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Best Midsize Center Console Boat Brands

Center console boats are by far the top selling boat in the United States, and popular all over the world for inshore and offshore fishing, day cruising, and recreation. Fast, stable, roomy, and well-equipped they are wonderfully versatile and are available from trailerable 17-foot models up to 45 feet and over with cabins and heads. In past article,s we’ve looked at the best center console boats under 25 feet and the best luxury center console boats over 40 feet. Here we are shining a spotlight on the top brands selling mid-range center console boats between 22 and 30 feet for fishing and recreation.


Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

Photo credit: Boston Whaler 


What Is a Center Console Boat?

Stated simply, a center console boat has its helm in, you guessed it, the center of the boat. It provides a comfortable position for sitting or standing, typically with the protection of a windshield, and offers ample 360-degree deck space, and often provides shade from a  soft cover or a hard T-top. Most center consoles have outboard power and, with the helm in the center, can be easily maneuvered and docked to both port and starboard. 

Center consoles are loved for their versatility. Their walk-around decks make them excellent fishing boats, while the addition of plenty of comfortable seating and sun loungers makes them popular for families and recreational use, too. They are as good for inshore cruising as they heading offshore making them particularly popular boats for those living near bays, gulfs, and coastal waterways as well as larger lakes. 

Models vary hugely, and you can further categorize center console boats as follows:


  1. Bay center console boats: These are usually at the smaller end of our bracke, and are designed as multi-use boats for fishing in the bays and recreational use. They’re not big enough for blue water fishing, but offer a lot more stability and capability in waves than smaller, more flat-bottomed boats.
  2. Offshore center console boats: These have higher freeboard and much deeper V hulls than bay boats, allowing them to tackle big offshore waters. They are serious fishing boats, but often serve beautifully as family cruisers, too.
  3. Hybrid center console boats: These versatile center consoles manage to sit comfortably in between bay boats and offshore boats, offering a family-friendly layout and ride. While still good for fishing, they have more focus on seating and amenities that allows for many uses. 


What Are the Best Center Console Boat Brands?

With center console boats being the most popular or among the most popular boats in the United States and Europe, it is perhaps unsurprising that there are lots of boat builders designing and manufacturing a whole range of styles and models. Where once center consoles were renowned for their big-game fishing capabilities, today they are just as well-loved by families or those looking to gently cruise around the bay. In this article, we’re looking at brands with models in the 22 to 30 feet range, butthere are others whose entire ranges start from over 30 feet including Valhalla, Wally, Sōlace, and Invincible. From brands with a long history and reputation, to newcomers, these are some of the best center console boat brands under 30 feet. 


  • Boston Whaler
  • Contender Boats
  • Scout Boats
  • Bayliner
  • Everglades Boats
  • Freeman Boatworks
  • Grady-White Boats
  • Pursuit Boats
  • Axopar
  • Regulator Boats
  • SeaVee Boats
  • Chris-Craft
  • Edgewater
  • Intrepid
  • SeaHunt
  • Mako
  • Solace Boats
  • Aquila
  • Caymas Boats
  • Sportsman
  • NauticStar


Most affordable center console boat brands

All center console boats are not equal, and not all are designed for the same purpose, so questions around price and affordability depend on your goals as well as your bank account. The largest and most competitive segment of the center console boat market is the 22- to 30-foot range, with every type of model from affordable entry-level to premium brands offering luxury and high-end power. Pricing reflects size, finish, accessories, engine power, as well as the reputation of the brand. 


Value for money: Axopar. Launched only in 2014, the Finnish brand Axopar has been creating huge waves in the industry. Their boats have distinctive styling that many love, although some feel very differently. They are built for extreme adventures at sea—although not equipped for sportfishing—and they have all the luxury accessories you could wish for. The company’s ethos is to keep their boats moderately priced to provide excellent value for the money. By offering less customization than their competitors, they can produce boats in bigger numbers and keep costs down. Their under-30-foot models have cabins and heads, enclosed helms, and a whole suite of features, all at enticing prices. 


Best for all-round affordability: Sportsman. If you’re looking for an affordable center console that ticks a lot of boxes, consider the Sportsman range. They might be at the smaller end of our size bracket, but they bring a lot to the table, whether it’s cruising the bay, tackling offshore seas on calmer days, fishing, or spending time with the family cruising and swimming. Sportsman is open and upfront about their pricing, with simple packages and no hidden extras, so what you see is what you get. 


Axopar 28 TT

Photo credit: Axopar


The best center console fishing boat brands

There are many types of fishing boats, but center consoles have long been a favored choice for offshore fishing enthusiasts, and they line the marinas up and down the coast with their impressive set-ups, meaty outboard engines (two, three or four are not uncommon), and range of fishing gear. Big-game fishing is made easier thanks to the wrap-around deck space, as well as bait stations, tackle boxes, and livewells. They’re also easy to hose down at the end of the day.


Offshore center console boats: Everglades Boats. If you’re looking for the top of the market, consider Everglades’s range of sportfishing center console boats, tournament-ready for offshore fishing with exclusive and luxurious finishings. Versatile and powerful, their offshore boats have 300hp Yamaha engines, an ultra-smooth ride, and a helm kitted out with the latest technology. 


Center console bay boats: Contender. For in-the-bay fishing, consider Contender’s fleet of center consoles ranging from 24 to 44 feet, with several options in our target size range under 30 feet. These are serious, tournament-ready fishing boats, with several bay boat options within the range that are aimed more for inshore fishing. They offer 55-gallon livewells in the transom, chunky Yamaha outboards, and roomy forward bench seating.   


Best for rough seas: Freeman Boatworks. While deep-V hulls that handle rough water well are made by a number of brands, we recommend you also consider a center console fishing catamaran, as the ride is typically easier on your back than a monohull. With just one model under 30 feet, Freeman makes our list because of the sheer robustness of their performance fishing cats. While they’re relative newcomers (Freeman was founded in 2007), their boats are turning heads with their sleek lines, powerful engines, and innovative hull shapes. The list of fishing accessories offered is simply huge as well. 


Everglades 235CC

Photo credit: Everglades Boats


The best family center console boat brands

Center consoles are nothing if not versatile, and these days what is classed as a fishing boat can easily function as a very comfortable and roomy family boat too. Having said that, there are brands out there whose focus is less on tournament-level fishing and more on recreation. These boats will have more places to relax, and might have a bar instead of a bait station, as well as plush, adjustable seating and, on larger models in this range, even a head. They are geared for family days out whether it’s inshore and offshore cruising, and their design allows for a smoother, dryer ride. 


Best for comfort: Boston Whaler. One of the top names in the industry—they’re known as ‘The Unsinkable Legend’—Boston Whaler has an impressive range of center consoles designed both for fishing and recreation. In the mid-ranges, the Outrage and Dauntless models offer huge open bows with generous seating, and their reputation for creating ultra-strong, dependable, high-quality boats has only grown stronger ever since they launched their first boat in 1958. 


Premium: Chris-Craft. The name Chris-Craft is synonymous with luxury, and after 150 years of boatbuilding they certainly know how to build a head-turning boat that will last. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but Chris-Craft boats don’t come cheap, but you’re getting some of the finest craftsmanship in the industry. With teak cockpits, stereo systems, and sun lounger style seating, all their models are a thing of beauty. Check out Rightboat’s used Chris-Craft center console boats for sale for a more affordable option. 


Powercat: Twin Vee. While the vast majority of center console boats are monohull, there are some fantastic multihull models out there too, and Twin Vee is one of our favorites. In the 24 to 28 feet sector, they offer almost 50% more deck space than the equivalent monohull thanks to their almost 10 foot beam. With twin Suzuki outboards giving up to 60 mph speeds, these boats are fast, efficient, roomy, and downright fun for the whole family. 


Chris Craft Catalina 24

Photo credit: Chris Craft



Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

More from: Samantha Wilson

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