2021 Boat Buyers Guide: Dual-Consoles

Dual-consoles can effortlessly switch from hardcore fishing to family-friendly cruising.
Dual console boat running across the bay
A key feature of dual console boats is a large, unobstructed cockpit that’s perfect for a variety of activities on the water. Courtesy Cobia Boats

Thanks to their unique layout, dual-console boats are considered the most versatile fishing-boat design on the water today. They can effortlessly switch gears from hardcore fishing to family-friendly cruising and sandbar lounging—throw in a wakeboard, skis or towables, and it’s a party on the water.

Versatility Abounds

Since the helm station is set forward, there is no console to take up room in the center of the boat. This means plenty of cockpit space, which is especially inviting for those who troll or bottomfish with regularity. The captain drives from a comfortable seated position, protected by a beefy windshield with a hinged opening for access to the open bow seating. Nearly all dual-consoles have some kind of forward seating in this area, many with folding or removable cocktail tables for an inviting lounge area. Aft is additional seating across from the captain and often along the transom, many of which fold away for storage. Most dual-consoles also have a hardtop or certainly a Bimini top for sun protection. Hardtops add space for rocket launcher rod holders and platforms for outriggers for offshore trolling.

Performance Pedigree

Since the majority of dual-console owners in our survey said they fished primarily with their families and friends, it makes sense for this style of boat to offer good performance in a variety of sea conditions. Among those we surveyed, most also indicated that a soft ride in rough weather was important to them, as was a dry ride overall. The windscreen protects occupants from wind and spray. Some of the most popular, like the Freedom line of dual-consoles from Grady-White, offer up a superb ride in most sea conditions, thanks to their SeaV variable deadrise hull. The larger models are powered by twin or triple outboard engines, although a single outboard is plenty for most applications up to about 24 feet or so. And because the occupants generally remain seated while underway, dual-consoles are also among the safest designs on the water for families with smaller children.


Fish On the Mind

Our survey respondents said they spent the majority of their time live-baiting for both inshore and offshore species, including bottomfishing, so it makes sense that livewell size is a key factor in these boats. A large round or oval livewell of sufficient size for a few dozen baits tops the wish list; a clear lid or clear viewing window is also great to have as well. Among other fishing-friendly features, the number and placement of the boat’s rod holders is also important, as is having built-in tackle storage. No one likes lugging heavy tackle boxes back and forth to the boat when you can keep everything aboard and secure, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Dual-consoles bring the best of bowrider runabout comfort and seaworthy fishing machines from 18 to 30 feet long.