Choosing a new fishing boat is no easy task; whether you’re attracted to center consoles, you like casting from bay boats, or you need the protection provided by a boat with a cuddy cabin, there are countless variables to take into account. Would you choose stability over wave-handling, or is the opposite true? Do you prioritize maximum deck space over seating and comfort? What about built-in accessories? And, of course, there’s price to consider. Here are 10 top fishing boats for inshore anglers, which all have a unique characteristic or two that makes them top picks.
Cobia 201 Center Console
For those of you with little kids, the 201 will be a big contender. This is one of the smallest boats of its size to have gunwales tall enough to catch an adult at hip-height, and keep a child safely contained in the cockpit. True, that means lots of windage and a long stretch when landing fish, but Captain Dad will consider those small prices to pay for peace of mind. Added bonus: there’s a head inside the console compartment. Check out listings for the Cobia 201 right here on boats.com.
Read our full review, Cobia 201 Center Console: Fishing for Confidence.
Glacier Bay 22
If you have a bad back or simply don’t appreciate being beaten up, the Glacier Bay 22 is a boat you’ll want to take on a sea trial. Preferably, in the roughest possible conditions. This powercat has the smoothest ride around, reducing wave-impacts dramatically when compared to most monohulls. Plus, the square-ish shape gains you lots of extra deck space, and a half-dozen anglers can cast without bumping elbows. But to get the smooth ride you’ll have to put up with a side-to-side wobble that can be annoying, in a beam sea. This model is no longer in production, so you can only buy them used, but luckily there are plenty of listings for the Glacier Bay 22.
We don’t have a full review of this model right now, but we do have a review on its bigger brother, the Glacier Bay 260.
Grady-White 191 CE
Do you look at a boat as an investment? You can stop laughing now. We all know that boats devalue faster than old bait, but there are a couple of brands which better maintain their value—and one is Grady-White. Yes, you will have to lay out a lot of cash up-front; fully rigged and ready the 191 CE can top $60K. But you’ll be in for a much better return than usual, when you go to sell the boat. If, that is, you ever decide to sell it. Not only does this model serve well for bay angling and light-tackle casting, it also has a few very unusual perks: the bowdeck converts into a huge sunpad, it has seating for seven, and with a Yamaha F200, it breaks 50 MPH yet has a most-efficient cruise that nets five MPG. Fit and finish quality is at the top of the heap, and even though the boat’s small everyone will know you choose the best of the best. If you’re ready to look at some Grady-White 191 CE listings, that’s no problem.
Read our full review, Grady-White 191 CE Coastal Explorer: Mighty Mouse.
Mako 21 LTS
If you need a cross-over bay and flats boat that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the Mako 21 LTS will be a top contender. Yes, you can see evidence of cost-cutting in the plastic compartment liners and below-the-deck finish. Sure, the standard equipment list could use a bit of beefing up. But this is a competent 21-foot fishing machine that comes in a boat-motor-trailer package (with a 150 HP Mercury Optimax) for a nationally-advertised MSRP of—are you ready—$33,995. That’s half the cost of some fishing boats this size (and some even smaller, noting the boat we just looked at), and it earns the 21 LTS some serious cred. Look at these Mako 21 LTS listings, and see if you don‘t agree.
Read our full review, Mako 21 LTS Light Tackle Fishing, Heavy-Duty Value.
There’s a certain beauty in simplicity, and the Parker 1801 center console brings it into focus. It’s designed and built in a very traditional manner, and other than the powerplant, lights, and livewell, there really isn’t much that can break or go wrong on this boat. That may mean you have to do without a lot of the creature comforts we’ve become used to seeing on boats, but it also means a lot less equipment failure and maintenance costs—not to mention a lower initial investment. Spartans: rejoice, and see listings for available Parker 1801’s online right now.
Read our full review, Parker 1801: A Fine Coastal Fishing Craft.
It’s tough to combine fishing and family into one SUV of a boat, but Robalo does a pretty good job with the R245. Sure, there’s less fishing room than a center console would provide. But, hey—you get a cabin. No, the big aft seat won’t help you catch more fish. But hey—you get a big seat in the stern. For many of us who have to walk the fine line between “yeah, buddy” and “yes, dear” the R245 is the perfect answer. So maybe it’s time to visit some Robalo R245 listings.
Read our full review, Robalo R245: Walkaround Juggernaut.
Ranger 2510 Bay Ranger
If you want the biggest, baddest, red-hottest new bay boat on the water, the Ranger 2510 Bay Ranger is going to be a top contender. It breaks 50 MPH (with 300 horses on the transom), has a whopping 320 quarts of fishbox capacity, boasts 40 gallons in the livewell, and has oodles of onboard rod and tackle stowage. Construction is top-notch, with touches like a pultruded transom, gasketed/guttered hatches which swing up on gas-assist struts, and a foam-cored stringer grid. Yes (sigh,) you do have to pay top dollar for top-notch, and rigged to the teeth with options this boat can break the three-figure mark. If your bank account can take the pain, visit these Ranger 2510 Bay Ranger listings.
Read the full review, Ranger 2510 Bay Ranger: Cut to the Chase.
Pathfinder 2600 HPS Bay Crusher
Hold the emails and the phone calls—I realize this one’s out of alphabetical order. But those of you who just read about the Ranger 2510 are going to need to learn about the Pathfinder 2600 at the same time. These two fishing machines are priced competitively, offer similar amounts of fishing space and fish stowage abilities, and will be in a shoving match to claim the mantle of King of the Bay. The Pathfinder is 1’7” larger, and has a serious edge when it comes to performance with 50 more maximum horses on the transom and a top-end that breaks 60 MPH. It also has eight more gallons in the livewell plus a 15-gallon mini-well in the bow. But the Ranger has 20 more gallons of fuel capacity, and comes with some eyebrow-raising standard features: the custom-matched trailer (with aluminum wheels, swing-away tongue, stainless-steel fenders, and oil-bath hubs); underwater LED lighting; and power-vented rodboxes. Ready to let the battle begin? Here are the Pathfinder 2600 Bay Crusher listings for you to look at.
Read our full review, Pathfinder 2600 Bay Boat: All Hail the King.
This boat is a top pick for its phenomenal wave-splitting abilities combined with a tough-as-nails disposition. If you’ve ever punched an inlet or crossed a snotty bay with a Regulator underfoot, you already know that their Lou Codega designed deep-V hulls are among the best when it comes to taking on a head-sea, and when powered with a single Yamaha F300 four-stroke, the Regulator 23 is also a lot sportier than you might think. Plan on a cruise over 30 MPH and a top-end in the upper 40’s. The down-sides? There isn’t an over-abundance of cockpit space for a boat of this length, and Regulators command an impressive price tag whether new or used. Check out some Regulator 23 listings, to see for yourself.
Read our full review, Regulator 23: High Performance Fishing Machine
Beginners in search of a boat they can’t break will love the Triumph Sportsman. These boats are built of roto-molded “Ropelyne” (Triumph’s version of polyethylene) and you can bang, batter, and abuse them all you like without causing any damage. This is tough stuff, which they demonstrate at boat shows by allowing prospective buyers to bang on the boats with a sledge-hammer. Added bonus: this type of plastic floats, so the boats are essentially unsinkable. Down-sides? There’s a reduced ability to regulate tolerances with the pieces-parts, so hatches aren’t as tight-fitting as they might otherwise be, and the finish isn’t quite as shiny and good-looking as gel coat. Pricing is middle-of-the-road, which you can see for yourself by viewing these Triumph Sportsman listings.
Read our full review, Triumph 186 Sportsman: Roplene Plastic Fantastic.
Are there other inshore fishing boats that might be a better fit for you and your needs, in specific? Of course. With thousands of models out there, no matter what your priorities are there’s surely a perfect fit for you. But just about every angler is going to find one or more of these top 10 fishing boats of interest, and there’s a good chance one of the boats on this list will hit your sweet spot.