2016 Fishing Boat Buyers Guide: Contender Boats 25 Bay

It straddles the line comfortably, focused squarely on fishing while providing the cushioned seating and other amenities families love.

Contender Boats has enjoyed the allegiance of top kingfish and sailfish tournament anglers for 30-plus years. Even now, as new boats take a shot at the title, Contender owners and others who fish in them laud their platforms of choice.

Respondents in our Builder Benchmark survey backed Contender’s hard-earned tough-fishing reputation with balanced high scores – less than a one-point span across the main categories: fishability, performance, design/construction and value. It was also one of the most experienced brands in the survey.

Contender popularized the deep-deadrise aggressive hull others soon copied. Its new stepped hulls draw high scores for speed and fuel efficiency among those with Contender experience.

Fishing is what matters to Contender. That calls for strong boats, and respondents like composite construction with fiberglass-encapsulated balsa coring in running surfaces, and strakes that are reinforced from inside before final lay-up. Hardware is rugged. Decks are self-draining, while 2,000-gph pumps clear bilges. Switches and breaker panels are waterproof.

Owners highly recommend Contenders for fishability, lavishing praise comparable only to a few other brands. Clean, one-level deck plans, easy access to livewells, cavernous fish storage and wide, unobstructed walkways around the consoles bolster these scores.

Hey, good looks count, too, and the use of top-shelf ­vinylester resins and barrier coats behind a premium gelcoat assure a mirror finish that retains its luster for years.

25 BAY

Bay boats are known primarily as fishing machines, not family boats. But the Contender 25 Bay straddles the line comfortably, focused squarely on fishing while providing the cushioned seating and other amenities families love.

Fishing space is preserved, but there’s seating on the front of the console, in a pair of folding aft jump seats, and even on a midstep on the front casting platform.

But fishability is its first priority. A pair of acrylic-topped livewells are built within the aft casting deck: one a 40-gallon release well or baitfish tank, the other a 12 ½-gallon crustacean specialist. Covering boards and bolster pads the full length of the cockpit make fish-fighting a less bruising affair, and it’s easy to move around the console. Boat that trophy, and a 180-quart lined, insulated fish box waits within the floor. Many options are available to make this your dream boat.

Built for bays, the Contender 25 is also at home in fairly skinny water, thanks to its 12-inch draft. And its aggressive double-stepped hull makes it ready to head offshore when conditions — the water, the weather and the bite — warrant.

It’s a great ride — both for hardcore anglers and for their families.

Contender 25 Bay
Quick specs. LOA: 25'4" Beam: 8'6" Fuel Capacity: 90 gal. Max HP: 350Courtesy of Contender