2017 Boat Buyers Guide | Sport Fishing Magazine

2017 Boat Buyers Guide

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  • Fishing Boat Buyers Guide 2017

Let Your Voices Be Heard!

The editors of our magazines (Sport Fishing, Salt Water Sportsman, Marlin and Boating) collectively examine, fish, ride and report on more than 200 boats per year. Even a non-tech, non-engineer type gains enough knowledge about what makes boats work well to offer some insightful advice, not only on how to choose, but also how to build a boat that will serve its owner well.

But until Bonnier Custom Insights began our readers survey four years ago and asked thousands of our readers what they liked about boats they'd fished or skippered, the collective editorial opinion of crafty boat design was only half complete.

In this guide, our editors factor in our readers' opinions at every step, weighing them against their own. You'll be happy to know: Our opinions were often aligned. But sometimes our editors modified their own opinion in the face of reader opinions, and sometimes we nodded to the readers' collective authority.

It is that synergy that makes this report important and why you should keep it bookmarked as you walk the aisles of boat shows all over America in 2017.

Our readers made this comprehensive report on what makes great fishing boats great.

Survey Says...

Each respondent compared and rated boats on Fishability, Performance, Design / Construction and Value. Each component had five attributes to assist in analysis.

Fishability: Cockpit Space, Fish Boxes, Baitwells, Tackle Storage and Rod Storage
Performance: Speed, Fuel Efficiency, Range, Ride and Stability
Design / Construction: Ergonomics, Comfort, Storage, Safety and Construction
Value: Brand Reputation, Customer Service, Resale Value, Available Equipment and Price

Inshore / Coastal Boats

Inshore / Coastal Boats are powered with a single engine and are usually under 25 feet long with shallow draft and include center consoles, bay, flats, some walkarounds and dual consoles.

  • Moving around this boat when things get busy with fishing is a breeze

    Moving around the boat when things get busy with fishing is a breeze.
  • A sibling to the 26 Calibogue, this boat is a versatile bay/offshore hybrid.

    A sibling to the 26 Calibogue, this boat is a versatile bay/offshore hybrid.
  • A boat offering great flexibility in choosing your ­options to make it one of a kind.

    A boat offering great flexibility in choosing your ­options to make it one of a kind.
  • Carolina Skiff Ultra 24 Elite

    Just because a boat is a rock-solid fishing craft doesn’t mean it can’t be a mighty-fun family boat too.

    Just because a boat is a rock-solid fishing craft doesn’t mean it can’t be a mighty-fun family boat too, Carolina Skiff says — and proves – in its new Carolina Skiff…
  • Grady-White 236 Fisherman

    From a family perspective, boating should be easy and comfortable, and the 236 makes it just so.

    It’s no surprise, really, when a Grady-White boat emerges as a great saltwater-fishing boat. Sweeter, though, when it’s clearly family friendly too.
  • Jupiter Marine 25 Bay

    25 Bay has high gunwales, flush decks, massive tournament-style livewells, and plenty of storage.

    Newest, smallest and likely nimblest in a line that goes to 41 feet, Jupiter’s new 25 Bay concedes nothing to its big siblings.
  • Pioneer 222 Islander

    Pioneer’s 222 Islander is designed to be perfect for fishing and family fun.

    Pioneer’s 222 Islander is designed to be perfect for fishing and family fun.
  • Scout 231XS

    Our respondents like the way Scout boats are designed and built, how they run, and how they fish.

    Scout’s new 231 XS comes in the wake of the popular 251 XS, like its big brother a “hybrid”: a hardcore fishing machine at home inshore or on the open bay.
  • Sea Born LX24

    Sea Born is launching a pair of new LX series center console boats.

    Like the also-new LX22 CC, the LX24 CC sports higher freeboard than Sea Born’s bay boats, creating a family-friendly feeling of security and offering a bit more dry…
  • Wellcraft 222 Fisherman

    The 222 is a stable, smooth-performing boat.

    The Wellcraft 222 Fisherman is a family friendly fishing machine. Check it out now along with all the boats from our 2017 Fishing Boat Buyers Guide.

Offshore Boats

Offshore Boats' primary distinguisher is multiple engines. They are usually over 25 feet long (always in this guide) and include center consoles, center cabins and express boats.

  • No comforts have been ­sacrificed in the making of this fishing boat.

    No comforts have been ­sacrificed in the making of this fishing boat. Boston ­Whalers’ Dynamic Ca…
  • This smaller sibling of last year’s 330 Outrage likewise is comfortable either fishing or for ­entertaining.

    This smaller sibling of last year’s 330 Outrage likewise is comfortable either fishing or for ­entertaining.
  • A safe, dependable boat that has proved itself credible time and time again.

    A safe, dependable boat that has proved itself credible time and time again.
  • Invincible 42 Center Cabin

    The comfort of a cabin amid the functional practicality of center console boating: That’s the win-win proposition offered by the Invincible 42 Center Cabin.

    The comfort of a cabin amid the functional practicality of center console boating: That’s the win-win proposition offered by the Invincible 42 Center Cabin.
  • Mako 334 CC

    Mako in the 334 CC crafted what it calls the ultimate sport-fishing and ultimate family saltwater-fishing boat.

    Saltwater specialist Mako’s line of 16- to 28-foot fishing boats just got a big addition: a bluewater 334 center console with ring-deck design, port tuna/dive door,…
  • NauticStar_2602_Legacy

    The 2602 Legacy is big, comfortable and ready to fish.

    NauticStar designs boats for professional and recreational anglers, families and other recreational boaters, in bay, deck and offshore styles — with more than two dozen…
  • An expanded helm and smooth ride makes this a solid choice.

    An expanded helm and smooth ride makes this a solid choice.
  • The design and layout make it a great fishing platform with a sexy look.

    The design and layout make it a great fishing platform with a sexy look.
  • Regulator 31

    The new Regulator 31 takes a nod from its big brother, the Regulator 41, in offshore-lifestyle amenities.

    The new Regulator 31 takes a nod from its big brother, the Regulator 41, in offshore-lifestyle amenities.
  • SeaVee 370z

    The 370z shines in rough seas, and slices through tightly spaced waves as well.

    SeaVee’s new 370Z boasts generous cockpit space and abundant storage for gear, bait and ice — all important to the multiday adventurers for whom it is dedicated.
  • Southport 33 FE

    Southport Boats continues to explore the potential of its seaworthy hull

    The FE is ideal for ­day cruising or anchoring up at a beach or secluded cove for a day of swimming or snorkeling. But it’s just as ready for running out to the canyons…