On loving tillers

by Ray Blades | June 11, 2024
Ray loves tillers

I have enjoyed the waters of this continent as driver or passenger in all types of fishing boats. I have experienced the pros and cons of many watercraft designs. Boats of all kinds, from diminutive inflatable pontoons, sleek canoes and kayaks, multi-species V-hulls, to Great Lakes and ocean trollers, have taken me on many memorable outings over the years.

Once in Texas, I tested out a new bass boat with an industry pro. It was a fancy prototype with an outboard the size of a family car and a gas pedal instead of a hand throttle. It was also a near-death experience, but what a rush.

I’ve trolled for tuna and billfish in the Caribbean without land in sight, ran BC steelhead rivers in jet boats in inches of water, and enjoyed the solitude of fishing from a canoe on a Canadian Shield lake with no one around.

Classic tillers

My favourite type of fishing boat, however, is the ubiquitous tiller — 14 feet of aluminum and 9.9 horses of unbridled power. It’s a classic, and an Ontario staple at so many cottages, hunt camps, and fly-in resorts. In the off-season, they remain a common sight, waiting beneath tarps on urban and rural drive- ways for open water to arrive.

Naysayers will point out what you can’t do with them. They cite big water and high waves. They note you can’t cram a dolly cart full of fishing gear in them. But I like to focus on what makes them special: they are affordable, easy to launch, trailer, steer, fish from, and beach for a shore lunch.

Plus, the range of tillers on the market has expanded dramatically over the years. You can get tiller-specific boats more than 20 feet long, with a six-person capacity and a 250 HP rating.
These days, boat, motor, and trailer packages can exceed $60,000. So, affordability is less of an attribute, depending on the options.

Read “Advantages of tiller boats” below by pro angler Jeff Gustafson. You’ll see the attraction.


Originally published in Ontario OUT of DOORS’ 2023 Fishing Annual 

Ray Blades Headshot 2024

Ray Blades is the Editor of Ontario OUT of DOORS and a lover of wild places and the life-giving magic of hot black coffee. Reach Ray at: ray.blades@oodmag.com; Twitter: @rayOODMAG; Instagram: @ray.blades

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