Is a Dual Console Really a Fishing Boat?

Are you one of those who turn their nose up at the mere mention of a dual-console boat?
Grady-White Freedom 255
Dual console boats, like the Freedom 255 from Grady-White, are well-suited to both catching fish and family fun. Courtesy Grady-White

I’ve talked to many hardcore anglers who think anything other than a center console fishing boat is a glorified day boat. Creature comforts? Ha! Those are for the weak. Real fishermen can brave the elements with only a surfboard-sized hard top over their heads and nothing more to sit on than the gunwale or a five-gallon bucket.

I’ve got news for you purists and snobs: For years center console boat builders have been adding features that allow owners to entertain on their boats or do activities other than fishing (Gasp!). At the same time, builders designing dual-console boats have been adding serious fishing features that blur the line between a multi-use family boat and a serious-as-a-heart-attack fishing vessel. If you can set your prejudices aside for a moment, there are some valid reasons for serious anglers to choose a dual-console boat.

Protection from the Elements

Sailfish Boats 316DC
The generous windshields and canopies that typify dual console boats, like this 316DC from Sailfish, provides plenty of protection from the elements. Courtesy Sailfish Boats

No one would ever call a tournament walleye fisherman a wimp if they ever rode with them in six-foot seas on Lake Erie in March. But virtually all of them use dual-console boats, which is a good lesson for northern coastal anglers who want to add a month or two to both ends of their fishing season. Because of the full beam windshield, a Bimini top can usually be directly connected to it on smaller boats. Larger dual console boats with hardtops can conjoin the two with sections of canvas, Strataglass, or clear vinyl. The walkthrough is closed with a wind dam. Side and rear enclosures are a common option on these boats and if you plug a 12-volt hairdryer into the auxiliary power outlet, it’s now a heated cabin.

More Rear Cockpit Space

Grady-White Freedom 285 rear cockpit
The rear cockpit on dual console boats, like this Grady-White, offers plenty of space for fighting fish or evening cruises. Courtesy Grady-White

Small center consoles can often have little fishing room aft, especially if there is a rigging station and large livewell right behind the leaning post. Smaller dual-console boats like the Grady-White Freedom 235 have a surprising amount of space in the cockpit thanks to its helm-forward design and fold-down stern bench seat. Larger dual-console boats like the Pursuit 365 DC have fishing cockpits that have the open feel of a sportfisherman, minus the diesel fumes since most dual console models are outboard powered.

Most Types of Fishing are Dual-Console Compatible

Grady-White Freedom 375
You can fish just about any way you want on a dual console, such as this Grady-White Freedom 375. Just be aware that getting around the console with a hooked fish can be difficult. Courtesy Grady-White

Generally speaking, if your boat isn’t tethered to an anchor, a dual console can be used because a skillful captain can maneuver the boat around to keep the fish at your stern. With the advent of long-shaft trolling motors, these can make it easy to jockey for position when an uncooperative fish starts running amok. In contrast, if you are chumming for large tuna or sharks at anchor on a dual console, be prepared for chaos to ensue as the fish starts to take laps of your boat, as the consoles on each side can impede anglers trying to chase a fish along the rail.

Keeping Your Marriage Intact

Cobia Dual Console Boat
Dual consoles, like this one from Cobia Boats, combine hardcore angling traits with marriage-saving amenities. Courtesy Cobia Boats

If for some reason your spouse isn’t into fishing (seriously, what were you thinking?), and the boat you plan to buy doesn’t have a nice area to recline and read a book in the shade, moving forward there are two probable paths: divorce or you aren’t getting that boat. A dual-console boat heads those two likelihoods off at the pass.

Fishy Dual Consoles

Here is just a sampling of very-fishy dual-console boat models that won’t cause you to lose your membership card in the Rabid Angler Club.