Pro-Line is back. After a brief hiatus, the company has returned as a serious player in competitive sport fishing following the launch of its twin-engine 29 Super Sport last fall. The reincarnation is sure to please the hardcore set.
"Our newest center console gets us back in the high-performance fishing market that we've been out of for a few years," explains Pro-Line president Dan Atwood. "This is a great boat for anglers fishing the Southern Kingfish Association events, as well as sailfish tournaments, because of its 22-degree deadrise. It will handle rough water at good speeds, and that's what serious fishermen are looking for."
To see for myself, I joined Atwood and two of his test engineers, Joe Bertine and Dan Clymer, on a wave-cleaving run to search for shallow-water grouper off Crystal River, Florida. A passing cold front had left the Gulf of Mexico choppy, but the conditions proved no match for the boat's sharp entry and nine-foot beam. The ride was smooth, and we stayed dry at all headings. Our test boat was rigged with a pair of 225-hp Mercury Optimax outboards, and the resulting numbers were definitely tournament-caliber. Top speed was 61.3 mph, while at a 4000 rpm cruise the GPS read 44 mph. The range is equally impressive; with its 195-gallon fuel capacity, at that same cruising speed, the Super Sport can travel 298 nautical miles with a ten-percent safety reserve.
Besides being fast, the 29 is quick and fun to drive. When I pushed the throttles forward, the boat jumped on plane quicker than a smoker king can wolf down a stunned pogy. Hydraulic steering is standard and the hull responds immediately to the slightest trim adjustment. The large console (with enclosed head) comes with an extra-tall Plexiglas windshield that deflects the wind and eliminates the need for ducking to maintain a clear line of sight. The console top is finished with a non-reflective coating to minimize glare, and the instrument panel is thoughtfully arranged for quick access and easy scanning. The standard helm leaning post holds a four-drawer tackle station, along with extra rod holders.
Pro-Line built this boat to withstand the grueling conditions of the tournament circuit. Premium gelcoats and heavy-duty, UV-protected vinyl upholstery are standard, and the 316L marine-grade, stainless-steel hardware is through-bolted and backed by locking nuts. There's no wood on the 29, either. The beefy, patented F.I.S.T. (Fiberglass Integrated Structural Technology) bonded stringer system allows Pro-Line to offer a non-prorated, ten-year transferable hull warranty.
As you'd expect from a company staffed by avid anglers, the 29 SS is very fishable. Following a short run offshore, we removed a pair of medium trolling outfits from the horizontal rod racks and dropped diving plugs into the wake. Minutes later, Atwood and I were both straining against the stubborn pull of hefty gag grouper. We had plenty of room to maneuver, thanks to the expansive 101-square-foot cockpit. Twin 15-gallon fishboxes are built in, and a 45-gallon live well is located beneath the transom seat. A sink with pullout fresh water shower is molded into the transom. The raw-water washdown and another tackle center (with downrigger-ball cradles and tool/lure rack) are molded into the sidewalls. In the forward casting platform, twin lockable rod lockers straddle a roomy 113-gallon centerline fishbox.
Notable options on the 29 include an aluminum T-top with electronics box and lifejacket storage, windlass and bow pulpit, drop-down bolstered leaning post, and several electronics/stereo packages.
If you're in the market for a serious fishing machine capable of handling the rough stuff with ease, check out the weigh scales at the next king mackerel tournament. You may just find a Pro-Line 29 Super Sport in the winner's circle. Pro-Line Boats, Crystal River, FL; (800) 344-1281;