HUNTING

Best Duck Hunting Boat: Most Important Features To Look For & Top 9 Boats Overview

Boat speeding
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

Waterfowl hunting (especially duck hunting) is one of the most popular forms of shallow water hunting. Ducks live in marshes, rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Float hunting is a fun way to hunt ducks on small waterways, but you need the best duck hunting boat to be able to float hunt. A good model should float along slowly, and quietly with the current while you are searching for ducks.

See also: Hunting Waterfowl by Kayak: Go Where No Other Hunters Can Go

You need a vessel that you can easily steer around the inside of the bends and corners. This way, you will be able to surprise any ducks sitting in the calm waters ahead. The list of product reviews provides you with reliable buying information, and reference for future purchases.

The Most Important Features

Type of Float Boat

There are several types of floating boats that you can consider, but the most effective ones are: Jon boat, low-profile boat, layout boat, sculling boat, and canoe. The most reliable and recommended type is the Jon boat, which is the most popular duck hunting craft. Jon boats are usually flat-bottomed, and they are very stable, and have a low profile.

2 people and 1 dog on a boat

Most brands have a square bow, which is somehow inconvenient for maneuvering rough waters. However, they are normally installed with a heavy-duty hull made of professional-grade aluminum. Features unique to these boats are aluminum design and slick hull.

Heavy-Duty Boat Engine

You need a boat with a durable, reliable and powerful engine. Go for an engine with the desired horsepower that will not only allow you to bag a larger buck, but one that will help improve your fishing/ hunting luck. Go for an economical engine that is easy to operate, and has the ability to withstand the harshest of conditions.

Choose one with reverse plate functionality, because this one will make the most of the drive for reverse power as well as minimize water splash-backs and mud accumulation. Other features that will make the engine more reliable include: polymer bushings, locking tilt pin, fully adjustable-transom clamp, and power trim actuator to mention a few.

Ergonomics

You need a float boat that is made of the best and most resourceful materials. It should be installed with the most common features that you will need to maneuver extreme waters.

Moreover, the design should be customizable to match set your individual expectations. Additional standard features are also important, such as: grab bar, under deck storage, front hatch, full floor, LED running and interior lights, and drop deck.

Top 9 Shallow Water Boat Reviews

Bankes 17’ Freedom

Weight: 850 lbs. Bankes 17’ Freedom

Design Specs & Features: 17’ 6” long; 84” wide: 27” depth inside boat; 115”x47” cockpit opening; 75 maximum HP; 5-6 inches draft; swing away rear seat; grassing rails; waterproof electrical panel; 500 GPH bilge pump; battery tray; 2 12 volt receptacles; interior light; navigation lights; and 3 color molded coat.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: Bankes 17’ Freedom is purpose built to provide you with the freedom of hunting waterfowls. To begin with, it has a 5-inch draft that is aligned with a select R.I.C Hull structure. It is particularly designed to overcome challenges when hunting on a smooth bottomed liner. It has a heavy duty platform that is extremely stable.

This allows you to add extra weight of your hunting gear. It is not made of wood; therefore, you should not be worried about rotting parts. Instead, its construction is 100% hand laid fiberglass. The structure has three color precast in soldierly style camo gel coat.

The interior is fitted with a twenty-five gallon fuel tank, a side mounted consol, front deck dry storage, upper shelves for storing items, and decoy shelves. It is installed with standard dual battery boxes, a bilge blower to dissipate fumes prior to starting the boat, 12 volt receptacle, navigation & interior lights, 2000 GPH bilge pump, rack & pinion steering, and decoy curtains. The above mentioned inclusions are regulated by the dual electrical panels situated on your fingertips by the consol.

It comes with a well-cloaked blind that you can set up in a number of ways for flexibility. It’s a robust blind made of 1000 Denier Cordura nylon as well as support bars made of 6061 aircraft grade aluminum.

Beavertail Custom

Boat Depth: 24 inches beaver tail custom

Design Specs & Features: 240-inch long; 60-inch wide; front & rear exterior; built-in interior tubing; patent pending flotation pods; HD rub rail side wall cap; 2 10’ waterproof gun boxes; 24-inch side walls; drop floor in stern; forward tapered front deck; foam filled floor; extra life & offset front deck & flotation pods; and 100 gauge aluminum hull.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: Beavertail are experts in creating a legendary waterfowl hunting boat. One of the most unique and resourceful Beavertail boats is the 20’ Custom Aluminum Boat. It is fitted with a fashionable forward tapered front deck for running water out of the drain hole, ensuring that the water doesn’t interfere with you or your hunting gear. It is installed with flat tread plate floors as well as forward deck for an exceptionally stable operating stage.

The boat’s non-reflective & wear-proof finish is provided by the ultra-durable olive drab paint. Its robustness and resourcefulness are enhanced by the strong rub rail sidewall cap; interior mounted tie-down loops; front & rear exterior grab handles.

There is a drop floor in stem designed specifically to secure the fuel tank and batteries. The front pods and deck floor is foam-filled for load offset and additional flotation. The boat’s performance is further enhanced by the inclusion of patent pending flotation pods; 24-inch sidewalls; built-in interior tubing; 100 gauge aluminum sidewall construction, stem, and hull; 2 10’ waterproof gunnel boxes for storing fishing rods, firearms, as well as additional gear. If you are a passionate duck hunter, then you should look no further than the Beavertail Custom Aluminum 20’ Boat.

Excel F86

Weight: 625 lbs. Excel F86

Design Specs & Features: 18 feet long; 51-inch wide; 0.125, flat, & aluminum hull; 70-inch beam; gas-operated & outboard drive; 560 lbs. maximum capacity (4 people plus gear); cobblestone/khaki color options; duck back transom step; aluminum floor; running & interior lights; triple tapered chine; high deck fuel tank storage; drive seat base; single gun box; and twin full length storage boxes.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: The Excel F86 is state-of-the-art masterpiece that is made of .125 (5086 hardened aluminum) material. This material is not only tough but also the lightest for shallow water hunting. The developer of F86 had a complete understanding of outdoor and shallow water hunting. The design is focused on providing you with lots of room for maneuvering when target shooting, and ample storage.

The body is made of 0.125, flat, aluminum hull, which is exceptionally lightweight. The boat has a maximum weight capacity of 560 lbs., making it ideal for four people. This is the perfect shallow water console for tidal mud, and coastal flats.

What makes this console unique and effective are the following design features: driver seat base; running & interior lights; fuel tank & battery storage; mud motor standup bar; extended front deck w/ low front drop deck; rear deck grab handles; three-feet bow hand rails; triple tapered chine; longitudinal 6063  five rib construction; full coast guard flotation; 800 GPH, bilge pump; recessed switch panel w/ two interior lights; extruded gunwale rail w/ rubber bumper; khaki/cobblestone paint; aluminum floor; single gun box; and twin full length storage boxes.

Gator-Tail Timber

Weight: N/A gator tail

Design Specs & Features: 18 feet long; 60 inches wide; stern lifting side crimp; self-draining deck; trolling motor bracket; under deck storage; four-feet deck w/ pedestal base; stainless steel rivets for sub-floor; robust gunnel rail; six-inch 6061T6 channel for transom; 21-inch transom; 24-inch side height; full floor; .100 floor & deck; 2-inch by 2¾-inch custom extruded longitudinal ribs; and 1-piece .125-inch 5086 aluminum hull.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: If you love hunting and fishing in shallow water, then the Gator-Tail is exactly what you need. This is the most reliable, state-of-the-art, high-quality product on the boat market. Gator-Tail is matchless when compared to other mud motors, because it is the fastest with an amazing instant reverse option on motors for over ten years or so.

It is the ideal masterpiece, providing you with a lifetime warranty. It goes beyond all others by providing you with lifetime drive belt warranty. Whether you are going on a solo or group expedition, the Gator-Tail can handle anything at ease.

Its excellent performance depends on its design features, which include: 1-piece .125-inch 5086 aluminum hull; stern lifting side crimp; self-draining deck; trolling motor  bracket; under deck storage; 4-feet deck w/ pedestal base; stainless rivets for sub-floor; long-lasting gunnel rail; 21-inch transom; 24-inch side height; and full floor.

The boat comes with an affordable, reliable, and powerful engine. The engine is not only economical but also easy to operate. The engine weighs 275 pounds, and it features a reverse plate, cone-shaped lower unit, polymer bushings, locking tilt pin, planetary reverse transmission, fully adjustable transom clamp, and water-resistant trim switch.

Pro-Drive SBX

Weight: 625 lbs. Pro-Drive SBX

Design Specs & Features: 18 feet long; 54-inch bottom; 21-inch side height; 74-inch beam; rear seat w/ storage; sub floor w/ non-skid paint; 20-inch extended deck; battery switch; motor battery tray; 4-feet enclosed front deck w/ hatch; multi position bun box/seat; robust front bumper; 6 gallon gas tank and bracket; LED Navigation lights; pro-drive; and trolling motor bracket.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: Pro-Drive SBX 18-feet long boat is well-designed. The manufacturer’s dedication and attention to detail is exceptional. The boat is engineered from 0.125-inch 5086-grade aluminum. With this kind of construction, you can explore areas with bottoms, stumps, and cross logs. You should not be worried about extreme fishing/hunting environments because the boat is made of ribs that run across the girth of the bottom.

The 1-inch by 2-inch rectangular ribs, 2-inch by 2-inch square tubing, and side walls transform it into an indestructible masterpiece. The most remarkable features of the SBX are rear seat w/ storage; multi-position gun/seat box; LED navigation lights; sub floor w/ non-skid paint; robust front bumper; and 4-feet enclosed front deck w/ hatch.

SeaArk DXS

Weight: 525 lbs. SeaArk DXS

Design Specs & Features: 15 feet long; 20-inch side depth; 40 max HP; 67-inch beam; .100 aluminum gauge material; 48-inch bottom; 865 pounds weight capacity; 15/20 transom height; three-degree all-welded hull; v-shaped rear seat; built—in gun box; tread-plate floor; low bow deck with storage; extreme turn technology; and standard paint.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: SeaArk DXS is a well-built shallow water console, which is particularly designed to hold out the abuse of extreme hunting/fishing environments. To begin with, the boat’s operation is based on extreme turn technology, which offers quick maneuverability to circumvent stumps and trees.

The boat comes with paint and interior options, including olive drab, beach, tan, sharkskin, and optional urethane paint (steel blue, patriot red, mystic white, black magic, silver sparkle, and coastal green).

The features that make the SeaArk DXS special are: one stainless base plate; three-degree all-welded hull; v-shaped rear seat; low bow deck; inside drain plug access; floored area for fuel tank & battery; 0,1875 low profile extruded keel; oversized extruded cap-rail; built-in gun box; tread-plate floor; and standard paint.

Gator Trax Custom

gator trax

Design Specs & Features: 16 feet long; utility boat; gas tank mounting bracket; customizable options; extruded metal bracing; airboat style rakes; smooth bottom; angled transom; rounded chines; and longitudinal bracing system.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: The Gator Trax Custom is a high quality, uniquely designed, shallow water console, providing you with improved maneuverability around extreme environments with stumps and logs.

This is an aluminum built  design that is made of a standard structure with more layouts as well as fixtures that are resourceful to shallow water fishing and hunting. As it is, it blows the old-styled flat liners out of the water.

The aluminum hull has the desired thickness, along with the longitudinal bracing system. The boat offers engineering faultlessness to meet your demands as a shallow water hunter and fisherman. A unique aspect of the Gator Trax Custom is that it can be customized with respect to your specifications. Unlike most boats out there, the hull of this boat is created at the very time you order it, and you also get a lifetime warranty. With that said, the 16 feet model is the exact size for shallow waters.

Go-Devil SDB

Weight: 620 lbs. Godevil boat

Design Specs & Features: 18 feet long; 0.125-inch, 5086, aluminum, flat hull; gas powered engine; 1,173 pounds maximum weight capacity; aluminum floor; tapered chines; level flotation; large storage box; and high quality running lights.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: The Go-Devil 18×60 boat is engineered with a shallow water hunter’s needs in mind. It is made to impersonate the bottom of an alligator with no corners. It will outpace other brands when you use it in shallow waters, such as narrow ditch environment or timber laden swamps. Unlike most shallow water consoles, this particular Go-Devil model will maneuver around banks and obstruction easily, because of its rounded chines and glossy bottom.

You may think that the rounded hull will cause the boat to slip in fast turns, but it simply offers the boat the required grip during fast movements. Its high performance is attributed to the following features: level flotation in side panels & bow; high quality running lights; large storage box; grab bar for support when navigating through rough surfaces; double angle transom; tapered chines; slick bottom; and absence of wood in the design.

Lowe Frontier Roughneck 1650

Weight: 460 lbs. Roughneck 1650

Design Specs & Features: 16 feet long; 74-inch beam; 50-inch bottom width; 3.5-degrees dead-rise; portable fuel capacity; .100-inch hull gauge; 40 max HP capacity; 1,041 pounds maximum weight capacity; 550 pounds per person weight capacity; four people maximum; 21-inch side depth; 15-inch/20-inch transom height; rear deck pedestal base; and four mooring cleats.

Best Use: Duck Hunting & Fishing

Description: The Lowe Frontier Roughneck 1650 is the real companion for the loyal shallow water hunter and fisherman. This highly versatile and resourceful boat has gained popularity for being the toughest shallow water console for the money. It is particularly designed for fishing as well as hybrid/waterfowl hunting. It is one of the best prototypes by Lowe, which is completely redesigned with attention to detail. It is easy to trail, and it installed with highly durable gears for all weather conditions.

The boat’s professional grade features include: heavy duty cleats; reinforced knee braces; and open floor plans (for hunting waterfowl and hauling large loads). In addition, this model allows you to go for bigger as well as more powerful outboard engines, due to the all-aluminum transom. The hand-applied camo patterns provide you with at-rest stability along with smooth-running ability when maneuvering skinny water.

In Conclusion

Shallow, flat-bottomed boats are the best means of transportation in shallow waters because you can steer, pole, push, or pull through the extremely shallow wet spots to reach slightly deeper, productive waters. Maneuverability is everything when hunting or fishing from a float boat.

Boat at sunset with gun in foreground

Therefore, you need to go for a boat with the best design features and engine. The model you choose should cruise quietly and easily through shallow water. It should have the stability you need to hunt in open water. Check out our must-read article on the best duck hunting canoe for more options.

Make sure the boat has a large, open floor that can accommodate big tackle boxes and bulky gear. Do you think we have missed any resourceful shallow water consoles? If so, please let us know in comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.