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September 21, 2007

Robalo 2220 Center Console

Robalo hasexpanded its line of outboard fishing boats in celebration of thecompany's 30th anniversary with the introduction of two new22-foot models. One is a walkaround (the 2240), while the other - the 2220 - is a full-tilt, center console fishing machine.

We testedthe 2220 during an afternoon and evening of fishing in Boca Grande,Florida, where Robalo had assembled a small fleet for the press atBrunswick's MerCabo test center in nearby Placida. Four peoplewere able to fish comfortably aboard the 2220, and it performed verywell, both on the flats and in the waters along the Gulf shoreline.

Great for Casting

Four people were able to fish comfortably aboard the 2220.The 2220 has alarge raised casting deck forward with a big dry storage compartmentbeneath it under a large single hatch. We spent several hours castingfrom this area, and the low freeboard made fishing a breeze. A bowpulpit with an anchor roller comes as standard equipment.

Robalo placesa 90-quart Igloo cooler in front of the console, a setup that isreally superior to a conventional, molded-in seat because it providesadditional storage space for food, drinks, fish and other stuff. Abackrest pad on the console face makes this a comfortable place tosit, as well.

A hatch on theport side of the console affords access to a storage area that alsocontains a porta-potty. There's a mesh net for holding loosegear, and plenty of room for larger items.

The helmfeatures a molded-in, non-skid footrest, two storage boxes, and acouple of drink holders, and is surrounded by a low-profile acrylicwindshield. It's a nicely laid-out space.

Theinnovative leaning post/rocket launcher has a backrest, four rodholders, four tackle-storage drawers, a six-inch chart tube, and abait-rigging area, plus a 90-quart cooler below! Somebody thoughtlong and hard about this unit, because it's a very clever use ofspace, and you know how valuable thatis on a 22-footer.

At the stern,two in-deck fishboxes drain via a pump, and an optional seat alongthe forward edge of the motor well not only gives passengers a placeto sit, it contains the boat's 31-gallon live well. The livewell has a dedicated pump (what Robalo calls a "dual vortex"system) and is lighted for night fishing. Additionally, you can closeoff the drain valves and make the water recirculate, so you can runthe well while the boat is on the trailer.

A port transomgate permits access to the engine platform, where you'll find aswim ladder. The ladder has three steps and telescopes into a compactposition when not needed.

The single250-hp Mercury EFI outboard powered our test boat quite well,providing a cruise of 28.3 knots at 4300 rpm, and a wide-open 36.3knots at 5570 rpm. The day of our test was flat calm, but thedeep-vee hull should cut through most seas with no problem. With a19-degree transom deadrise, the 2220 barely qualifies as a deep-vee,but this makes it very stable at rest. In fact, the boat barelyleaned at all, even with several big guys throwing plugs from thesame gunwale. We predict that the boat's clean and functionallayout will be a hit with the casting crowd.

Andthe 2220 is long on value, too. The lengthy standard-equipment listincludes an 18-gallon fresh water tank with fresh water washdown(when was the last time you saw a boat with standardfresh water?), storage for 14 rods, raw-water washdown, trim tabs,and a ten-year structural hull warranty. Options include a Bimini orT-top.

The2220 comes ready to fish, and will be an outstanding performer bothinshore and offshore, but that shouldn't come as a surprise.After all, Robalo has been building fishing boats for 30 years, andthis is just another in a long line of excellent designs from one ofthe companies that pioneered the center console.

Robalo Marine, Everett, WA; (360) 435-6534.