Anglers lover center console boats for their 360-degree fishability, but many people who own this type of fishing boat quickly discover that they’re great for family boating, too. You think there may be a center console in your future, if you can find one that’s affordable? Never fear, dear soon-to-be center console owner, you’ll have plenty of options.
While the term “affordable” means different things to different people, a $500 monthly payment would be less than the average new car loan payment ($530, according to Experian). Since that’s an expense that many Americans find palatable, we’ll use it as a benchmark.
With some quick verification via our Boat Loan Calculator (going by a six-percent interest rate, a 15-year term, and no money down) we can see that all 10 of these top picks, listed in order of affordability, make the grade.
1. Carolina Skiff 162 JLS
Starting at a NAP price of right around $19,000 with a 60 HP outboard, the Carolina Skiff 162 JLS qualifies as uber-affordable. In fact, you could be paying a mere $160 or so by the month to enjoy this small but well-equipped boat, with an 18-gallon livewell, six flush rodholders, and a swim platform with a three-step telescopic re-boarding ladder.
On top of the low cost there are a number of advantages to owning a diminutive center console like this one, including easy maintenance, very low operational costs, and (if you choose to trailer it) modest tow vehicle requirements.
Visit Carolina Skiff to learn more.
2. Robalo R160
At an NAP under $24,000 ($202.53 a month with a Yamaha F70 four-stroke outboard) Robalo’s R160 is this builder’s smallest and least expensive option—but they built the boat exactly as they build their larger, higher-cost models. The hull still enjoys the beef of Kevlar reinforcement, the fasteners and fittings are still 316-grade stainless-steel, wiring is still tinned-copper with waterproof connectors, and the transom core is still poured ceramic.
And note that this rig is packaged with a single-axel trailer, so you’re ready to launch it and go fishing the very day you sign the dotted line.
Visit Robalo Boats to learn more.
3. Xpress XP20CC
If you want to maximize size for the dollar, the Xpress XP20CC will be tough to beat. At 20’3” long and 7’11” wide this boat has a very large footprint for its just-over $26,000 ($219.40 a month) sticker price. And that sticker price gets you a ready-to-fish rig right out of the box, including a Yamaha VF115LA outboard, a single-axel aluminum trailer, and some unexpected perks like a Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 fishfinder and a Minn Kota Riptide 46 electric trolling motor.
Having an aluminum center console brings with it a serious weight advantage, too, and at 1,900-pounds this rig will make for easy hauling. On top of that, with a 45 MPH top-end this boat offers the fastest speeds of any competitors in this roundup.
Visit Xpress Boats to learn more.
4. Scout 175 Sportfish
Although Scout builds plenty of much larger boats these days, they got their start with small center console models like their 175 Sportfish. Spend a day casting from one, and you’ll quickly realize why: foot for foot they run much smoother than one would expect, and they perform exceptionally well while doing so.
The standard package (slightly under $29,000/$244.72 a month with a Yamaha F90 outboard and a trailer) delivers a cruise over 30 MPH and a top-end over 40 MPH, while maintaining an eyebrow-raising 6.5 mpg at cruise and 4.6 mpg running full-tilt. Added bonus: this is one of very few 17-footers that allows you to troll a spread of four rods from flush-mounted rodholders, includes pedestal seats at the helm, and also has jump seats in the stern.
Visit Scout Boats to learn more.
5. Boston Whaler 170 Dauntless
Boston Whalers are famous for being unsinkable thanks to their fiberglass-encased foam construction, but they aren’t known for being easy on the budget. And the 170 Dauntless is relatively small for its just-over $41,000 price tag, which shakes out to a $345.98 monthly payment. So, why does it score higher than one might expect in the affordability category?
Whalers have excellent resale value and while your monthly payment might be a bit on the high side for a 17-footer, you’ll likely get much more of your investment back in the long run. You’ll also get a serious jolt of adrenaline, when you push the throttle down on the 90-horse outboard and hit speeds up to 40 MPH. Plus, there’s a serious feeling of confidence that goes with owning a boat that you know will always keep floating, no matter what.
Visit Boston Whaler to learn more.
6. Hurricane Center Console 19 OB
If you want a center console and you also like the deck boat design, a model that delivers both is the Hurricane Center Console 19 OB. Starting around a $43,000 MSRP ($362.86 per month), the Hurricane carries its beam all the way forward into the bow. This means you enjoy maximum space and seating forward of the console, and on top of that, this portion of the boat can be converted between a sunpad and a forward casting deck. There’s also a slick aft casting deck design that houses a lighted livewell and features drop-in backrests to turn it into additional seating.
Plus, the Center Console 19 OB has those additional deck boat features which are great for the family as well as for fishing, like a fold-away telescopic bow boarding ladder that makes it a breeze to step off onto the sand when you beach the boat, a Fusion four-speaker Bluetooth stereo system, and a swing-back helm seat with a 100-quart cooler.
Visit Hurricane Boats to learn more.
7. Yamaha 210 FSH Deluxe
Starting at a hair over $45,000 (which breaks down to $379.74 a month), the Yamaha 210 FSH Deluxe is unique among its peers in a number of ways. First off, it’s the only jet-powered center console in this mix. For family anglers, eliminating the presence of propellers can add peace of mind. And for performance-oriented boaters the thrilling handling of a jet boat is a big draw.
Secondly, it’s the only twin-engine rig in our roundup and is powered by a pair of Yamaha TR-1 HO engines. Naturally, family anglers with kids who also enjoy watersports will be the likely candidates for choosing this model.
Visit Yamaha Boats to learn more.
8. Sea Fox 206 Commander
Most 20-foot center consoles that offer bow seating have either a forward U-shaped seat or they split the seats to either side, but if you want a full-blown sunpad with recliner-style backrests, the Sea Fox 206 Commander will be a boat of interest. With an MSRP slightly over $47,000 and a monthly payment of $396.61, the bow seating on this boat is one of a kind and will put you into full relaxation mode.
Packaged with a 150 horsepower outboard, it also has a number of other features that will be appreciated when the rods are left in the holders and pleasure-cruises are on the agenda: a head compartment inside the console, a 12-V outlet at the helm, jump seats at the transom, LED courtesy lights, and a telescopic boarding ladder are all on the standard features list.
Visit Sea Fox Boats to learn more.
9. Mako 21 LTS Guide Package
Coming in just under the $50,000 mark, the Mako 21 LTS Guide Package gets you into a fully loaded boat-motor-trailer package well within the affordability bar at $421.93 a month. And we do mean fully loaded—big-ticket items that are usually considered cost-adding options on other rigs are all included. Just check out this list of goodies: a Minn Kota Riptide Terrova 80-pound thrust electric trolling motor, a pair of Power Pole Pro Series II shallow-water pole anchors, a Simrad NSS9 evo2 MFD with C-Map Insight HD mapping, an onboard three-bank 30-amp battery charger, and a Pro-Air livewell aeration system are all aboard.
If you really wanted to jazz things up you could even upgrade the outboard from 150 to 225 horses (about $6,000), without shattering the affordability ceiling.
Visit Mako Boats to learn more.
10. Sportsman Open 232 Center Console
If you want the biggest affordable center console possible, the Sportsman Open 232 Center Console will be a boat you need to check out. Starting at a hair over $54,000 and 455.68 per month it’s getting close to our budget cap, but at 22’9” long and 8’6” wide with a 18-degree V-hull and a 103-gallon fuel capacity, this is also one of the most competent big-water boats in the mix.
It’s a center console you’ll feel comfortable running through the inlet and into the open ocean on days when the weather allows, will handle bays and protected waterways any day of the week, and it’ll put just about every species of sportfish you wish to chase within your reach.
Visit Sportsman Boats to learn more.
Ready to Explore Other Affordable Boat Models?
Why didn’t we push the pricing a little bit farther, and choose some boats that cost more like $59,250 (which shakes out to a $499.99 monthly payment)? Because people like to customize their boats and we wanted all of these choices to represent true real-world affordability, with the budgetary room to add upgrades and options you might consider personal must-haves.
We kept our numbers on the conservative side knowing that with all 10 of these boats you’ll have that flexibility. Yes, you can have one of these most affordable center console boats rigged and ready to fish just the way you want it—without worrying about breaking the bank.
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