Pontoon Boats: Most Bang For The Bucks?


Active Member
Me and a friend of mine have been contemplating getting pontoon boats. I'm pretty aware of the advantages, as well as the disadvantages, of getting one, so we all can dispense with that line of discussion. Being the frugal type, I'd like to know which pontoon boats give the most bang for the buck. Here we get technical about the features and such. I've noticed that some have aluminum, versus steel, frames. What about ones with quick release frame parts? Those who are wise to the ways of pontoon boats, pray tell? :dunno

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
I've only owned one - a 9 foot Fish Cat, but I love it, and you will too. Besides keeping your cohones out of the cold weater this time of year, you can move around much more quickly than with a float tube. Cabelas has an 8 foot Fosh Cat on sale in their Bargain Cave for just $299. It's a great first cat for a great price. However, I was just in Outdoor Emporium today and saw a Creek Company 10 footer for $525 that had me drooling. A couple notches up. If I wasn't as happy with my boat, I'd get that one in a heartbeat.

"Some of the best fishing is done not in water but in print." ~ Sparse Grey Hackle
Well, Ceviche, I don't know as I'm wise in the ways of maost anything but I got a Fishcat 8' from Cabelas. And I love that little boat--we've been through some hard times together and have sort of bonded. It cost about $300. Look in their catalog and maybe check out ebay.
Good floatin'
Bob, the Why yes,I was the fat fart in the little boat you saw.:reallymad

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
My $.02.
I have used an Xstream for the past few years. While not the standard type pontoon, it is a pontoon. It is packable, inflated or uninflated to lakes like Nunnally or Lenice. It rides lower than many pontoons and I would never take it on a river, which might be one consideration.
I just got an Outcast Pac 800, I know, the money thing comes into play. My feeling was that this pontoon would be great on easy launch lakes and moving water.
I think you have to decide where you intend to use it an how much comfort/durability you want. The price range is huge - get the best that you can afford. How much gear have you bought based on price only to buy a little better in a few years and you still have the less expensive stuff. Seems to me, that you either spend the bucks now or you end up spending more over time.
Just my thoughts, right or wrong - mostly wrong, depending on who you talk to.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Really depends on what you really plan to use the boats for. Since you're trying to get a "best bang for the buck", well that really just gets us started. The main thing is do you plan to run rough water with the boat, do you plan to fish from boat (as in stand up, or sit in seat and cast), and do you plan to mostly use boat as transportation or truly a mini driftboat? There are tons of boats out there. I go with the best, only because I beat the crap out of mine (demanding wise, not literally abusing them). But for most, these boats are transportation. Since most boats out on the market are copies, or made in same few plants over in China, you can almost go with your lowest price boats (most fishcats are made in same factories that your waterskeeters, odcs, and the likes are made, if memory serves me). So check around and find the most similar with cheapest tag. Normally those are the lower end ODC's, but you can find the fishcats on sale too. Depends on how long you want to wait. There are a few "generic" brands that come to mind. All come from same factory, just a change in colors of tubes or a change of coating on frame (or change in frame design). Some simply have a different logo on them. You can tell them apart. Hard to figure out originals sometimes, they mask them pretty damned good.

If you need any help sorting what you're looking for, let me know. When I help people out into these boats (have been doing it well over a decade, and have been running them almost 2 decades now), have been pretty spot on getting people into the boats they're looking for. Have sold plenty out of the top notch boats (Skookum for one) and put them into a lower end Leigh (not sure if they're still in business anymore) and Fishcat. Why put someone into too much boat they'll never use? So if you need help, I've run most of the boats out on the market, or at least those that have been out longer then 5 years (have went straight skookum since then except my custom whitewater boats).


Active Member
Oops. .:beathead Good point Steeheader69 and Microbrew. One thing I did forget to mention was purpose/use. This one needs to be able to handle something like the Stilly in Summer or the Yakima. I imagine that level of utility will jack up the price, eh?


Active Member
i have 2 watermasters and have floated the ronde, yakima, clark fork and missouri. it is now double the price i paid and not much better. abel improved it a bit but not for the price. you are better off to go for a good pontoon boat. i love my watermasters but i just bought a pac 800 from chris. i just rememberedi need to send him a check. mww


Active Member
been happy with the bucks southfork...runs the moderate rivers with ease. I am bumping up to either a 9 or 10 footer though just for more stability on the bigger water and more storage room for extended trips. The southfork is a little irritating at times when lake fishing cause there is too much for your line to hang up on, unless you use your apron, which I dont? Its a good all around boat definately and you can pick em up used for 300-400 bucks. The company is excellent to work with also!!!

~Patrick ><>

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
Hey 69,

I picked up an ODC 1018 on a not-so-hot ebay deal. It seems like a pretty good boat for bigger water and trips, but the seat seems so cheesy. The seat and back are just nylon fabric stretched between metal tubing. The back tubing seems a little weak, especially at the hinge. I'm afraid that one day I'll grab a big bite with the oar and collapse the back. I wonder if anyone has had any experience trying to fit a molded seat like from a Buck's on their frame.

Moclips Surf Club
Driven by Irrational Exuberance!
I would agree that what you plan to use the pontoon boat for is the first consideration. I have a Southfork. I have floated the Skagit and have even had it in the salt. I have also carried it into Squalicum Lake up here in Bellingham. It is a great boat.

However, You should also consider what your size / weight is. I wished that I had a larger boat. I feel that I sit to low in the water and I am limited as to how much equipment I can take with me on longer floats.

I hope that this helps.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Yes and when you do get one don't try to get by with shorter pontoons. I have a Alpine by Buck's Bag's With 7' pontoons,too short for rivers. But to pricy for a boat for lakes $450.00 new.

I also have a creek company pontoon and luckily enough, there are pre drilled holes on the frame under the stock seat which can hold a swivel seat and bottom. I myself have not done it because I don't use it enough quite yet but it can be done!
Hope that helps ya out.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Personally I like the Outcast line of boats; very good quality frames and the pontoons are first rate. I have seen the Steelheader Pontoons at the shows and liked the way they looked but have never rowed one. I hear good things about them.


Active Member
So what I seem to be gathering is that the pontoon boat, at the minimum, should be at least 9 feet long (buoyancy/weight carrying/stability/rapids class issues) and with the hard seats.

Bob Triggs: Of the Outcast boats, what do you think of their Fishcat versus Outcast lines? There is definitely the price difference, but how does that translate when it comes to sturdiness and such? Does the doubling of cost justify the added durability for someone who has no intention of gonzo-ing the whitewater out of habit? :dunno