Decking Out Your Aluminum Boat

Give your boat a makeover and reap the fishing rewards it brings

We all have a bit of boat envy in us. For some it is the sight of a bedazzled bass boat skimming effortlessly across the water. Others pine for the spacious platform of the latest walleye rig. But, as we tumble back to reality, and economics, feasibility, and domestic partnerships prevail, we obligatorily concede our yearnings and make do with whatever helps get our lure wet.

The basic aluminum boat is a mainstay on our lakes. Although sufficient to do its chosen chore, simple renovations can dramatically transform your “Plain Jane” into the pride of the waterways.

Deck out your aluminum boat this season for a more fish-friendly rig.
Deck out your aluminum boat this season for a more fish-friendly rig.

All Hands On Deck

As hard as it is for me to believe, my 14-foot Springbok Pro 140 will be celebrating its 24th birthday this season, but it doesn’t look a day over 5! And although it has aged gracefully due to my meticulous regimen of weekly washes and vigorous vacuuming, the various upgrades and renovations I have done has kept its condition current and user friendly.

One of the best additions/updates for an aluminum boat is the construction of a front casting deck. These elevated platforms ease angler movement, viewing of places to cast, and provide room for casting. Building a deck is quite simple with a little knowledge of basic carpentry, and it is also relatively inexpensive.

Decks should be built at least 8- to 12-inches below the lip of your gunnel. This will ensure adequate balance, safety and stability. Measurements are crucial, and if a front bench seat is available, building your deck on top of this ready-made support is suggested.

Use 2-inch x 2-inch pressure-treated wood for the framework.
Use 2-inch x 2-inch pressure-treated wood for the framework.

Use 2-inch x 2-inch pressure-treated wood for framework. Once measured and cut (see images to give an idea of a standard layout design), all ends should be dipped in “end cut preservative” to give protection against early rotting. Use 2-1/4-inch coated deck screws to attach pieces, and if a wooden floor is standard in your boat, fasten the entire assembly to this structure. For those with no wooden floor, extra supports should be constructed so the assembly can sit securely, but unattached on the metal base.

The new deck is constructed of three-fourth-inch plywood. Although marine plywood can be used, the less expensive standard variety has lasted 10-plus-years on my boat.

Make accurate measurements of the boat where the deck is to be positioned, taking into consideration the sloping construction of your bow. A cardboard template is a useful tool for this step, because a simple miscalculation with the real deal can be a costly mistake. In order to look and function its best, the deck should fit snugly up against the existing casing of the boat and any structures it will abut to. Allow room for the carpet that will be covering the deck.

Under deck storage can be created by utilizing the design of your footings.
Under deck storage can be created by utilizing the design of your footings.

Prior to adhering the carpet, holes should be drilled throughout the deck to correspond to the top members of the frame. The number of holes is contingent on the size of deck, but fastening it securely is a priority.

Depending on the layout of your boat, under deck storage can be created by utilizing the design of your footings. I was also able to incorporate an enclosed storage compartment by adding a hinge system to an already fixed front seat area.

Carpet Considerations

Choose a good-quality marine carpet to finish off your deck project. Those that are UV (ultraviolet), stain and water-resistant get the nod. A rubber or plastic-backed style will also hold up to wear greater, and provide waterproofing capability. Carpet can be purchased from marine or boat supply stores or on the Internet (including here at sportsmansguide.com), and is often sold in a standard width and priced by the foot.

Color is a personal choice. My Springbok came standard with a carpeted floor, so I chose to color-match to keep the entire deck and floor uniform the same color.

Allow a 4- to 6-inch overlap when covering the deck with carpet. Adhere carpet with marine carpet glue and use a staple gun to affix edges on back. Once compthe lete, use 2-inch coated deck screws to attach the deck to frame.

A bow-mount trolling motor complements a new deck perfectly.
A bow-mount trolling motor complements a new deck perfectly.

Bow-Mount Benefits

Installing a bow-mount trolling motor is a logical step once your deck is complete. Designed to be controlled by foot or hand, these positioning motors allow an angler complete control of fishing situations — all in a quiet and efficient package.

Obviously, the boat must have a bow-mount platform for the trolling motor, and many boats come standard with it. However, if yours does not, attaching a thick plywood base to the top of the bow point is easy. Ensure that it is sturdy, large enough for the style of motor mount you choose, and is physically possible.

The type of foot-controlled, bow-mount motor you choose is dictated by the size of your boat and deck space you have available. Cable-driven models take up far greater space — both in the size of mount and bulkiness of cable/foot pedal. For smaller boats (especially those in the 14-foot range) the more compact power drive version gets the nod.

Discover a fine assortment of Boating Accessories, including marine carpeting, carpet adhesive, and bow mount electric trolling motors at Sportsman’s Guide.

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