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14' Fishing Boat Advice

25 posts in this topic

Long time lurker...first post on this great site.

I am looking to purchase my first new/used fishing boat for Metro and Statewide pike & muskie fishing. Here are my desired specs:
.14'
.6-25 hp RELIABLE motor (me = bad mechanic)
.ez load trailer
.swivel seats
.some extras would be great (LCD/trolling)

My question--what do I need to look for, with particular emphasis on motor problems or trouble areas? Any motor brand I should avoid? Should I buy new or used (budget up to $4000)? How heavy is this setup to tow (I believe my car will tow up to 1000 pounds)? Where should I look to buy?

Thanks in advance for all replies.

Don

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My advice would be to watch the classifieds in the Star Tribune. You should be able to pick up a used 14' aluminum boat & motor for a lot less than $4000. Maybe buy a used boat and a new motor?? just my thoughts!

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cdn...

Thanks for the reply. Not a bad idea. I have no idea how much a new 15 hp motor would be?

What I was really looking for is a package deal, but with a reliable motor. I have no idea how to evaluate an outboard motor when I look to buy used. Are used, ten or fifteen year old outboards generally reliable?

Keep the replies coming with reference to my original question.

Don

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It's easy to get stung on a used motor. If you are in doubt, ask to take the motor to a marine shop to be checked out -- the cost of the check would be well worth it.

If you are not taking it to be examined, at least look under the motor cover for signs of wear, and especially signs of heat.

Motors are getting better, but you should not have to pay much for one over 10 years old. Hours are not the only concern -- synthetics as well as rubber do not age well.

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I wouldn't buy any boat/motor without a spin on a local lake.

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You should be able to get a sweet rig for 4 grand or less. I bought a 14 ft, trailer, trolling motor and a fish finder with a 15 hp
for $1500. Motor was older but had few hours on it and has performed great. I have had great experiences with the evinrudes. Just keep your eyes open. Also check the out-state local papers. Do a search for mn newspapers directory. It has links to several online papers that have classifieds. Good Luck

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...be careful about the vehicle you are towing with.....going up the Taylor Falls
and Wisconsin hills when it is 95 degrees in August, with humidity, will peg a cars temp. gauge...a truck is a different story - good luck... also - the outboard motor is the key to the whole rig....and - avoid bad trailers, i.e., small wheels, old, et al....

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After reading the comments, I am leaning towards new or slightly used. Where would you recommend I look for a new boat in the Twin Cities area? Any particular brand of boat and/or motor? What HP for a 14' with caveat that most of my fishing will be local (including MPLS city lakes w/ troller only), with a couple of trips to big water (Vermilion) up north? Thanks for all of the previous replies.

Don

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Jawz,

I went through this whole thing a few years ago when I bought my first trailered boat. I was looking for a 16' boat because I wanted more big water viability (even though I've found it's still a little small for Mille Lacs).

Anyway, I started looking at new boats first. Look at 3-4 major brands...Lund, Alumacraft, Crestliner, etc. You'll find that they all will offer a model similar to what you are looking for. Check prices of the just the boat, just the motor, just the trailer. Check the full package prices. Talk to sales reps about recent design changes in certain models, get brochures, study the specs, the weight restrictions, the HP ratings, etc.

Notice the prices for depth finders, trolling motors, a spare tire, an extra seat, a battery or two, an anchor and rope, life jackets, etc. Think about the sales tax. If you buy new, you'll most likely have to add all those items to your final cost.

Once you have a good idea of what the new package has to offer, start looking at used boats. Even if a boat is only a year old, the seller can't expect to get a whole lot of return on the "little" items, like extra seats, an anchor...everything I listed above.

You buy a used boat and often times you get all the extras for very little additional money. You buy a new boat and you've got to pay full retail price, plus tax for absolutely every add-on.....right down to the extra cleats that you want on the boat. You've got to take all those things into consideration.

If it will help, let me relate my recent experience on used boat buying: I bought a 1997 Alumacraft 16' Lunker LTD in 1999. Boat, motor and trailer were all 1997. Everything basically looked new.

I paid $4,700 for the boat, motor, trailer and the following items were also included: bow mount trolling motor, slide off bracket for trolling motor, nice anchor and anchor rope, four additional cleats on boat, two batteries, one extra pedestal seat, spare tire, fish finder, three life jackets, boat cover and a first aid kit.

I sold the 9.9 Honda 4-stroke that the guy had on the boat because it was way too small for my uses. It was in perfect condition, actually looked new. I got $1700 for it. I went out and bought a brand new 40 HP Merc for about $3200. I ended up spending $6200 on a rig that, with everything included, would have cost me well over $8000. I ended up with a brand new motor on basically a new boat with all the equipment I needed because I bought used.

I'm not saying that I'm some boat buying Guru or anything like that, just trying to show you that, if you buy even slightly used, your $4000 budget can take you a long way.

Good luck and have fun!

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Husk:

Great advice...like I said, I would also be open to a slightly used boat. Mainly, I want to avoid motor and trailer problems. When you take everything that you mentioned into account, it could easily be close to $6000 for a complete 14' rig if I went with a 25hp motor. My guess is that I will look at new and price with all of my desired equipment. But I will focus on used for the bargain. I am in no real hurry, but would like to have the boat by early July at the latest.

How did you find your boat?
Any advice of "must haves" on a pure fishing rig (ie certain brand of fish finder, minimum trolling motor thrust)? How about what to look for in a motor? I believe I would like a two cycle with manual start, but I guess I could consider other options. I have to admit, I am a bit overwhelmed with this purchase because it is so foreign, much like buying a computer.
Keep the advice coming...

Don

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Advice on the "must haves" of a pure fishing rig? Wow.....you are really talking about what each individual deems they must have to catch fish and enjoy the experience.

There is a disease called "Twofootitus"...buy a 14' and you'll wish you got a 16', buy a 16' and you'll want an 18', etc. That's okay. It's good to aspire to something...have a goal.

First question: how many years can you see yourself using this boat? I told myself that I wanted a boat that would fit my lifestyle for the next 8-10 years. Of course, I may want to buy something new before then, but I didn't want to "under-buy" right off the bat. Buying a boat is a pretty big investment, so make sure you do it right the first time.

A couple other questions: do you want a floor in the boat? A live well? A bow mount or transom mount trolling motor? How many people and how much gear will you need room for?

All the other questions: this is pretty much up to your own desires. Some people on this forum may tell you that you HAVE to have certain things....a certain size or brand of trolling motor, a certain fish finder, a certain type of anchor. Well, that may be true for them, but perhaps not for you.

I found my boat in the paper. I knew what the boat was and how much it cost new before I even called the guy to talk about it. I'm an anal sort...I had done my research.

If you find a boat you have interest in, get the details on it and post your Q's back here in the forum. I'm sure everyone will pitch in and give you more advice than you know what to do with.

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Husk:

I am limited on the size of boat that I can buy. I am towing the boat with a 4 cyl car (new, but still a 4). Additionally, I do not have a place to store the boat, so I must rent a space. Therefore, the 14' is my ideal goal. I also plan to fish muskie on the city lakes w/ troller, therefore, I need a small boat that will not kill the troller.

As for equipment, my minimum is a reliable outboard (tiller), very reliable trailer, either a transom or bow troller with good thrust (any suggestions), and a good fish finder with a decent pixel count. I would also like a boat cover and a couple swivel seats. That is my dream rig. Pretty simple, but should not be hard to fish.

I can't wait to start fishing locally and copare it to up north for the toothy critters.

Don

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Husk:

A few more replies...I will be fishing primarily with my fiance, so just one other person. We plan on keeping the boat until we purchase a cabin, which will be at least ten years. We would prefer to have a floor in the boat, but I guess we could do without. We are flexible on our options, as long as it is reliable. B

By the way, I can't tell you how great it is to be on the lake with my future wife fishing...she is a blast to be with. Oh well, I am now off topic. Keep the advice coming.

Don

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Jawz,

Okay...you have a pretty good idea of what you want and I think your budget will get you there.

You are concerned about trouble with the trailer and motor. A trailer can really only give you two problems and those are the bearings and the wiring. Unfortunately, I don't know a lot about either one. However, I'm going to have to do something with my own bearings soon, so perhaps I'll have more insight soon. You know, if you find a decent boat with an old crappy trailer, a new trailer isn't that expensive. You should be able to get a new, quality trailer for less than $750. That might help your peace of mind.

The motor...well, it's a precision mechanical device, so a lot of things can go wrong. But, there are a lot of 30 year old outboards around that run like a top today. Outward appearance can tell a person an awful lot about how someone has taken care of a motor. Ask them how frequently they changed the lower unit lube, ask them how they winterized the motor before storage, pop the cover and at least take a look at it. Look closely at the prop and the skeg for damage or evidence that either one took a big hit from something. Take some advice from the others here and, if you're serious about buying it, take it to a mechanic for a quick check or even arrange to take it out for a spin.

You're right to go with a tiller....no sense in wasting valuable space on a console in a 14' boat.

If the boat you are looking at doesn't already have a trolling motor, I would think that a 40#-50# thrust trolling motor would be sufficient for your purposes. I know that Minn Kota and Motorguide are both good names. Stick to a 12V system so you won't have to deal with two batteries. You won't need the weight or the hassle of lugging two around for charging. Transom mount motors are cheaper than bow mounts and also allow better boat control.

As far as the floor.....if you want to keep this boat for 10 years, I recommend buying one with a floor in it. It will add significantly to the towing weight of the rig, but it adds a tremendous amount of comfort and breathing room in a 14' boat.

On that note, find out what the towing capacity of your vehicle is. The last thing you want to do is buy a boat that will cost you a new transmission in a couple of years.

Since you will be storing it away from your residence, you'll need to be able to take the batterie(s) out after every trip for charging. Keep that in mind when choosing the set-up; make sure the batteries are readily accessable.

If you haven't done it already, I would really encourage you to start visiting boat dealers just to get an idea of what is out there and what they are asking for it. It will give you a lot of insight into what you are looking at when you're standing in some guy's driveway looking at the boat he has for sale.

There's a lot more to cover here, but I gotta get back to work!!

Good luck!

[This message has been edited by huskminn (edited 06-05-2002).]

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....I'd be thinking real hard about that 4 cylinder car as a towing vehicle...it's better to know this now - before you buy a rig...I don't want to sound negative but you need to research this......if you stand on 35E going north sometime - count the number of cars pulling boats - slim and none.....

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First of all, take Big's advice and research your vehicle's towing capacity. You also need to find out what kind of tongue weight the bumper/hitch can handle.

That being said.....the Tracker looks like a nice boat....nice set-up for fishing. I honestly am unfamiliar with Trackers. That boat/trailer/motor will weigh a 1,000# loaded with fuel, accessories and gear. Can your car handle that?

Other than that, prepare to pay at least an additional $1,000 for the equipment and accessories you need to add. You've also got another $300-$400 of sales tax to pay on that new rig.

Your $5000 new boat just hit $6500. If you've got the cash for that or if you can afford to make those payments...no problem. Get what you want and go fishing!

If you're not wanting to spend that much, look at used. It will take longer, but it will save you some money.

Good luck!

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Big + Husk, thank you for your replies.

I myself am a little concerned about the stress on the vehicle. My car has a 1000# towing capacity with no more than 100# tongue. How do you determine tongue weight for a towing package?

I agree with you Husk, the new rig I am considering will weigh 1000# complete. However, my dealer says it will be fine (it is a brand new car within last two months). Another plus is that 90% of our fishing trips will be less than 25 miles one way. We will likely take about three trips up north to fish each season. Otherwise, we will exclusively fish local lakes and rivers.

I suppose a regular 14' without a flat bottom and with a smaller (9.9 or 15 hp) will weigh a couple of hundred pounds less. Do you think it would be worth it to strip down the boat (ie. not flat floor, pedestal seats, 25 hp) in favor of a lighter towing weight?

Husk, you are correct, there is so much to consider.

This has turned into a great informational topic thanks to both Big and Husk. Keep it coming.

Don

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I guess I would opt for keeping the floored boat. You'll be happier with that in the long run...especially for muskie fishing where a person spends a lot of time standing and casting.

I don't know a scientific way of determining tongue weight, but what I've done in the past is load up the boat as it would be loaded for traveling, measure the height of the hitch, stand on a bathroom scale and pick up the tongue of the trailer and hold it at the same height as the hitch. Subtract your weight and you should have a close approximation of what the tongue weight of the trailer is. Just remember that tongue weight can be greatly affected by how you load the boat and how the boat is positioned on the trailer (meaning, how the trailer is set up to hold the boat).

The flip side to this tongue weight deal is that you also don't want too little weight. The trailer needs to always be firmly seated on the hitch to avoid the tendency for the trailer to pop-up as you go over bumps, up steep inclines, etc.

You know, I've only purchased one trailered boat in my life.......I am in no way an expert, in fact, I'm a newbie compared to most people on this site. Don't take my words as gospel.

The only reason why I am responding to your posts is because I found myself in a position very similar to yours a few years ago. I had a 4-cyl Ranger P/U and I bought a 16' boat to pull behind it. Weight was a big issue for me. Now it's not because I finally got the full size truck I've always wanted and I can pull anything with it. My 16' boat is really quite similar to the 14' boat you are looking at. Floor, live well, storage, pedestals, etc. Had I pulled it with my Ranger for more than a couple of years, I think the stress on the vehicle would have taken a certain toll on the clutch and transmission.

Your car is new. Pulling a 14' boat will cause certain parts to wear more than if you weren't pulling it. You've got to be okay with taking that risk.

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Jawz, Husk, et al

Hi - am joining this thread late - but better
late than never. I am going to throw in my
$.02 from the used perspective - since thats
what I did two yrs. ago.

My boat is a 16' foot Starcraft, early 80's
vintage, which means its not as wide as the
current boats. Has a floor, and some storage
boxes, but could use more. Seats are bench,
but the prev owner installed swivel chairs
on homemade slide mech(s). so the chairs
will travel the width of the seats. Boat is basicly solid, except for floor, which is
mushy in a couple spots - needs to be replaced.

Motor - is a 30hp tiller steer, elect start Evinrude, runs excellant. I dinged the skeg on the lower unit last spring - and the prop.
Had prop rebuilt - skeg still has a chunk missing. Motor is mid 80's. 100:1 oil inject., so no oil to mix. smile.gif

Trailer is mid 80s - the gripe I've got with
it is the lights - am constantly having to
futz with them (ground trouble). Put new
bearings and races in before we even put boat
in water the first time - added Bearing Buddies last spring. Check the Buddies before
each launch, and repack the bearings each fall = no bearing trouble.

Tow vehicle is a 88' Astro van w/ 4.3L V6, &
AT. Van has factory towing package - we ordered it from factory and included things
like oil cooler, transmission cooler, etc.

The Astro has no trouble towing the boat, but
the ramps are another matter - some of the
steeper ones can be a bugger (2WD)- if they
are wet or slimed up w/ weeds or alge/moss.
I won't even look at sand launchs - its got
to be concrete, etc. I am waiting for the day
I can get a 4WD pickup to tow with.

If you are going to tow w/ a car w/ a 4-banger and AT - I suggest you keep your cooling system in tip-top shape, change the
trans. fluid and filter yearly (vs 30K miles), and keep the A/C off. But be prepared - you will add wear to your car
by pulling a boat. Change your engine oil
regular too, as towing will create additional
heat, and heat will attack your engine oil.

A manual transmission won't get as hot, but
you will add wear to the clutch.

I paid $2400 for my boat. At the time, I
thought it was a good price, but 20-20 hind
sight says I probally paid to much.

My boat was being sold to close out an estate, the owner had died. I rushed the deal, as it just kind of popped up in my
face - I wasn't looking for a boat as Jawz is. Did I get stung - yup! frown.gif

Bad tires, bad batterys (starting and deep
cycle), wheel bearings were shot - grease
seals completely gone. All of this stuff was
fixable - it just cost me some extra $$$ to
do so. Am going to re-wire the lights next -
see if I can get them working consistantly.

Some of the fix-'ems I spotted when I looked
at it - some I didn't.

The good side of the deal was that its more
boat than I thought I would have gotten. The
motor purrs - idles down for trolling, but
hauls tush when you open it up. Can I aford to replace it (boat, notor, etc) w/ some
thing newer? No. I also had the cash - there
was no need to take out a loan. Not having
to make payments is nice.

Will I replace it some day in the future?
Possibly - but for right now - it gets me
by - and I get out fishing more than I used
to.

We did get some extras tossed in by the
sellers. There were 6 Stearns life vests, some tackle, a flyrod, 12V trolling motor,
the sonar on the boat, plus a 2nd sonar for
ice fishing. It also has an anchor mate, plus some other odds & ends.

Bottom line - it ain't perfect, but its
better than no boat.

Hope this helps give you some food for thought.

UG

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Jawz,

Check out the "Used Gear For Sale" forum...there's a two-year old 14' boat for sale in there, with all the extras. Not sure about the floor, but check it out.

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Husk, Uncle and Big:

Thank you for all of your input. Husk, I just took a look at that used 14' for sale for $5000. For $5800 total, I just purchased that new 02 Tracker on the link I posted on page 1. Flat bottom, 25 hp Merc, trailer, livewell, bilge, pedestal swivels, plenty of room (no bench seats) lights, battery, etc. I am very happy with the purchase. It will be here in about three weeks. I look forward to chasing the muskies and pike on many of the local lakes.

Time to purchase trolling motor and lcd. I will post separate forums for that advice. Thanks to all that have replied. This turned out to be a very active topic.

Don

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Congrats, Jawz!

I hope you're happy with your purchase. Too bad you have to wait on delivery, though, as I'm sure you're chomping at the bit to get out there.

Get some Fishing Minnesota decals for your new boat so I can recognize you if I see you out there! Good luck and keep us posted on how you like the new rig.

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My fishing boat is a '98 Tracker Targa 18. I bought it because Tracker has gone the extra mile to become the biggest boat builder in the U.S (even tho you see very few in Minn). Mercury supplies the power and Tracker makes their own trailers to match each model. Resale is not yet what it should be, since Tracker suffered from a poor reputation in the early years. Reputations are easy to acquire and very hard to get rid of.

You've bought good equipment. Any Merc mechanic can work on the motor, and that's where you would be most likely to need help.
You'll enjoy your new boat.

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Just a note..Transmission Overhaul/Replacement $1800 - $2500.00,,,Struts & Shocks $ 500 - $600.00,,,I'm in theauto repair business,,,see alot of prematurely worn parts and suspension from folks turning a nice 4 passenger car into a towing truck,,,Even a 14' tracker is not like towing the lawn mower around town,,,the stress and wear on the components is huge!! Nothing wrong with your choice of boat!! Resale probably much better in a lund if metal is your choice,,shop around, lots of very nice limited use boats avaiable,,,Good Luck!!

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