What Are Pontoon Boat Lifting Strakes, and Should You Fit Them?

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Pontoons are versatile as they offer a great way to enjoy watersports, fishing, and even partying. Additionally, for entertainment, they are outstanding aquatic toys that you can take out for a spin with your family and friends to indulge in activities like skiing, sunbathing, and more.

However, if you use your pontoon for skiing or other comparable water sports, you may want to boost its speed and performance. Several owners often express dissatisfaction with the slow speeds of pontoons and are continuously searching for approaches to enhance their boat’s performance.

Improving the boat’s handling and performance can be challenging as it could upset the vessel’s overall balance and cause dangerous behavior in rough conditions. Nevertheless, a potential method to enhance the performance of a pontoon boat is installing lifting strakes.

This article will cover all the essential information regarding lifting strakes, including their pros and cons. We will also discuss whether or not you should consider fitting them onto your boat. So, without further ado, let’s begin.


Lifting Strakes: An Overview

Lifting strakes are curved, V-shaped fins attached to the underside of the pontoon tubes. They are made of sturdy aluminum and can withstand a lot of weight and water pressure. 

Lifting strakes come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the manufacturer and the boat’s intended use. Usually, heavier boats require stronger strakes as they aim to create lift and reduce drag, which can improve the boat’s overall performance. 


Why Are lifting strakes significant?

As a weighty vessel moves through the water, it generates a wake that causes resistance and drag, potentially impeding its speed and handling. Installing lifting strakes along the boat’s underside and sides enables it to ride on a plane rather than sinking several inches into the water upon acceleration. It allows easy maneuvers and provides better control over the boat.  

With less drag, the vessel can move faster, and turn more efficiently, enhancing its handling and maneuverability. Additionally, it can minimize the turbulence effects caused by waves, leading to a smoother and more comfortable ride. 

Another advantage of strakes is that it enhances the vessel’s fuel economy. When a boat moves through the water, the drag caused by the hull creates resistance that makes the engine work harder to generate speed, leading to increased fuel consumption. The lifting strakes, however, reduce the drag by creating lift, allowing the boat to move more efficiently through the water and, in turn, reducing the power required from the engine.

The reduction in drag can also help to lower the boat’s carbon footprint. With less fuel required to propel the boat, there is a corresponding decrease in exhaust emissions, which is beneficial for the environment; a significant factor to consider in today’s environment.


How Do They Work?

Lifting strakes are essentially small foils installed along the sides and bottoms of the vessel. They are designed to create a significant lift while the boat is afloat and reduce the drag, thus increasing speed. Typically, strakes are made of steel and welded to the aluminum frame of the pontoon boat. Their job is to generate lift by redirecting the water flow around the pontoons, which results in reduced drag and higher top speed. 

However, the strakes must be placed strategically because their position and angle play a crucial role in how well the boat performs. Their positioning is determined by the boat’s size, design, weight, and intended use. The optimal spot for the strakes is typically on the outer edges of the pontoons, where they can generate the most lift and reduce drag.

Extreme precision is needed while installing strakes on a pontoon, especially with the angle. If it’s too steep, the strakes will create a disproportionate lift, which can cause the boat to bounce and become unstable. Similarly, the strakes placed on a shallow angle may not be able to provide enough lift to reduce the drag. 


How Much Do They Cost?

Most of the new boat models come pre-installed with lifting strakes these days. However, if you want to install them on your old boat, it can be done with the help of a professional. The installation cost of strakes may comprise the following:

  • The size of the boat
  • The material of the strakes
  • The manufacturer
  • Installation fee

To get a more accurate estimate, you must contact the supplier or boat manufacturer directly and provide them with details about your boat and your requirements. On average, it will cost you $1500-$2000 to install the lifting strakes on a 20-15 feet pontoon. 


Conclusion: Should You Consider Lifting Strakes?

Now the question is whether you should install strakes on your pontoon and if the speed benefits would be significant. The answer to this question largely depends on your specific needs and boat usage. 

Watch this video to under whether you really need the strakes or not:

If you often navigate through harsh conditions in deep waters or engage in water sports, installing strakes may improve the boat’s performance and balance, resulting in added speed benefits. However, it’s worth noting that the cost of installing strakes can be around $2,000, and the speed gains may not be as impressive as other options. 

Instead, consider trimming your engine, adding a third tube to create a tri-toon, under-skinning your boat, or even investing in a new engine if you’re seeking increased speed.



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