You want to get to the tuna, but you want to do it on a reasonable budget? These five boats are capable of offshore runs but won’t break the bank.
They say that a boat is a hole in the water into which you shovel money, and truer words were never spoken. The initial investment is, of course, the biggest. That’s particularly true for offshore anglers, who need a boat that offers oceanic safety, long range, a thorough list of fishing features, and a relatively comfortable ride through big waters. Choosing the ideal one for your needs can be quite difficult, and when you add in budgetary constraints it can seem virtually impossible.
Affordability is a subjective term, and what constitutes “affordable” will differ from one person to the next. Still, we have to draw a line somewhere, so we’re going to pick the admittedly arbitrary mark of $150,000 (using 2024 model year pricing). That may sound like a lot of cha-ching but in today’s marine marketplace it doesn’t go as far as one might think. That figure also keeps monthly payments below the $1,000 mark. You say you want a brand-spanking-new offshore fishing machine, and the bottom line has to stay below this economic red line? These five top picks are likely candidates.
While it starts at a $138,895 “Reel Deal” price tag when outfitted with twin Yamaha F150s, the Robalo R250 is so well equipped in stock form that you won’t need to do much addition when calculating the true bottom line. Critical features are all included, like a pair of 50-gallon insulated and macerated fishboxes, a 30-gallon livewell, a raw water washdown, coaming bolsters, gunwale rodholders, four hard top rocket launchers, and under-gunwale racks. The one missing item that will bump up cost significantly is electronics; $5,400 will get you a factory installed Simrad NSS12 EVO3Swith an SS60 transducer and double that amount gets you a pair of the touchscreens at the helm. There are some nice comfort features included on the base boat, too, including a freshwater system with a transom shower, a six-speaker stereo system, a wireless charging dock, and a portable MSD in the console.
The R250 has an aggressive 23 degrees of deadrise in its hull and, at 6,000 pounds, more sheer mass than the other contenders in this roundup. That heft will certainly feel good underfoot when the seas kick up. Upgrading to twin 200s is a $7,600 option but gets you above average performance, with a cruise in the high-mid 30s and a top end breaking the 52-mph mark. And, with the largest fuel capacity in this group at 165 gallons, you certainly won’t have any worries about range. See Robalo Boats for the details.
Cobia 240 CC
Starting at a MSRP of $121,045 with a single Yamaha F300, you can upgrade to twin F150s while goosing the price by only about $1,000. Note, however, that a few must-haves like the T-top ($13,769), fishbox pump-outs ($787) and electronics (starting at $5,272 for a Garmin GPSMAP 8616 and Airmar B60M transducer) are listed as cost-adding options. That puts the ready-to-fish starting point at more like $141,000. Critical fishing features that make the standards list include gunwale rodholders and under-gunwale racks, twin 33-gallon fishboxes, a 28-gallon livewell, and a leaning post tackle station. The tackle station is a big highlight, as it’s far more substantial than the norm for a boat of this size and includes two bulk stowage drawers, three large Plano boxes, and one double-large Plano. For many offshore anglers, this is a much better use of space than the usual slide-out cooler under the leaning post.
The 240 CC runs on a straightforward 21-degree deep-V hullform and carries 128 gallons of fuel in the belly. With 300 horses on the transom you can look for a mid- to upper-30s cruise and a top-end approaching 50 mph. It gets better than 2.0 mpg throughout the cruising range, so running for 200-plus miles is not an issue. Visit Cobia Boats to learn more.
Dusky 252 Open Fisherman
Dusky boats aren’t priced with standard features, but instead are essentially assembled with this and that from the ground up. So, you’ll see a starting point of $87,000 for the 252 Open Fisherman with a pair of Mercury 150 Four Strokes. However, that includes little more than the hull and deck, a pair of pedestal chairs, fittings, and a pair of rodholders. We “assembled” a boat on their website and came up with a more realistic price tag of $114,000 when equipped similarly to the other boats in this roundup from a fishing perspective (ignoring comfort items like forward seat cushions and freshwater systems). That makes the Dusky 252 Open Fisherman the most affordable boat in this roundup. And, with the ability to pick and choose what you want and what you don’t, it’s also the most customizable.
While we don’t have any data nor hands-on experience with this rig with twin Merc 150s, the boat has been tested with twin Suzuki DF115s (which knocks almost $9K off cost). These gave it a cruising speed in the low 30s and a top-end in the mid-40s, with a cruising mpg of around 2.8. With the standard 100 gallons of fuel that makes for a range just over 250 miles accounting for a 10-percent fuel reserve. However, there are also options for 120 (add $1,500) and 160 (add $2,000) gallons, so you could point the bow for even more distant horizons. Visit Dusky Marine to see more.
Sportsman Open 252
With a pair of Yamaha F150s on the transom, the Sportsman Open 252 MSRPs for about $133,000. And that gets you an eyebrow-raising number of standard features that add up to a completely fishable package right out of the box. The stock boat comes with a Garmin GPSMAP 1243xsv and a GT12M through-hull CHIRP transducer, coaming bolsters, two macerated fishboxes in the deck, a 30-gallon aquarium-style livewell in the transom with a high-speed pickup, a raw water washdown, four gunwale rodholders, five rocket launchers plus two kingfish holders on the hard top, four more rocket launchers on the leaning post, a slide-out Yeti cooler and tackle stowage boxes under the post, and under-gunwale rodracks.
Comfort underway gets a serious boost on this boat thanks to the inclusion of a Seakeeper Ride vessel attitude control system, also a standard feature, and take note of the full three-sided glass enclosure at the helm. With the twin Yamahas you can expect cruising speeds in the low- to mid-30s with a light boat. Fuel capacity is a healthy 128 gallons so you should enjoy over 200 miles of range even when accounting for a 10-percent fuel reserve. Visit Sportsman Boats for more intel.
Twin Vee 240 STX CC
The STX line is Twin Vee’s idea of a hardcore angler’s model, with a wide-open deck and some additional fishing features as opposed to more family-oriented center console versions. It comes with six flush-mount rodholders, twin in-deck macerated fishboxes, four rocket launchers on the leaning post and on the hard top, under-gunwale racks, a raw water washdown, and a 40-gallon livewell spanning the transom. The stock boat can be had with twin Mercury 150 FourStrokes at a NAP price of $118,950, leaving some room in the budget to add big-ticket items like electronics.
Power catamarans are known for their smooth ride in rough seas, and the Twin Vee 240 STX CC will feel like a significantly larger boat when you start charging through rough water. While the STX model is too new to have been thoroughly tested for performance figures it shares the exact same dimensions of the 240 GFX, so the figures should be very close to the identical. And those figures show a cruise in the mid-30s at 4500 rpm, while getting about 2.5 mpg. With 98 gallons of fuel capacity that translates into a range of about 220 miles while allowing for a 10-percent fuel reserve. Check out Twin Vee to learn more, or see our review of this model’s predecessor, the original Twin Vee 240 CC.
Are there other center consoles that come in under the $150K mark that you might like even more, or will one of these five players prove ideal for your offshore angling needs? That’s a decision only you can make. We do, however, know one thing for sure: whatever your priorities may be, there’s the perfect hole in the water out there just waiting for you to start shoveling.