 Skiff form as well as 17 CE form that has stepped hulls.
The Yellowfin is made from vinyl ester resin infusion, wrapped in Kevlar, and is made of carbon fiber, which causes it to be one of the lightest flats skiffs around (at 600 pounds) with the lowest static draft (with six inches for the standard model and seven inches for the CE).
In addition to poling platforms, live wells, and electric trolling motors, this boat is also customizable to suit the tastes of individual anglers.
How To Choose The Best Boats For Shallow Water?
A shallow water boat can be a challenging choice if you don’t have enough information on hand. When planning to use a boat on a lake or river, for example, you first need to determine what you’ll be doing.
Choosing the right boat for your adventure is all that’s left once you decide what adventure you want to go on. In order to decide which boat is right for you from this list, there are many factors to consider.
Don’t forget to pack a safety kit before you embark on your boating adventure. If you are ever injured, such as if you are cut, you should be prepared with a basic first-aid kit. Make sure you come back to the shore before sunset and plan your trip during the day.
Whether the lake has unexpected guests or not, you may not be able to prepare for them in the dark. It is important that you always carry your safety gear when swimming or boating, no matter how experienced you are.
The boats for shallow waters are lightweight, and if you lose control of the boat during strong water turbulence, the boat may flip over. It is always advisable to wear a life jacket when on the water.
In addition to your safety equipment, you should also consider the following factors to have a wonderful day at the lake.
1. Water Activities
It is also important to consider what activities you plan for your day when selecting your boat. Due to their differing sizes and shallow drafts, not all shallow water boats are multipurpose.
If you want to make your experience even more fun, you can bring along some friends.
2. Boat Size
There are two reasons why boat size matters:
- Your plan to take how many people with you.
- What will be an activity you will do on the water.
More people will need a bigger boat, and more equipment and fish will need more storage space. A smaller boat might be more suitable for you if you plan on doing minimal water activities during your solo trip or retreat couples.
3. Marine Environment
When you step onto your boat in shallow water, it is important to consider the marine environment. A shallow water boat with a shallow draft will do for you if you plan to ride only in calm waters.
You should choose a boat that is larger and has a flat bottom if you plan to go to an area with high water turbulence. While navigating choppy waters, it will keep you stable and balanced.
You can also gain a better understanding of the marine environment by studying the weather of the day of your adventure. By doing so, you will be able to determine which boat is right for you.
4. Select Shallow water boats by type
Here is a list of the best shallow water boats if you already know which type of boat you need. The following information will help you determine which shallow water boat is best suited to your needs.
The shallow draft of a boat is what makes it suitable for shallow water use. They are very stable in calm waters because they are close to the surface of the water and can navigate extremely shallow waters, unlike the v-hull, deep-draft boats used in turbulent and ocean waters.
This short overview of the draft will help you better understand what makes a good shallow water boat good if you are unfamiliar with the difference between shallow draft and deep draft.
Types of shallow water boats
You might be interested in learning more about what types of shallow water boats are available before deciding which boat is right for you.
The range of shallow water boats available is significant, however, it seems that you are interested in recreational and utility boats and do not include large industrial barges, Sailing dories, and gondolas.
You can choose from the following categories of shallow water boats to suit your personal needs:
There are a lot of different boat types to choose from, so it can be confusing for a new boater. Let’s quickly examine these boat types and see how they perform in different environments.
We know that the canoe has been around for at least 10,000 years, so it is not surprising that it is still around today. There are many canoes that are suitable for use on inland waterways and some of them are even capable of being used at sea.
There is more space to store more stuff in canoes than in Jon boats, which are typically larger and wider. Their versatility, however, isn’t as great as that of Jon boats, nor are they as simple to customize as they are.
The difference between a Jon boat and a canoe is that a Jon boat is an open-air utility vessel and is normally painted green, while a canoe is usually made out of wood, usually painted or stained, and just looks great.
Using a canoe is the best way to paddle in style. An outboard trolling motor can easily be fitted to most canoes, even though the majority of them are paddle-driven.
Unlike Jon boats, canoes are more difficult to steer, but that does not mean they are impossible to maintain. Over land, it can be more challenging to move and transport them because they are usually large, bulky, and heavy.
Consider a Jon boat or a canoe if you are unsure which one is right for you
2. Canal boat
It is quite different from a canal boat in the USA and the rest of the world from a canal boat in the UK and Ireland, as well as to a lesser extent in France and a few other European countries.
Ireland and the UK call canal boat narrowboats, which have a very specific shape that is very long and narrow so that they can fit onto narrow canals. In comparison to a canal boat trip in the USA, the narrowboat experience is entirely different.
Canal boats here are usually larger and faster because canals are much wider and deeper in America. There are some lakes, rivers, and canals in which canal boats work well.
Compared to a canoe, kayaks are smaller and more suitable for solo or tandem trips. It is true that kayaks and Jon boats serve a variety of purposes, but the reasons for their versatility are quite different.
The two basic types of kayaks are sea kayaks and calm water kayaks. There are several different designs for sea kayaks, calm water kayaks, and whitewater kayaks.
- Sit-on-top kayaks
- Sit-in kayaks
A sit-on-top kayak can navigate shallow waters due to its shallow draft. It is important to note, however, that the two vessels are significantly different.
The difference between a sit-on-top and a sit-in kayak is simply that a sit-on-top kayak is most suitable for fishing. Even though the above explanation is highly simplified, it should provide a basic understanding of just which kayak would be best for you.
These kayaks can be classified into several types, including seaworthy touring kayaks, whitewater kayaks, and surfing kayaks. There are a number of sit-in kayaks that have shallow drafts and can navigate shallow water, yet not all kayaks are designed to deal with rough waters.
It is also impossible to use kayaks in calm waters. It is probably best to use a flat-bottomed kayak in quiet shallow inland waters. It would be better to use a touring kayak when exploring shallow shorelines.
4. Jon boat
It is important to outline the many benefits a Jon boat can provide to people who usually navigate inland waterbodies if you are unfamiliar with it. In shallow waters, Jon boats are a great option because they are inexpensive, versatile, and easy to use.
You May Like This: 5 Best Jon Boats – Buyer’s Guide
Since Jon boats are so versatile and affordable, they are the most popular shallow water boats in the US. The cost of a new appliance is a fraction of what you could save by building your own.
As utility boats, fishing boats, hunting boats, and transportation boats across shallow waterways, Jon boats are very popular across the globe.
Rivers, ponds, creeks, and lakes are the best places to use Jon boats. Nevertheless, they don’t perform well in rough waters. Jon boats with semi-Vs (or mod-Vs) are exceptions to this rule.
Although semi-v Jon boats have a shallow draft, they can handle more challenging waters than traditional Jon boats. You will have to take precautions to protect your aluminum shallow draft Jon boat if you plan to use it in saltwater. It is very easy to transport Jon boats because they are lightweight.
After reading this detail, you will understand why Jon boats are a good choice for shallow water vessels that you want. In that case, you will be able to find the best price for the best one.
Shallow waters are not suitable for all skiffs. A flat-bottomed skiff is needed for shallow water use. In large lakes or along the ocean shoreline, flat-bottomed skiffs are usually used for fishing.
In general, flat-bottomed boats with v-shaped bows are better able to handle rougher waters than those with flat bottoms. In large bodies of open water, especially those with deep areas or choppy conditions, a flat-bottomed skiff is a great fishing vessel.
A shallow water boat, such as an airboat, is ideal for swamps, rivers, and creeks. They are still popular around the world, especially in southern regions of the United States and Canada, even though they aren’t as common as other types of shallow water boats.
Power-boating in shallow water is made easier by the use of an airboat. Despite the fact that they use paddles and poles, airboats can reach areas that are not accessible to a motor boat. Airboats are mechanically propelled at high speed.
An airboat may be a good shallow water vessel of choice if you plan to cover large areas of shallow water without getting disturbed by the noise of airplane propellers.
What do you need to know about boating in shallow water?
Knowing some basics about operating in shallow water is essential, regardless of whether your boat has a shoal draft or not.
1. Boating in shallow water begins with a simple tip you probably already know: slow down when you’re not sure of its depth and are afraid of running aground.
Since the boat will come off of the plane, you will be restricted to a static draft, rather than running the draft. It’s true that this will increase the amount of water you need.
The downside of this is that if you run aground at high speed, your boat can be severely damaged, and you may become trapped and unable to get your boat out. Getting off a ship that is slowly aground is much easier and you are less likely to run aground.
While it isn’t necessary to keep the boat on a plane to get across shallow waters, if you are familiar with the waters and are familiar with your running draft, it isn’t unreasonable to keep the boat on a plane.
2. You don’t need to trim the outdrive as high as possible when idling through very shallow water.
In this case, you’ll be out of options if you run aground. When it runs aground, tilt it up a bit and you can still back off and seek a deeper path if you leave it a couple of inches down.
3. Whenever you are fishing in tidal waters, be sure to check the tide.
A charted water depth (called “mean lower low water” or averaging low tide levels) will not necessarily match the actual depth. Knowing the tidal cycles is also important to avoid running aground and getting stuck if you do.
If you can back off, or if you want to push, you may want to get out and do so. The tide may be rising, so you might want to sit back until the tide levels rise enough to carry you away.
On the other hand, you might want to take action if you know the tide is falling asap before it gets worse. You’ll also want to avoid entering marginal waters, because the fall in water level may prevent you from getting out again later.
4. Make sure to pay attention to color changes.
The deeper the water gets, the darker the channel appears, while sandy shoals appear lighter. The color of weed beds, for example, may appear deeper than the surrounding waters when actually they’re shallow.
In summary? It’s best to avoid any color changes when you’re cruising comfortably, as this will likely keep you between the same depths. Beware of waves that break over and over in the same place, indicating shallow bars.
5. When the tide is falling, be careful not to beach your boat.
Boating in shallow waters gives you the opportunity to explore places few people know about, and you may be tempted to dock at a sandy beach that no one else knows about.
Make sure you keep a close eye on the water level when the tide is going out. Several boaters have been stuck for hours after losing their boat to a falling tide, while beachcombing.
6. Make sure you know how deep your boat is.
There are a surprising number of boat owners who do not know how deep their static draft and running draft are. In case you are not sure how much depth to allow for, arm yourself with a tape measure and check immediately after stepping outside your boat, making sure you don’t forget about what you need.
7. The weight of a heavy load can increase the draft of a smaller boat.
Any size boat can be affected by weight, but boats shorter than 20 feet or so can be affected by a couple of extra passengers. Fuel and gear loaded to capacity can also increase draft.
A tropical flat might be the perfect place for you to catch tailing bonefish. Is those big bass feeding in a shallow cove? Have you ever wondered what seashells might be hiding on a remote beach in the backcountry?
Boating in ankle-deep water can be extremely rewarding as long as you are operating your boat in safe waters and you are familiar with how it works in shallow water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the all most commonly asked queries about the best boats for shallow water/
Does the depth of the water in which the boat is turning have an effect on the possible end swapping event?
Certainly, when a boat enters shallow water, its performance changes. Trim angles are generally lower. At the moment, we do not own any suitable testing and design methodology to account for this.
Are these evaluatory efforts being directed entirely at outboard powered boats or are inboard powered boats also being evaluated?
The only shallow water boats we reviewed were those powered by outboard motors.
What standard was used to test boats for an end swapping event?
To identify the best way, the ABYC’s H-26 Providing power of Boats requirement was examined and found to be most fitting.
What is a boats maneuvering speed?
According to the ABYC H-26 Standard for Powering Boats, a boat’s Performing Speed is its maximum speed for controlling the vessel.
Has there been any recommendation to establish a maximum engine horsepower on shallow water boats including Texas flats boats?
There is no way to select a specific speed and declare it dangerous because shallow water boats are not all built the same. Our tests have shown that swap end events can occur at speeds as low as 25 mph.
Those who manufacture and import flats boats are advised to determine each boat’s maneuvering speed, based on the information provided, and let their customers know.
What sized skegs were used during testing?
Our skegs were actually different and were installed in two different pairs. In one set, there were approximately 72 inches of length and 4 1/2 inches of depth. Another set measured 18 inches by 4 inches and was much smaller.
Two approaches were being considered. Neither the long skegs nor the smaller skegs would work unless we made sure that they would work. This is not intended to be a guide for the manufacturer. The purpose is to provide ideas and tools to them.
This is one of the answers which came out because we couldn’t redesign the mold or hull radically. As a result, whatever method the manufacturer selects for the fast-turn test, it would be able to determine how well the boat performs.
What is the process of having your boat certified via the standard?
The ABYC H-26 standard can be self-certified by manufacturers just as the Federal standards in 33 CFR 183 can be self-certified by manufacturers.
Do traditional Personal Water Craft (PWC) have a problem with end swapping?
Due to their rounded hulls, early PWCs had difficulty end swapping. Later models had more of a V-shaped hull design, which solved this issue. However, you would normally need to ask the PWC intentionally perform an end swap.
Do you know of any manufacturers who intend on selling these skegs as after market?
Manufacturers are not currently engaged in such activities, according to the Coast Guard.
Have shallow water boats including Texas Style Flats boats been determined to be manifestly unsafe?
Considering the purpose for which these boats are designed, these boats aren’t dangerous by any means. They are designed to be used in shallow water for fishing.
In addition, when operated according to a way that doesn’t favor end swapping events, they are acceptable platforms. Manufacturers designed and built the platform to be safe for what it was intended to do.
Some of these intersections of variables can lead to swapping ends or hull skipping incidents when a confluence of variables conspires and comes together, including input from the operator, a vessel’s forward velocity, and the water’s sea state.
Is there a warning label to let me know that my boats maneuvering speed is less than the max speed?
Your boat will have a Warning Label if it is capable of less than its maximum speed if your boat is capable of 30mph (26 knots) using the manufacturer’s rated power.
If a mechanism was designed to reduce throttle when steering input exceeded a certain degree would that qualify for the quick turn test?
The test is performance-based from the perspective of the standards. Manufacturers are ultimately responsible for determining how that is achieved.
To avoid limiting innovation, we use performance-based standards. The actual question is when or not the boat will be able to turn 180 degrees and hold that turn for 90 degrees and still complete the turn successfully.
Has there been any research into bow structure and design in relation to end swapping or are the bows of these boats standard throughout the industry?
Second, bows aren’t common in the industry, so that’s the answer to your question. It is possible to get flats boats with very deep V bows, as well as flats boats with very shallow V bows.
When the bow is deep V, the hull is more likely to be directionally difficult than one with a shallow bow, since deep V bows perform better at the bow than shallow V bows. The geometry of bows can be customized in an infinite number of ways.
Would it be feasible to install restraint systems like a seat belt for passengers in these types of boats?
Restraint systems are not currently governed by an ABYC standard. During testing, we had safety boats available, in case of a capsize or unforeseen situations, while we did install a harness system on the operator to mitigate hazards.
It would be ideal if the boats didn’t end up swapping ends. In accordance with ABYC standards, all boat occupants must have a handhold.
Can the states regulate hull design?
Generally, the Coast Guard has no preemption powers over states’ authorities. Hull design is not regulated by the Coast Guard by statute.
How does the Coast Guard keep track of boat manufacturers?
Manufacturer Identification Codes (MICs) are required by the Coast Guard for boat manufacturers and importers. Manufacturer Identification Codes (MICs) are used by the Coast Guard to track boat manufacturers.
Where can we send the public to buy and install skegs if they want to minimize this type of hazard while operating at higher speeds?
Before making any modifications to your boat, the Coast Guard recommends consulting the boat’s owner or local dealer or asking a marine expert for advice. You should consult your manufacturer before modifying your hull.
Should I include a photo with my float plan?
The inclusion of a photo of your vessel is a good idea. In the same way that luggage looks similar, responding personnel will be able to identify your boat with a photo.
Overall, the best product from all the products listed in the above list is made up of high standard material. These all are branded and top-rated products. It is a little bit tough to choose from these high-quality brands. Here below I mention 3 of my favorites due to their high functionality, and affordable and budget-friendly options.
1st one is Beavertail 17 BT Strike. There is many features that make it the best one like it has ultra-shallow water performance and can handle ample storage.
2nd best option is 2022 Hewes 21 Redfisher. This boat is built with Hewes’ VARIS vacuum-assisted resin infusion system, 60 mph, and cruising at speeds in the mid-to-upper-40s. Anyone can affordable this easily.
While the 3rd one is Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set, Which is best for the lightest model and also a long-lasting product. It is available at a low price so you can buy it easily.
Navigating shallow waters requires maneuverability and accessibility. I guarantee your satisfaction with any of the eight best boats discussed in this article just make sure you take the time to check out the Quick Tips to help you find the right one for you.
I would appreciate if you would leave a comment in the section below if you have any questions or concerns.