2016 Fishing Boat Buyers Guide: Contender Boats 35 ST

Contender dominates the offshore fishing scene, and its 35 ST is a flexible platform ready for rigging for almost any form of the sport.

Contender Boats has enjoyed the allegiance of top kingfish and sailfish tournament anglers for 30-plus years. Even now, as new boats take a shot at the title, Contender owners and others who fish in them laud their platforms of choice.

Respondents in our Builder Benchmark survey backed Contender’s hard-earned tough-fishing reputation with balanced high scores – less than a one-point span across the main categories: fishability, performance, design/construction and value. It was also one of the most experienced brands in the survey.

Contender popularized the deep-deadrise aggressive hull others soon copied. Its new stepped hulls draw high scores for speed and fuel efficiency among those with Contender experience.

Fishing is what matters to Contender. That calls for strong boats, and respondents like composite construction with fiberglass-encapsulated balsa coring in running surfaces, and strakes that arereinforced from inside before final lay-up. Hardware is rugged. Decks are self-draining, while 2,000-gph pumps clear bilges. Switches and breaker panels are waterproof.

Owners highly recommend Contenders for fishability, lavishing praise comparable only to a few other brands. Clean, one-level deck plans, easy access to livewells, cavernous fish storage and wide, unobstructed walkways around the consoles bolster these scores.

Hey, good looks count, too, and the use of top-shelf ­vinylester resins and barrier coats behind a premium gelcoat assure a mirror finish that retains its luster for years.

35 ST

Contender dominates the offshore fishing scene, and its 35 ST is a flexible platform ready for rigging for almost any form of the sport.

The 35 ST’s deep-V hull with 24-degree transom deadrise tames seas while tracking reliably even in hard-over handling, powered by twin or triple outboard engines, up to three 350s. Hull vents reduce drag at speed, boosting mileage to stretch even farther the range afforded by its generous 400-gallon fuel capacity.

Time to fish? Enjoy the ­security of a one-level deck. Bait swims healthy in twin, raised 40-gallon round livewells. Swap them for big-game fish you can slide aboard through the transom door and stash in one of several lined and insulated fish boxes — 208- and 115-gallon boxes forward, a pair of 85-gallon boxes aft.

The 35 ST has a step-down console with a head compartment and lockable storage. Then come the options, a plethora of them. A novel one is a (cushion-topped) coffin box with an electric lift that tips it aside to expose a roomy storage locker beneath it. Choose from among a T-top, additional seating, outriggers, stand-on-console observation top, lights, rod holders — even hull and deck gelcoat colors.

LOA: 34'5" | Beam: 9'6" | Fuel Capacity: 400 gal. | Dry Weight: 6,600 lb. plus power | Max Horsepower: 1,050 | Certifications: NMMA