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From the SIERRA Experts

Why Center Console Boats Are So Popular for Fishing

A center console fishing boat turning in a narrow channel of water

Visit any coastal boat show and you'll see the increasing popularity of center console fishing boats. Once upon a time, center console boats were often smaller, skiff-sized vessels with single or perhaps twin outboards, topping out at 30 feet or so. Center console fishing boats were primarily meant to be towed to the water on trailers or stored in dry stack marinas. Generally, fishing boats larger than this were pilothouse or cabin sportfishers with more interior space and comfort amenities such as berthing, gallies, heads, and seating areas.  

The past 10 years or so have seen boat builders continually pushing the envelope when it comes to what is considered a large center console fishing boat. 

First, it was 40 feet, then 50 feet, then 60 feet, and on. To provide the power for long runs to offshore fishing grounds, these super center consoles — both deep-vee monohull and catamaran style — were being rigged with more and larger outboard motors. At the 2023 Miami International Boat Show, Scout Boats recently debuted its new 67-foot center console pushed by 3,000HP in the form of five V-12 Mercury outboards.

Even if you’re not interested in purchasing a new super center console, it’s important to remember that the same attributes that make a 21-foot center console a great fishing boat still apply to these larger models.

360-Degree Fishing on Center Console Boats

Center console boats are built for fishing. Early models favored utility over comfort – often prioritizing gear storage. The design is based on the idea that you should be able to fish from any spot on the boat. Powerful fish, like tuna or salmon, typically aren’t going to stay in the same place when you hook them. They will run and try to take you and your boat for a ride with them. The layout of a central console allows you to move around the boat as the fish runs in the water. The freedom to move and manage the fish in your favor is at the core of the center console’s popularity.

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Lighter Weight Boats Can Help Increase Performance and Range

The lack of superstructure and interior cabin space and equipment allows center console boats to be lighter in weight for their overall size. Lighter weight hulls, combined with today’s bumper crop of powerful V6, V8, V10, and V12 outboard motors allow even the largest center consoles to reach 60 mph and more. This type of performance allows for longer runs to offshore fishing grounds and lets serious anglers spend less time traveling and more time fishing. Center consoles’ design and cockpit layout also allows for larger fuel tanks and live bait tanks.

Enhancing Ride & Comfort

If there are drawbacks to the center console fishing boat, it’s their lack of interior space and protection from the elements when the weather turns bad. Advancements in hull designs, however, allow these boats to provide exceptional ride and seakeeping abilities. Even in rough waters, today’s modern hulls can keep passengers dry and unrattled. Popular catamaran center consoles are particularly good at providing a smooth and dry ride to offshore fishing grounds. Of course, as center consoles get larger, they can maintain their all-around fishing access while adding more comfort and amenities. Today’s super center consoles may offer comfortable, airline-style cockpit seating behind the console, protective windscreens, overhead cover, and interior spaces for seating, eating, and resting.

Is a Center Console Boat Right for You?

Center consoles are becoming more appealing to recreational boaters, but many professional and serious anglers in both salt and freshwater still consider them the best option for fishing. The ability to move and manage your fishing style combined with practical utility can be tough to match with other boat styles. But, of course, you can still land that big salmon in a different type of boat. If a design that prioritizes fishing and utility is important to your boating style, then a center console could be a great fit.

Try different options with your local dealer and purchase the boat that matches your budget and boating lifestyle.

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