If you’re primarily an inshore angler but want the option to shoot offshore and chase pelagics
or bottomfish when weather permits, Robalo’s big, beefy 266 Cayman is a boat that deserves a spot near the top of your short list. At 26.5 feet length overall, this is the largest cayman model to date.
This is a brawny bay boat, with abundant space for fishing and a deck that remains stable, even with two or three healthy anglers on one side of the boat. A deep midcockpit nestles between its fore and aft casting platforms.
Elevated forward pods serve as steps to the 6-foot-wide forward platform. The pods can be fitted with pads and removable backrests for seating and lounging. Under the port side is a rod locker, to starboard is a fish box, and in the middle is storage and a compartment for the trolling-motor batteries. An insulated 45-gallon in-sole fish box sits between the pods. A 20-gallon pitch well and an anchor locker reside under the forward casting deck. Our boat’s bow was fitted with an optional 36-volt Minn Kota Terrova Riptide trolling motor.
The 7-foot-5-inch-wide aft deck is flanked by a pair of in-sole 30-gallon livewells with clear acrylic dividers you can use to keep baits separated. Abaft each well are compartments that conveniently stow 5-gallon buckets for cast nets and other fishing equipment. A padded bench folds out from the aft deck. The entire seat assembly lifts up for easy access to the starting batteries, battery charger and other bilge rigging.
My test boat’s stern platform was fitted with an optional powder-coated rail with a central tow point for watersports. This seemed out of place until we took the boat offshore. The rail was about waist-high, and I realized that it serves as a great way to brace yourself when working hot fish around the stern. Two swim platforms bookend the outboard motor, with a fold-out, telescoping boarding ladder on the starboard platform.
Given reasonably decent sea conditions, Robalo’s 266 Cayman offers the versatility to venture after bluewater species or fish wrecks. California anglers will gravitate to the 266 for fishing coastal kelp beds and offshore islands.
The hull features 18 degrees of deadrise at the transom with a Hydro-Lift multi-angle running surface and a Kevlar-reinforced hull. My test boat sported a Yamaha 425 XTO Offshore V-8 outboard power package, the most powerful outboard available for the 266, and it was mounted on the standard Atlas jack plate. Optional Lenco trim tabs helped compensate for any list while underway.
Drafting 17 inches with the outboard raised, this bay boat can sneak into shallow bays and coastal rivers. The jack plate’s adjust-on-the-fly capabilities optimize this shallow-water prowess. The 266 has a motorwell to help minimize the chances of following seas slopping on deck.
Fitted with a 20-inch-pitch propeller, the 266 jumped on plane in 5 seconds and reached 30 mph in 9.5 seconds. The big bay boat reached a top speed of 52.3 mph at 5,800 rpm in my test.
The Cayman achieved optimal fuel efficiency of 2.57 mpg at 3,500 rpm at 28.5 mph. That translates to a range of 254 miles based on 90 percent capacity of the boat’s 110-gallon fuel tank.
Robalo’s 266 -offers easy handling, thanks to the XTO’s electric steering and a helm that places the tilt-and-lock wheel on the centerline and the digital throttle-and-shift binnacle control to the far starboard side.
This layout leaves plenty of elbow room for both the helmsman and a companion perched in the leaning-post helm seats, which have flip-up bolsters and a 70-quart cooler below.
A two-tiered footrest lets you brace your feet. A hardtop and glass windows on three sides protect the helm, with a vent at the top of the windshield for fresh air.
The 30-inch-wide dash panel featured an upgraded electronics package with a pair of 12-inch Simrad multifunction displays that monitored and controlled the chart plotter, sonar, Halo radar and engine instrumentation. Push-button two- and three-way accessory switches flanked each side of the dash. There was also a Yamaha multifunction engine display and a stereo controller feeding the boat’s six speakers.
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You access the console interior via a forward companionway that also serves as the forward console seat. The interior features 5 feet of headroom, with plenty of space to stow gear and easy access to the rigging behind the helm and the dashboard. The boat I tested in San Diego also came with an optional electric marine toilet (with an 8-gallon holding tank).
- Weather: Heavy overcast
- Location: San Diego, California
- Wind: Less than 5 mph, southeasterly Sea State: 1- to 2-foot waves Test Load: Two adults, 53 gallons of fuel
|4,500 lb. (w/o power)
|$169,430 (Reel Deal price as tested w/ trailer)
Robalo – robalo.com