We all have our list of what we think are the needed supplies for a great day of fishing. Rod & Reel, tackle & bait, maybe a good buddy and a cooler of cold drinks? But what are the best boats for fishing? If you’re lucky, you already own a boat, or your fishing buddy does… If not, you want one, but what kind do you buy?
Dual console? Centre console? The options are endless, and they all have advantages.
When it comes to choosing a fishing boat, determining what you need and deciding between fiberglass and aluminum is only the tip of the iceberg.
In today’s world boats come with a large amount of options in terms of interior layouts with dual consoles, and center console floor plans all competing for a buyer’s attention. To make the decision even harder we are now limited on our viewing options. Realistically most boats in 2021 will be bought sight unseen. So how do you decide what’s right for you especially when a test drive and potentially even a walk through are out of the question?
What is a Dual Consoles and what are the advantages:
A dual console is considered one of the most popular types of boats purchased and, on the water, today. The term dual console refers to the deck holding two consoles on each side. On the starboard side, you have the driver’s seat or helm, while a passenger seat is provided on the port side.
A dual console provides a familiar, automotive-style steering wheel that is more comfortable to use with higher horsepower outboards, especially when combined with some sort of power steering or no-feedback system.
Similar to a car, the dual console places all of the engine gauges like the speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure and fuel level on the “dash” right in front of the driver. Just like in a car in this position they are easily seen while still providing space for a GPS, fishfinder, chartplotter and more.
Some dual console set-ups also allows the use of a gas pedal-style throttle control instead of side lever. All this functionality is provided while eating up a minimal amount of floor space – something that’s especially important in smaller boats.
Dual console boats take all the advantages of a side console model by adding a second console for the passenger along the port side. Portside consoles provided the added benefit of adding secure storage space for valuables like wallets, cell phones and keys while giving both the driver and passenger protection from the wind blasting in your face while speeding from one spot to the next. A dual console designs can use a “double bubble” type of windshield arrangement with each console topped by its own independent windscreen, or a full walk-through windshield for even greater protection from the elements. Some boats extend this even further with a retractable bow gate to close off the area below the glass for the ultimate in occupant comfort, allowing owners to comfortably extend their season earlier and later into the year.
Larger dual console models can offer a surprising amount of secure storage space in the passenger side,or a discreet head compartment – something that will always appeal to the ladies onboard.
Between the two consoles, you will find an open space that can be used for walking from front to back. At the front and back of most console boats, you will also find a lounging area where passengers can relax.
The dual console boat is designed for comfort, it may have a fishing deck or an interchangeable seat/deck system deliver excellent comfort while allowing boat owners to enjoy all of their favorite water based activities and fun in the sun.
So, why isn’t everyone buying dual consoles with all these amazing features? The trade-off is that where one console eats up a certain amount of deck space, dual consoles gobble up even more. That’s why they’re most often seen on larger boats above 17 feet, and especially those with wide hulls that can afford to give up a bit of real estate for greater comfort. I guess you could consider this a pro tip or at least something to consider if you are a very serious fisherman… some Anglers sometimes find boats with particularly tall walk-through windshields interfere with casting space when fishing from the front deck.
What is a Centre Console and what are the advantages?
A Center Console boat simply put is any boat that has its steering station (console) in the center of the boat. Originally popularized on large saltwater fishing boats used by anglers heading far offshore, center consoles offer the benefit of providing unrestricted, 360-degree access to the water all around the boat. If you’ve ever hooked a big one, you quickly discover that the fish simply doesn’t care that you prefer to work from one side of the boat or the other. So when you hook the big one on a centre console you can literally follow the fish as it circles the boat without ever having to reach over a windshield, climb over seats, or deal with any other obstructions. It’s not just anglers who appreciate this capability, which is why center consoles have grown increasingly popular with divers as well.
On larger boats over about 22 feet, centre consoles may be large enough to allow the inclusion of a head compartment – a definite plus when you’re far offshore, or on a lake with limited access to restrooms. And with the weight of the occupants balanced over the boat’s centreline, centre consoles can be used with high power engines – or multiple engines on bigger boats.
While we raved about the secure storage options on a dual console you need to consider that all modern boats have come a long way to allow for more storage and really you are considering form and function over storage. Center console boats tend have a “better” feel and flow.
From bait wells to rod storage, a centre console boat will typically contain forward, central, side and aft storage areas that are placed in useable and practical locations. These storage options may not be at your fingertips but they are extremely functional in design.
Often overlooked, centre console boats offer undeniable and advantageous balance. If you often speed along, you will find having the ability to distribute passengers evenly while you alone are being centred helps to stabilize the boat. This provides considerable advantages over other configurations.
Visibility is also a great thing to consider. More buyers are expecting their boats to serve double duty. Family fun as well as hardcore fishing! A centre console boat isn’t any safer than any other set up, but visibility is certainly improved which helps the driver have a clear view of what potential problems might be ahead.
The disadvantages to a centre console are that it’s located right in the middle of the boat, forcing occupants who want to move forward and aft to negotiate comparatively narrow passageways along each side of the boat. They also tend to offer less occupant protection compared with dual console designs – not a big deal in sunny Florida, but very much a consideration when venturing onto the Great Lakes on a cool October morning.
So what will it be –dual consoles or centre console?
The biggest factor in choosing the best layout is the size of the boat, since it directly impacts how much floor space will be lost when adding consoles. On a big boat, it’s less of an issue than it is on a 17-footer.
How you wish to use the boat is another deciding factor. Those who enjoy fishing early or late in the season often gravitate toward dual console boats regardless of size, simply for their greater protection against the cold.
You should also take time to consider what technical options you might like and other options you might like to include in the boat.
If you’re often out with the ladies or you plan to be out on the water for long periods of time, the option of having a head onboard will definitely impact your decision.
The good news is that buyers have never had so much choice, so finding exactly the right boat is just a matter of taking a good look at what you need out of the boat.
If your wanting to buy in time for the 2021 season than your options are becoming limited. You need to shop now while there are still a few customizable options available! Most boats are on order or in production already! What your dealer has on order is it!
In 2021 there is no test drive first, and rarely will a dealer have a boat in stock to tour. Models and features are going to be first come. So take stock of your needs and talk to a brand expert today! Buying a boat for 2021 is unlike any previous boat buying experience, you need to do your homework and trust your dealer.