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Centre Console Boats: Do or Don’t?

A centre console boat can be a dream come true for many recreational fishers, but is it the right choice for you? We discuss some pros and cons of buying a fishing boat with a centre console, new or second-hand.

Centre console boats are a popular breed of leisure craft – and with good reason. They handle well in choppy seas and offer a good assortment of practical features for the active seafarer. They boast an attractive and sporty look, but like any boat the benefits come with compromises. First, let’s look at some of the pluses.

Fishing

This is where centre console boats shine. As well as having good rough water capability, centre console boats offer an abundance of standing room and open space, making them ideal for casting lines, reeling in fish, cleaning and carving up the catch.

Many centre console boats also have an upper station for the operator – sometimes it’s mounted on top of the console roof (or T-top) itself. This provides better visibility and line of sight when scanning the waves for marine life.

They can also come with rod holders built into the gunwales and transom, optimally positioned for deep-sea trolling; live wells for keeping bait fresh and wriggling; and generous storage for your catch and equipment.

Seating and amenities

Now for the compromises. Unless you’re looking at buying a high-end, luxury sporting yacht model, centre console boats don’t usually offer much seating beyond the console itself.
Keep in mind that it’s basically a utility boat optimised for fishing, so extra seating, if available, may also be doubling as storage units for fish and supplies. That’s not to say the human factor is totally forgotten. While the main purpose of the console is to house the helm station dash, most centre consoles include a head (on-board toilet, for landlubbers).

There’s also a fair chance you’ll get soaked while out on the water. A canvas console enclosure can keep you shielded from the elements.

Other applications

Many centre consoles offer good speed and maneuverability, making them attractive to anglers who also want to indulge in the occasional bit of waterskiing and scuba diving.
They are primarily fishing boats, however, and that’s where they excel. If you are more interested in comfortable cruising with friends and family, or taking night-time expeditions, you may want to keep your options open.

Still don’t know a transom from a windlass? We translate some of the more common boating terms.

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