Best Fishing Pontoon Boats

Best Fishing Pontoon Boats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

January 3, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Pontoon Boats are becoming the most popular watercraft in America.
  • All the best pontoon boats reviewed in this article are made in the USA
  • The price range of these boats is $17,000 - 52,000.
  • All these companies allow potential owners to build their own boats with exact specifications.

You are considering the purchase of a pontoon boat for fishing on a nearby reservoir, but what are the best fishing pontoon boats?

The best pontoon boats for fishing are:

  • Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16
  • Sylvan Fish 820
  • Bennington SV 168SVF
  • Barletta C22CC (Cast-N-Cruise)
  • Ranger Reata 223F

Pontoon boats continue to set the pace for watercraft sales as more and more American families choose these versatile watercraft as an integral part of their leisure time. Buoyed by robust sales, most manufacturers are adding amenities, improving quality, and enhancing the power of pontoons. Gone are the days of a simple flat deck with a couple of bench seats sitting atop welded aluminum. Pontoon boats are made for just about everything, from luxurious cruisers that cost as much as a house to fishing pontoon boats rigged with trolling motors and high-back fishing chairs.


Table of contents

Why Are Pontoon Boats So Popular?

Over the years, pontoon boats have enjoyed versatility for family activities. At first, the open deck allowed large groups of family members to enjoy the festivities of cruising on the water during a leisurely afternoon. They were large, cumbersome crafts that traveled more slowly, turned more deliberately, and couldn’t go fast enough to suit most water lovers.

But as the demand for these kinds of all-purpose crafts grew, so did their ability to be used for other things than just family cruisers. Owners began using them for recreational outings of all kinds; tubing, sunbathing, romantic overnighters, and even fishing excursions with the grandchildren.

The reason for the growth in fishing pontoons is quite simple. The pontoon deck makes a perfect casting platform, tends to be more stable on the water than a V-shaped boat, and (if you have ever had to balance in a bass boat so that you don’t fall into the water, you know what I mean). The configuration of a pontoon also allows for more room to work a fish in, while the seating arrangements can provide a nice place to rest when the kids have fished their hearts out. A decent pontoon is the best of both worlds.

Today, the pontoon business is more vital than any other segment of the boat market. Manufacturers continue to improve their products by adding luxury amenities, innovative features, and deliberate designs to satisfy the taste and expectations of buyers. Let's explore some of the best fishing pontoons available today.

What are the Best Pontoon Boats For Fishing?

Several manufacturers are producing quality pontoon boats specially designed for fishing.

Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 DLX

This reasonably priced pontoon is a small, 18.5-foot pontoon designed as an angler's friend. This pontoon seats seven with aerated live wells, handy underneath storage, and places for rods and drink holders. The L-shaped aft lounge offers room for relaxation or swimming. The retractable Bimini top is easy to secure or deploy, and the boat even comes with Bluetooth stereo.

The two distinct fishing chairs are prominent in the front, with lots of room for casting to the side of the boat. (I love the configuration of the chairs because they are close enough for parents and kids to fish side-by-side. You can set the kids up and have them fish on one side, but you can be close enough to help out when a fish bites). Or, if you need the deck space for other activities, the folding fishing chairs are removable for easy storage. With a simple trolling motor installation (Sun Tracker offers one as part of the fishing package), the Bass Buggy is small enough to navigate even the heaviest shallows but stable enough to get you around the lake without incident.

The pontoon comes with a Mercury 20 ELPT four-stroke engine that provides plenty of torque to get through the water. (There is an option for a 50 HP for a couple of grand more). The boat has a total weight of 1550 pounds (which means five adults with gear is about as much as I would recommend).

Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, owns Sun Tracker boats. Since he acquired the company in 1983, the Sun Tracker company has been a quality manufacturer of fishing boats. The company is headquartered in Springfield, Mo., with the assembly plant located close by in Bolivar, Mo.


  • 18.5 ‘ Boat Length
  • 16 ‘ Deck Length
  • 8’ Deck Width
  • 6 gallons Fuel Tank
  • 24 “ Pontoon Tube Width
  • NMMA certified
  • 10-Year Limited Warranty
  • Nose cone deflectors


  • American Made
  • Easy to navigate
  • Reasonably Priced
  • Plenty of storage for gear
  • Aerated Live well.


  • Not built for rough water,
  • Small enough to get blown around in the wind.


For more information about the Bass Buggy, please see the manufacturer's website.

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Sylvan Fish 820 4 Seat

The 20-foot fishing pontoon made by Sylvan was designed with fishing families in mind. The boat has four fishing stations. There are plenty of places to park a rod and many cupholders. The L-shaped lounge area has a table and a comfortable seating capacity of nine.

The 90 HP motor is hefty enough to power the boat through the water efficiently, although it is lightweight (only 1875 lbs dry weight). The tubes are 23 “ in diameter, which is relatively standard. The 820 Fish accommodates 9 (including the driver) but has a relatively lightweight threshold of 1275 lbs. The fuel tank carries over 21 gallons despite the weight issue so most owners can go a while between fill-ups.

Sylvan has been making boats for over a hundred years and has built a reputation for quality craftsmanship during that time. The boat is perfect for fishing with multiple people who have been building aluminum boats since 1903. The pontoon manufacturer is located in Paris, Indiana, near Sylvan Lake, where the company got its name.


  • 20 ‘ Boat Length
  • 21 gallon fuel tank
  • Pontoon Quality (Aluminum alloy)
  • Deck material - ¾ plywood with a lifetime warranty
  • Lifetime Warranty on Decking, Tubing, and Transoms Year
  • Four Fishing Chairs
  • 90 HP Evenrude Motor
  • Seats nine passengers


  • Made in the USA
  • Good sized motor
  • More than adequate seating arrangements
  • Four fishing chairs
  • Jensen stereo system


  • A lighter weight threshold may limit passengers


For more information, see the manufacturer’s website.

Bennington SV 168SVF - Narrow Beam

Bennington makes luxury pontoon boats with upgraded amenities and quality construction. This particular boat is the smallest of their SV line, with a 15 x 8-foot deck. But it has a lot of extras that make it an excellent choice for fishing or other water activities.

Even though it is only eight feet across, the two cushioned fishing chairs toward the front offer ample room for casting without interfering with your neighbor’s space. There are live aerated fish wells, cabinets for tackle storage, and other amenities designed to enhance and enable the fishing experience.

There is a lounge area in the rear of the boat, with a large L-shaped area and side gate, which makes entry and exit relatively easy.

Bennington boats are smart-looking, with athletic lines designed to sit low in the water. Everywhere you look, you can see the attention to detail (the boat just looks luxurious) which is why Bennington is one of the largest pontoon manufacturers in the country.

Bennington pontoons are made in Elkhart, Indiana, where the company is headquartered. In 2018, the company joined the Polaris family. They offer a lifetime structural and a 10-year plus bow-to-stern warranty.


  • 16.4 ‘ Boat Length
  • 15’ - 11 “ Deck Length
  • 8 ‘ Deck Width
  • HP 40 Max
  • 1,545 lbs Max Weight Capacity
  • 23” Pontoon tube diameter
  • Lifetime Warranty on Structure, ten year plus bow to stern warranty
  • Two Fishing Chairs
  • 40 HP Outboard Motor
  • Seats 6 passengers


  • Made in Elkhart, Indiana
  • Plenty of amenities
  • Two fishing chairs
  • All in one Kicker Stereo System


  • Starts a bit higher not counting options.


For more information, see the manufacturer’s website.

Barletta C22CC

This boat is aptly named the Cast-N-Cruise because it gives owners the best of both worlds. It has a fully-functional fishing station on the stern, with two dedicated fishing seats with plenty of room for anglers to do their stuff. With six rod holders, a live, divided aerated well for fish, and cabinets for gear, this is truly a pontoon built for the recreational fisherman.

The Barletta is a bit longer at 22.5 feet. The 8’ 6 “ beam creates a long sleek look, with lounge seating up front and long on the port side. The boat seats ten and has a maximum weight capacity of over 2000 lbs, significantly more than other fishing pontoons.

The Cast-N-Cruise is powered by a 150 HP outboard motor and has a fuel capacity of 34 gallons, which means it can cruise for a while between fill-ups. The CC line is Barletta’s value boat, but its hard to notice with all the amenities, performance, and luxury items included.

Barletta began in 2017, and the boats are built in Bristol, IN. Even though Barletta is kind of the new boy on the block, that hasn’t stopped the company from rising into a powerhouse in the pontoon industry with over $500 million in sales in a few short years.


  • 23’ - 2 “ Deck Length
  • 8 ‘ - 6” Deck Width
  • 150 HP Max
  • 2046 lbs - Total Weight Capacity        .
  • 23” Pontoon Tube Diameter
  • Lifetime Warranty on Structure, ten year plus bow-to-stern warranty
  • Two Stern Fishing Chairs
  • 150 HP Outboard Motor
  • 12  passenger seating


  • Made in Bristol, Indiana
  • Plenty of amenities
  • Two fishing chairs
  • Fast Rising Company means they are doing something right
  • Offer a Tri-toon model of Cast-N-Cruise.


  • Bigger boat to handle on the water, but more stable.


For more information, see the manufacturer’s website

Ranger Reata 223F

This craft is a pontoon that wants everyone to be comfortable whether they are fishing or not. As far as fishing pontoons go, it is larger than most and has four dedicated fishing stations (2 front - 2 aft), with a dedicated lounge area in the center. The boat has a deck area of over 24 feet and is powered by a max 200 HP Mercury outboard motor with a 52-gallon fuel tank. The boat is a beast on the water, but could have some issues trying to navigate narrow areas where often big fish like to hide.

Each fishing station has specific cabinets and cubbies, cup holders, and rod holders that will make any fisherman drool. Along with Live wells both front and aft and an upgraded Kicker stereo, this boat has a seating capacity of 11 but is limited in its max weight capacity is only a tad over 1500 lbs.

Ranger has built a huge reputation in producing bass boats for over 50 years, and they have transferred much of their knowledge to the pontoon realm. The company produces boats in Flippin, Ark. (yes, that’s where they are made). They are owned by Bass Pro, which also happens to own Sun Tracker.

Now, Ranger builds all types of boats for saltwater and fresh, and the 223F should help niche the company a spot in top-quality pontoons.


  • 22’ - 1 “ - Deck Length
  • 8 ‘ - 5” - Deck Width
  • 200 HP Max
  • 1545 lbs. - Total Weight Capacity
  • 26”Pontoon Tube Diameter
  • Lifetime Warranty on Structure, ten year plus bow to stern warranty
  • Four Fishing Chairs (2 Front/2 Aft).
  • 200 HP Mercury Outboard Motor
  • 52 gallons fuel tank
  • 11  passengers


  • Made in Flippin, Ark.
  • Owned by Bass Pro.
  • Four fishing chairs
  • Excellent reputation for quality boats.


  • Large Motor great for cruising.


For more information, see the manufacturer’s website.

Best Fishing Pontoon Boats
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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