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Shaking Up Nine Years of Boat Buying

We help you narrow down the choices for your next boat.

For eight consecutive years, our editorial team had asked what you thought of top boats in the marketplace via an extensive survey with pointed questions. The process yielded amazing insight into boats and their qualities.

But this year—the ninth—we decided it was time for us to make a change.

Instead of putting the responsibility on you to nail down the top attributes, best running boats and hardest fishers on the water, our editorial team is stepping up to share its insight on the best boats for 2022. 

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Our team has over 120 years of combined experience on fishing boats, and we aren’t lying when we say we’ve been on the best—and the worst—of them. In this compilation of top fishing boats, you’ll see the established names of iconic boats such as Grady-White, Contender, Invincible, Pursuit, Yellowfin, and many more of the top-shelf names that win awards every model year.

Our editors will tell you what they thought did best, how the boats handled and what options were most appreciated.

You’ll find some fresher boat brands in the list too, such as Caymas, Barker, Solace, Sea Cat and Yamaha. These brands are building a track record of success drawing on a massive treasury of talent from the boatbuilding industry. Our teams have skippered these boats and found they measure up to your consideration.

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This guide is not just about individual boats, either. It is also an outstanding reference tool for shopping boats that you can use to peruse models we may not have reviewed.

Topics Include:

How to spot quality in a boat for both inshore and offshore boats. Reading this gives you the knowledge base you need to browse boat shows and dealer showrooms, armed with the ability to evaluate specific points of construction for yourself.

Expansion Plan” will guide you through the maze of electronics selections, offering insight our editors have gained from thousands of hours on the water and dozens of hours with each brand presented.

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Control Freaks” identifies a popular new steering mechanism swiftly making its way to many helms for 2022. Some of it is so simple that you can add it to your existing boat.

The coolest gear for 2022—we’ve touched this stuff and even fished some of it, and you’re definitely going to want these items for your boat.

So, pull your fishing cap a little tighter, settle back into your favorite chair, and let us do the hard work of boat selection for you. 

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Editor’s Guide to Buying Fish Boats

You should notice a distinct difference in this guide from the previous eight we’ve done. Most noteworthy, the Sport Fishing, Salt Water Sportsman and Marlin editorial teams have taken up the task of reviewing 28 boats and offering personal insight into each.

On every boat profile, you’ll find an editor weighing in with their personal perspective. See below for a lineup of our expert editors.

We also asked each manufacturer to size up its boat as to application, customer or noteworthy design characteristics.

Our editors don’t stop at just boat reviews, either. Our editorial well is filled with advice from our editors on researching the boat you need and wading through the quagmire of marketing materials to get to the truth on their favorite boats. Nearly every page features a tip from one of our editors to help make your boat-buying task a pleasure. We hope you enjoy it!

About the Editors

Randy Vance
Randy Vance Steve Sanford

Randy Vance

Editor-at-Large
Boating and Fishing Group

Vance’s credits include a decade as a professional fisherman, marine sales, and public relations for Bass Pro Shops and Outboard Marine Corp. Author of Power Boating for Dummies, Vance is a popular video boat-review host with millions of combined views, and is a 30-year veteran of outdoor and boating journalism. 

Glenn Law
Glenn Law Steve Sanford

Glenn Law

Editor-in-Chief
Salt Water Sportsman

Law has written about fishing for longer than he can remember. Despite a broad background, his fishing ­interests are ­specific and narrow: flats-­fishing for bonefish, dead-bait trolling for white marlin and sailfish, fly-fishing for tarpon, plugging for tuna, cubera snapper and roosterfish, and live-chumming offshore.

Kevin Falvey
Kevin Falvey Steve Sanford

Kevin Falvey

Editorial Director Boating, Fishing and
Watersports Groups

Falvey is a ­boatbuilder, a former boatyard manager, a tournament-­winning fishing captain, and the author of Falvey’s Guide to Fishing Long Island. With a degree in journalism, he resides in eastern Long Island with his two daughters, where they live the boating life.

Jim Hendricks
Jim Hendricks Steve Sanford

Jim Hendricks

Staff Editor
Fishing Group

Hendricks has spent 45 years as a boat captain, saltwater angler and marine/fishing journalist, and has served for 10 years as the West Coast and electronics editor for the Bonnier Fishing Group. Over his career, he has tested and reported on hundreds of fishing boats, marine engines and equipment, including his vast knowledge of marine electronics.

Sam White
Sam White Steve Sanford

Sam White

Editor-in-Chief
Marlin

White grew up offshore fishing in southeastern North Carolina and the famed Outer Banks before moving to Florida’s Gulf Coast in 2002 to pursue his two biggest passions: fishing and writing. An avid tournament angler, he’s won several events in Mexico and Central America, and his love of travel has taken him around the globe to chase big-game fish.

Steve Griffin
Steve Griffin Steve Sanford

Steve Griffin

Freelance Writer
Builder Showcases

A full-time outdoors writer for several decades, Griffin has written extensively about boats large and small—the latter including his grandfather’s 1959 12-foot car-topper, in which Griffin now boats with his grandson. Griffin’s many writing awards from state, regional and national writing organizations include several in boating-specific categories. His work appears in newspapers, magazines and several books. He currently resides in Michigan.

Chris Woodward
Chris Woodward Steve Sanford

Chris Woodward

Executive Editor
Fishing Group

Woodward joined Sport Fishing as an editor in 2001. Along with writing and editing fishing articles, she shoots photos and video, manages SF’s website and social media channels, and specializes in marine electronics and boat coverage. She primarily fishes inshore waters near her home in coastal Georgia.

Alex Suescun
Alex Suescun Steve Sanford

Alex Suescun

Executive Editor
Salt Water Sportsman

A former fishing-travel specialist, pro tournament angler, freelance outdoor writer and TV-show host, Suescun has worn many different hats in the sport-fishing world over a career that spans more than 30 years. He joined the Salt Water Sportsman staff as an editor in 2014.

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