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2021 Boat Buyers Guide: Walkarounds

Walkarounds combine hardcore fishability with family-friendly amenities.

Top walkaround designs feature wide alleys plus sturdy bow rails and handholds to make access to the bow easy and safe.Courtesy Grady-White

Walkaround boats combine the best of both worlds: hardcore fishability with family cruising and even overnight accommodations. On most designs, deep, wide alleys lead to the bow from the cockpit, with secure handrails along the way. This allows an agile angler to fight a monster gamefish all the way around the boat if needed, while also making anchoring and docking much easier on the crew.

Ready to Fish

The majority of respondents in our survey indicated that they spent between 20 and 60 days each year in piscatorial pursuits, so having a boat that meets those expectations is key. According to the survey, walkaround owners are mostly trollers, pursuing offshore species, followed by bottomfishing with live or dead bait. Inshore fishing, isn’t off the table either. So it’s no surprise that the number and placement of rod holders is an important consideration for walkaround boats. An overwhelming number of respondents—86 percent—also said that cockpit space was foremost in their consideration. Among the other notable features in our survey were built-in tackle storage and livewell capacity.

Safe and Sound

With their high gunwales and forward windshield, walkaround boats are an excellent choice for families with small children, keeping them secure in their deeper cockpits. The majority of our respondents indicated that safety was at the top of their list for performance attributes. Add optional spray curtains, and the windshield setup offers excellent protection from wind and spray as well. Brand reputation was also a key factor in purchases, with brands such as Boston Whaler, Grady-White, Parker and Pro-Line among the favorites. Each has a strong fishing pedigree.

Overnights On the Water

Where walkaround boats really shine is on overnight or multiday trips, inshore or offshore. These boats have some serious creature comforts compared with a comparably sized center-console, with many walkarounds boasting a full head with shower, a galley and sleeping accommodations. Suddenly, the need to head back to port at the end of the day becomes less important: Fish at night for tuna or swordfish, explore distant waters without the need to dock and find a hotel, and generally expand your horizons.

Sport-Utility Boating

A walkaround design is also by nature a versatile boat for family outings as well as hardcore offshore fishing. Head out with the guys in the morning, then pack up the wife and kids for a relaxing afternoon of cruising and sandbar hopping, all while enjoying those onboard amenities such as berths (a hot lunch from the galley, anyone?). Walkaround boats let you do it all comfortably and in grand style.