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September 21, 2007

All the Angles

The Angler 220 VFX center console will suit many fishermen with a good ride and plenty of storage.


This solid, seaworthy hull will get anglers to the fish.

At one point, there were almost as many boatbuilders in Miami as palm trees and thong bikinis on South Beach. Many are gone now, but some still resiliently pop hulls out of molds. Angler Boats is one of the survivors. In business for more than three decades, the company has persisted under the same ownership because it builds solid, no-nonsense craft for one purpose - fishing. And the Angler 220 VFX center console is no exception.

I tested the 220 VFX recently with Brett Shields of Shields Marina, in St. Marks, Florida. Tagging along was Brett's oldest daughter, Emma, who had come to work with her dad that day for a school project. We brought along some spinning rods in hopes of getting Emma on some Spanish mackerel and headed seven miles down the winding river to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, we put the boat through its performance trials.

SPECIFICATIONS
Length 22'
Beam 8' 6"
Draft 14"
Deadrise 21.5 ¿ree;
Fuel 114 gals.
Price $38,930
w/ 200-hp two-stroke Evinrude E-TEC outboard

With the three of us aboard and a full tank of fuel - 114 gallons - the 22-footer ran strong and bow-proud through the water. The 200-horsepower Evinrude E-TEC outboard gave a speed of 34.8 miles per hour at 4,500 rpm and topped out at a respectable 46 miles per hour at wide-open throttle. Though the boat is rated for up to 300 horsepower, it had good mid-range response and an impressive hole shot with the 200, especially considering this is a fairly heavy hull that weighs in at 11/2 tons. Angler also offers other engine makes for this model.

Unfortunately, a passing cold front had churned the water of the Gulf into the color of a mocha latte, sending the mackerel to parts unknown, but our brief foray left no doubt about the seaworthiness and fishing capabilities of the VFX. With an aggressive 211/2-degree deadrise at the transom, the boat cut through the stacked rollers with ease. I had braced myself for anything, but I was able to relax and enjoy the soft, dry ride regardless of the heading. At rest it rolled slightly due to its deeper-V design, but I'll gladly trade that over pounding in a rough sea any day.

The VFX is equipped well for its primary purpose once you reach the fishing grounds. Two elongated fishboxes are located in the cockpit deck and the port jump seat aft houses the bait well. A raw-water washdown is standard. The companion seat to starboard includes a storage compartment, although it can be easily converted into a secondary well if needed. Horizontal rod pockets are below each gunwale, while the transom splash well has vertical storage for five rods. Twin pedestal seats are standard for the helm, but the optional leaning post will add a little more room to the cockpit. The Angler has six different versions of leaning post available as options, and these can also increase vertical rod-storage capacity. The bow is arranged with dual seats that house storage compartments on either side of a convenient walkway to the anchor locker. Welded, recessed aluminum bow rails are standard.

Rod holders abound in the cockpit.

The boat's oversized console has a big dashboard that's suitable for flush-mounting electronic units with screens up to 12 inches. The standard Plexiglas windshield is high enough to block the wind without obscuring vision. The main feature is the compartment in the console with step-down access on the starboard side. Hardcore types will use this space for more stuff - they can never have too much - but wives and girlfriends will appreciate the privacy and convenience of the optional head. Other notable add-ons include a fiberglass T-top with rocket launcher, fresh water, a handheld shower and four hull-side colors besides white.

Brawny construction is another attribute of the VFX. Starting with CAD engineering and Valspar high-flex-plus gelcoat, several layers of fiberglass laminate are then added to the mold and rolled out by hand. The extra fiberglass adds weight and strength to the boat while the premium gelcoat helps prevent stress cracks. No wood is used anywhere, and all these factors allow the company to offer a limited lifetime warranty on the hull. Angler also adds more foam than is required to their hulls in several key areas for increased flotation and safety. Another noteworthy construction characteristic is the separate, dedicated fiberglass enclosure above the stringer system for the fuel tank. Adding this enclosure keeps the tank isolated and prevents fuel from coming in contact with seawater in the bilge. Other extra construction steps, like using double stainless-steel clamps on the hoses, are more reasons why Angler Boats are part of many government and law enforcement fleets.

If you're in the market for a center console that's focused on fishing and value instead of frills, the 220 VFX deserves a long, careful look. Angler Boat Corp.; (305) 691-9975; www.anglerboats.com