Shootout: Midsize Bay Boats

Four favorite bay boats, head-to-head.

NauticStar 2200 Tournament Bay

NauticStar 2200 Tournament Bay

Breaking It Down
The ability to reach nearly 56 mph with a Yamaha F250 gives the "Tournament" moniker sturdy legs on which to stand. But for the masses of inshore anglers, speed is a small consideration. Satisfaction comes from the nuances that active fishermen wish for, and then find on a boat like the 2200. Angles are used within the in-deck storage to spread the available volume, thus allowing the casting deck to be dropped for higher gunwale lips and safer casting. Rolling the bottom of the helm station inward adds toe space. We found a bevy of oft-overlooked design features that make the difference. High Points
Dedicated storage for musts such as cast nets means you don't have to stuff those items on top of safety gear or watch them slide around the deck. The anchor locker comes with an anchor, line and chain, all ready to use without an added expense. Jump seats flip up from the stern corners, so five people can actually sit (two at the stern, two at the helm, one forward of the console). Battery on/off switch is located on an exterior bulkhead instead of hidden in the bilge compartment. Low Points
We liked the high windscreen, but the frame around it might be stuck directly in some captains' field of vision. The 2200 might not target water sports specifically, but why not just make the swim platform standard? Someone will be in the water at some point, and getting back in should be easy. Specs
LOA: 22'2"
Beam: 8'6"
Dry Boat Weight: 2,100 lb.
Max. Horsepower: 250
Fuel Capacity (gal.): 63
MSRP: $54,053 (w/ Yamaha F250) Test Report
Engine: Yamaha F250
Load:(People) 450 lb., (Fuel) 25 gal.
Top Speed: 55.9 mph @ 6,000 rpm
Time To Plane: 3.6 sec.
Time To 30 MPH: 7.8 sec.
Ranger 2200 Bay

Ranger 2200 Bay

Breaking It Down
Ranger builds the 2200 with the same structural qualities used in its bass boats, including foam shot into every nook and cranny within the hull and deck for safety and stability. Three of us crowded onto one side of the casting deck and didn't feel like we were balancing on a teeter-totter. At all speeds — up to 51 mph with an Evinrude 250 E-Tec — the hull rode firm, with no walking, and in turns the prop didn't cavitate. Three livewells (two in the stern, one in the bow) are integrated onto the centerline to further the boat's balance. Overall, the 2200 Bay fits among the head of its class. High Points
Livewell behind the helm seat is formed higher than most, so it's easier to grab bait without hunching over. Side-to-side stability is firm, making the boat safe for hauling in a tarpon or redfish. We had a backrest across the transom to finish off a stern seat, and we used it when our legs got a little weary. Bring all the rods in your crew’s arsenal. We found storage in the bow would secure at least 15 rods, plus there were 14 vertical holders on our test boat. Low Points
Our gauge package and the size of the instrument panel made it necessary to mount the chart plotter on top of the console, but there's an upside: Positioning it there made it easy to see. Console is designed small to increase traffic spaces, but some might find it limits a few traditional uses of console space (storage and wiring access among them). Specs
LOA: 22'
Beam: 8'6"
Dry Boat Weight: 2,075 lb.
Max. Horsepower: 250
Fuel Capacity (gal.): 60
MSRP: $49,995 (w/ Evinrude 250 E-Tec) Test Report
Engine: Evinrude 250 E-Tec
Load: (People) 600 lb., (Fuel) 45 gal.
Top Speed: 51 mph @ 5,500 rpm
Time To Plane: 3.4 sec.
Time To 30 MPH: 8.0 sec.
Sailfish 2100 Bay

Sailfish 2100 Bay

Breaking It Down
Sailfish builds its bay boats a little deeper than most do. So a model like the 2100 Bay, with an 18-degree deadrise, has a relatively sharp entry to cleave chop when the winds pick up or should you venture offshore — yet it drafts only 13.5 inches. We found the ride to be softer than most boats in its class, which is why we could hang with the big boys. The cockpit is deep because the aggressive hull transitions into high freeboard, meaning you step a little higher onto the casting decks and have a better angle for sight fishing. Storage compartments in bow and stern are more voluminous as well. High Points
High freeboard leads to a dry ride in sloppy conditions and also blocks splash from wayward wakes. Rod holders are molded into the sides of the console instead of screwed on as separate pieces. Grouping the gauges to the right side of the instrument panel leaves plenty of space for a wired-in chart plotter. A red LED in the livewell at the transom is a nice feature for night fishing. Deep deadrise and high gunwales give fair-day offshore capabilities. Low Points
The aggressive deadrise makes it ever more critical to balance the load properly and for drivers to supply input at the wheel. Higher gunwales and deeper cockpit make it a little more challenging to net and boat bigger fish. Specs
LOA: 21'
Beam: 8'6"
Dry Boat Weight: 2,250 lb.
Max. Horsepower: 225
Fuel Capacity (gal.): 63
MSRP: $49,758 (w/ F225 Yamaha) Test Report
Engine: Yamaha 225 hp
Load: (People) 390 lb., (Fuel) 34 gal.
Top Speed: 50.1 mph @ 5,700 rpm
Time To Plane: 2.3 sec.
Time To 30 MPH: 5.5 sec.
Sea Chaser 230 LX Bay

Sea Chaser 230 LX Bay

Breaking It Down
All-fiberglass construction is foam-filled, giving the rig more emergency flotation than is required by law. This value-brand model has a roomy deck that scoots along beautifully with a mapped up small-block Evinrude producing 200 hp. It is convenient to fish from and maneuverable and ideal for Boca Grande Pass tarpon or backcountry redfish. All cleats are retractable, meaning deck snags are minimized. Our test boat was equipped with an optional leaning post, and most handy was the Power Pole used to secure the boat on the flats or along the beach. High Points
All-fiberglass construction includes a fiberglass sole that drains overboard. A fuel capacity of 52 gallons means plenty of range for all-day fishing. Tons of storage capacity can be found in casting-deck hatches and under the helm. Leaning post on our boat gave good ergonomics and handy storage for rods. Aft baitwell is insulated to help keep bait cool while the aeration system freshens water. Low Points
When heavily laden with bait, livewells overfilled — heftier drains would be useful for hard-core pilchard fishers. Leaning post is optional. Specs
LOA: 22'9"
Beam: 8'7"
Dry Boat Weight: 2,450 lb.
Max. Horsepower: 250
Fuel Capacity (gal.): 52
MSRP: See local dealer Test Report
Engine: Evinrude E-Tec 200 small block
Load: (People) 250 lb., (Fuel) 25 gal.
Top Speed: 46.2 mph @ 6,000 rpm
Time To Plane: not tested
Time To 30 MPH: not tested