Dual Console Fishing Boats – What To Look For

There’s no doubt that the hardest of the hard-cores who prefer outboard power will almost always favor center consoles fishing boats, but for many anglers, buying a dual console makes a lot more sense. This design retains 90 percent of the fishability of a center console, while gaining 30 or maybe even 40 percent of the family-friendliness cruisers and sportboats offer. And while we might hate giving up one single iota of fishing prowess, anyone who has a family knows this one truth:

If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.

A dual console can put a smile on the face of each and every family member, while also allowing you to put fish in the cooler.

dual console
You can’t walk 360-degrees around a dual console boat, but this is just about the only down-side to fishing from one and in general, DCs make excellent angling platforms.

The Up-Sides of a Dual Console Fishing Boat

Regardless of size, the number-one advantage you gain from going to the DC design is added protection. On a center console everyone has to cram in behind the console and often, this means everyone aboard beyond the captain and one passenger is subjected to wind-blast, spray, and rain. But on a dual console you can fold the center windshield and walkthrough door closed, and create a much more substantial comfort zone. And on larger DCs quite often the bridge-deck essentially equates to a cabin.

dual consoleOn larger DCs, like the Pursuit DC 325, when you close off the windshield and walkthrough door the entire bridgedeck is sealed off from the elements. In fact, it can even be outfitted with air-conditioning.

Another family-oriented perk that comes along with owning a DC is having a more comfortable head compartment. Since there are two consoles, the port side is commonly dedicated to housing the head. It often extends a bit farther forward that it would in a center console, and most importantly, it’s easy to build an over-sized swing-open door into the console. This makes getting in and out of the head one heck of a lot easier.

dual consoleEven though this is just a 24-foot boat, the head inside the console on the Robalo R247 is roomy and easy to access; the entire face of the console swings open.

On larger DC models, you may find an entire cabin inside the console. Some brutes of 35 feet or more in this genre go the full Monty, with berths, galleys, entertainment centers, and most importantly rodracks, belowdecks. These boats can do double-duty as weekenders – much as we hate the thought of sacrificing perfectly good fishing time to puttering around the bay.

Another feature of this design that many family members will appreciate is the ability to rig them for watersports. Tow-pylons are commonly offered on DCs, and many have long center stowage boxes which can hold either the catch of the day or a pair of water skis, as necessary. Freshwater showers at the transoms and jamming stereo systems are also common features found on dual consoles. And of course, they have the expanded seating and leisure area of the bow cockpit.

dual console
Yeah, we’d rather be fishing, too. But if the ability to take the family out for a day of waterplay gets you the thumbs-up…

A final benefit of this design is expanded stowage capacity. Since there are seats built into the bow, there’s stowage underneath. Since there are two consoles, there’s twice as much area to pack away gear. And you still get all the usual in-deck stowage of a center console.

The Down-Sides of a Dual Console Fishing Boat

As mentioned earlier, the inability to walk 360-degrees around the boat is the number-one fishability flaw with this design. Bay anglers probably won’t care much, but if you have a hot tuna on the line and it runs towards the bow, you’ll miss the ability to follow it. Of course, this is an issue the guys on those big convertibles have to deal with, too, so it’s certainly not an insurmountable problem. It simply means that the captain has to be more aware of what’s going on when combating a pelagic, and maneuvering the boat becomes a must.

dual console
With a DC the captain will have to be ready to maneuver the boat, since the angler won’t be able to walk forward and follow the fish.

Another potential drawback is a general trimming down of deck space per LOA. Many DCs have furniture like loungers and extra seats that eat away at your fishing territory. The bow cockpits, in particular, tend to be much more oriented towards relaxing than reeling. In some cases, even on a 30-plus-footer there will only be enough open deck up forward for a single person to cast.

Finally, dual consoles rigged to do it all often cost more than their center console brethren. While their initial sticker prices may be similar, by the time you add all the must-haves like livewells and rocket launchers (which are not always standard features on this genre of boat), and then pile on family features like ski pylons and wet bars with electric grills, the price skyrockets.

Wait a sec – what about performance, rough-water abilities, and construction?

Nine times out of 10 these questions are moot. The vast majority of the boatbuilders out there have a single hull that pairs with two different decks, one for a center console version and the other for a dual console. Weight distribution might vary a hair but other than that, they’re essentially the identical boats from the deck down; the ride the same, hit very similar speeds, and are built with the exact same lamination schedule south of the rubrail.

In many cases dual console and center console versions of the same boat are built on the same hull; commonly the only variation is a slight difference in weight (DCs tend to be a bit heavier) and in specs like fuel, livewell, and fishbox capacities.

Naturally, there are a number of other considerations to take into account when choosing a fishing boat. Do you need a stand-up full cabin, like those found on boats such as the Parker 2820 XLD or the Defiance Guadalupe?

Would an express design like the Albemarle 29 Express make more sense for your purposes? Or, can you get everyone in the family to agree on that center console you’ve had your eyes on, in the first place? These are all questions only one person can answer for sure – mama. Listen to her, if you want to keep smiling.

Lenny Rudow …has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, and has authored seven books. He is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow's FishTalk Magazine, is Electronics and Fishing Editor for BoatUS Magazine, and is a contributing editor to several other publications. His...