Centre console vs bay boat

6th December 2021 Elena Manighetti

Centre console vs bay boat

If you’re on the market for a small powerboat to go fishing in, you’re probably looking at various models and evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of each. You may have stumbled upon centre consoles and bay boats.

Anglers all over the world love them, so you can’t go wrong with either of these models. However, these watercraft types have lots of subtle differences. Learning about them will help you decide which boat is best suited for your needs. Let’s look at each vessel in detail.

Differences between centre console and bay boats

At first glance, centre console and bay boats look virtually the same. In fact, they have a lot of common characteristics. They both feature:

  • Centre controls

  • An outboard engine 

  • A V-shaped hull

  • Under-console storage

  • Similar rod holders 

  • Bait wells

  • A small head (optional).

However, there are fine distinctions between the two. If you look closely, you’ll notice them right away. Almost all bay boats are centre consoles, because nearly all of them have a console at the centre of the boat. But not all centre consoles are bay boats. Let’s look at why.

Centre console boats have:

  • A large control console

  • An open bow

  • Deeper V-shaped hulls

  • A transom door

  • A bigger outboard or multiple engines

  • A higher freeboard

  • A single flat deck with no steps

  • Narrow to no casting decks

Bay boats have:

  • A lower freeboard

  • A casting deck with storage below

  • A step to get up to the casting deck

  • Rear folding jump seats (often)

  • No transom door (there are exceptions).

These small details create a big difference in the use each boat is most suited for. 

Centre consoles

Centre consoles are fantastic, heavy vessels for offshore fishing and cruising. The higher freeboard can easily take continuous knocks from choppy seas, while the V-shaped hull can cut through big waves and take you home safely. Below are the pros and cons of this type of watercraft.

Pros

  • You can take them offshore safely 

  • Higher fuel capacity

  • More space onboard

  • Can be used for cruising

  • Drier - passengers are less likely to get wet on windy days.

Cons

  • Inferior stability and increased rolling

  • Higher fuel consumption

  • Tougher to trailer

  • Deeper draft

  • More expensive to buy and maintain.

Bay boats

Bay boats are the perfect lightweight boat for coastal and inshore fishing. The flat hull makes it easy to sneak around shallow areas and keeps the boat very stable. Let’s look at the pros and cons of bay boats.

Pros

  • Shoal draft allow you to fish in shallow waters

  • Easy to trailer

  • Greater stability

  • Lower fuel consumption

  • Casting platforms allow you to cast from above and spot fish

  • Low gunnels allow you to net or get hold of hooked fish easily

  • Cheaper to buy and maintain.

Cons

  • Not suitable for offshore boating or cruising

  • Cannot tolerate large waves

  • Less space onboard.

Centre console or bay boat?

If you’ve narrowed your search for a powerboat down to these two options, making a final choice should be easy. Both boats are fantastic - neither is better than the other. You’ll have to decide based on the use you intend to make of your boat. 

Want to go fishing and cruising offshore? You’ll need to get yourself a centre console. A bay boat would not be able to withstand the conditions of deeper water once the wind picks up. In case your budget is limited, look for a well-maintained used one. However, you’ll need to be able to keep up with the upkeep and running costs.

If you want to go fishing by the coast and inland, often moving around the country, then a bay boat is the right vessel for you. You’ll be able to keep it on your property and trailer it around to get to the best fishing spots. However, you’ll need to stay close to shore.


Download the Deckee app from the App Store or Google Play and log your next boating trip. You will be able to record data and add notes to each recorded trip, so you can keep track of the best conditions and times for fishing your favourite species.

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