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September 21, 2007

SeaCraft 20 Master Angler


The console features a centerline Edson aluminum steering wheel and upscale aircraft-style gauges.

SeaCraft continues to add to its line of stylish center consoles, this time with a new 20-footer that traces its heritage back to a real classic. The original 20-foot SeaCraft was revered among serious fishermen who marveled at the ride of its aggressive, modified-vee hull, and many of them worked their boats hard, far from sight of land.

The newer version is built around the original hull design, and seeks to achieve the same status as its predecessor through a combination of classic good looks and serious fishing features. No one will accuse SeaCraft of being timid about pursuing the fishing-boat market, as this boat is clearly designed for, and by, fishermen, specifically casters. You can troll from this boat, of course, but the simple and clean layout makes it an ideal platform for those of us who like to cast to fish.

We tested the totally tricked-out "Lefty Kreh" version of the new 20 Master Angler, the one that comes with a "coffin box" forward of the console. Famed fly-caster Lefty Kreh was consulted when the boat was being designed, and the result is a remarkably clean bow area, with a recessed bow light and cleat, and stainless-steel chafing strips for the anchor line. Because there's nothing on which to snag your line, this area is a perfect place to cast a fly rod-or any other kind of tackle, for that matter.


Handy Coffin Box

The coffin box is divided into two separate storage areas: a smaller one forward that will hold loose gear or can be plumbed as a second live well, and a larger compartment aft for fish. Both drain onto the deck and out through the scuppers aft. The box comes with cushions, so it also doubles as a very convenient seat and/or leaning area. Forward of the coffin box is a sub-deck storage box that drains into the bilge and will most likely be used for anchor and line storage. Under-gunwale rod racks forward hold three rods per side, and their location allows for easy access.

The coffin box is attached to the console, which features a centerline Edson aluminum steering wheel and upscale aircraft-style gauges. Sturdy push-pull switches are mounted in a good-looking burnished-aluminum panel, and are aligned in a row beneath the helm, where they will be at least nominally out of the weather. A storage box with a sliding door above the helm holds loose stuff, and the console has a simple angled surface for mounting electronics. The acrylic windshield is surrounded by an aluminum hand rail.


SeaCraft 20 Master Angler
The simple and clean layout makes it an ideal platform for those of us who like to cast to fish.

A hatch on the aft side of the console opens to reveal the boat's battery and battery switch, the oil tank and the trim-tab pump. It's a tight fit in here, but everything is serviceable. The cockpit in the Lefty Kreh Edition has standard coaming bolsters and comes with four deluxe Rupp rod holders in the covering boards. Our test boat featured the classic "piano stool" pedestal seat for the helmsman, which takes up very little space and provides maximum fishing room. An aluminum leaning post comes standard.

The 20 Master Angler features a conventional notched-transom design, which many fishermen still prefer. The centerline engine well is flanked by two low-profile hatches. The one to starboard affords access to the inner hull, all through-hulls, and the bilge pump, while the port hatch conceals the boat's free-flooding live well.

Our test boat was powered by a single 150-hp Mercury Opti-Max outboard that jumped the 20 on plane immediately and soon had us traveling at a cruise speed of 30.5 knots at 4000 rpm. A wide-open 5400 rpm produced 40.5 knots. Unfortunately, our test day was flat calm, so we didn't get a chance to test the SeaCraft's rough-water capabilities.

The 20 Master Angler can be bought with or without the optional $2,000 Lefty Kreh package, which includes the combined console and coffin box, the Rupp rod-holder upgrade, the pop-up cleat and navigation light, and the cockpit coaming bolsters. You can also order the boat with an engine shroud/cutting board for the maximum "clean" effect. The 20 looks great with or without these extra goodies, but with them it is one radical little fishing machine.

It will certainly be a hit among those who demand the very best in their fishing boats. SeaCraft continues to push the envelope as to what a production-boat company can offer, including semi-custom touches like a diverse choice of hullside/bottom color combinations. And after focusing its attention on the shorter end of its line, SeaCraft is planning some new offerings in the larger models, as well. That means you can look forward to more of the same high-quality fit and finish in another great-looking package.