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Best Sport Fishing Boats, Convertible and Express to Center Console

Of the many types of fishing boats on the water, few can capture an angler’s imagination as completely as the true sport fishing boat. Just which models qualify as sport fishing boats is, of course, up for debate. One could argue that a 21-foot center console trolling along the coast of Florida counts, even if it’s hardly in the same category as a 60-foot convertible. But for the most serious anglers looking for fishing machines designed solely for bluewater fishing, true sportfishing boats will be over the 35-foot mark, integrate must-have offshore fishing features like outriggers, bait freezers, and livewells, and have some sort of cabin for sleeping aboard at different tournament venues and overnight angling adventures. These are big, bold, and usually warrant being called yachts as well as boats. Working under these parameters, which are the best sportfish boats on the ocean? Here are our top picks.


Best Sport Fishing Center Console Boats

While sport fishing boats were historically powered by inboards, the majority of the new sport fishing boats for sale on the market today are outboard-powered center console boats. Just 20 years ago you wouldn’t have found more than a model or two that could meet our requirements, but in this day and age, they’re shockingly common. With three, four, or more engines stacked up along the transom and cabins inside the consoles, today a center console sport fishing boat is the top choice of countless anglers.


Boston Whaler

Boston Whaler has three models in the Outrage line stretching past 35’ that fit the bill as center console sportfishing boats, and the brand’s immense popularity and epic reputation land Boston Whaler on our list. First and foremost, these models are built just like other Boston Whaler boats, with their trademark fiberglass-foam-fiberglass construction method that creates an unsinkable boat. Cut an Outrage into 100 pieces (banish the thought!) and each and every one of them will still float. On top of that they offer console cabins with a surprising amount of room, factory options for towers and upper stations, and fantastic performance. When rigged with triple 600-hp Mercury Verado outboards, the 420 Outrage can hit eye-watering speeds over the 60-mph mark. Boston Whaler boats for sale.


Boston Whaler 420 Outrage

Boston Whaler 420 Outrage. Boston Whaler photo. 



Scout Boats made our list of the best luxury center console boats over 40 feet and that was before they introduced their monstrous 530 LXF. They currently have five different models that make the grade as bona fide sport fishing boats, plus a sixth that falls short of the 35-foot mark by a mere inch but otherwise fits all criterial. All provide a level of accommodation that can only be described as luxurious. They also offer peak performance; that 530 LXF, for example, can be rigged with quintuplet Yamaha F425 outboards to cruise in the neighborhood of 50 mph and hit a top end in excess of 65 mph. Scout boat for sale


Scout 530 LXF

Scout 530 LXF. Scout photo. 


Valhalla Boatworks

The Valhalla brand is a relatively new one, launched in 2019 under the umbrella of the Viking Yachts company. The boats quickly became known for utterly flawless fit and finish, topnotch luxury levels, and standout performance. Three of their offerings, the V-41, V-46, and V-55 meet our qualifications, and you’ll commonly hear the V-55 called the most luxurious center console on the water today. These boats are all built on the Michael Peters Yacht Design Stepped Vee Ventilated Tunnel (SVVT) hull, incorporating twin steps and an aft tunnel, said to boost speed and efficiency by 15-percent as compared to a common V-hull. Net result? That V-55 can reach the blistering pace of 73 to 74 mph when rigged with the maximum 3000 hp. Valhalla boats for sale.


Valhalla V55

Valhalla V55. Valhalla Boatworks photo. 


Best Express Sport Fishing Boats

The express design, also sometimes called open sportfishing boats, will often represent the best choice for an angler who needs to find the best sport fishing boat under 40 feet but still wants plenty of space in the cabin. Unlike the center console it has an enclosed bow and thus more room inside, and you’ll see plenty of 35’ to 40’ express sport fishing boats for sale that have staterooms and galleys down below where a center console of the same size has half the cabin space. Many express owners also like the design because having the helmdeck down low means they can dart back into the cockpit and participate in the fishing action, whereas on a convertible they first must navigate a ladder before grabbing a rod.



Albemarle is one of the few builders around known more for their express boats than any other design, and they have a hard-earned reputation for building boats that are as solid and rugged as any on the face of the planet. There are currently two models in their line that land this brand in the running in the best express sport fishing boats category, the 36 Express and the 41 Express. Both are twin inboard diesel models, and both are built like tanks. Consider, for example, that the 36 Express tilts the scales at 25,000 pounds. That’s as much as 10,000 pounds more than some other express boats. Albemarles are known for shoving the seas out of the way rather than banging across the top of the waves, and this is one big reason why their express models deliver the ride and comfort of significantly larger boats. Albemarle boats for sale


Albemarle 36 Express

Albemarle 36 Express. Albemarle photo. 



While Grady-White has just one express model in their current lineup that meets all our conditions (others can be found on the used market and one other new model is just short of our length requirement), the 370 Express and this builder’s reputation lands them in this roundup. Grady-Whites offer top luxury, an excellent ride on the SeaV2 variable-degree-deadrise hull, and a resale value that’s among the best in the industry. Note that they also have a center console model, the Canyon 456, that could easily place the builder on our list of best center console sportfish boats as well. Grady-White boats for sale


Grady-White 370 Express

Grady-White 370 Express. Grady-White Boats photo. 



When you’re looking through all the different express sport fishing boats for sale on the market today, you’re sure to come across multiple models from Pursuit. They have a model range wider than most express boat builders in the current marketplace, with four between 37’11” and 46’6” plus one more model six inches under our minimum LOA mark. All are designed to accommodate the needs of an offshore angler while also delivering top-notch accommodations with a high level of luxury. Expect the cabins to be a bit larger and the cockpits a bit smaller than you’ll see on other express sport fishing boats, and also expect to see comfort-enhancing perks like air conditioning at the helm as well as in the cabin, electrically actuated fold-away TVs and tables, and adjustable chaise lounges. Pursuit boats for sale


Pursuit OS 445

Pursuit OS 445. Pursuit photo. 


Best Convertible Sport Fishing Boats

Many offshore anglers consider convertibles to be the ultimate sportfishing machines. With a pair of diesel inboards tucked under the deck and a bridge high above, these boats are for pursuing pelagic species in offshore waters, period. Most easily attain yacht status and carry price tags measured by the millions.


Bertram Yachts

The Bertram name is legendary in the world of sportfishing boats, having first employed the C. Raymond Hunt-designed deep-V hull in a production boat when the company was founded all the way back in 1960. Today they have two convertibles that fit into our mold, the 35 Flybridge and the 61 Convertible. The brand has changed ownership and made many changes to their boats in recent years but the 61 has long been known as one of the best sportfishing convertibles in its class. The 35, meanwhile, boasts a classic retro Bertram look and took the world of sport fishing boats by storm when it was introduced in 2017. Bertram boats for sale


Bertram 35 Flybridge

Bertram 35 Flybridge. Bertram photo. 


Hatteras Yachts

Another storied brand, Hatteras Yachts has gone through many changes through the years since it built its first boat in 1959. That boat was not only a convertible, but was also the first convertible over 40 feet ever built of fiberglass. In recent years, they’ve had three convertibles in their GT lineup, the GT59, GT65 Carolina, and GT70, and Hatteras has announced a new generation of yachts to be introduced in 2024. Hatteras convertibles are known for delivering opulent surroundings both inside and outside of the cabin, yet also being tough enough to take on the roughest seas the open Atlantic can dish out. Hatteras boats for sale.


Hatteras GT65 Carolina

Hatteras GT65 Carolina. Hatteras photo. 


Viking Yachts

Viking Yachts is, without question, the most successful builder of convertible sportfishing boats of our age. They offer the most expansive lineup on the market, with 11 convertibles from 38’8” to 90’ plus seven convertible-style enclosed flybridge yachts from 68’7” to 90’. Founded in 1964 by brothers Bob and Bill Healey, the company is still family-owned today. Their boats have a well-deserved reputation for being topnotch in every regard, from fit and finish, to seakeeping, to luxury levels. Viking boats for sale


Viking 80 Convertible

Viking 80 Convertible. Viking Yachts photo. 


Best Affordable Sport Fishing Boats

For many people there’s no such thing as an “affordable” sportfishing boat, at least not without targeting their attention on the used boat market as opposed to new models. Even then, the cost of mooring, fuel, and maintenance may well be sky high. Affordability is in the eye of the beholder, but those looking for a lower cost way to break into the world of sport fishing boats will often be seeking out older boats made by these brands.


Egg Harbor

This builder went out of business then was revived several times in the 1990s and 2000s, and it hasn’t launched a new boat in many years. Looking at 1970s and 1980s vintage boats, however, it’s possible to find a wide selection of models on the used market. Naturally, since these have a lot of age on them, hulls and powerplants in excellent condition are likely to be few and far between, and refit work will likely be needed. Egg Harbor boats for sale



The Luhrs brand ceased constructing new boats in 2008 and despite some attempted revivals, no longer exists. However, they built a huge number of boats through the 1990s up until the Great Recession, and these can be purchased at very reasonable prices on the used boat market today. Expect that many will be in need of repowering if they haven’t already had new engines put in, and are likely to need some level of repairs to be brought to top condition. Luhrs boats for sale


Ocean Yachts

Ocean Yachts went out of business in 2015, but until that time (when Viking Yachts acquired their assets but didn’t continue the brand) built hundreds of expresses and convertibles. These were known for being lighter than most competitors and significantly less expensive than many other boats of the same size and type. Ocean Yachts for sale


Other Options for Sport Fishing Boats

While the above categories represent the majority of the sport fishing boats used by offshore anglers nationwide, there are some other options, often specific to certain regions, which an angler might choose.


Downeast Sport Fishing Boats

While most of the modern downeast brands are dedicated to creating cruisers as opposed to fishing boats, several such as NorthCoast, Wilbur Yachts, Judge Yachts, and Eastern Boats have downeast-style models that can also fit the bill as sportfishing boats. They tend to be most popular in northeastern Atlantic states where their styling matches local tastes.


NorthCoast 415HT

NorthCoast 415HT. NorthCoast photo. 


Pilothouse Sport Fishing Boats

Pilothouse models are commonly seen in a wide variety of forms that serve well as sportfishers. Models like the Invincible 46 Pilothouse are built specifically for offshore fishing, while some others like the Axopar 37 or the G-Force 35 are more oriented to cruising but could be rigged to fish part-time. 


Truth be told, you can take just about any boat offshore, catch a fish or two, and call it a “sport fishing boat.” But the brands we’ve called out here are unquestionably serious sportfishing machines, and each and every one of them could potentially be the best choice—for you.



Written By: Lenny Rudow

With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites. Rudow lives in Annapolis, Maryland, and is currently Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk; he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.


More from: Lenny Rudow

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