Stingray is discontinuing their 195 FX, a dedicated fishing boat, while the Stingray 195RX bowrider remains in the line-up. So what’s with the casting platform on the 195 LX I discovered floating at the dock? It’s, what else, a Fish and Ski package, that jack-of-all trades list of add-ons that is supposed to vastly increase a boat’s versatility by giving the family buyer a little bit of something to sell everyone on. If you want to fish, you've got some actual amenities to do it with. If you want to ski, you’ll find likewise. And when you’re not doing either you have a pretty classic bowrider in which to cruise, play, go coving, or out to dinner. In short, all those things people buy a bowrider for.
But for now, back to the first word in that package — fish. The most obvious nod to anglers is seen at the bow, where instead of the LX’s traditional bowrider seating you’ll find a nonslip, elevated casting platform. There’s a pedestal for one of the two included fishing chairs, a bow mount for a trolling motor, and a wired-and-ready trolling motor control panel. Head aft and you’ll note an extended, rounded swim platform, also with a pedestal mount for that second fishing chair. It’s literally fastened atop the stock swim platform, meaning you’ll be a little more elevated than normal. Going this route, as opposed to taking over real estate normally devoted to the sunpad, means you won’t lose that precious lounging space. You will have to climb over it, however, when you’re moving back and forth between bow and stern. Other fishy finds include an aerated livewell and tackle box.
The “ski” portion of the package is far less complex, requiring no add-ons outside the norm. You’ll find a ski tow eye on the transom, as well as a generous ski locker sizable enough to accommodate a wakeboard. The lid is supported by a gas strut, meaning you won’t have to perform a game of Twister to keep it open while you slide a board within. Minor drawbacks? The bottom of that locker is carpeted, which is great for protecting your toys from dings but not so great for a spot that’s frequently soggy. That extended platform also offers plenty of space to gear up before riding. A three-step ladder situated to starboard helps skiers clamber back aboard after a ride, and nestles into a recessed nook on the platform when not in use so as not to trip anyone up or produce a stubbed toe.
Aside from the aforementioned changes, however, the LX is pretty standard bowrider fare. A full-width stern bench sits just in front of the sunpad, dual chairs are located behind the helm and port consoles, and when not in fishing trim the bow cockpit is typical bowrider style, with parallel lounges. A streamlined head unit for the stereo sits above a top-opening glovebox on the port console. To starboard, a nicely textured, stitched, faux-leather eyebrow shades the instrumentation and prevents glare off the windshield. One other change of note with the Fish & Ski package: the cockpit chairs get more utilitarian. Probably better for fishing, but they aren't the plusher, wraparound, flip-up bolster seats featured on the un-fishy RX.
|Fuel capacity||34 gal.|
Stingray bills the LX models as offering lots of amenities as standard features. Most of those items are summed up by a “bowrider convenience package,” which includes what Stingray claims are $1,400 worth of extras at no charge. Some of those so-called extras are pretty standard fare in the bowrider market — a stainless steel transom ladder, 12V accessory plug, and helm seats with fore-and-aft adjustment, for example. Others, however, are a step above. The latter group includes a windshield with side-vent windows, stainless steel bow rails, indirect LED cockpit lighting, wood trim package, and an electronic engine hour meter. Big-ticket items, no, but nice nonetheless.
Nearly any Stingray, however, will be judged not just by its features, but by its performance on the water. The brand has a well-earned reputation for getting a lot of speed out of a lesser engine. The credit usually falls upon the Z-Plane hull design. Rather than conventional strakes, it features overlapping, horizontal surfaces that mimic the appearance of window blinds, or shingles on a roof. Stingray says these surfaces act as horizontal planing surfaces when submerged; near the water’s surface the outside edge begins to act as a spray release. The smooth flow of water generated by the design is claimed to deliver cleaner water to the prop, allowing it to take a better bite both in straight-line runs and hard corners. Z-Plane hulls also get a notched transom, a trait common among offshore race boats. The design allows the drive to be mounted higher, reducing drag.
It could all be touted as just theory if it hadn’t already produced such consistently good results. Stingrays are frequently faster than comparable boats with more horsepower. Our test took place in less-than-ideal conditions — cold, driving rain, and significant wind. Yet a MerCruiser 4.3 MPI pushed the boat to within a fraction of the 56 mph mark. I've seen boats similarly powered produce far less. Still, those results disappointed Stingray. Blame it on the conditions, or perhaps the boat’s 23” pitch aluminum prop, but I think they were expecting closer to 60. But any way you look at it, this is a speedy boat for the power.
|Test conditions: Wind chop, 2 POBs, 1/4 tank fuel|
|Power||220-hp Mercruiser 4.3 MPI with an Alpha drive, swinging a 23" aluminum prop.|
Time to plane was a scant 3.7 seconds. Once underway we passed the 30 mph mark in about nine seconds. At every step of the way the hull felt typically agile and aggressive, charging hard into the corners. Just keep a steady hand at the very top end. Stingrays like a lot of trim, and can feel pretty loose when trying to eke out every last ounce of speed.
For more information visit Stingray Boats, and for more information on other Stingray models, see:
Stingray 235LR: Capable Crossover; Stingray 208LR: Welcome to the Family; Stingray 230SX: Mainstay of the Stingray Line; and
Go Boating Boat Test: Stingray 250LR.