Care for your aluminum fishing boat

Why in the world would anyone buy a tin sport fishing boat? There are many good reasons. They’re affordable, light enough to knock off a sandbar, they’re easy to hook up and take off, they get caught in thin water, and they’re powered by lower-cost, lower-powered outboards. Some have modified V-hulls while others have flat bottoms, but all are great boats.

As with anything, these fishing boats require a little care to keep them floating high and completely dry. Here are some tips for maintaining aluminum fishing boats:

Rivets are the number one cause of leaks. Turn the boat over and examine the rivets. Most of the time, you can determine which rivets need attention. So look for rivets that are loose or rusted. They should be removed and replaced whether or not water can get in. It is a matter of time before they invade. A final step is to coat the rivets and seams with waterproof sealant.

Can’t you find the leak Food coloring added to a boat with water makes it easier to identify leaks. When in the water you will see bubbles or currents moving around the dye. Once in your driveway, you can easily look at the hull below to see where colored water is leaking from the boat. Also try lighting a flashlight in the trailer boat at night. A little bit of light will help make holes easy to spot. Finding pinhole leaks is as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.

Cracks, pitting and crevice corrosion. Most cracks or corrosion can be fixed with an epoxy repair kit available from marine or outdoor stores. If you see a crack, be sure to drill a hole in it. The hole prevents the crack from spreading. Proceed to prep, which includes scraping, sanding, and cleaning. Then apply the patch and let it dry.

Sheer aluminum stains. These places must also be prepared. Sand down the area, wash it with vinegar, and lightly spray it with primer. When the primer is dry, paint it with a rustproof marine floor paint. Spray or roll according to your style.

Solve problems before they happen. Many of us use reclaimed wood to build fishing platforms, rod racks, or storage areas. Make sure the wood you are using is not pressure treated. This wood is treated with copper, and when the copper leaches into your aluminum sport fishing boat it will eat the metal alive.

There are many different types of fishing boats, and tin ships are some of the best. Compared to the joy that their simplicity offers, the maintenance of aluminum fishing boats is minimal. Get it ready now, the season is near.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Take Me Fishing program of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast, was published in January 2011. Visit him at or

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