Traditionally, many have thought of aluminum boats as being somehow utilitarian and, well, basic. But that’s changed over that past decade or so, and now aluminum boats are built for every purpose imaginable — from carrying duck hunters into the swamp to screaming-fast bass boats to tricked out bay boats.

To help you decide which of the options is best for your needs, we’ve compiled a list of this year’s best aluminum boats.

The boats in this showcase aren’t all fishing boats, but have attributes that would work well for fishing. Several are standard models, with the availability of a few accessories, and several are built to the owner’s wants and needs beyond the hull.

Unlike with fiberglass, boat builders working with aluminum can easily do one-off pieces and layouts. 

As with fiberglass boats, however, strength, design and construction are focal points for aluminum boats. Lighter and stronger are key characteristics, and these manufacturers are constantly striving to make their boats lighter and stronger.

Lighter translates to better efficiency, while stronger translates to happy, satisfied customers. 

The key to building boats is designing a layout and equipping them with the features owners will want. In this showcase, the bass boat and bay boats are standard models that have incorporated input from fishermen who use their boats, and it shows in the design, layout and livewell, baitwell and other systems.

These vessels were designed from the get-go to be top-of-the-line fishing machines, and they have the preferred features and equipment located where fishermen say they should be. 

The other side of aluminum boats is custom boats. Many aluminum boat builders offer set hull sizes and have buyers lay out the interior with the equipment they prefer.

It takes a little longer, but battery boxes can be installed to handle two batteries instead of one and storage boxes can be made longer or shorter, shallower or deeper as needed. Even livewells and baitwells can be custom installed.

The list is divided into three basic sections: bass boats, bay boats and custom boats.

The custom boats section is further divided into boats with V-hulls and those with flat bottoms. One of the companies included in the custom-boats section builds boats that range to more than 100 feet.

So whatever you might be looking for in an aluminum boat, don’t make the mistake of only thinking of john boats and small, open V hulls. There is a lot more to today’s metal boats.

Bass Boats

Ranger Boats RT188

Bay boats

Alumacraft 2072 Bay

Xpress Boats H22 Bay

Excel Boats 220 Bay Pro

SeaArk Boats Bay Extreme 

Custom Boats V hulls

Hanko’s Aluminum Boats 22 X 7 LS

Scully’s Aluminum Boats 2072 Walk Thru

Custom Boats Flat-bottom and shallow-draft/mud boats

Gator-Tail GTR 37 17 x 54

Gator Trax Boats

Pro-Drive X Series Boats