Boat Hull Types


Cuts through waves, good in rougher conditions. Less internal space.

Flat Bottom:

Excellent load carry and stability. Rough ride and often wet. Requires low power to run.


Excellent stability and load carrying. Less power required due to a smaller surface area in contact with the water. This applies to pontoon boats as well.


Pushes through water, slow, very seaworthy. Good load carriers. Can roll heavily in rougher waters.

Cathedral (dory):

Planes quickly/easily. Slams in waves. Very stable. Good deck area.

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You can see the four most common boat hull types in this simple drawing. The kind of boats we find ourselves fishing on the most are the ones we call “Round-bottom” or “V-Bottom” boats. The depth of the “v” determines how well the boat handles in deep rough water or shallow inshore water. My boat is most like the yellow one in the middle — it has “strakes” or ridges in the hull to help it handle, and slopes from a “deep-V” on the bow to an almost flat bottom near the stern. It’s a perfect boat for my love of fishing in skinny water and can still handle snotty offshore fairly well while remaining dry. Shape aside, the surface of the bottom of your boat is the ultimate key to how well it handles and moves within the confines of its specific category of hull shapes.

Flat bottom boats

If you have ever been on a flat-bottom boat and on a modern fishing boat, you know the difference between the two. Flat-bottom boats cover the most square footage of any boat design. It creates a rough ride and is often very wet. They are OK for calm and protected areas like small Ponds and lakes, and are designed to use low-horsepower gas or electric motors. Ancient mariners determined early that boats moved better if they had pointed bows, and their movement back towards the stern resulted in v-shaped hulls as the point moved into the water to reduce friction.

Displacement Hulls

These hulls are also known as “planer” hulls. To the marine community, this was the first boat of its type that pushed or cruised through the water and quickly became very popular. The boat has a low profile and more powerful engines actually lifted it out of the water and onto “plane” or top surface of the water. The propeller in these crafts sits a little high in the water and is not completely submerged. They need to provide higher pitch then other boats.

Round-bottom or V-hulls

These are the most common boats you find in the fishing community. They are also displacement hulls, but handle the easiest in higher speeds. They make great fishing boats; both in smaller, more shallow crafts and those designed for deeper blue conditions. Some boats, like bass boats and most of the saltwater boats you see our readers fishing in, are round-bottom or V-hulls and are proven under our conditions. Many offer shapes called “strakes” that are long ridges on the hull designed to further stabilize the boat, which they certainly do.

Tri-hull and Tunnel hulls

These popular hulls are also called cathedral hulls. They have gotten quite popular for fishing, and you definitely see a lot more of them on the water today than you did twenty years ago. The problem I have found with them is that the increased surface on the water makes them somewhat rougher than the modified, straked bottoms on the round-bottom or V-hull boats.


A good friend of mine bought a pontoon boat about ten years ago, and the first year he had it we entered the madness of the Gasparilla boat parade. For the limited distance we had to travel, and considering the water is covered with a majority of drunken boaters, we did remarkably well. They are good for parties and barbecues and drunken pirate water parades, but not all that good for fishing. There are people that love them for angling platforms, especially when there are lots of children involved, and they definitely have advantages when fishing with our disabled angling brothers and sisters.

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