The aluminum boat is a reliable workhorse. With the right care and maintenance, an aluminum boat can last upwards of 50 years. And because they’re inexpensive, there’s really no wonder why they’ve become so popular among budget-conscious anglers.
But because they are pretty cheap, they’re also pretty basic. Aluminum boats are notoriously cramped, making it tough to achieve the perfect cast. So to upgrade your aluminum boat and improve your fishing experience, we’re helping you figure out how to build a casting deck in an aluminum boat.
What You’ll Need
Although it might seem like a major DIY job, it’s actually pretty easy to build a casting deck. A quick run to your local hardware store should set you up with all the necessities required for the job. Heck, you might even have all the stuff required right there at home.
Here’s what you’ll need:
This sheet has to be big enough to create a template of the actual casting deck you plan to build. You could always just use a cardboard box and unfold it so that it’s the right size.
This will serve the purpose of the surface of the casting deck. Keep in mind that thinner sheets might be precarious to stand on. We recommend using at least 12mm thick sheets.
Check out the 3/4" Marine Grade Plywood.
You’re going to need these for building the structural support under the plywood. The amount depends on the size and style of your boat.
We recommend the Maple Lumber Board (28 x 70mm).
Marine carpet creates an anti-slip surface to give you a more stable stance while you’re casting from your casting deck.
We like the Cuda Powersports Boat Trailer Bunk Carpet.
Jigsaw Power Tool
Check out the Bosch 18-Volt Lithium-Ion cordless jigsaw power tool as it's compact, lightweight and it comes with a LED light to increase visibility.
We recommend the Komelon Self Lock 25-Foot Power Tape as it's easy to use and the locking system is extremely handy when doing measurements alone.
This Black+Decker Cordless Power Drill is really versatile as it comes with 30-piece accessories. The lithium ion battery can hold a charge for up to 18 months.
Sanding Tool or Sandpaper
To keep your casting deck protected from moisture damage and rot, tung oil provides a natural seal that’s easier and safer to apply than chemical sealants and treatments.
Check out the HOPE's Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish.
Paint Brush and Staple Gun
We find these Pro Grade Paint Brush Set is suitable for all types of surfaces and the bristles are of premium quality.
We also recommend this Heavy Duty Staple Gun from Yeahome as it is easy to use with a steel handle and a over-molded grip to help with easy operation.
How to Build Your Casting Deck
Now with all of the stuff you need within reach, you can get started on the building process. If your handy, you might be able to finish the job in one afternoon. But if you’ve still got a lot to learn in terms of DIY boat upgrades, then you might want to clear up your weekend schedule.
Here’s how to get it done:
Create a Cardboard Template
Take your cardboard sheet and lay it over your deck. Using a pencil, trace the borders of the deck space. Your objective is to cut out the cardboard so that you can create a template that provides you an accurate measure of your aluminum boat’s deck interior.
You’re also going to want to make sure that your cardboard template is the right size to represent the actual deck you plan to build. Most boat owners cut the size of the casting deck at the length of the boat seat closest to the bow.
Take any features of your boat into consideration to make sure your plywood will fit properly later on. If there are any parts that jut out from the interior walls, or if there are any features that need a way through (like wires or a trolling motor), then you’re going to have to mark those out on your cardboard template.
Cut Out Your Plywood Sheet
Now that your template is ready, lay it over the plywood sheet and trace around it. But before you get cutting with your jigsaw tool, leave a space of about 3/4 of an inch around the edges of the plywood cutout.
This extra space gives you room to tuck in the marine carpet material that you’re going to use to wrap your casting deck with later in the process. Make sure to lay the plywood sheet over the boat once you’re done to make sure it fits right. You can add pieces to the edges to achieve a better fit if necessary.
When doing this though, avoid simply sticking them on with adhesive. While wood glue can be pretty strong, it can give way when you try to step on it with the whole weight of your body. Instead, cut out the small pieces and drill them to place against your plywood sheet to create a more structurally stable surface.
Prepare the Framework
Measure out the space at the bow of your deck to see how the framework would fit best. Most boat owners recommend keeping them close to the boat seat to give the deck more support underneath. Keep in mind though that the design of the framework depends on the style and size of your boat.
Then take your wood studs and cut them down to size. To make a stable casting deck, make sure there’s a longer wood support piece at the long side of the casting deck and several support beams underneath the central surface area.
A word of caution though: adding too many wood studs to the bottom of the deck could compound the weight of the structure all together. When things get too heavy, it could have a negative effect on the stability of your boat, putting more weight at the bow. This won’t only overwork the motor, but might also pose a problem in terms of safety.
Assemble the Structure
Now you can secure the wood studs together and to the plywood sheet. You can continue to add beams underneath the plywood casting deck where you think it might be necessary to provide added weight bearing support.
Drill the pieces into place to guarantee a secure fit. You might also want to try fitting the structure into its place on the boat every so often to make sure it will fit just right. When it’s all drilled together, you can use sandpaper or your sanding tool to smoothen out the surfaces and the edges.
Treat the Wood
Plywood and wood studs aren’t water proof, and they can become waterlogged and rotten after just a few trips out to the water. So it might do you well to treat the wood to make it more resistant against water damage.
One boat owner used tung oil to seal the wood and protect it from moisture. Use a standard paint brush and apply a generous coating of tung oil to all of its surfaces, nooks, and crannies. Dry the coating before you move on to the next step.
You also have the option to use chemical sealers but they typically take a longer time to dry and cure. Tung oil provides a natural finish and sufficient protection as long as you’re careful to apply the oil into all of the exposed areas and parts of the wood.
Wrap the Structure in Marine Carpet
Lay your marine carpet front side down and then place the casting deck over it with the front side down as well. Cut the marine carpet around the casting deck so that there’s about an inch of excess around all of the edges.
Take your staple gun and work around the casting deck, securing the edges of the carpet to the plywood material. Keep the carpet taut, and make small cuts around the edges to make the material lay flat against the wood where necessary.
Again, fit the structure into the boat regularly to make sure that it’s the right size. If there are edges that are too snug after placing the marine carpet, you can take off the staples and sand down the edge to make it fit the boat’s interior space.
To protect the boat bench underneath the casting deck, some boat owners add excess marine carpet to the underside of the structure. This prevents the wooden parts from scuffing against each other and causing damage through friction.
Tips for Building a Casting Deck
Building a casting deck can be pretty easy, but it’s not without its fair share of challenges. If you want to make sure you’re doing it right, keep these tips in mind when you get started on your weekend project:
- Always place the casting deck into the boat after each step to make sure that it fits well.
- When building the framework, make sure that every area of the surface where you might stand gets sufficient support.
- Don’t just glue pieces down. Moisture can eat away at adhesive over time and cause your casting deck to fall apart.
- Take any on board features into account. You can cut out holes on the casting deck if you intend to install a trolling motor to the bow.
- Choose lightweight materials. Anything too heavy could impact the stability of your aluminum boat.
Ready for a Day of Fishing?
It can be struggle to cast your line sitting on a cramped aluminum boat, but you can change that with just one weekend and some power tools. If you weren’t quite sure how to build a casting deck in an aluminum boat, this guide should set you off in the right direction. Upgrade your aluminum boat with a removable casting deck and experience fishing minus the space restrictions.