Are Catamaran Fishing Boats Better? | Great Days Outdoors

Are Catamaran Fishing Boats Better?

By now, most offshore anglers are well aware of the amazing capabilities of power catamaran fishing boats as bluewater fishing platforms, able to safely get out and back in challenging sea conditions, deliver a much smoother ride than most monohulls of equal size, and also save big on fuel costs thanks to planing at lower rpm. The broader beam also adds to fishing space and cuts down on roll in beam seas. 

While most lack the air-conditioned comforts of a big sportfisherman with twin diesels, they also don’t cost nearly as much to buy, maintain or fuel. Catamarans are, by definition, twin-hull boats, likely invented by the South Sea islanders hundreds of years ago. The people who discovered Hawaii are thought to have arrived on cats powered by sail and oar over thousands of miles of open ocean. (Imagine, if you will, starting out on that voyage before the age of even the most basic compass, navigating purely by the stars, the sun and the inherited knowledge of ocean currents.)



Why a Catamaran Vs Monohull?

Catamaran fishing boats benefit from a broad beam resulting from the separate hulls connected by a bridging area that functions as added deck space in most. Modern catamaran fishing boats have two hulls with very sharply tapered bows that are also arched upward, adding freeboard forward and preventing them from “stuffing” the nose in steep seas. The very sharp forward entries slice through waves with less shock than a single monohull of similar capacity, smoothing the ride. 


catamaran fishing boats

Night lighting makes fishing after sundown a breeze.


Power cats are also typically wider than monohulls of similar length, which provides more deck area and more fishing space. A typical 28’ cat is likely to be over 10’ wide. This plus the design of the hulls adds “beam stability”—there’s less rolling in waves coming from the sides. And when several big anglers stand next to one rail, as in reef fishing at times, the boat does not tilt heavily in that direction. 

Put it all together and catamarans have a lot going for them as fishing boats. That’s why they’re steadily growing in popularity, particularly for anglers who fish far offshore. The availability of large, dependable fuel-efficient outboards has also helped boost offshore power cats—they make it possible to get to remote locations faster than most big sportfishers, and at far less fuel cost. Today’s outboards are also notably quieter than diesel engines, and there’s no “station wagon” effect of trailing exhaust smoke for anglers sitting in the cockpit of a center console watching the trolling rods as their sometimes is in a big sportfisher.


Fishing catamarans are generally configured as center consoles or dual consoles, though some companies also offer pilothouse models with overnight capabilities. The open bow configurations make it possible to mount long-shaft electric trolling motors up front. This means the crew can make use of the “spot lock” function to stay put over a productive snapper and grouper reef or a swordfish ledge without the need for handling hundreds and hundreds of feet of anchor line repeatedly. This feature alone gives open-fish designs, both cats and monohulls, a big advantage over sportfish designs when it comes to this type of fishing.

Catamaran fishing boats are noted for getting on plane quickly with very little bow rise and without the application of excessive power, and staying on plane at lower rpm than most monohulls, which can greatly extend the range when necessary. For those who run 100 miles out to an offshore FAD or current zone and then troll all day, this can be critical. They also turn almost flat, with no excessive lean into the turn as with some deep-vee designs. The effect is slightly disconcerting to those used to monohulls, but you quickly get used to it.


catamaran fishing boat

Cats truly shine in long offshore runs to the oil rigs and beyond due to their excellent fuel economy.


Cats are at their best in the sort of chop that can put some monohulls into the air now and then, a two to three foot chop, where the sharp bows slice through the seas to deliver a surprisingly steady ride. They’re not quite so fast as some monohulls at top speed, but their other features more than make up for it, users report.

Fiberglass vs. Aluminum in Catamaran Fishing Boats

While most sportfishing cats have been built of fiberglass, Encore Boats in Sorrento, LA, has been building their models of welded marine aluminum for some three decades, with impressive results. Encore offers models from 28’ to 47’ long, rigged with twin or quad outboards. The availability of 450- and 600-hp outboards now make these boats faster, while still staying reasonably fuel efficient. Jarrett Myers at Paradise Marine Center in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is a huge fan of Encore cats and has sold many of them. Like Encore, Paradise Marine has been in business 30 years, and has seen a lot of boat brands come and go.


power cat

Encore seating is comfortable enough for ladies and non anglers to relax while the fishermen crank up the catch.


“Some people might be concerned about using an aluminum boat in saltwater due to corrosion potential, but there just are not any issues with welded marine aluminum with powder-coated paint like Encore uses,” says Myers. “Don’t forget, most of the boats in the offshore oil industry are made of aluminum, and they last pretty much forever in really tough duty.” In fact, the folks at Encore say their recreational models will float even when completely “holed”, and will survive impacts that would shatter fiberglass hulls many times over.

“For boats that are going to be running hundreds and hundreds of miles in rough seas over many years of use, aluminum stands up a lot better than some fiberglass boats,” says Myers. “Fiberglass can begin to delaminate with the endless pounding after a few years, but aluminum just keeps right on going indefinitely. We’ve seen deck issues, transom issues, stringer issues, de-lamination, you name it in fiberglass boats, but we’ve never sent an Encore aluminum back to the factory for repairs.” 

Myers said the aluminums are generational boats that can be handed down from father to son, with the only change replacing the outboards as they accumulate excessive hours and perhaps upgrading electronics as new capabilities become available. The marine aluminum used in hull construction is an alloy rather than pure aluminum, and the added elements make the finished boat more capable of withstanding repeated impact as well as more corrosion resistant. 

“They also add multiple anodes to the hull, so they pick up any stray current in the water and prevent corrosion,” says Myers. “If you store the boat in the water you need to have an aluminum-friendly anti-fouling paint put on below the waterline, but otherwise just treat it like fiberglass. Rinse it down after every use and you’re good to go.” Aluminum boats are also often lighter than fiberglass models of similar size and construction, which can mean better fuel economy and range. 

“Aluminum construction also means you can add or subtract pretty much whatever you want to while the boat is being built,” says Myers. “There are no molds as in fiberglass, so it’s possible to have custom add-ons and changes right up to the time the welding gets done on an Encore.” The one drawback with aluminum construction is production time. Since the boats are built by labor-intensive welding rather than being popped out of molds, it takes time to finish each hull. 

“If a customer orders a boat we don’t have on the lot right now, it would probably be at least six months before he would be in that boat,” says Myers. “But most think it’s worth the wait. The boats pretty much sell themselves, even to wives and families, because they have really comfortable seating and a lot of luxury touches like that Sea Dek flooring that keeps everybody happy.” 


catamaran fishing boat

With a stepped hull and 700 horses pushing it, this Encore 28 is ready to take to the air.



Fishing Catamaran Final Thoughts

In conclusion, catamaran fishing boats offer a unique and compelling option for anglers seeking an exceptional fishing experience. With their stable and spacious design, these boats provide a comfortable platform for casting lines and reeling in the catch. The dual-hull configuration ensures enhanced stability, allowing anglers to navigate rough waters with confidence.

Additionally, catamarans offer ample storage space for fishing gear and supplies, ensuring that everything is within easy reach. Whether you’re fishing in calm inland waters or venturing into the open sea, catamaran fishing boats provide versatility, maneuverability, and an enjoyable fishing experience. With their combination of performance, comfort, and functionality, catamaran fishing boats are truly a preferred choice for avid anglers.

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