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Hey guys, so I like kayak fishing, but as all you know one of the things you have to deal with is the take-in and take-out, they just can't be to far apart. Anyway, I was just starting to entertain the idea of a jet boat. I would probably be fishing rivers like the Gasconade. So here are some of my questions:

  • What do you like for length and beam?
  • What size of motor and brand (2 stroke or 4)?
  • Steering wheel or not?
  • Size of trolling motor
  • Anything I should avoid?
  • What else should I consider?

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16 minutes ago, Jason R. said:

I once had a 14/48 with a 40/30 Suzuki jet on the back.  I can tell you you do not want that combo.  

I'll bet that was a wild ride. 

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Since its almost my favorite subject I'll jump right on in :) 

Boats are like golf clubs, they all have their pluses and minuses for certain situations.  Firstly since money is always an issue if you have a budget in mind that would give us a better starting point.  Next is how and where you going to use the boat.  If its just the G'nade and only for one to two people fishing any 1752 with a 60/40 john/outboard combo or bigger thats rigged with the right casting decks and storage to make you happy will work just fine.  That is the minimum size I would ever consider.  There is no Maximum size I would consider just to be honest.  17' with 4-5' casting decks with storage underneath keeps you and your partner from casting buzzbaits in each others ears.  52" width is the largest I would go with a 60/40 and the minimum I would go with any larger motor.

For outboards its pretty simple and there are many reasonable prices and options to look at.  Here are my basic guidlines.

  • I prefer two strokes for maintenance and weight reasons.  Mercury 60/40 4 stroke being the exception, love the quiet!
  • I like steering wheels and a console to keep rain and bugs off me, stick steer is pretty awesome though.  Not a fan of tiller handle steering except on very small rigs.
  • 70lb trolling motor minimum.  101lb on a bigger boat is not a crazy idea.  flat front, mounted on the side.
  • Flatbottoms, no V on an outboard!
  • John boats with outboards do not like weight, inboards do not notice it as much.
  • Anything will get you out there and that is better than not being out there.

For a lightweight low cost rig for fishing - 1752 with a 60/40 as described above. 17MPH planing speed, 30MPH max.

For a bigger John to haul 4 adults and coolers/camping gear I like an 1860 with a 150-200hp  24 MPH planing speed 48MPH max.

Inboards are a whole other world.  V8's are fun and have their advantages, sportjets are better for everything but speed, pump durability and decibel ratings.  There are a few companies doing sportjets these days, generally speaking bigger is better.

I have run a shoal runner 2066 with a 200hp sport jet for two years now and it has been the absolute best boat I have ever owned.  I draft less water at rest and on plane and can run the shallow stuff just as slow as my 1752 john with a 60/40 and get better MPG at the same time.  The swim step on the back keeps the party going for the kids and makes tubing easy on the little ones.  The rod storage under the front seats, big flat decks and twin consoles make it old man comfy and easy to fish out of.  The Mercury sportjet is what makes the boat though.  Last weekend I fished out of it early Sat AM, took the kids on a long ride to get ice cream at meramec caverns in the afternoon then hauled 4 adults, three kids, two coolers, and one tub of tubes and skis on Kinkaid lake on Sun.  all without ever making my wife or little kids nervous.

I have went through a lot of different boats to finally get to the point where I am 100% satisfied.  Of course that is only my opinion based on the way we use our boat.

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What do you like for length and beam?
17-18' long with a 52-60" bottom

What size of motor and brand (2 stroke or 4)?
I'm an Etec fan, but I always hear good things about Mercury 4 strokes. The Mercury 250 ProXS is very popular, but I know of too many guys that have had issues with theirs. My buddy has a 2014 with 171 hours that just blew up on him this past Saturday and will be going back to the shop for the umpteenth time. He said this will put his total warranty work over $15k. They all love them though even with the issues because they will out run a similiar Etec. Myself and my buddy with the problematic ProXS have ran a lot of Etecs over the past 6-7 years and they have been great engines.

Steering wheel or not? 
If you go with a smaller 60/40 setup, it's totally up to you. If you went with something bigger with a v6 engine, get the steering wheel. I've got a no feedback steering system on my current 2014 Legend SS and I love it! No more having to bungee the wheel when hauling to keep the motor from swinging and I can let go of the wheel on the water while running and it will keep going straight.

Size of trolling motor
If you're going to be chasing smallmouth in the heavy current on the Gasconade, go with a 24v or even a 36v if you don't mind the weight and have the room for batteries. I'm running a 24v 70# Minn kota Maxxum on my 1860 and it does a decent job. I'd like to upgrade to a 36v 112# Minn Kota Fortrex one of these days though.

Anything I should avoid?
Put the biggest engine your hull will handle if you can swing it. Under powering a jet boat is the worst thing you can do. It's always better to have some extra power in the tank if needed versus being overloaded and struggling to plane out. This is more of an issue with the smaller rigs. Once you get above 115hp, this isn't as big of an issue.

What else should I consider?
It took me a couple of boats as well as fishing out of several others to figure out exactly what I wanted in a boat. Try to fish out of several different rigs if you can to try and figure out exactly what you want before you buy.

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I guess a lot depends upon how fast you want to go and how much you want to spend.  I have a 16 ft. 52 inch beam Blazer with 40/30 HP Evinrude Etec, tiller steer, and it's all the boat I need.  I can get up on plane fast with one or two people and fast enough with three people, and run as shallow as anybody out there except maybe Hog Wally with his River Pro, and there's only an inch of difference between what he can run and what I can.  I can run 10 miles up the river in a half hour or so (less time than it usually takes to do a shuttle for a ten mile float), which is as fast as I want to go.  I MIGHT use a little more gas than some of the guys with the Sportjets and such, because to be on plane I have to be running at about 80% of full throttle, but I've never run out of gas yet.

I went back and forth on whether to get a 60/40 or a 40/30 HP when I bought mine, and finally chose the 40/30 just because I wanted there to be no question whether or not I was legal on Current River above Big Spring.  I have never felt I was seriously underpowered with the 40/30.

I know several very good river anglers who have similar powered set-ups.  They don't complain about being too slow or too underpowered, either.  Nor do they or I feel like we're cramped for room with two people fishing.  And the smaller rig is a bit easier to get off a gravel bar if you miscalculate your navigation :).

On the other hand, if you don't mind spending more money, the others have pointed out some advantages to bigger rigs.  Having fished a bunch from Hog Wally's River Pro, I can't imagine a sweeter boat, and it's really nice to be ten miles from the ramp and know you can get back there in less than 15 minutes if you need to beat a coming storm!

I wouldn't have anything less than a 24 volt trolling motor set-up.  I would want ample front deck space, and some dry storage space--I had a live well put in mine more for the extra dry storage than for keeping fish or bait.

Just having tiller steer doesn't look cool, but if you have a seat to run the tiller that is set up higher than the normal bench in the back, your visibility is good enough and the steering is easy enough...and it's cheaper and the boat is lighter.

If buying new, buy from a well-respected jet boat dealer who knows how to set one up.  It makes a big difference.

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I'll say this, if you are looking for a jet boat and have a Facebook account check out SEMO jet boat Enthusiast page.  There's way more for sale usually than are on Craig's List.  Some pretty good info on there too.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/604452952959143/

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13 hours ago, Al Agnew said:

And the smaller rig is a bit easier to get off a gravel bar if you miscalculate your navigation :)

And this is the exact reason I have not sold my 1752 alweld with a 60/40 yet!  

 Case in point...

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