Wellcraft knows a thing or two about building serious fishing boats. So it’s no surprise the company’s latest edition, the 221 Fisherman, is thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of today’s multitasking coastal anglers. This hybrid bay hull floats shallow, yet its aggressive deadrise and the higher freeboard offer enough security and comfort for offshore jaunts.
During a break between winter squalls, we had the chance to put the 221 through its paces in Florida’s Indian River. As we idled out of the channel from the Sebastian Yacht Club, Capt. Glyn Austin raised the Atlas hydraulic jack plate to its full height of 6 inches and hammered the throttle. The boat popped on plane with minimal bow rise and settle quickly into a level attitude. That’s an appreciable trait when you’re trying to exit a flat on a falling tide without damaging your prop or the sea grass below. Afterward, running into the chop and a trawler’s wake, the bow sliced and diced like a sushi chef for a soft, dry ride. With the power-assisted hydraulic steering that comes standard with the Evinrude E-TEC G2 250 hp outboard, handling was effortless as well. Sporting a 8-foot-6-inch beam and ample room to move around, this 22-footer rides much bigger than its measured length.
With a full tank of fuel and normal fishing gear, the Evinrude turned a top speed of nearly 51 mph at 5,300 rpm. Fuel consumption at that pace was 20.8 mpg. The 221 is also available with Mercury or Yamaha outboards ranging from 150 to 250 hp in two- and four-stroke versions. The standard fuel capacity is 52 gallons, and the power technology of either brand offers substantial operating range.
Our test boat came with the optional T-top Package that included , among other features, a powder-coated fiberglass hardtop rigged with an overhead electronics box, a second rocket launcher, and vertical console rod holders with cutouts for the rod tips. Add that to the horizontal gunwale rod racks, rod holders and the leaning-post launcher, and you can have the capacity to carry a veritable tackle shop aboard. A 72-quart Igloo cooler for drinks and lunch stows below the leaning post.
The amount of usable storage is one of the many highlights of the 221. A cargo bag under the stowaway transom bench is the perfect spot for odds and ends, sandwiched by twin 34-gallon transom livewells finished in blue and equipped with lights and a pump timer. A pitch well on the foredeck centerline saves time on a hot bite and doubles as a transition step to the casting deck. Another centerline compartment is deep enough to house a 5-gallon bucket, while the voluminous insulated fish boxes on the bow drain overboard. An anchor locker with a dedicated rack securely stows the ground tackle.
The large console with a stainless-steel steering wheel to port sports an opaque finish to cut down on glare. An acrylic windshield enhances visibility. System switches, logically arranged, sit within easy reach. The electronics panel accepts a large, flush-mount display. Cup holders, a 12-volt receptacle and dual angled footrests come standard. Forward, the console seat swings open for access to the roomy changing area. An optional 24-volt trolling motor enhances shallow- water capabilities, and a Porta-Potty can be added as part of the Family Package. The standard package includes a dual-axle aluminum trailer with brakes and a spare tire. Like all the Wellcraft models built at the modern Michigan plant, the 221 is handcrafted using quality materials and components, including foam flotation and stainless hardware throughout. The cockpit is self-bailing. The beefy stringer system is fiberglass, and the boat is constructed to NMMA criteria using ABYC standards.
No single boat can do it all. But if your typical float plan calls for a morning run out of the inlet to chase dolphin, followed by an afternoon hunt for redfish on the flats, the new Wellcraft 221 Fisherman sure comes pretty darn close.