Alumacraft Waterfowler 15 Review
As the name suggests, Alumacraft’s Waterfowler 15 is a jon boat that can serve as a fishing boat but also is intended for duck hunting. The shallow draft and camo paint allow you to get into those shallows and weeds quietly, easily and unnoticed. This is part of the alumacraft waterfowler series models which includes the alumacraft waterfowler 15 tl and the 16 among others.
Features of the Waterfowler 15
The Alumacraft Waterfowler doesn’t have a ton of features but, compared to some other jon boats of a similar size, it does offer you a bit more diversity than you may be used to and that’s something that makes it standout. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.
- Courtesy Light
- Easy access switch Panel
- Aft Storage for guns and gear
- Volt Trolling Harness
- Aluminum Transom
- Keel Breaks
- Mod V Bow
- One Piece Hull
- Single Stage Metallic Paint
- Stainless Steel Transom Eyes
- Bilge Pump
- Stowable Running Lights/Nav lights
- Length: 15’2”
- Beam 5’7”
- Draft 1’
- Max HP: 25 mph
- Dry weight: 325 lbs
- Max person capacity: 3 people or 719 lbs
In addition to the standard features there are a few choices for optional equipment for a Waterfowler as well.
- Camo paint exterior or interior spray-in camo liner
- 15 gallon livewell
- A variety of engine options
Performance and Handling
Though the handling of the Waterfowler 15 isn’t bad, it really depends on your motor and where you’re fishing. Because of the overall weight of the boat and the potential weight of the engine you mount, you need to watch that transom height. I tried one a few years back and my biggest memory of that boat was how the prop got caught up in some weeds, we stopped suddenly, and the entire back end nearly swamped.
The transom height is low on the Waterfowler and that means you need to be careful with weight distribution and engine size. The specs say it’s rated for 25 hp and you don’t really want to test that. I read about someone with a Go Devil that pretty well sank their boat as a result.
One thing I’d suggest is not going for a smaller engine than recommended. Try this with 15 hp and you’ll be crawling through the water like a one-legged dog. Alumacraft did their testing on this one and that 25 hp is right in the sweet spot that’ll get you moving but not weigh you down too badly.
A 25 hp engine with you, another hunter, some decoys and your dog on board and you can maintain 20 mph or so, which isn’t too bad overall.
You need to balance your weight well to ensure your ride is smooth here. The boat is rated for 3 people or about 719 lbs and I’d definitely limit it to two people tops. It’s a little sketchy when you get more weight on board.
Overall the boat does handle well at low speeds and the layout makes it easy to handle your outboard or a trolling motor to get where you’re going. If the water gets rough, prepare for a bit of effort to keep it on an even keel, so to speak as it does handle a lot worse in bad weather.
If you want mostly heavy duty then you have found your vessel. This boat is pretty solid and can handle scrapes and dings in the shallows better than many similar vessels. It’s sturdy enough that you can expect it to hold up for many seasons with proper upkeep and maintenance. That said, the hull thickness and freeboard thickness is 0.080” aluminum.
If you plan to go hard, maybe look for something a little sturdier that comes in at a stronger gauge. I have heard at least one story of someone packing up and absently tossing their anchor onto the boat which was upside down and draining. The anchor managed to pierce a hole right through the hull. It was a silly thing to do for sure, but it might not have happened with a thicker hull. Of course, you could just be careful, too.
The Waterfowler is marketed as a fishing boat but it’s also serviceable as a fishing boat as well. The general layout and design is definitely more geared towards hunting as evidenced by things like gun storage. For that reason, while you could easily use it for fishing it’s not like a full multi-use vessel you’ll be using to host afternoons on the water with family and friends and then the odd hunting or fishing trip later.
Comfort and Convenience
Storage on the Waterfowler 15 is pretty decent. If you like to duck hunt with your dog, you’ll be happy about the gun storage keeping them out of the way of your dog’s legs which can be a problem on other jon boats.
The seating is about what you’d expect from a jon boat. Is it the lap of luxury? Not hardly. You might find your back and butt a little sore after a while. If you can do some mods for better seating definitely consider it. Otherwise make sure you’re packing a cushion of some kind for a bit of relief.
There’s a good amount of room on deck here if it’s just two people so you’re never going to feel cramped, which is nice.
The boat’s not light, as you can see, but if you’re stuck in some reeds it’s not too terribly hard to drag it out again. Once you’re on land, of course, getting it dragged up to shore can be a little harder given the bulk. Total weight with gear, motor and hull you’re looking at 500 to 600 lbs easy. So it’s definitely a little bulkier than it looks at first glance. Some hunters like a boat they can drag around in small water but this may not be it if that’s your intention. Again, not impossible, but there are lighter boats out there.
As we saw above there are some options that can affect the price of a Waterfowler 15, most notably the engine options. Alumacraft no longer offers the Waterfowler 15 on its website but you can find them for sale at a number of retailers, usually starting at around $8,000.
If you’re in the market for a used one, and there seem to be plenty around, you can probably pick one up for $1,000 to $3,000. Many of the used ones I’ve looked at are still in great, usable condition but you’ll definitely want to make sure you have a good, functional motor to go along with it. If you can’t find a price, call the seller to double check because there are some good deals for older models.
Pros vs Cons
Now that we’ve covered the details, let’s break it down into pros and cons.
- Roomy boat for one or two hunters and maybe a dog. You won’t feel too cramped
- Good amount of storage plus gun storage is a real upside as well.
- Decent handling with the right engine
- The boat is fairly tough with an all aluminum hull that’s built to last
- Low transom height can lead to swamping if you’re loaded too heavy.
- By the same token it’s tough to get on plane with a lot of weight on board
- Specs say you can handle 3 passengers but you’ll absolutely drag with that many people on board
- Can be hard to handle in rougher weather
- Price point may be a little high for what you’re getting
Do We Recommend It?
The WaterFowler 15 by Alumacraft boats is a sturdy little aluminum boat that can handle some abuse. It’s heavy, so you’ll need to watch your weight, but with some blinds and some decoys you can set up a good day of hunting out in the reeds and be pretty comfortable overall.
I’d recommend this for someone who is more of a casual hunter than someone really invested in the sport. If you’re all in as much as you can get, I think there are some better models out there with more features and stronger engines that can give you what you need with less concerns like swamping, weight distribution and so on.
It’s not a bad boat by any means, it’s durable and reliable and if you’re a casual hunter then definitely, I’d recommend giving it a look. But if you have the budget and the internet, I’d look at some rivals as well as see which ones really meet all your needs.
Categories: Jon Boats