A startling bend in the rod coupled with a reel handle that can’t be turned, followed by the whirring song of a fish peeling off line against the drag comprises the quintessential essence of fishing. Add in inky-smooth water as you hurry into the rising sun toward a new day’s angling adventure aboard the boat of your choice and the dream is complete — and the right boat can make it happen. To help you get there, we’ve brought a fleet of fishing boats to your attention. Below, you’ll discover boats made from aluminum or fiberglass and models intended for salt or fresh water. Fish on!
Scout 355 LXF
It’s clear that Scout focuses on above-the-cut luxury as staples, and this 355 LXF is no exception.
Fountain 34 CC
The 34 CC we tested clocked 62 mph on dual 350 Verado outboards. The step hull made the most of the horsepower, but the Fountain design stuck tight in turns, defying the nasty rap some step hulls get for sliding out and swapping ends.
Belzona 327 Walk Around
The Belzona 327 Walk Around has one of best setups for walking around that you’ll find on this type of boat. Besides that, it sports some of the most innovative features you’ll find on any type of recreational boat, period.
Courtesy of stout construction and a deep-V hull designed by Lou Codega, the Regulator 28 lived up to its reputation. During our test, the ocean inlet waters rose in wind-against-tide 3- to 4-foot seas. Yet at 25 mph, the Regulator 28 carved through with nary a bang, thud or drenching spray.
Wellcraft 302 Fisherman
Wellcraft boats lay claim to a rich sport-fishing heritage dating back more than 60 years. Today, the Wellcraft 302 Fisherman Scarab Offshore edition carries that heritage forward in spades.
With the smooth-riding, proven deep-V hull of its predecessor, the new R302 features a versatile interior designed for families that fish and boat together.
Cobia 280 DC
Dual consoles may be the fastest-growing segment of saltwater fishing boats. The Cobia 280 DC offers up a platter full of standard features and, for the more refined palate, a buffet of options that make this dual console more exciting.
NauticStar 265 XTS
NauticStar calls the 265 XTS a beast of a bay boat, ready to take the most-ardent anglers to the action in safety, style and comfort. We say it’s ready for waters inshore and off — and most especially perfect for those whose fishing takes them across large, open expanses of water en route to shallow, protected honey-hole hot spots.
Sea Chaser 26 LX
The Sea Chaser 26 LX is a center console bay boat that can get after the fish yet also keep the family comfortable while just having fun on the water.
Everglades 253 CC
The 253 CC is a tough fisher, but Everglades gives it plenty of fun for families too.
Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless Pro
Boston Whaler’s Dauntless series has built an enviable reputation based on versatility. Yet the new 240 Dauntless Pro puts a greater emphasis on fishing than any of its other five sister ships.
Blackfin 242 CC
Our crew has tested three Blackfin boats, and each editor agrees they all operate above their paygrades. The 212 CC delivered big-water handling capabilities, the 272 fished like a much larger boat — and we know because we had a crew of nine on board — and now the 242 CC comes to the water with dual outboards, aggressive fishing capabilities, and family-pampering features to enjoy day-boating, sandbars and beach combing.
Stingray 236 CC
If there was ever a boat built for the coastal waterways, sloughs and rivers of the Carolinas to Jacksonville, Florida, or along the Gulf Coast, it would be the 236 CC.
Grady-White Freedom 215 Dual Console
Grady-White’s reputation is only enhanced by the new Freedom 215 Dual Console.
Yamaha 210 FSH Sport
The 21-foot-3-inch Yamaha 210 FSH Sport combines the function of a center console with some key features — most notably its jet-drive propulsion — that make it a boat suited for not just angling but also a variety of general-purpose boating fun.
Ranger Z520L Comanche
If Ranger Boats proved anything in the Z520L Comanche, it’s that the company knows how to help serious fishermen have fun.
Bass Cat Lynx
When we stepped on the Hot Foot throttle, pinned the tachometer and trimmed up the nose, the Lynx was pushing past 75 mph with a fishing crew and gear. And it was a kitten to drive as we nudged the wheel to counteract prop torque.
Ranger 2050MS Reata
Ranger is one of the world’s most vaunted names in fishing boats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other on-the-water activities aboard one. Witness the Ranger 2050MS Reata, a dual-console boat designed to pursue a wide range of freshwater species and let you participate in watersports.
Bass Cat Pantera Classic
With the advent of the sleek new Pantera Classic, younger anglers can now get into a tournament-grade machine without breaking the bank.
Princecraft Platinum SE 186
The Princecraft Platinum SE 186 cuts a nice profile while dashing across a lake. Part of that stems from its sharp entry point and deadrise, which tapers to 17 degrees at the transom, that help it slash through a tight lake chop.
If you’re in the market for an aluminum multispecies, take a close look at Ranger’s Deep V series including the VS1670WT.