The Best Small Center Console Boat for Every Budget

The best small center console boats can be the perfect vehicle for open waters.

They have become really popular since they have all sorts of benefits. They come in a huge range of boats that are perfect for fishing retreats and fun day-outs.

Best Overall
BAYLINER F16
2020 CAROLINA SKIFF ULTRA BASE
2020 CAROLINA SKIFF ULTRA BASE
TRACKER BOAT GRIZZLY 1860 CC
TWIN VEE 240 CENTER CONSOLE BOAT
Our Rating
9.9
9.7
9.6
9.5
9.4
Length
16 feet 2 inches
16 feet 4 inches
16 feet 4 inches
19 feet 2 inches
24 feet
Weight
1,750 lbs
1600 lbs
1600 lbs
940 lbs
3,400 lbs
Engine
Mercury 60 HP
Yamaha Single F70LA
Yamaha Single F70LA
Mercury® FourStroke
Twin DOHC 16-Valve
Beam
7 feet 5 inches
7 feet
7 feet
7 feet
8 feet 8 inches
Hull Material
Fiberglass
Fiberglass
Fiberglass
0.100 5052 marine alloy
Vinyl Ester Resin
Best Overall
BAYLINER F16
Our Rating
9.9
Length
16 feet 2 inches
Weight
1,750 lbs
Engine
Mercury 60 HP
Beam
7 feet 5 inches
Hull Material
Fiberglass
2020 CAROLINA SKIFF ULTRA BASE
Our Rating
9.7
Length
16 feet 4 inches
Weight
1600 lbs
Engine
Yamaha Single F70LA
Beam
7 feet
Hull Material
Fiberglass
2020 CAROLINA SKIFF ULTRA BASE
Our Rating
9.6
Length
16 feet 4 inches
Weight
1600 lbs
Engine
Yamaha Single F70LA
Beam
7 feet
Hull Material
Fiberglass
TRACKER BOAT GRIZZLY 1860 CC
Our Rating
9.5
Length
19 feet 2 inches
Weight
940 lbs
Engine
Mercury® FourStroke
Beam
7 feet
Hull Material
0.100 5052 marine alloy
TWIN VEE 240 CENTER CONSOLE BOAT
Our Rating
9.4
Length
24 feet
Weight
3,400 lbs
Engine
Twin DOHC 16-Valve
Beam
8 feet 8 inches
Hull Material
Vinyl Ester Resin

The best value center console boat is simply a steering station on top of a console in the middle of a boat. It has an open deck that can be great to stand on and experience the refreshing spray on your face.

You can sit anywhere on the boat since the center console gives you enough room to maneuver around the boat. The design of the boat is usually pretty versatile and has high functionality.

A lot of people think of center console boats when it comes to fishing, especially. This is because such boats provide you with plenty of room to cast your rods. You can even take large parties for your next fishing trip without any issue.

If you want to buy a new center console boat, here are the best small center console boats for every budget.

Winner: Bayliner F16

BAYLINER F16

Benefits

The Bayliner F16 is known for its different features and functions. You get a full trailer, motor, and boat in the package. You can take advantage of the aft casting deck as well as the standard forward.

It also comes with vertical racks that can carry six of your fishing rods within one console. The boat also has a stainless-steel wheel for steering, which lasts for a long time.

It is known as the best affordable bay boat because it comes with a leaning post, 18-gallon built-in fuel tank, and pre-wiring with a trolling motor. The swim ladder can lead to all sorts of fun experiences out in the ocean.

The boat has a 60 horse outboard power. You will be able to get up on the plane without any issues as well as cruise gently. This 16-footer boat can go to 31 MPH, which doesn’t sound like much but feel amazing on the ocean waves.

The hull design of the boat is definitely a benefit when you give it an in-depth look. The Bayliner F16 has an M-Hull shape, which resembles a tri-hull.

It has a V in the center with the prominent sponsons located on either side. This M-Hull is known to be more stable than regular V-Hulls and get on the plane easily and quickly.

The boat is perfect for people who want a shallow water angler to cast their lines. On nice days, venturing out in the open water on this boat can also be a fun and enjoyable experience.

The Bayliner F16 is a self-bailing version too. This means that if the water comes into the boat or you get swamped, you will not face a lot of issues.

Drawbacks              

The hatch pull-rings and rod holders are made from plastic. A lot of people prefer stainless steel because it lasts longer and can take on a lot of wear and tear.

The hatches are also only finished on one side. They are made with straps instead of better designs like gas-assist struts.

Extra Features 

The helm of the boat is designed in such a way that you will probably stand while driving the boat. This is why the throttle controls are mounted in such a way that it is completely ergonomic.

However, if you want to take the pressure off your post, there is a leaning post that you can relax against.

The helm of the boat also has a gauge with multiple functions. It can give you lots of room to use any chart plotters or graphs as well as place your switches.

The stern casting deck is also has a non-skid finish. The deck has two jump seats that can fold up neatly when you are done with fishing.

Buying Advice

If you want the best affordable bay boat, you can’t go wrong with the Bayliner F16.

It doesn’t come with many fancy attachments, but it will definitely be a great boat for fishing, cruising in the open waters, and making amazing memories. You won’t regret this purchase!                 

Runner Up: 2020 Carolina Skiff Ultra Base

2020 CAROLINA SKIFF ULTRA BASE

Benefits

The 2020 Carolina Skiff Ultra Base series is a popular boat with 5 different models. Each model comes at a different price point, making it the best small center console boats for every budget.

The most popular in demand is the 26 Ultra Elite model packed with all sorts of amazing features and functions.

The 26 UE boat has the ability to navigate tidal creeks, large rivers, inshore lacks, and even offshore exploration. It is a strong and comfortable model that will ensure many relaxing days and memorable experiences.

The high versatility of the boat provides the entire family with fun-filled adventures; you can go for fishing, cruising, and even swimming in the molded swimming platform on the stern.

Drawbacks

This may be the best small center console boat, but it can be a little expensive for some people. You can go for the Ultra Base 19 instead of the 26 for a more affordable model.

Extra Features 

The 26 UE comes with many features and amenities that will ensure a comfortable and safe trip for all. The step-in console is fitted with a porta-potty as well as a fire extinguisher.

The boat has plenty of storage space with locks that will keep your essentials protected. The U shape of the bow ensures nice seating, and you can have lunch on the oval table too.

The bow of the boat has a navigation light that makes it possible for you to go on nighttime rides. Even the dry storage in the front has LED lighting and drains overboard, so your belongings stay safe.

The center console of the boat has hydraulic steering that makes it easy to navigate the boat around the waters. The power grip wheel is comfortable to hold and makes it easier to move the boat around.

You can place 12 fishing rods in the rod holders located in the gunnels and 4 in the 30-degree SS holders. The fiberglass design of the floor is durable and can withstand a lot of foot traffic.

The cockpit even has a cargo net that can help you out with your fishing adventures. It even has a removable cooler that can ensure your catch stays fresh on the go. The 78-gallon fuel tank will last you a while on the open water.

Buying Advice

The boat is the perfect vessel to take large groups out for a ride or fishing. You will definitely make a lot of great memories on this boat!

Alternative: Robolo 2020 R160

RABOLO 2020 R160

Benefits

The Robolo 2020 R160 has plenty of action-packed features that have changed the game for boating. The size is perfect for skilled anglers and beginners.

It is made with high-quality, durable Kevlar construction and stainless-steel hardware. The foam padding is luxurious, and top-tier vinyl has been installed to ensure long-term use.

Drawbacks

The boat can get tossed around when there are a lot of waves. It is better for a calm water body like lakes instead of seas or oceans.

Extra Features 

The Robolo is known for its roominess, which makes it easier to fish to your heart’s content. The sizable platform in the front has non-skid Diamond Lustre installed to ensure sure footing.

The insulated locker acts are the perfect storage for your catch or icy drinks. The boat comes in many colors, which you can choose according to your personal aesthetic.

Buying Advice

This is the best center console boat for people who want a small vessel that can take you for great fishing or cruising trips. But, you have to make sure that you are careful on open waters since the boat has a tendency to bounce back a bit.

Alternative: Tracker Boat Grizzly 1860 CC

TRACKER BOAT GRIZZLY 1860 CC

Benefits

This small center console fishing boat comes with a great factory warranty.

The Grizzly 1860 CC has a lockable desk storage compartment in the bow deck, which can carry all your essentials without issue. The construction is made from high-quality 100% aluminum.

The center console system is easy to use, even for beginners, and offers you 360-degree fishing and visibility. The accessory mount in the gunnels can carry all your fishing equipment.

The powder coat of forest green color looks elegant and visually appealing; the camo print also blends into any background perfectly. The modified V-hull allows for a drier and smooth ride since it has great handling.

The trailer has a custom-fit design that has chip and corrosion protection too.

Drawbacks

It can be heavier to load or unload in backwaters.

Extra Features 

The navigation lights make it perfect for a nighttime ride. Imagine all the romantic ocean cruises you can take with your significant other.

The hydraulic steering offers high handling and control over the boat. The vertical rod holders on the port side and starboard side are the best accessories for fishing enthusiasts.

Buying Advice

The Grizzly 1860 CC is a big boat for the price point. It offers stable rides and an opportunity to create a lot of memorable experiences.

Alternative: Twin Vee 240 Center Console Boat

TWIN VEE 240 CENTER CONSOLE BOAT

Benefits

The Twin Vee 240 Center Console Boat is a state-of-the-art boat for people who want a luxurious vessel.

The Twin engines ensure a smooth and perfect ride that boat lovers will prefer. The center console boat has great style and superior comfort for the entire family.

The multi-hull, composite boat has great ride quality, stability, function, and form. The premium interior design ensures that every boating experience is exceptional and enjoyable.

Drawbacks

The center console is a bit on the pricey side compared to the other models on this list. However, it has plenty of premium features that make it a worthwhile purchase, and it is also the biggest boat on the list.

Extra Features 

We all know that our devices are super important, even on fishing trips. This is why the boat has two USB plugs that will ensure your devices stay charged.

The Voyager Compass helps with navigation and guidance since it allows you improved safety, fuel efficiency, and optimized performance.

Buying Advice

This premium center console boat is the perfect purchase for people who want a luxurious cruise and many memorable cruises.

Center Console Boat FAQ

Here are some basic FAQs to get you started on your best center console boat journey.

What Is The Center Console On A Boat?

A boat’s center console system consists of a trim control, steering, ignition, radio, and other electronic systems. It is located in the middle of the boat’s deck.

Even cheap center console boats are really convenient and efficient, which is why a lot of people prefer them.

However, every boat is not suitable for a center console system; you have to make sure that you get the right kind. For those that can support such a system, it can make a day riding along the open water or fishing a fun and enjoyable experience.

Center consoles are a great addition to boats since they are specially designed for fishing. They are built to improve weight distribution and visibility.

They also provide a convenient central location for all the steering and electronics.

You can buy a separate center console system for your boat or get the best small center console boat; no matter what you choose, it will definitely be a great investment.

What Are Center Console Boats Good For?

WHAT ARE CENTER CONSOLE BOATS GOOD FOR?

Center console boats are so common because they have a lot of benefits for the users.

Those people who want high control and visibility over their boat should definitely get the best value center console boat. One of the most common reasons for opting for such boats is the superior visibility they provide to the user.

They have a great design that gives you a great 360-degree view of the entire area around you. This can increase safety and control while you are moving through the water.

The helm of other boats is usually placed along the side, which can be a problem since you can’t see the other side that well as you steer.

Center console boats also have amazing space and storage for all your essentials. The boats are designed with a great layout, which can accommodate the users’ needs in a much better way.

You will be able to enjoy better interior space to relax and enjoy. The storage areas will also hold your bait wells, coolers, and rod holders, which can be perfect for a great fishing adventure.

Speaking of fishing, the 360-degree design of the boat allows for excellent fishing. The best advantage of such boats is that you can cast your rod from all directions.

If the console is on the side, it gives you a very limited fishing area and essentially takes up unnecessary space that could have been used. Side consoles are low in functionality in this way.

With a center console system, you can accommodate larger groups of people. You can hook lines without getting caught up or blocking another person’s casts.

It can also be great when you are reeling the fish in; you won’t be forced to stay in one location and risk the fish getting away from you.

The best small center console boats also allow all-round seating. This kind of arrangement can help improve weight distribution evenly throughout the boat.

Balance can often be an overlooked advantage, but in reality, it can affect your top speed, handling, and acceleration. It can help you increase fuel efficiency too since you won’t have to put in too much power on turns.

If you like a peaceful ride on your boat, you will have to invest in center console boats since they can improve the ride.

How Do You Dock A Center Console Boat?

There are a few ways that you need to follow to properly dock a center console boat. You will be able to guide it into the dock easily if you carefully follow the steps below:

Line Up The Approach

You need to take the opportunity of judging the current and wind as you approach the parking space on the dock that you want to come alongside.

Check whether the current or wind is pushing you toward space. If it is, a shallow angle will ensure that you have control of the boat and don’t accidentally strike the dock against the boat’s bow.

If the current or wind is trying to keep you away from the dock, you will need to try a steeper approach. This will ensure that you have enough momentum to carry the boat towards the dock.

You should start with a 30-45 degree angle as you approach the dock until you know which angle works best for you. The bow of the boat should be aimed towards the landing point’s center.

Come Into The Dock Slowly

You should never approach the dock at a speed faster than what you’re willing to hit it at.

You can keep bumping the boat into and out of the gear to keep up slow progress towards the right spot on the dock. If you have two engines on the boat, use one to make sure that you creep into the boat slow enough.

Time The Swing

The wheel needs to be swung hard away from the dock (starboard) when the bow is half the length of the boat away. For this step, you need to know your boat well, especially the way it pivots.

If you make the turning too soon, the boat will not be parallel to the dock like you want it to be. If you turn too late, you will definitely hit the boat.

When the wheel is turned over hard, you need to bump the engine to provide the boat with a kick.

This instant push will push the stern towards the port. It will also make sure that the bow swings towards starboard (away from the dock). This way, you will never hit the dock.

The Finish

When the boat is gliding towards the dock to become parallel, you need to swing the wheel towards the port entirely. Then, you need to pull the engine into reverse.

If you have twin engines, you should use the engine that is the farthest from the port to give it the maximum push.

This will ensure that you are able to pull the boat’s stern towards the port area and the dock, as well as stop the headway. You can pull the boat into neutral when it stops moving forward.

The boat can continue slipping right till the dock, which will allow you to easily reach out and grab the piling or line.

Are Console Boats Viable On The Ocean?

Center console boats are commonly used for ocean and lakes. They fare well in open waters and are a popular choice for boating and fishing in such areas.

Conclusion

Boating can be one of the best experiences ever, as long as you have a good center console boat for the job.

They offer high versatility and functionality since they have a 360-degree option for fishing and seating. The boats are the best option for skilled anglers and beginners alike since they come at all sorts of price points too.


The Best Small Center Console Boat for Every Budget 1

Jason

Jason Kaplan grew up in the harbors of New Jersey, where he spent a considerable amount of time on his uncle’s fishing boat. He spent his free time fixing up an old rowboat in high school, gradually purchasing fillers and paints from his part-time job income, until he could eventually fix it up. Boating has always been a part of him, and now, he’s here to show you everything you need to know about boating, from square one all the way to the most intricate working parts of boat mechanics.