I hate it when a pleasure-boat builder makes a half-hearted attempt to design a fishing boat, and you end up with a pseudo-fisher that has maybe three or four of the 10 things all saltwater fishing boats should have. So when I heard that Epic had a fishing boat on the floor of the convention center at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show this year, my reaction was ehhhh. After all, the folks at Epic may be great at building waterski and wakeboard boats, but a serious fishing machine? No way. So I made a half-hearted attempt of my own—to go look at it, with an open mind. But as I poked through the Epic, my mind started changing.
First let’s take stock of those top 10 things to look for. Stainless-steel hardware? Check. Big fishboxes? Yup, just look at the insulated fish stowage in the foredeck. Gobs of fuel capacity? Sixty one gallons is more than most boats in this class. Locking bulk stowage? Not only do the four dry stowage compartments and the rodboxes lock, the rodboxes are also lighted. And, by the way, the hatches are gasketed, guttered, and supported by gas-assist struts. Raw water washdown? Strike one—it’s not on the standard equipment list. Rod holders galore? Yup, it’s got eight on the console and four on the leaning post. Stout construction? Check and double check, and we’ll talk more about this in a moment. Sun protection? This model doesn't come with a T-top but most bay boat models of this variety don’t, so we’ll give it a free pass. Transom access? It’s great, with a large aft deck fishing platform. Hull design? This one’s a matter of preference to some degree, but if you’re looking at this type of boat the chances are that features like this boat's shallow water capabilities, moderate deadrise, and sharp wave-splitting entry are exactly what you’re looking for.
Wait a sec—how could we leave livewells off this Top 10 list? Simple: if a saltwater fishing boat doesn’t have one, we refuse on principal to even recognize it as a fishing boat. Good thing the Epic 22 SC has two of them, one in the aft deck and one forward of the console, with high-speed pick-ups and inner lids to prevent water from splashing out.
Obviously, Epic has a few fish-heads working for them. They got the bay boat lay-out right, too, with a big forward casting deck, an aft deck with fold-down jump seats that become additional deck-space, and a leaning post that houses a 98-quart cooler. So, what watersports traits carry over into the 22 SC? A couple of minor design details come to mind, particularly at the console. An awful lot of the console face is dedicated to a big glove box, which we die-hards might feel would be better used to expand the electronics flat, allowing for larger screens on our fishfinders and chartplotters. And the small, rounded windscreen may be stylish, but it won’t provide maximum protection when the spray starts flying. But the more obvious influence can be seen in the hullsides colors and graphics. The bright orange hullsides displayed at the Lauderdale show may appeal to Millennials jumping wakes at the end of a tow-rope, but us stinky old fish guys really aren’t into it. Good thing you can also get the hullsides dressed-down, in plain old black.
No matter the color and graphics choice you make, you will have the stand-out three vertical lines running down the hull near the transom. At first I thought these were just more window dressing, but in fact, they give you some insight into how the boat is built. These strips are free of gel coat pigment so you can see right through the hullside, into the resin-infused honeycomb core. This isn’t merely some sort of gimmick. The entire hull, deck, and in fact the entire boat is vacuum infused, to ensure an ideal resin-to-fiberglass ratio. The resulting boat is stronger but lighter than those laid up in a traditional manner. The boat’s dry weight is 1,850 pounds, which is around 300 to 500 pounds less than average among the 22 SC’s competitors. Meanwhile, stringers are foam-filled glass, and they’re installed while the hull is still in the mold to prevent warping and ensure a perfect fit. A few other construction details to note include drains installed in the individual rodholders, the use of LED lights, and a pre-installed bow trolling motor pad with a pre-installed wiring harness.
While this kind of construction more or less ensures that the boat won’t come cheap, Epic does manage to avoid today’s common boat-pricing sticker-shock. Fully rigged and ready to roll, depending on outboard size and options you can count on spending from the mid-30’s to the lower 40’s for a 22SC. That’s quite competitive in today’s market, especially considering that you really don’t need to get a whopping-big outboard to enjoy neck-snapping acceleration and eye-watering top-end speeds. Rigged with a 150-hp outboard the 22SC will top out at or near 50-mph. With the maximum 250 horses and a lightly loaded boat, you’ll be looking at 60.
Okay, I’m ready to admit it: when I crawled through this boat the ehhh went to eeeh! It turned out to be a lot more interesting than I had expected. Maybe a builder of water skiing and wakeboarding boats can create a serious fishing machine, after all. My guess is they did it with the help of a few employees who landed one too many "Hoochie Glides" with an aquatic face-plant, and decided to trade in their wakeboard for a rod and reel. And one thing’s for sure: whoever those anglers are, they have a lot more than half a heart—and half a brain—when it comes to building serious fishing boats.
|Fuel capacity||61 gal.|
Other Choices: This is a popular market segment, with a lot of competition. The Blue Wave 2200 Pure Bay is a smidge shorter, a hair lighter, and is a classic of the genre. The Ranger 220 Bahia is another competitor to eyeball; it weighs more than the 22 SC despite being over a foot shorter, but it also comes with a sweet custom-matched torsion-axle trailer. The Pioneer 220 Bay Sport may not be as well-known a brand as these others, but it’s a good one to check out if you want slightly higher sides and a bit more offshore latitude. And the Mako 21 LTS offers very similar functionality, and comes well-equipped with a long list of standard features including a trailer, for a nation-wide no-haggle price of $35,995 (at the time of this publication).
See some Epic 22 SC listings.
For more information watch our First Look Video of the Epic 22 SC, or visit Epic.