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Best Center Console Boat Brands

Center console boats are a top selling boat in the United States, and are 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 articles we’ve looked at the best center console boats under 25 feet and the best luxury center console boats over 40 feet. Here we shine a spotlight on the top brands selling mid-range center console boats between 22 and 30 feet for fishing and recreation.

Take a look at our list of center console boats for sale.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless center console boat

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, offers ample 360-degree deck space, and provides shade from a 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 with 360-degree access around the boat make them excellent fishing platforms, 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 are for 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 bracket, and are designed as multi-use boats for fishing and recreation in bays, rivers, and relatively protected waterways. They’re not big enough for blue water fishing on a regular basis, 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. With relatively low drafts that enable them to fish the shallows, but more deadrise in the hull and higher freeboard than most dedicated bay boats, they attempt to offer the best of both worlds to anglers who enjoy fishing inshore one day and offshore the next. 

 

Best Center Console Boat Brands

With center console boats being 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 purely for their fishing capabilities, today they are just as well-loved by families or those looking to cruise around the bay. In this article we’re looking at brands with models in the 22 to 30 feet range, but there are others whose entire ranges are larger. The below brands have a long history and reputation, and are considered by many to be 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
  • Pathfinder
  • SeaVee Boats
  • Chris-Craft
  • Edgewater
  • Intrepid
  • Sea Hunt
  • Mako
  • Caymas Boats
  • Sportsman
  • NauticStar

 

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. 

 

Best starter center console boats: Bayliner

With a range of models and styles at attractive prices, Bayliner boats are well worth a look if you’re just starting out your boating journeys or working hard to manage limited funds. The features you get as standard are akin to those you would get from high-end brands, including livewells, rod storage, and an enclosed head even on many of their smaller models. Bayliner specializes in smaller center console boats, and they just make it into our list with their trailerable 22- to 24-foot models. 

 

Bayliner Boats for Sale

 

Bayliner T21 Bay center console boat

Photo credit: Bayliner

 

Best value for money center console boats: 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 always 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. 

 

Axopar Boats for Sale

 

Axopar 37 MY20 Center Console boatPhoto credit: Axopar

 

Best center console boats 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 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 thoroughly equips all their models for fishing and  is open and upfront about their pricing, with simple packages and no hidden extras, so what you see is what you get. 

 

Sportsman Boats for Sale

 

sportsman open 252 center console

Photo credit: Sportsman

 

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 rigging 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 the Everglades range of sportfishing center console boats, tournament-ready for offshore fishing with exclusive and luxurious finishings. Versatile and powerful, their offshore boats have Yamaha outboard engines, large integrated fishboxes, and helms kitted out with the latest technology. 

 

Everglades Boats for Sale

 

Everglades 235CC center console boat

Photo credit: Everglades Boats

 

Center console bay boats: Pathfinder

Pathfinder boats were born and bred for the bay, with their entire lineup consisting of bay boats with the exception of one hybrid model. In all cases these are high-performance fishing machines which turn in top-end speeds often in excess of 60 mph. They offer all the expected fishing features like livewells, casting decks, and integrated fishboxes, and several of their models also have family-friendly comfort features like additional seating and freshwater systems.

 

Pathfinder Boats for Sale

 

Pathfinder 2400 Open Center Console

Photo credit: Pathfinder

 

Best center console boats for a smooth ride: World Cat

Power catamarans are known for smoothing out the chop, and World Cat is one of the biggest center console power catamaran builders around. Creating a smooth ride is the company’s top objective, whether it’s their largest or smallest models, as World Cat rightly believes it’s the foundation to an enjoyable boating experience.

 

World Cat Boats for Sale

 

World Cat 280 Center Console

Photo credit: World Cat

 

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, plush and adjustable seating, and larger consoles with extra space dedicated to a head compartment. They are geared for family days out whether it’s inshore and offshore cruising, and often have perks like stereo systems and ski tow bits, as well. 

 

Best center console 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 midrange, 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. 

 

Boston Whaler Boats for Sale

 

Premium center console boats: 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. Still, you’re getting some of the finest craftsmanship in the industry. With teak trim, stereo systems, and sun lounger style seating, all their models are a thing of beauty. 

 

Chris-Craft Boats for Sale

 

Chris Craft Catalina 24 luxury center console boat

Photo credit: Chris Craft

 

Powercat center console boats: Twin Vee

While the vast majority of center console boats are monohulls, there are some fantastic multihull models out there too and Twin Vee is one of our favorites. Since powercats can utilize their full beam from bow to stern they have significantly more deck space than monohulls of the same size, and their static stability is amazing. With twin Suzuki outboards giving up to 60 mph speeds on some models, these boats are fast, efficient, roomy, and downright fun for the whole family. 

 

Twin Vee Boats for Sale

 

Twin Vee 240GFX Center Console

Photo credit: Twin Vee

 

 

This article was most recently updated in July 2023 by Lenny Rudow
 

 

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.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Samantha Wilson


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