Your in the market for a fishing boat, looking forward to making the opener next spring. The big question in your mind is should you go with aluminum, or fiberglass. There are so many factors that will influence this decision. There’s absolutely no one choice that will answer the needs of every situation. The decision in many ways can be compared to the Tortoise and the Hare analogy.
Fiberglass fishing boats, that bright gel coat finish, those sleek, smooth lines. The flashy appearance means a lot. Owning a fast racy fiberglass bass boat with all the bells and whistles compares to owning a new sports car. Fast sleek, good looking, it’s almost a fashion statement. You’ve arrived, your established, and when the desire hits you, in a flash of that high shiny finish against the bright sun, reflecting off the water, your gone. Leaving a spray of water to settle behind you, and the roar of your outboard to fade away in the distance. You’ve made a statement.
Aluminum boats, not to say they can’t go fast as that’s only determined by what’s under the hood so to speak. But generally their not as flashy. Smooth surfaces, not so much, rivets, and joints, mechanical fasteners. Yes they look nice in their applied paint surface, but it’s not gel coat. The color is applied, not an integral part of the skin. You can picture a cool misty Saturday morning, about 5am, you hear the distinctive clunk, bang as the aluminum fishing boats arrive by trailer to silently slide into the still morning water at the local boat ramp. Muttering voices heard across the lake as father and son, or a couple of buddies load their mornings supplies into the boat, and push away from the dock. The motor comes to life in a low rumble, and off they go. At a modest rate, to enjoy the still of the cool misty morn, long before the sun raises above the trees. No flash, no roar, just peaceful coexistence with the surroundings.
As you can see, two vastly different lifestyles, but both capable of getting the job done. Now lets move ahead 15-20 years, the same two boats.
The fiberglass fishing boat, now not looking all that great. The fancy gel coat finish has faded to a dull chalky color almost unrecognizable from what it was when new. Years of hard use, has left the engine unreliable and not able to smooth out at full throttle. Almost like an old man with emphysema, wheezing and coughing trying to get off the starting line. Relegated to a spot in the back yard with a tarp protecting it from tree sap, and the other elements. This boat is a shell of its former self. Check the want ads, their at give away prices, and nobody wants them. A sad end for your investment.
The old aluminum fishing boat , a classic 15′ Crestliner dating back to 1956. Already its seen 52 years of use. Unloaded on many weekends, run all day. No particular special care taken, but not abused either. Many beach picnics being tied to a rock, and left to sway back and forth. With the bow grounded on a pebble beach. Try this with fiberglass and see how long the hull lasts. The painted finish cracked and peeled, but a few years back a couple weekends were spent sanding and repainting to the original specifications. With an applied finish you can go back to factory new, can’t do that with gel coat. Updated with a couple pedestal swivel seats, and a new carpet covered plywood floor board. This classic old aluminum boat looks better then when it came off the show room floor. The new 20hp Evinrude looks like it’s been on the stern since day one. This boat looks, and runs better then ever, and is ready for another 50 years. Two generations down, 3 or 4 to go. Lets go find that big walleye this weekend. Check the adds, these classics are hard to find, as they’re all safely tucked away in garages and nobody selling.
I think the point has been made, if your in for the long haul, aluminum is by far the better investment. If quick, flashy and gone tomorrow is your style, fiberglass makes a statement. You choose.