There are a million and one 20-foot center console fishing boats out there on the water, but almost all of them share one common trait: they feel small. In fact, most 20-footers will have you feeling like you’re perched on a little cork in the middle of a big ocean. Their low sides make you wonder if you might fall overboard the next time a wave hits. And since most boats in this class are shooting for a low price-point, they don’t come with the added safety features of some larger boats. When I stepped aboard Cobia’s new 201 CC, however, I found out that this little boat comes with a big helping of confidence.

cobia 201 cc

The Cobia 201 center console may be just 20' long, but its attitude is much bigger.

The first thing you’ll notice standing in the cockpit is how high the gunwales are. Remember feeling like you—or worse, one of your kids—might fall overboard on a boat this size? That’s a non-issue, on the 201 CC. In fact, the gunwales hit me at hip-height, all the way around the boat. They’re comfortable to lean up against, too, since coaming bolsters pad the inwales in both the bow and stern cockpits. The down-side? Higher gunwales add windage and weight. But if you’re Captain Dad, it’s a sure bet you’ll call this trade-off more than fair.

One other potential down-side of high gunwales is trying to drag big fish over them. Cobia takes care of this issue by giving the 201 a transom door, a rarity in boats this small. But the transom door and gunwales aren’t the only things about this boat that reflect an attitude much larger than 20 feet of LOA. The transom livewell isn’t some wimpy little tub, it holds a hefty 26 gallons. Inside the console, you’ll discover a full-height walk-in head compartment which looks like it’s sized for a boat two or three feet longer. And thank you, Cobia, for putting a strap on the door so we can secure it open when the boat’s rolling back and forth in the waves. Finally, peek in the bilge and note that the hoses below the waterline are double-clamped and gooped at the barbs. Wait a sec—don’t move on just yet, there’s a lot more we can learn about the 201 Center Console by poking around down here. So much, in fact, it seemed sensible to take some footage of the highlights, so you could see it first-hand.

Another feature you’ll notice about this boat is its fit and finish. Hatches are fully finished on both sides, compartment interiors are fully lined, and hardware like cleats and hinges are flush-mounted to maintain the boat’s smooth lines. True, the inside of the console could be neatened up with a fiberglass cap over the back of the dash instead of the snap-in canvass. But that would not only make accessing the wires more difficult, it would also add cost to the boat. And considering what the 201 CC has to offer, its price is surprisingly low. MSRP with the standard 150-hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard comes in under $40,000 (at the time of publication).

Deadrise20 degrees
Displacement2,745 lbs
Fuel capacity60 gal.

I know what you’re asking, right about now: is a 150-hp powerplant big enough for this boat? Youbetcha. We cruised at around 30-mph, and at wide-open throttle, easily broke 40-mph. Those might not seem like eye-watering speeds, but remember that this is a 20-foot fishing boat. Compared to the competition, this is more than enough juice.

Performance Data
Test conditions: 1 foot chop, winds 10-15 knots, 2 POBPerformance figures courtesy of Yamaha.
PowerSingle Yamaha F150 four-stroke outboard, swinging a 14.5" x 15" stainless-steel three-blade prop.

When it comes to handling rough seas, of course, there’s no substitute for LOA. Or, is there? Nah. But considering the size of the 201 CC, I thought it handled the waves well. There was a one to two-foot chop in the mouth of the bay which I ran through at top-end, with no big slams or bangs. The bottom carries a 20-degree V and at 2,7455-lbs the Cobia weighs significantly more than many competitors, which average around or just over 2,000-lbs. While that may mean you need a bigger tow vehicle, the extra heft certainly helps squash those waves. And that’s just one more thing about the Cobia 201 center console that will give you confidence—enough confidence to load the kids aboard, and fish without feeling like you’re perched on a little cork in a big ocean.

Other Choices: Boston Whaler’s Montauk 21 has big capabilities, but much lower freeboard. The Robalo R180 is a bit smaller than the 201CC, but it’s another boat that seems bigger than its britches. And the Angler 204 FX, Campion 602 Explorer, and Contender 21 are all small center consoles that our editors tagged as good value for their capabilities.

For more information, visit Cobia Boats.