Are you looking for a high-performance boat that can take you into the flats for some shallow water fishing? The jet boat is the design patented by Sir William Hamilton in 1954. The kiwi national developed the propulsion system for boating up fast-flowing shallow rivers throughout New Zealand.
The jet propulsion system allowed for easy movement through shallows without the risk of propellers striking sunken logs or rocks. The propulsion system for the jet boat is very different from traditional outboard and inboard motors. These engines have more in common with jet skis, sucking water up through the hull, pushing it through a jet flow system providing prolusion to the watercraft.
Jet propulsion systems were inefficient and unreliable in boats until around 2003 when the industry saw rapid advancements in the technology. Today, jet boat propulsion systems are some of the most sought-after high-performance motors in boating.
Yamaha introduced a hull design with its Yamaha 4-Stroke motor in 2003, changing the game for the industry. These motors are quiet and efficient, and they are more affordable than traditional outboard motors. You have several options for manufacturing brands and models at various price points to suit any budget.
This article unpacks everything you need to know about jet boats.
- What Is a Jet Boat?
- Benefits of Jet Boats
- Disadvantages of Jet Boats
- Top Jet Boat Brands and Models
- Wrapping Up
What Is a Jet Boat?
Most jet boats are mid-sized to smaller models reaching between 16 to 22-feet. The jet motor produces the same thrust concept as a jet ski, using water exiting from the jet at high velocity to push the vessel forward.
It’s a similar concept to holding a high-power fire hose; the hose wants to push you away from the direction of the water flow. If you were standing on a skateboard, the propulsion would drive the board forward, and it’s the same principle for the jet motor.
The jet pump pulls water into a chamber where it’s pressurized and leaves the pump at high velocity. The jet pushes the boat forward at a weight/thrust ratio determined by the weight of the vessel and the amount of thrust generated by the engine.
The hydrodynamic design of the hull and the boat’s weight determine the efficiency of the motor and the amount of thrust required to power the vessel forward. The size of the propeller in the motor determines the engine’s power capacity and the boat’s speed.
Benefits of Jet Boats
Jet boats are versatile for use in a variety of freshwater and saltwater applications. These boats offer you several advantages.
Reach Shallow Water
Since there is no external propeller on a jet boat like you find on an outboard motor, the jet boat can reach very shallow water.
While models with deep v-hulls may run aground, using a Flats boat or center console jet system helps you get to shallow waters to enjoy some fishing without scaring off the fish.
There are no props hanging off the engine that can strike rocks or submerged logs. As a result, jet boats are ideal for fishing in lakes and estuaries where waters are shallow.
Speed and Handling
The jet boat offers you excellent maneuverability since there is no drag from the hull while it skims across the water. The motors are easy to reverse, allowing you to turn it back on full power to bring the boat to an abrupt stop, also known as a “crash stop.”
The jet boat can do maneuvers that prop boats can’t imagine possible. Apart from the crash stop, “the Hamilton turn” is when the driver initiates a “jet spin” by cutting the throttle and turning the wheel hard, opening the throttle in the midpoint of the turn to power out in a sharp radius.
Jet boats are typically between 16-feet and 22-feet in length, making them ideal for hauling on a trailer. Most dealers will include a trailer with your purchase. The boats are easy to launch and pull from the water without any hassle.
Plenty of Accessories for Watersports and Fishing
Jet boats usually come with electronics like fish finders, GPS, and mp3 entertainment systems with waterproof speakers. You get rod holders, gear storage facilities, and dedicated captain’s chairs, and fishing chairs. You also get T-towers for skiing, and the center console design makes it easy for the captain to spot the fallen skier on either side of the boat.
Decent Passenger Capacity
Jet boats usually feature plenty of seating in the bow and aft of the boat, with a center console design for the driver setup. You can carry anywhere from eight to twelve passengers, depending on the length of the boat and the seating configuration.
Fishing and Watersports Capabilities
The jet boat is the ideal crossover boat for fishing and watersports. You get the advantage of sailing into shallow waters for fishing and plenty of power and maneuverability for watersports like wakeboarding. The jets also produce a big wake that’s ideal for wakeboarding and skiing.
Jet boats often come with features like fish boxes, live wells, washdowns, and fishing rod holders for all your gear. There is usually some under-seat storage, and some models feature a center console design with a cuddy for added storage or ahead.
The transom design of the boat provides a built-in swim platform and seating, and you don’t have to worry about your fishing line tangling in the props like with outboard and inboard motors. The swim platform is great for getting in and out of the water, and it doubles as a casting deck for anglers.
Good for Offshore Use
The jet boat comes in several designs, with models available for inshore and offshore fishing. The motors are typically a smaller capacity than outboard motors but offer the same level of performance.
Jet boats are efficient, and you’ll find you don’t use anywhere near the same fuel. Then run quieter than outboards, and they don’t produce as much smell.
Most jet boats feature a lounge-style setup in the bow of the boat. These lounges come with couch-style seating or dedicated seats, with enough space for two to six people, depending on the model. They offer plush seating, and some models also include captain’s chairs.
Disadvantages of Jet Boats
While the jet boat is ideal for fishing and watersports, with powerful performance and excellent efficiency, it does come with a few drawbacks.
Limited Standing Room
The Jetboat doesn’t have much standing room on the deck, even with a center console design. Most models have seating running the length of the boat or dedicated cockpits with seats. The only real standing room is in the rear of the boat and on the swim platform casting deck at the boat’s aft. Unless you’re looking at a dedicated fishing model, casting from the swim platform is your only option.
Most jet boats don’t feature much deck space, and they are more akin to speed boats focusing on seating rather than flooring. However, most models have plush, comfortable seats, and some come with dedicated fishing chairs or fishing chair ports.
Limited Storage Space
While most jet boats have sufficient storage for a day on the water, they don’t offer as much storage capacity as other options like pontoon boats, cuddy cabins, or cabin boats. Most models focus on under-seat storage facilities for your gear.
No Head or Amenities
Some jet boats may feature ahead in the center console, but most models focus on storage rather than heads in the console. While you get entertainment features like mp3 players and waterproof speakers, there are no sleeping accommodations, galley, or refrigeration. Some models may come with a dedicated cooler space or a built-in cooler under one of the seats.
Top Jet Boat Brands and Models
There are dozens of manufacturing brands producing jet boats. Here are our choices for the best models available.
Scarab HO 215 Impulse
The Scarab HO 215 Impulse comes with visually striking white upholstery on the seats and a pearlescent orange interior, providing a contrasting color design that looks appealing. The overall look of the boat is classy, with clean lines and a deep cockpit for added safety.
The boat features a twin captain chair setup with stainless steel bolsters. There is also a lounger with large cutouts for plenty of legroom on board for your passengers. The boat’s bow comes with enough seating to accommodate four passengers, and you get a boarding ladder and an anchor locker.
The Scarab HO 215 Impulse comes with a ten-seater capacity., allowing you to take the family and friends out for a day on the water. This boat has a great crossover design, and it’s ideal for cruising, fishing, and watersports like wakeboarding.
The boat comes with an overhead wakeboard tower featuring a lightweight aluminum design, and you have the option of lowering it to get out of the sun with the integrated Bimini shade. The swim platform at the aft of the boat contains wet storage for your dive gear.
This model features a wakeboard rack for storing your boards and a towrope attachment. Stay entertained out on the water with the boat’s built-in mp3 player and waterproof speaker system.
Yamaha 210 FSH Sport
Fishing-specific jet boats are somewhat harder to find than dedicated watersports boats. However, the Yamaha 210 FSH Sport brings you a specialized fishing package ideal for getting into shallow waters and flats on lakes and estuaries.
This model features dedicated casting platforms in the bow and aft of the boat, with plenty of storage for rods and rod holders positioned strategically around the boat’s perimeter for fishing from all sides. The center console design gives anglers full access to the boat’s length, with the center console making it easy for the driver to control the boat and get a 360-degree of the water.
While this model has a sports-specific design for fishing, it also works as a cruiser. You get comfortable seating and a Bimini sunshade for getting out of the sun. You have options for additional wakeboard towers, and there’s plenty of performance and mobility in the boat for skiing and wakeboarding.
The dual-engine on this model features mounting under the leaning post, adding more deck space to the boat and a clean look. It’s the ideal crossover vessel, with a focus o fishing. The shallow v-hull and draft make it easy to float this boat in the flats for some shallow water fishing.
Chaparral Vortex 2430 VRX
Chaparral is a premium boating brand making some of the best crossover boats for fishing and watersports or just cruising down the river. The Chaparral Vortex 2430 VRX. This model comes with everything your need for a fun day out on the water.
The Chaparral Vortex 2430 VRX is the flagship jet boat in the range, featuring a Bimini sunshade and top, with attachments for wakeboard ropes, offering a high tow point. You get a wide variety of colors, including options in aqua, yellow, lime, green, grey, red, and blue.
This boat comes packed with electronics, including a medallion touchscreen featuring speed-control and Rotax functions for precise control over your fuel efficiency and speed. You also get a handy power setting for easier docking of the boat at the marina.
The 2430 Vortex VRX features Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST), provided by Bombardier. You get fly-by-wire technology for superior throttle control and smooth power curves when accelerating.
The Chaparral 2430 Vortex VRX features dual 4 TEC 200 ECT 200hp Rotax or 4 TEC 250 ECT 250hp Rotax jet engines. You can control both motors through a single throttle lever for easy driving.
Jet boats offer you a great crossover model for fishing and watersports. You get the shallow water capabilities of the bass boat or flats boat, with the maneuverability and stability of the bowrider.
The jet boat model is a top choice if you’re looking for a boat that produces next to no emissions and quiet operation that won’t scare away the fish in the flats. They are remarkably affordable and easy to maintain.