Center console fishing boats are incredibly popular among anglers, but interestingly, they’ve recently become popular among the speed boat crowd as well as for a wide range of boating adventures. To anyone who’s owned a center console, that makes perfect sense. Even though the center console may have been primarily designed as a saltwater fishing boat, it’s copious deck space, sporty performance, and rugged construction make this type of boat great for a huge number of activities. Nowadays, there are a million and one models on the market of all shapes and sizes. But, which ones are the best of the bunch? Here are the 10 best center console boats we’ve seen in the past year or so which deserve special recognition.
2023 Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless
Boston Whaler boats are best known for their unsinkable construction, and the 280 Dauntless certainly features that glass-foam-glass sandwhich. But the new 280 also sets a number of bars in the world of center console bay boats. This is Whaler’s largest yet, and is one of the few boats in the genre to can run on twin engines instead of a single. That, along with a voluminous 160 gallon fuel capacity, makes it a hybrid model capable of both inshore and offshore action. Fishing-wise it’s got everything you need for all different styles of angling (a 19-gallon livewell, gobs of rodholders and rocket launchers, casting platforms forward and aft, etc.), and this boat also sits at the top of the tech curve, with digital switching controls, a kicking stereo system, and eye-pleasing RGB lighting. To learn more check out our full Boston Whaler Dauntless 280 boat review.
See Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Caymas 401 CC
Caymas Boats has only been around for a few years, but they’ve been upping the ante one season after the next. Last year their new flagship model, the 401 CC, made it on our list, and for 2023 this impressive model retains its spot. It’s an utter fishing beast, with a 11’6″ beam, the ability to take up to 1,800 horsepower on the transom in triple- or quad-engine installations, a pair of monstrous 45-gallon livewells, and 460 total gallons of fishbox capacity. Those livewells benefit from a Hooker sea chest system with variable-speed pumps and a 5,000-gph capacity. And, like other Caymas models, the 401 CC is built on the Michael Peters SVVT twin-stepped hull. Net result? Neck-snapping acceleration and hair-whipping speeds. Added bonus: this boat has three dozen standard-issue rodholders.
See Caymas 401 CC boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 X Shore Eelex 8000
Never before has an electric boat made our roundup, but the X Shore Eelex 8000 makes its mark for the 2023 model year. While it still can’t match the speeds nor range of a similarly sized gasoline-powered boat, the Eelex 8000 has made strides far beyond today’s norm and for many people will more than do the job while vastly reducing their carbon footprint. With a single direct-drive inboard motor and a pair of 126 kWh Kreisel lithium batteries, it can hit a top-end of around 30 knots. Pull the throttles back into the low 20s, and you can cruise for up to two hours. Or slow down to between six and eight mph, and the boat’s range extends to about 115 miles. X Shore offers the boat in both fishing and entertaining layouts, including options for a convertible aft dinette/sunpad, a rigging station with livewell, and an unusual carbon fiber hard top with supports on the leaning post rather than around the console itself. Learn more about the Eelex 8000 by checking out X Shore Eelex 8000: The Latest in Electric Boats.
See X Shore Eelect 8000 electric boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Formula 387 Center Console Sport
Formula has a pair of new center consoles, a “Fish” and a “Sport” model, and for 2023 we’re adding the Sport to our list of top contenders because plenty of boaters out there who’d rather entertain than fish love the center console design. The boat is Formula through and through, with performance including top speeds breaking the 60-mph barrier, hand-laid construction with computer-cut biaxial and triaxial fabrics, and the company’s FAS3Tech hull design. The boat has gobs of comfy seating, and an air-conditioned console cabin with a twin berth that converts into a dinette, plus a galley and a head compartment. Get more details by reading Formula’s Two New Center Consoles and remember that if you’re more comfortable spilling cocktails than fish blood, this one’s the pick for your tastes.
See Formula 387 Center Console Sport boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Grady-White Canyon 456
Grady-White has a well-deserved reputation for building high-quality boats that have excellent resale value, the Canyon 456 is the biggest Grady-White ever built, and as we assemble our new list of top picks for 2023 there’s no way we’d leave this one off. It’s even a bit of a stretch to think of this model as a mere center console fishing boat – in truth, it’s a center console yacht. The huge console houses a full cabin with a queen berth, a complete galley, and an enclosed stand-up head with shower. A Seakeeper gyro-stabilization system dampens the rocking and rolling. In the past four massive Yamaha F425 outboards have graced the transom, pushing all 24,500 pounds of this boat up to a cruising speed around 40 mph and a top-end of 58 MPH. When Yamaha begins shipping their new 450s, however, you’ll be able to get the boat with an eye-popping 1800 horses.
See Grady-White Canyon 456 boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Invincible 33 Catamaran
The Invincible 33 Catamaran enjoys all the advantages of the best multihulls, and we found this model so impressive it also earned a slot in out Best Catamarans of 2022 top picks before joining our list of top center consoles. With a pair of 450 horsepower Mercury outboards it can blast off to the fishing grounds at eye-watering speeds of up to 70 mph. Construction is high-tech with vacuum-infusion, and the twin-stepped hull is just as cutting edge. The Invincible 33 Catamaran rocks it in the fishing department, too, with 20-plus rodholders, a huge coffin box fishbox under the forward lounger, and a jacuzzi-sized livewell in the transom.
See Invincible 33 Catamaran boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Robalo 266 Cayman
The Cayman line is Robalo’s take on bay boats, and the 266 joins their fleet in 2023 as the largest of this model line’s offerings. It follows a standard bay boat playbook with casting decks fore and aft that convert into seating areas, but has plenty of beef for forays into the open ocean as well. Particularly impressive is just how roomy it is inside, thanks in no small part to an unusually wide 9’4″ beam. It also has a relatively deep freeboard for a hybrid bay boat, and a hefty 5,300-pound displacement. Note that the boat comes well equipped, and there’s a long list of standard features including high-end items like an onboard 12/24 battery charger, a 6″ hydraulic jack plate, and a tandem axel trailer with disc brakes on all four wheels.
See Robalo 266 Cayman boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Solace 30 HCS
Though it’ certainly far bigger than most the Solace 30 HCS is billed as a hybrid bay boat, and it does check all the boxes to fit in that genre. That said it certainly tilts more towards offshore than inshore, and is exceptionally deep and brawny as compared to any others. Yet we can set its sheer size aside and a completely different trait still earns this model a spot in the top 10: its design and construction. This boat is so high-tech it’s in a class of its own, built with epoxy-infused carbon fiber and Innegra. The hull has a twin-step design with 37 degrees of entry deadrise and 21 degrees of transom deadrise. And abovedecks you’ll find touches like seat cushions and casting decks that are magnetized to hold the cushions in place yet also allow for easy removal. This. Boat. Is. Sick.
See Solace 30 HCS boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Sportsman Open 262 Center Console
Sportsman has rolled out a number of new offerings in the past couple of years, but we’re partial to the Open 262 Center Console because it’s a unique offering in a very crowded market niche. The 26-foot size range is jam-packed with boats since it’s such a popular segment, but most of the center consoles in this size range are relatively vanilla. Not the 262. Like larger models and a handful of 26-footers this one has a side entry door in the gunwale, but unlike any in this range the Open 262 has a second door – there’s one on either side of the boat. It also has a pair of 30-gallon pressurized aquarium-style livewells, the likes of which we commonly see only on much larger, more expensive offerings. Plus, the Open 262 is even designed for a Seakeeper gyroscopic stabilization system; it’s optional, but the boat is pre-prepped for the install.
See Sportsmen Open 262 Center Console boats for sale on Boat Trader.
2023 Valhalla V-55
There’s no mistaking the Valhalla V-55 for a boat – this is a center console yacht through and through. Introduced to the world this past winter the 2023 V-55 is one of the largest, most powerful center consoles on the face of the planet. It features a cabin with a private stateroom forward, a second stateroom aft, a galley, a salon, and seperate head and shower compartments. Air conditioning, gyroscopic stabilization and just about every other comfort-giving fishing boat feature you can dream of is included. And the V-55 runs on the Michael Peters SVVT hull design, reaching speeds of up to 74-mph. Check out our full review of the boat, Valhalla Boatworks V-55: Apex Predator.
See Valhalla V-55 boats for sale on Boat Trader.
You say you’re not 100-percent sure that a center console is the ideal type of boat for you and your needs? Check out Center Consoles, Side Consoles, and Dual Consoles: What’s the Difference? to get a handle on the ins and outs of these different types of designs. You may also be interested in learning which are the top 10 center console fishing boat manufacturers.
This article was last updated in April of 2023.