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September 21, 2007

Pro-Line 26 Walk

Pro-Line's new 26 Walk provides an exceptional amount of cockpit space for a 26-footer, combined with a surprisingly roomy cabin. It's a great compromise between a hard-core fishing machine and a dedicated family boat, and it may just be able to pull off both seemingly contradictory missions with ease.

Our test boat came powered with a single 225-hp Mercury Opti-Max outboard. The big single pushed it just fine, cruising at 30 mph at 4000 rpm. The single Opti-Max setup provides outstanding efficiency, too. Wide-open, the 26 hit 41.8 mph at 5900 rpm. We ran the boat in choppy seas offshore of the Hawk's Cay Resort in the Florida Keys and the deep-vee hull tracked well and rode soft, although there was enough wind that some spray was inevitable. Standard trim tabs allowed us to lower the bow and really cut through the chop.

The 26 Walk's cockpit would do any fisherman proud, with an 18-gallon live well built into the transom bulkhead to port. A passenger seat on the centerline of the bulkhead opens to provide access to the inner hull area and the boat's pumps and through-hull fittings, while the transom gate to starboard let's you reach the engine platform with ease.

Fishing amenities include coaming pads along the sides of the cockpit, four rod racks beneath each gunwale and two 25-gallon fishboxes in the cockpit sole. The boxes have collapsible hinges and deep gutters for channeling away water, and are drained
by a macerator pump. There's even a standard cockpit shower for rinsing off at the end of a hot day of fishing.

The wide walkaround pathways leading to the bow make the bridgedeck a slightly tight fit, but there's still plenty of room for everyone to move around. Two pedestal seats accommodate the helmsman and a passenger, and the helm itself has a small, locking box above the wheel. Most of the boat's electronics would probably go overhead in the optional hard top.

Creature Comforts

Down below, the 26 really shines, with a roomy cabin that features a dinette table forward that converts into a large double berth. An overhead Bomar hatch lets in plenty of light, and the berth has quite a bit of storage beneath it and in handy trays located along the hullsides. The head is aft and to starboard, and comes with a porta-potty as standard equipment. You can upgrade that to a porta-potty with overboard discharge or opt for a full electric marine head with a holding tank, if you want.

Pro-Line 26 Walk specificationsThe well-equipped galley to port comes with a single-burner butane stove, a refrigerator and a fresh water sink. The entire cabin overhead is finished in an upscale headliner material called "Titleist," because it somewhat resembles the surface of a golf ball.

Like all Pro-Lines, the 26 Walk features the company's ten-year transferable hull warranty combined with Pro-Line's exclusive five-year Pro-Care limited warranty. With Pro-Care, virtually everything that is factory-installed on the boat is covered for five years. That includes engines, out-drives, all mechanical systems, controls, electrical systems, even electronics. If it came as original equipment from the factory, it's covered. Pro-Care has got to be the strongest warranty on the market.

The 26 Walk comes with a lengthy standard-equipment list, and is an excellent offshore performer. You can order the boat with a wide variety of engine options, in single or twin setups, and you can even get it as an I/O. No matter how it comes, though, it will undoubtedly be on any fishing family's short list.

Pro-Line Boats, Crystal River, FL; (800) 866-2771; www.prolineboats.com.