Offroad touring + an aluminium fishing boat = your ticket to good times! 

A simple trailer boat tinnie is all you need to get amongst some hot Top End fishing action.

While there’s certainly no shortage of landbased fishing options on offer around the country, it can’t be denied that a basic, lightweight tinnie or aluminium boat is one of the best investments a travelling angler can make.

For the price of a couple of high-end rods and reels, a secondhand tinnie will open up creeks, rivers and other waterways that a landbased fisho wouldn’t otherwise glance twice at.

Once you’ve gotten your head around the launching procedure and basic safety protocol, fishing out of a small tinnie doesn’t have to be a whole lot more complicated that a session off a beach or jetty, but the amount and quality of fish that can be encountered can be truly impressive.

If you’re new to the boating game, it’s a good idea to start small. Just as you wouldn’t advise a P plate driver to go straight out and purchase a brand new 4WD, a basic secondhand tinnie is the right place to start for those contemplating their first boat. There’s plenty of time to upgrade and improve down the track once you’ve found your sea legs.

For those that do a lot of travelling, the choice will likely come down to purchasing either a lightweight rooftopper, or a slightly larger trailered tinnie.

You will need to figure out which option suits your current touring setup best – if you prefer to tow a camper trailer, a rooftop tinnie will be your best option, whereas if you like to run a rooftop tent on top of your vehicle, towing a trailered boat will obviously work better.



A lightweight rooftopper is the perfect affordable introduction to the world of portable fishing craft.

While a lot of first time buyers are nervous due to the reputation of a boat being ‘a hole in the water in which money is thrown’, it’s definitely possible to keep costs down if you’re prepared to keep things simple.

At its most basic level, an aluminum fishing boat doesn’t need to be much more than a floating motorised platform from which to go fishing.

You’ll need to keep it clean and tidy and have the engine serviced and occasionally repaired, but apart from that you don’t really need to add much more than a couple of rod holders and an icebox before you can hit the water and start catching fish. Save the expensive electronics for down the track.

Gumtree is a great place to search for bargain fishing boats, as plenty of people have boats collecting dust in their garages that they’d like to move along. Your local buy, swap and sell pages on social media can also turn up occasional good deals.

I purchased a 3m tinnie for a few hundred bucks at my local council auction. It was just a basic hull that needed a sand back and coat of paint, but it’s perfect for travelling with and allows me to explore creeks and rivers up and down the coast, while fishing for flathead, bream, jewfish and bass, and it’s perfect for setting mud crab traps in the mangrove creeks up north.



A rooftop tinnie is the cherry atop this magnificent touring rig.

Rooftoppers are perfect if you’re after a small, lightweight craft for occasional use in creeks and other calm waterways.

They’re perfect for spots with tight access or without boat ramps, and they’ve got the obvious bonus of allowing you to tow a camper, caravan or other trailer while travelling.

Cons are that they’re generally too bulky and heavy to be launched or packed away solo, so generally require two blokes whenever they’re going to be taken down, used or loaded.

It is possible to fit your vehicle’s roof with a roller system that allows for solo loading and unloading, but most users still prefer to have a second person on hand.

If you love creek and river fishing and prefer to keep things simple, a rooftop tinnie would likely be a great addition to your touring setup.

If you keep your eyes out for a bargain, you can pick up a little tinnie for well under a thousand dollars, and an electric motor or lightweight 2-5HP outboard motor doesn’t have to cost much more.



A knockabout tinnie + a reliable fourby allow access to some pretty rough and remote waterways.

If you’re a little more serious about your fishing and like to have the option of fishing larger bodies of water and potentially heading offshore, a trailered tinnie is most likely what you’re looking for.

While there are still plenty of bargains to be had in this sphere, when heading further offshore all the usual risks involved with boating are amplified. It becomes more necessary to invest in newer, better quality vessels and motors, as well as safety and communications gear that can increase your total outlay.

With all forms of boating, it’s absolutely necessary to be well informed of the rules and regulations in place where you live and anyplace you plan to travel. Boating and maritime rules vary from state to state and are enforced differently around the country.


Trackside repairs can indeed be a reality of this type of touring. Pro tip: carry spare bearings for your trailer when heading away anywhere remote.



Check out the following sites to download boating safety handbooks and familiarise yourself with the maritime safety requirements in each state.








This is why we do it! The reward for towing a trailer boat into some of the NT’s most remote, pristine waterways.



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