What makes the ultimate catfishing boat is in the eye of the beholder. Given the vast differences in waters and situations faced by the faithful across whiskerland, it's a good thing boat makers offer nearly limitless options in size, hull designs, bells and whistles, layout, seating, storage, and more.
To help you find a platform that fits your style of fishing, we've assembled a selection of six top picks in various shapes and sizes of catfishing boats. If you don't see a perfect match, check manufacturer websites, boat shows, and local marine dealers to find the ride of your dreams.
Alumacraft MV 1650
- After putting one of these sweet modified V-hulls through its paces on Minnesota's cat-rich Rum, St. Croix, and Snake rivers last season, I can attest to its prowess as a catboat. At 16 feet in length with a 74-inch beam, the 1650 is perfect for small to mid-sized rivers and lakes. Paired with a short-shaft outboard like the 60-hp four-stroke Yamaha on the back of my test rig, the boat can navigate amazingly shallow water. During the summer of 2013, this was a huge factor as many reaches were knee-deep or less.
I like the center console design, but the boat is available as a side console as well. Both are rated for up to 60 hp, and can haul when appropriately powered. While the 20-gallon livewell isn't big enough for monster blues or mudcats, it's plenty big for keeping bait lively as needed, or for keeping a few eater channels gilling until cleaning time. If you choose to add an extra holding tank, there's room between the console and foredeck.
Like all Alumacrafts, the All-Weld series is one tough customer. Its .102-inch hull is supremely sturdy — I crossed logs, rocks, and other rough terrain with mine, with no ill effects to its seaworthiness. Just keep in mind like any 16-footer, space is at a premium. Thankfully, there is lockable forward storage, additional room beneath the dash, and aft in the battery storage and fuel tank compartment. And, if you need more storage or space for your cattin' adventures, the company offers All-Welds to 20 feet in length.
Crestliner 2200 Intruder Catfish Edition
- The name says it all. This boat's built for serious cat capers. Measuring 22 feet 3 inches in length, with a 96-inch beam, it offers plenty of storage and fishable space. And with five pedestal floor bases, there's room for multiple cat fans to ply their craft. Plus, the V-hull's 15-degree deadrise and .125-inch aluminum skin tackle heavy seas, while the transom handles outboards up to 250 hp.
Standard 2200 features include a 41-gallon fuel tank, portside rod locker able to accommodate 9-foot sticks, anchor box, and a 100-gallon, 62-inch-long stern livewell that features dual pumps and ample space for more than one trophy cat. Catfish Edition extras include a 4.5-gallon aerated port bow baitwell with timer, a washdown system, 12-volt bow outlet, and special catfish graphics.
Lund 1800 Alaskan
- Lund's lengthy lineup of bulletproof aluminum platforms offers a number of choices perfect for catfishing. One of our favorite all-around choices is the 1800 Alaskan, for its ability to fish smaller waters yet still take on big rivers and reservoirs. It comes in tiller, side-console, and full walk-through windshield configurations, so you can tailor the floor plan and seating to your style of fishing.
At 18 feet 9 inches, with an 83-inch beam, the boat offers elbow room without being bulkier than a battleship. The tiller model weighs less than 1,000 pounds. Rated for outboards to 90 hp, the 1800 easily hits speeds of 40 mph. Storage is impressive, and includes a 9-foot rod locker. The 15.5-gallon aerated livewell stretches 46 inches, big enough to handle its share of beefy kitties. There's also a separate baitwell for keeping minnows lively.
RiverPro 176 HiPro RCC
- Shallow, rock-infested water is no match for RiverPro's lineup of shallow-draft catfishing machines, and the 17-foot 6-inch HiPro RCC is no exception. Powered by a Mercury inboard Sport Jet of up to 200 hp, it flies over gnarly stretches of river at up to 50 mph.
The .190-inch-thick, all-welded aluminum hull's 6-degree deadrise might not slice rollers like a deep-V, but it handles most river conditions with ease. A 92-inch beam and 28-inch side height give you room to move around while setting lines and battling big fish. Standard features include sprayed bedliner flooring and deck, 18- X 52-inch welded platform, foam flotation, and 28-gallon fuel tank. Upgrades include an aerated livewell, heavy-duty bottom skid plate, EZ Clean intake grate, and windshield.
SeaArk V-Cat 200
- SeaArk offers a flotilla of fine catboats, from the ProCat 240 and Big Daddy flagships to a variety of flat-nose jons and jet hulls. Resting somewhere in the middle of the fleet, the V-Cat 200 runs 20 feet 1 inch in length, with a roomy 94-inch beam and 26-inch side depth. The all-welded, 15-degree modified V-hull cuts waves nicely, while the .125-gauge hull wards off water hazards.
Available in side- and center-console setups, the rig is rated for outboards up to 175 hp and carries a 30-gallon fuel tank. Its 60-gallon aerated livewell holds an admirable catfish collection. Upgrades include a 30-gallon filtered baitwell (center console), 7-foot rod boxes, bimini top, accessory rails, and various Humminbird sonar/GPS units.
- For chasing giant cats on big rivers, the X24 is a standout. The 24-foot, .125-inch-thick, all-welded aluminum hull sports longitudinal ribs and unibody injected foam flotation, and is rated for outboards to 250 hp. Its 18-degree, pad-style Hyper-Lift hull design fuels fast hole-shots, effortless turns, and a smooth, dry ride.
With a 102-inch beam and 23-inch-high sides, there's ample room for multiple anglers, and the welded aluminum walk-through windshield offers shelter from the elements. Plus, both driver and passenger enjoy Euro-style adjustable seats.
The X24 is also loaded with hard-fishing features. Standard amenities include a Humminbird 788ci sonar/GPS unit, 101-pound-thrust Minn Kota Terrova trolling motor, three-bank charger, and a 125-gallon insulated livewell with 500-gallon-per-hour fill and recirculation system for keeping big cats lively all day long. There's ample storage, including a lockable rod box, and the rig even comes with a washdown station for easy cleanup.