Welded, Riveted Or Fiberglass?
It’s nice to have choices in this world. When it comes to picking out a deep “V” or multi-species fishing boat anglers have three excellent choices to consider including a welded aluminum hull, riveted aluminum hull or a fiberglass hull. I’m often asked which is the best all around fishing boat design and the answer in this case is all three.
Riveted aluminum hulls like this Starcraft STX 2050 feature reverse chime hull designs that rival the performance of fiberglass boats.
Boat hull designs have come a long way during my tenure as a professional fisherman. The introduction of reverse chine aluminum hulls has created a generation of fishing boats that are clearly superior to those produced just a decade ago. Reverse chine hulls help the boat come out of the hole quickly, they achieve more lift while helping to keep the bow down at slower speeds and do an excellent job of forcing spray harmlessly out to the side of the boat.
It might not be a fair comparison, but modern reverse chine hulls rival the performance once thought to only be possible with a fiberglass hull. It’s also important to note that reverse chine hulls are now available in both in traditional riveted and welded hull designs. For riveted boats the chine is bent into the bottom of the boat, while with welded hull designs the chine is welded onto the bottom of the boat.
RIVETED OR WELDED?
Because aluminum boats are currently available with reverse chine hulls in both riveted and welded models, the question becomes which is better. The short answer is that both riveted and welded hulls perform in a similar fashion.
Ultimately the decision as to purchase riveted or welded hulls boils down to the individual consumer. The good news is that both options are good options.
Welded hull designs have come a long ways in recent years. Currently the warranty offered on welded hulls are similar to those offered by manufacturers who build riveted boats.
When it comes to picking out an aluminum multi-species boat the deciding factor is more likely going to focus on other features like beam width, dead rise, interior layout, etc. In addition to advancements in hull design, fans of aluminum boats will also be delighted to learn that these boats feature the widest possible beam width.
A boat with a wide beam not only provides more fishable space inside the boat, wider boats are more stable and sea worthy in less than desirable weather conditions. Because this class of boat is designed to be trailered, the widest practical width is around 100 inches. Anything wider would require a permit to tow on public highways.
WHAT ABOUT FIBERGLASS?
Fiberglass deep “V” fishing hulls continue to be popular among anglers who are looking for the softest possible ride and some other amenities. The extra weight of fiberglass hulls compared to aluminum boats gives glass the clear advantage in a number of categories.
Fiberglass V hulls tend to provide more storage room, a softer ride and a very stable fishing platform.
Glass boats tend to handle rough water better because the extra weight displaces water better than lighter aluminum boats. Fiberglass boats also generally feature more dry storage compartments, a higher standard of fit and finish and a higher maximum horsepower rating.
The down side to fiberglass boats is they are labor intensive to build and tend to cost about 25 to 40 percent more than similar sized aluminum boats. Also, the extra weight of fiberglass boats means these models are best equipped with more expensive tandem axle trailers featuring disk style brake systems.
SUMMING IT UP
It’s good to have choices and thankfully in the world of deep “V” or multi-species fishing boats anglers have lots to choose from. Are fiberglass boats better than aluminum boats? You be the judge.