If you're in the market for a new boat, you want to shop by more than just price alone. Of course you want a boat you can afford, but you also want a boat that actually fits your boating style and needs when on the water. Not all boats are meant to tow skiers behind them, and not all boats will be agile enough to cut through reefs, small canals, and other areas where you'll find the best fishing spots. Before you start shopping around, note a few factors to consider when it comes to the style of boat you'll want to choose.
A pontoon is a flat boat with two inflated tubes on either side that keep it supported and afloat. The flatter bottom allows for more floor space, so a pontoon is good for entertaining or for large families. However, the wider bottom may make it more difficult to fit the pontoon into most dock spaces or to maneuver around those small fishing spots, as mentioned above. Most pontoons are not meant for racing or for the speed needed to tow skiers, as the flat bottom provides more drag; if you do want to use a pontoon for water sports, be prepared to invest in larger, more powerful engines to provide that extra power you'll need.
There are many styles of fishing boats from which to choose, so consider where and how you fish. A center console offers a raised platform that holds the steering wheel so that you can navigate more easily in rough waters, when the shoreline might otherwise be obscured. A bass boat has lower sides so that you can easily walk around the boat and fight the bass as they continue to pull on your line after they've been hooked; it's also usually very lightweight and narrow so you can easily steer through small canals and other areas where bass are found. An aluminum fishing boat is lightweight and may not have many more features than a few benches across its width, so you can easily lift it and then strap the boat to the hood of a car.
Your boat's engine is important when it comes to speed and performance, but the boat's design will also play a key role; shop for the longest boat you can afford and store easily, with a narrow, pointed hull. The longer size of the boat will help it cut through the water; in turn, you'll have less wear and tear on the engine. A windscreen also helps cut down wind resistance and keeps you more comfortable at higher speeds.