I need more hooks! I've been sharked again, the third time in as many drops, and I just lost the last grouper rig on the boat. That means tying one from scratch, so I flip down the tackle station hatch, which happens to do double-duty as a seat back for the aft-facing bait-watching seat, and start ripping open drawers. There are three big ones, then five tackle trays, plus slots for tackle wraps and hook racks. I go through the compartments one after another until I find the tackle I need. It takes a while. News Flash: The tackle station on Pro-Line's new 35 Express will house as much gear as the largest tackleboxes in Outdoor World.
FISH-O-MATIC. The plentiful tackle stowage shouldn't come as a surprise. Pro-Line is known for building fishboats, and since this is its new flagship model, you'd expect it to have some fabulous features. Yup, the livewell is as bodacious as you had hoped. It holds 45 gallons, is finished in buff blue inside (which helps calm baitfish, so they don't swim head-first into fiberglass and beat themselves up), and the top is supported by gas-assist struts. It's lighted as well, but the light is white, and when I'm fishing after dark, I prefer not to lose my night vision each time I look inside. The bulb should be replaced with a red one.
The macerated fishboxes are supersize and will hold a 100-pound tuna-which is the sort of challenge I wish I had during our test, but no matter, we still had enough action to give the cockpit toerails, under-gunwale rodracks, gunwale-mounted rodholders, side-mounted hardtop rodholders, and coaming bolsters a thorough workout. Sure, all these things add up to make a day of fishing more comfortable and effective than it would be on a bare-bones boat. But the best fishing feature of all is sheer space. As you might expect, a supersize outboard boat yields a supersize cockpit.
The same holds true for other members of this new genre, such as the Stamas 340 Express. This boat shares the 12'6" beam of the Pro-Line but has 7" more LOA and costs a hair less at $220,000 without power. The Stamas has significantly more livewell capacity with 60- and 20-gallon wells, but it's limited to twin powerplants totaling 600 hp, so it won't ever match the speeds posted by the Pro-Line. Interestingly, the Stamas, which weighs 2,800 pounds more than the Pro-Line, breaks 43 mph with twin 250-hp Suzuki outboards, whereas the Pro-Line tops out just under 42 mph with twin 250-hp Verados. With our triple-screw test rig, however, we bested 51 mph. If you'd rather avoid the added expense of triple outboards, note that the 35 Express performs just fine with twins. When I ran this model rigged with two 250-hp Verados, I cruised around 28.5 mph at 4500 rpm while burning 25.4 gph, which shakes out to 1.1 mpg-pretty respectable for a 35' boat.
Other than an extra 9 mph at top end, what does that third powerplant get you? Cruising at 4500 rpm you'll see 36 mph while burning 36.6 gph, for 1.0 mpg. And, of course, if one powerplant goes down, you'll still be able to break plane and run for home relatively quickly. Surprise bonus: On the triple-screw rig the outboard engines are farther apart, so opposing the motors is much more effective when maneuvering around the docks.