What is a Boat's Draft?

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What is a Boat's Draft?

Your boats draft will be one of the major deciding factors of how shallow you can go in your boat; Sportsman Boats gives us the inside look at what draft is and what the best models are for your specific boat draft needs.

March 3, 2020
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You’re looking at your first boat and you’re reading all this new terminology thinking, “Wow, what does all of this mean, how can boats be so different from anything else?” You’re soon going to find out boats are not too different, there’s just a few terms you need to learn so you know what you’re talking about when you go into the dealership to buy your boat.

Sportsman Boats Blog: "Dock Talk" - A Better Understanding of your basic boat terminology.

So now you’re in the dealership, you’re looking at a few boats and the dealer asks you what kind of draft you need on your boat and you know the answer because you have read "Sportsman Boats Blog: Dock Talk" and now know what draft is. Draft is how shallow your boat's hull can go in the water essentially meaning, it’s the minimum depth you can safely take your boat without hitting the bottom of the hull on the surface below the water.

When we talk about draft there are 3 hull styles we speak of, Skiffs, Bay Boats, and Offshore Boats each with its typical drafts. If you plan to take your boat into the back country in super skinny shallow water, you may look for something like a skiff that needs 3-4 inches to float. If you’re looking to fish shallow flats but also want to make sure you can make a quick hop across the bay on a choppy day a bay boat may be in your future. Most bay boats will allow you that 10-14 inch draft to suite your shallow water needs while also giving you you a comfortable and safe ride in chop. Lastly, for those that just want to go offshore where the water is deep and blue you can look at much larger boats with a much deeper draft.

Hull Style Typical Draft
Skiffs 3" - 4"
Bay Boats 10" - 14"
Offshore 14"+

To answer your dealer's question you tell them you know you want a boat that will handle a shallow draft but still make it across the bay if need be. You’re probably in the market for a smaller bay boat with a shallow draft but one that still has a good "V-hull" entry that sits deep enough to not get tossed around crossing the bay in a little chop. If you’re looking at a Sportsman, the Tournament 214 has the best skinny water capabilities with a draft of only 10 inches. The Tournament 214, was designed for the angler looking to fish the flats when they're hot (good fishing) but be able to make it a litle further out on a calm day. However, if you’re not looking to go super shallow and get up into the flood grass the 214 may not be for you. This is when we would recommend you looking at something like our Masters 227 Bay Boat, it's very close in price with a few more amenities and handles more like a traditional bay boat compared to the Tournament 214.

When comparing these two you'll notice the Tournament series boats are more of a large skiff / bay boat hybrid, designed to get you to your fishing spot very quickly but also go shallower like a skiff would. With our tournament boats you also have the option of installing a polling platform to help move quietly across the flats and not cause damage to important parts of the ecosystems with your props such as seagrass, which is protected by law in some states.

Contrasting that to the Masters 227 Bay Boat where you’re going to be more comfortable going a few miles offshore or staying in some shallow areas of the bay, plus you will have higher gunwales keep you safe you when fighting larger fish.

When it comes to shallow water fishing, you have a lot of great options on the market that, when compared to a Sportsman, may seem less expensive up front. Part of the reason for that is that we offer full-featured boats with less add-ons. All of our boats come standard with things that are optional for most other manufacturers. If you are looking to get out on the water on a budget-friendly top quality boat, consider our Tournament 214SBX. This version of our 214, features the same construction but doesn't have all of the bells and whistles as the full-features Tournament 214.

If you're considering a larger bay boat that will also handle well offshore, you may want to read another great article published by Sport Fishing Magazine. Sportsman Boats is featured in this great article along with some great options from our competitors, “7 Best Hybrid Bay Boats that Fish Inshore and Offshore.

Sportsman Boats Tournament 214 Bay Boat Walkthrough Video

Sportsman Boats Tournament 214 SBX Bay Boat Walkthrough Video