Deck boats borrow a lot of design elements from pontoons, but don’t be mistaken, they’re their own boats. With a mighty speed, a spacious deck, and a sharper, V-shaped hull, deck boats are like an amalgamation of all the features you’d want in a boat rolled into one. How do they stack up against pontoons and other boats like bowriders and center consoles?

Deck boats have a speed advantage over most boats, including pontoons, tritoons, dual consoles, and bowriders. They can also traverse rough waters exceptionally well. They are often more expensive than other boats, they can’t fit as many passengers (in most cases), and you’re better off using another vessel for fishing than a deck boat. Center consoles and dual consoles work especially well for fishing.

In this article, we’ll go much more in-depth with our comparisons, pitting deck boats against the abovementioned vessels. If you’re on the fence about whether owning a deck boat is within your best interest, you won’t want to miss this article.

Deck Boats vs. Pontoons

What Is a Pontoon Boat?

Pontoon boats have a large, rectangular shape. They’re supported by two pontoon tubes on either side. These tubes, often made of inflatable material or metal, provide buoyancy to the boat. In many instances, the pontoon tubes feature several airtight chambers. If one chamber gets deflated, the boat won’t sink. That’s why pontoon boats have a reputation for being practically unsinkable. Don’t get too excited, as these boats can indeed capsize.

The main difference between deck boats and pontoons besides size is the shape of their hulls. As we talked about in the intro, deck boats have a V-shaped hull that lends itself to speedy rides. Pontoons get outfitted with a flat hull that sacrifices speed in the name of stability.

Which Boat Is Better for Fishing?

While deck boats make a decent enough fishing pick, pontoons stand out more for this activity. The speed of deck boats can act as a hindrance in this case, as going too fast can spook fish. Also, the slower you go in a deck boat, the worse your fuel efficiency becomes.

That makes pontoons the better choice. They naturally go slow at no risk of lowering fuel efficiency.

Which One Handles Rough Waters Well?

As we said before, pontoon boats might not capsize often, but it can happen. It becomes even more likely if you ride in rough waters, such as in stormy weather or when the ocean turns to high tide. For that reason, you’re not supposed to take your pontoon in the ocean.

Deck boats can ride in the ocean, but even they don’t do fantastic if the waters get too rough or choppy. Your boat might start rocking, for one. While it’s not likely to tip, nothing is impossible. A wider V-shaped hull will provide better stability than one that’s sharper and more angular.

Which Boat Costs More?

Pontoon boat prices start at $13,000 and go all the way to $60,000. We’d say, on average, you may spend $25,000 for a pontoon boat.

Compare that to deck boats. The starting price for these vessels is $30,000, with the more expensive ones coming with a steep price tag of $80,000. That makes them costlier than pontoons by a decent margin.

Which Boat Goes Faster?

If you don’t modify your pontoon boat, it might go about 25 miles per hour (MPH) on average. Some boats can achieve higher speeds of close to 50 MPH, but you’ll have to go looking for a faster pontoon. They’re not the standard.

The average speed of a deck boat is 50 to 70 MPH. That’s completely unmodified, too.

Which Boat Can Fit More Passengers?

This one depends on the size of the pontoon boat in question. More often than not, pontoons outsize deck boats, so the answer is almost always a pontoon boat. That said, with a smaller pontoon, maybe you can get a dozen people onboard. Deck boats can hold at least 12 people, making the two vessels comparable.

Deck Boats vs. Tritoons

What Is a Tritoon Boat?

The next step up from a pontoon boat, tritoons have three pontoon tubes. There’s the two on either side as well as a third tube down the boat’s center. They have quite a similar look to pontoons, albeit with more grace to their design. The addition of that third tube allows tritoons to achieve speeds you don’t find often in their two-tubed counterparts.

Which Boat Is Better for Fishing?

That’s a tough one. Since the two boats can achieve enviable speeds (more on this shortly), both deck boats and tritoons could theoretically scare fish away. Tritoons also maneuver much more smoothly and efficiently than a pontoon ever could, much like a deck boat.

We would say either boat would suit you fishing just fine, but do remember that deck boats aren’t meant to go too slow.

Which One Handles Rough Waters Well?

Pontoon boats are already some of the most stable vessels in the water due to their two pontoon tubes. When you add yet a third tube like in a tritoon, that stability increases exponentially. That said, most boating experts don’t advise taking your tritoon too far from the shoreline. In that regard, they’re very much like pontoons.

There are no such restrictions with deck boats, so they win this category.

Which Boat Costs More?

We already mentioned that deck boats cost $30k to $60k. Tritoons have an average asking price of $35,000, which makes them about $5,000 pricier than most deck boats.

Which Boat Goes Faster?

Unlike pontoon boats, which can’t hold a candle to deck boats in terms of speed, tritoons can. If they have an engine capable of reaching 165 horsepower (HP), then a tritoon’s starting speed is up to 40 MPH. That’s still slower than a deck boat, but not by much.

Which Boat Can Fit More Passengers?

When you consider that tritoon boats are just a variation of a pontoon, it shouldn’t surprise you that these boats can fit up to 20 people depending on the tritoon’s length. Deck boats can still only accommodate about 12 people max.

Deck Boats vs. Center Console Boats

What Is a Center Console Boat?

A center console boat has an open hull and one deck. These boats stand out for their centered helm. Not all center consoles have a cabin, but the ones that do can be used for overnight trips. You’ll often find this cabin somewhere in the boat’s bow.

Which Boat Is Better for Fishing?

Center consoles are made for fishing. With their narrow shape, pointed front, and open design, you can spend hours patrolling for a catch in one of these babies. Deck boats, as you know by now, aren’t very fishing-friendly.

Which One Handles Rough Waters Well?

Rough waters often bring with them strong winds, which would pose quite a problem for those who own a center console. The very design that makes them great fishing boats also means you’d get pelted with rain and wind since the boat is so open.

It’s not necessarily a matter of stability, then, but your safety and the long-term looks of your boat. If it gets beat up enough, it will start to appear worn down.

A deck boat makes a safer, smarter choice in rough waters.

Which Boat Costs More?

Center console boat prices vary. Some cost $15,000 and others more than $60,000. Still, they’re somewhat cheaper than the $80k asking price of more expensive deck boats. Only by a hair, though.

Which Boat Goes Faster?

Depending on the type of center console you buy and its engine, some can achieve speeds of 70 to 90 MPH. That means they’ll leave even fast deck boats in the dust.

Which Boat Can Fit More Passengers?

With their streamlined shape, most center consoles can squeeze in maybe 10 passengers. Since deck boats can get about two more people, we give them the credit for more deck space.

Deck Boats vs. Dual Console Boats

What Is a Dual Console Boat?

A beloved boat type, dual console boats have two consoles onboard, as the name implies. You’ll find the passenger seat to the boat’s left and the helm to the right. What about the space between the consoles? There you have the deck. Dual console boats often have a lounge area as well, and some even include an interchangeable deck and seating system as well as a fishing deck.

Which Boat Is Better for Fishing?

Like center console boats, dual console boats aide fishermen incredibly well. As we just mentioned, they even include their own fishing deck, something you won’t find on a deck boat.

Which One Handles Rough Waters Well?

Since dual console and center console boats share so many similarities, we would again say they both won’t withstand rough waters as adequately as deck boats. While some dual console owners opt to install a Bimini top for shade and protection, this won’t keep you safe from winds and rain whipping in at sideways angles.

It’s better to stick to a deck boat.

Which Boat Costs More?

The prices of dual consoles doesn’t differ that much from center console boats. That means you’ll save money if you buy one compared to a deck boat, although it’s not tons of cash.

Which Boat Goes Faster?

Dual consoles have a lesser speed than center consoles, as they max out between 45 MPH and a bit more than 50 MPH. Considering deck boat speeds start at 50 MPH, you’ll have a much faster riding experience in a deck boat.

Which Boat Can Fit More Passengers?

Much like center consoles, a dual console boat have room for about 10 people max, which means deck boats still have a higher passenger capacity at the end of the day.

Deck Boats vs. Bowriders

What Is a Bowrider?

Somewhat in the same family as center consoles and dual consoles, the bowrider is a type of runabout. It features an outbound engine, a stern drive, forward seating, and a helm that’s offset. The bow area remains open, so they differ from cuddy boats in that way.

Which Boat Is Better for Fishing?

A watersport-ready vessel, bowriders do better pulling tubers or water skiers than they do with fishing. You can still fish on one of these boats, but you’d probably have an easier, more enjoyable experience on a center console or dual console.

We’d advise you opt for bowriders over deck boats for fishing if you wanted to choose between the two.

Which One Handles Rough Waters Well?

With its V-shaped hull, bowriders will chop rough waves if you come across them. This hull also allows bowriders to survive stronger winds. With the stability and size of a deck boat as well as their similar hulls, these still make for a safer pick in the ocean or stormy weather.

Which Boat Costs More?

A basic 19-foot bowrider may set you back $40k to $45k. On the more expensive end, the price of these boats can get into six-figure territory. While you’re not seeing huge savings, you’re better off with a deck boat.

Which Boat Goes Faster?

According to this article from BoatTest.com from 2018, one of the speediest bowriders, a 24-footer, could clock in 56 MPH. While that’s an achievement, deck boats can still go faster.

Which Boat Can Fit More Passengers?

Bowriders have the smallest passenger capacity, with minimum seating for six. Some have the space for 10 passengers. Again, they don’t quite measure up to deck boats, which can have room for a dozen passengers easily.

Conclusion

Deck boats have some commonalities with boats like pontoons, tritoons, center consoles, dual consoles, and bowriders. In some ways, deck boats are better, but not all. The in-depth information we presented in this article should make your decision of whether to get a deck boat much easier now. Good luck!