What’s the common thread between a multimillion-dollar yacht like the Viking 80 Convertible, and a slew of small outboard-powered fishing boats that cost less than $20,000? They’re all designed to help you catch more fish. And whether your main quarry is billfish or bass, all of us who have been bitten by the fishing bug love our fishboats. If you’re prowling around for a new one, now’s the time to listen up—here are the top 10 new fishing boats we saw in 2016.
1. Betram 35
Bertram is one of few boat builders who can accurately claim legendary status, but for the past decade or so they’ve produced few boats and fewer headlines. That chapter comes to a close this year, with the introduction of the all-new Bertram 35. This boat captures the classic Bertram sportfishing look, yet is completely modern when it comes to performance, construction, interior design, and fishability. The negatives? Thus far, all we can point to is cost; Bertram doesn’t advertise an MSRP and if you have to ask… well, you know. Still, if you like the look of classic fishing boats but you also want the latest and greatest in offshore trolling machines, this boat is a must-see.
Read our full review, Bertram 35: Instant Classic.
See Bertram Yachts listings.
For more information, visit Bertram Yachts.
2. Boston Whaler 280 Outrage
A warning to blood-and-guts anglers: the Boston Whaler 280 is probably not going to be your top pick. This is a somewhat gentrified fishing boat, which is targeted at fishermen who also need a family-friendly boat. That said, Whaler built some amazingly friendly features into it, which set the 280 Outrage apart from the crowd. The bow has been turned into a social area all its own, with a (removable) cocktail table and U-shaped seating. Does that seating cut into fishability a bit? You bet. But it’s also a great spot for hanging out, and when you ditch the table and cushions there’s still room for a couple of casters up front. Even better is the extended forward console seat, which makes for a comfy lounger. This is also a big plus for anglers, since the lounger accommodates a huge bulk stowage compartment which extends into the console itself—you can even stow rods safely away down there. It may not be the hardest-core fishing boat on the market, but for anglers who take the entire family out on the water, the 280 Outrage is a serious winner.
Read our full review, Boston Whaler 280 Outrage: Something’s Fishy.
See Boston Whaler 280 Outrage listings.
For more information, visit Boston Whaler.
3. Everglades 325cc
In the “OMG” department, we find Everglades. This company builds boats that are unsinkable, constructed with molded foam between the fiberglass. They bolt on oodles of horsepower, incorporate every comfort-adding gadget and gizmo you can think of, and yes, charge an arm and a leg. Spend a few minutes aboard their new 2016 325cc, however, and you’ll quickly realize that you get what you pay for. As reviewer Gary Rich put it, “If you’re in the market for a high-end offshore center console boat, the Everglades 325cc is going to be difficult to beat.” Difficult, indeed. Reich also noted that the 325cc had a “smooth and solid ride that isn’t fatiguing after a long day of fishing, even in the nastiest conditions.” And that the boat sported an electric power windshield, plush helm seats, a dive-door, and a cocktail table in the bow that raised and lowered at the press of a button. If you’re looking for a 30-something center console with the best of everything built right in, you just found it.
See our full review, Everglades 325cc: Canyon Capable.
See Everglades 325cc listings.
For more information, visit Everglades.
4. Grady-White Canyon 271 FS
Grady-White started with the 271 Canyon platform, which was already a respectable fishing machine, and set out to make it better. They succeeded. Grady-White found several ways to enhance the boat; first and foremost, they added forward seating but in such a way that it didn’t have too much of an impact on the boat’s fishability. Yes, those seats do eat up bow cockpit space a bit in certain configurations, but a latch-in table top is used to turn the entire bow into an elevated casting platform when it’s time to hunt fish. Remove it, add the cushions, and you’re all set for a cocktail cruise. Grady-White also upgraded all the latches on the boat from rubber to stainless-steel, redesigned the console to support a more protective wrap-around windshield, and incorporated integrated lighting into the hard top. For making a great boat even better, Grady-White lands on this list.
Read our full review, Grady-White Canyon 271 FS: Bound for Bluewater.
See Grady-White Canyon 271 FS listings.
For more information, visit Grady-White.
5. Key West 219FS
It’s rare we get to test a boat over and over again, in varying conditions. But this was the case with the Key West 219FS, and we discovered that no matter what the weather, the Key West impressed. Posting a reasonable low-to-mid $40,000 price tag, performance was better than expected with a Yamaha F175. Cruising speeds are in the mid 30’s and top end is in the mid 40’s. The big surprise, however, comes when you try to do these speeds in a tight chop—because you can still do them, without rattling your fillings out. We also found the boat ideal for three light-tackle casters, and acceptable for four. The only down-side we identified with this boat’s design, construction, and fishability was a lack of stowage. But that’s an issue on most 21-footers, even those that don’t stand head and shoulders above the competition, like this one.
Read our full review, Key West 219FS: Fishing for the Details.
See Key West 219FS listings.
For more information, visit Key West Boats.
6. Mako 334 Center Console
Another “legendary” builder to make our Top 10 list is Mako. This company has been on a roll lately, showing a lot of innovation and fresh design with boats like the Pro Skiff series. For 2016 they up the ante with the 334 Center Console. This is a hard-hitting fishboat designed for the die-hards, with available perks like a 292-qt. coffin box, a half-tower with upper station controls, a massive tackle station, and twin 34-gallon baby-blue oval livewells. Serious fishing perks, however, are more than skin deep. Those livewells, for example, are fed by independent 2,000 GPH pumps, and there’s even a dedicated back-up pump. Plus, all the systems draw their raw water from an electroplated sea chest—you usually see systems like this on big million-dollar sportfishers, not mid-sized center consoles. For that, the Mako 334 Center Console is a home-run hit.
See our full review, Mako 334 Center Console: Jump into the Shark Tank.
See Mako listings.
For more information, visit Mako Boats.
7. Ranger RP 190
The Ranger RP 190 isn’t the biggest, most comfortable boat in the world. It’s not the fastest, nor the most impressive. But it belongs on our Top 10 list because it’s one of the few aluminum bay boats out there which delivers gobs of value at a relatively low cost. Actually, at a shockingly low cost that starts under $18,000 with a trailer included. Even if you up the ante and get it with lots of extras and the Yamaha 115 SHO on our test boat, price still comes in under $25,000. What can you expect at that price-point? A cruise in the mid 30’s and a top-end of 45 MPH, pedestal-mounted fishing seats, aft jump seats, locking rodboxes, and an aerated livewell. We weren’t in love with the livewell design (you have to pull a pin and swing up the leaning post to get access) but that’s a small price to pay, to get so much boat for such a low price in the first place.
Read our full review, Ranger RP 190: Bold New Aluminum Bay Boat.
See Ranger RP 190 listings.
For more information, visit Ranger.
8. Robalo R300
The Robalo R300 makes our top-of-the-charts list because, as reviewer Gary Reich put it, “The R300 is one sweet ride through choppy water.” In fact, the boat’s ride was what impressed him the most, and Reich also said this boat’s hull “cuts through the waves like a proverbial knife through butter.” Note that when he tested the boat it was thoroughly rough, with a three-foot sea. The boat also proved its mettle when it comes to fishing, with such features as twin 82.5 gallon fishboxes, a rigging station (though it was a bit on the small side for Gary’s taste), a 25-gallon livewell, and oodles and oodles of rodholders. The bottom line? This is one of the most comfortable and capable 30’ center consoles around.
Read our full review, Robalo R300: Comfort and Confidence.
See Robalo R300 listings.
For more information, visit Robalo.
9. Shearwater 26 Carolina
If you’re looking for a high-end bay boat that adds a dash of comfort and a pinch of high performance, take a gander at the Shearwater 26 Carolina. The comfort comes from added touches like misters built into the T-top, a huge tanning lounge on the bow, a Fusion stereo system, and a head in the console compartment. Performance comes courtesy of the 20-degree deadrise stepped hull and a Yamaha F350C, which work together to produce an eye-watering 60.8 MPH top-end. The boat feels exceptionally solid underfoot at these speeds, too, because Shearwater seals the hull and deck together then pumps in pressurized foam, to eliminate all voids belowdecks. When you’re ready to fish—note that you’ll have to pull and stow all those bow cushions to effectively use the bowdeck—you’ll discover 10’ long rodboxes with rodracks, a leaning post livewell and tackle station, twin 12 gallon livewells plus a 15 gallon bow livewell, and a fishbox integrated into the deck.
Read our full review, Shearwater 26 Carolina: Fishing for Comfort.
See Shearwater bay boat listings.
For more information, visit Shearwater.
10. Skeeter FX21 LE
Bass boats are among the most highly-specialized fishing boats on the planet, and Skeeter strives to set a new standard with the FX21 LE. This model is a top-shelf offering that comes loaded with items that are usually considered optional: a Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 Touch MFD at the helm and a HDS-9 on the bow; dual livewells with oxygenators; a 112-lb thrust 36-V electric trolling motor; a 12” jackplate; and a custom-matched trailer with aluminum wheels. Performance is everything you expect (top-end hits 70.3 MPH) and the boat is built like a brick you-know-what. Bear in mind that like many serious bass fishing machines the FX21 LE is designed for a mere pair of anglers, and three will be a crowd. Also plan to shell out big bucks for a boat of this size (cost is $70,000-ish). If you’re serious about your bass fishing and you want the hottest bass boat to splash through the lake in 2016, however, this one’s going to be a serious contender.
Read our full review, Skeeter FX21 LE: Big Time Bling in a Bass Boat.
See Skeeter FX21 LE listings.
For more information, visit Skeeter.
Bonus Fishyacht: Viking 80 Convertible
Yes, we most certainly have to revisit the Viking 80 Convertible. This is a fishing machine fit for the king of the sea—literally—but we’re not including it in our top 10 because that just wouldn’t be fair to all the other boats. In truth, the Viking 80 is far more accurately called a yacht than a boat. Five thousand two hundred horses propel this 145,461 pound sportfishing machine to a top-end of 41.6 knots. The interior is utterly glorious, with two-level granite countertops, Amtico flooring, walnut tabletops, fluted valences, and book-matched grain cabinetry. All five of the staterooms also have exquisite detailing, and each has its own private head. Even the cockpit is designed for maximum luxury, with air-conditioning outlets that blow a constant cool breeze across the mezzanine. Speaking of the cockpit: this is where the action takes place, and Viking spares no expense here. It has a fishbox/livewell in the transom, stowage in the deck, a bait freezer, an ice dump for the Eskimo ice machine, and a giant fishbox in the deck. Down-sides? There’s just one we can think of: you’ll need to dip into your wallet to the tune of about seven million dollars, to become king of the seas on a Viking 80.
Read our full review, Viking 80 Convertible: No Sacrifices.
See Viking 80 Convertible listings.
For more information, visit Viking Yachts.