2020 Fishing Boats, Motors and Electronics Reviews

We got an advanced look at 8 new fishing boats — What sets them apart?

2020 Boats, Motors and Electronics Reviews

The Bass Cat Jaguar is one of eight new boat offerings for 2020 featured in this review

New boats packed with cutting-edge performance features and angler-friendly conveniences are arriving at dealers across the country. Included are watercraft that will carry you faster and farther, allow you to stow more well-organized gear and tackle, deliver you to formerly unreachable places, and ultimately, help you to find and catch more fish in comfort and safety.

At Game & Fish, we were treated to advance access to eight of 2020’s most compelling new boat offerings, and now, you can learn about the features that separate them from the pack. We’ll also cover several new outboards for powering your watercraft, and detail the latest in marine electronics and boat control accessories that belong on your shopping list.

BOATS

Skeeter FXR

2020Boats
Skeeter FXR

New bass boats must hit many bullseyes to gain traction in a competitive marketplace. With bass fishing opportunities spanning the entire continent, bass boats need to perform as well in skinny rivers as they do in tidal estuaries and even the open waters of the Great Lakes. They need to carry a lot of tackle, provide expansive and ergonomic casting decks, and offer a comfortable experience to anglers while fishing and underway.For 2020, Skeeter Boats has revealed a marvelous solution to this challenging equation with their new FXR series.

The 2020 FXR is Skeeter’s premier bass boat series. Available in 20- and 21-foot lengths and rated for 250 HP Yamaha outboards, the Skeeter FXR is engineered to exceed the expectations of today’s dedicated anglers. The standard 97” beam of the FXR series opens up some exciting new design possibilities, including significantly larger casting decks—you’ll be treated to 15% more square footage on the bow deck and 10% more on the rear. You’ll also enjoy more space to pass between the consoles and a roomier stern rigging compartment for easier access to batteries, wiring and cables.


2020Boats
The Skeeter FXR offers larger casting decks for accessories and standing room. But the upgrades go way beyond having more space.

Far more than simply bigger, the Skeeter FXR also incorporates a wide variety of angling necessities as well as thoughtful creature comforts to enhance the on-the-water experience. Organizational enhancements include Skeeter-branded rod buckles on the front deck and next to the passenger seat to keep rods safe, as well as tandem tackle storage trays in the central bow compartment that can each accommodate six stowaways. A smooth ride is assisted by performance-designed seats with raised sides and added bolstering for comfort and style. Grab handles on the aluminum back seat plates make it easier to get into and out of the seats and to work on the rear deck. Thoughtfully designed livewell lids that open to the rear help prevent fish from flopping out the back of the boat.


Recreational and competitive bass anglers alike will find a lot to love in the new Skeeter FXR, including a limited lifetime structural warranty to the original owner, transferrable in part to a subsequent owner on resale. Learn more about the Skeeter FXR by visiting skeeterboats.com

Lund Tyee

2020Boats
The new Lund 1875 and 1975 Tyee have fishing-friendly features, like dual livewells and an in-floor center rod locker.

Fans of big water, from Fort Peck to Lake of the Woods and beyond, have long enjoyed the performance, spacious layout, comfortable ride and peace of mind provided by the legendary Lund Tyee. Now, Lund Boats has redesigned the Tyee family by focusing on the features and capabilities that set the Tyee apart from other Lund models, and then maximizing the functionality of the boat from top to bottom. In 2020, Lund is rolling out two new Tyee models: the 1875 Tyee and 1975 Tyee.

The 1875 and 1975 Tyee each begins with one of the smoothest riding hulls in the industry: Lund’s patented Integrated Power Strake - II (IPS2) hull. The IPS2 hull consists of two reverse chines for enhanced control while maneuvering at high speeds and rock-solid stability when moving from side to side while fishing. It adds a flat center pad with two sets of lift strakes for instantaneous hole shot, a feature that also delivers non-turbulent water to the engine intakes to maximize outboard performance. Both new Tyee models have walk-through windshields, spacious cockpit areas, and 98” beams for lateral stability and a comfortable fishing experience in big water.

2020Boats
The new Lund Tyee models sport a spacious cockpit area and are equipped with hydraulic steering.

The new-for-2020 1875 and 1975 Tyee are equipped with hydraulic steering and are rated for 200 or 225 HP motors, respectively. Each of the new Tyee models features dual livewells, an in-floor center rod locker that can accommodate long, eight to nine-foot trolling rods, a quick-conversion bow deck for fishing or relaxing, cargo nets for added storage, integrated rear jump seats, and a convenient 4-step boarding ladder. Add a ski pylon and a full top set to enhance the versatility of the Tyee, allowing it to make a smooth conversion from hardcore fishing machine to a fantastic family fun vessel. Wide gunwales and Lund’s integrated SportTrak system ensure that downrigger mounts, rod holders and trolling trees can be easily installed and positioned as necessary for success on the water.


The Lund Tyee is accompanied by a 3-year bow to stern warranty as well as a lifetime warranty on the hull’s double-riveted seams and transom. lundboats.com

Smoker Craft Adventurer

2020Boats
The Smoker Craft Adventurer 178 FXS features a dual-console/walk-through windshield and a 150 HP rating.

For five generations and counting, Smoker Craft has been building outstanding aluminum boats that deliver unequaled value. Today, Smoker Craft continues to push boundaries with spacious interior layouts and industry-leading hull designs that deliver superior performance and fuel economy.

For 2020, Smoker Craft drives innovation by introducing its exclusive new hull design, the Vertex Performance Strake (VPS). The new VPS hull promises best-in-class performance including quicker time to plane, faster hole shot, undisturbed water to prop and a higher and drier ride. Other benefits include greater stability with less horsepower required. Smoker Craft features the VPS hull on the new 2020 Adventurer models.


With 16’, 17’, and 18’ lengths available to suit a wide variety of fishing needs and budgets, the Adventurer series from Smoker Craft brings out the best in true hard-core anglers. In-demand features and conveniences, including wide beams for a stable ride, carpeted decks for comfort underfoot, a vinyl cockpit for easy washdown, and a stern aerated livewell are all part of the Adventurer experience. You’ll also find center rod storage, ample in-floor storage, and the flexibility of Smoker Craft’s Integrated Gunnel Track System (IGTS) to keep your tackle and other gear organized and accessible on the water. The 2020 Smoker Craft Adventurer 178 FXS targets a sweet spot in the multi-species market, with a dual console/walk-through windshield configuration and a 150 HP rating. Its 96” beam and beefy .125” bottom gauge supply a smooth ride to and from the fishing grounds. A durable vinyl floor makes clean-up a breeze, and optional snap-in carpet is perfect for family fun days. This is a boat that is sure to turn some heads at the ramp and on the lake.

The Adventurer series is not the only new offering from Smoker Craft for 2020. Indeed, you may also consider one of the new boats in Smoker Craft’s North American Angler series, the 2072 Pro Sportsman DC or the 1872 Pro Sportsman DC. The Pro Sportsman lineup is a favorite of guides all around because it is crafted to meet the demands of the most grueling conditions.

Backed better because it’s built better, all Smoker Craft products feature an industry leading lifetime + 6 Warranty. smokercraft.com

Bass Cat Jaguar

2020Boats
The Bass Cat Jaguar is the industry's first 22-foot bass boat with the ability to carry a 450 HP outboard motor.

In the world of professional bass fishing, speed isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. Arriving first to a prime location when the bite is on, and returning to the dock for a just-in-time check-in, can make the difference between a hefty cardboard paycheck and an empty bank account. Leading the pack requires maximum horsepower coupled to a smooth ride, and anglers will find both in the redesigned 2020 Bass Cat Jaguar.

The Jaguar first joined the Bass Cat lineup in 1996. The 2020 model represents the second major overhaul of the design, incorporating a new deck and topside layout, new stringers, and an all-new high-performance hull. Perhaps the most eye-popping feature of the new Jaguar is the ability of this 22-foot boat to carry a 450 HP outboard—the first such rating within the bass boat market. At the same time, the Jaguar’s hull will also perform effectively with lower-powered outboards of 250 HP and higher.

Beyond its current dominance of the horsepower rating universe, the Jaguar also incorporates a significant number of angler-friendly conveniences and options that each contribute to productive and memorable trips on the water. Those include dual trolling motor pedal positions, a stealth bow light, Battery Tender trolling motor plug and the Siren Marine Remote Security Monitoring system. While the Jaguar features ample space above the deck, it also has uniquely thought-out storage compartments, including three rod boxes, a compartment specifically for helmets, and dual scissor lifts for tackle trays.

Bass Cat trailers are all made in-house so that your ride to the lake will be every bit as comfortable as your time on the water. The Jaguar trailer features 4-inch C-channel USA steel with tandem axles and five cross members for strength and durability. They also have LED back-up lights, a fiberglass step and steel grab post to make loading and unloading this big boat a snap.

The Bass Cat Jaguar carries a transferrable limited lifetime warranty on the hull, transom, floor and stringers as well as a more comprehensive two-year warranty to the original owner. basscat.com

Crestliner XF and XFC series

2020Boats
Crestliner's XF and XFC series boats feature a roomy 90" beam and a custom fiberglass driver's side console.

Multi-species anglers demand extreme versatility from their watercraft. Pivoting from bass in the morning to crappies in the afternoon requires hauling a lot of well-organized gear, having plenty of fishable space to accommodate different techniques, and above all, access to a comfortable, reliable platform to carry you from the ramp, down the lake, and back again at the end of the day. Crestliner, with more than 70 years’ experience in crafting boats that are built to last, caters to the unique needs of contemporary multi-species anglers with their new XF and XFC series boats.

The Crestliner XF and XFC series, each consisting of a pair of 17- and 18-foot mod-V boats, are high-performance fishing machines built for the needs of today’s serious bass and crappie anglers. A roomy 90” beam is universal across all four boats, as is a custom fiberglass driver’s side console featuring black sterling gauges, illuminated toggle switches and room for a flush-mounted 12” graph. Comfortable, folding bucket seats at the helm and for the passenger provide a cushioned ride to the fishing grounds, plus bonus storage beneath each seat. All boats in the XF and XFC series include a spacious front casting deck that easily accommodates two anglers plus ample gear, as well as an aerated 23-gallon livewell with integrated minnow bucket in the center of the rear deck. The 17-foot XF 179 and XFC 179 will carry 90 HP outboards, while their larger XF 189 and XFC 189 cousins are rated for 115 HP engines, plus an option to upgrade to powerful 150 HP motors with the optional Max Performance Package.

Crestliner XFC 179 and XFC 189 boats add several features sure to appeal to multispecies anglers. These include a set of three pedestal seat bases on the bow for crappie fanatics, as well as a second 23-gallon livewell in the bow to maintain a healthy, bountiful catch. A custom bow panel in the two XFC boats can accommodate a flush-mounted 7” graph, and includes a dedicated trolling motor power port and main engine trim switch.

Crestliner’s dedication to building boats that last is supported by a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner, transferrable in part to a second owner on resale. crestliner.com

Hewescraft Pro V 200

2020Boats
The Hewescraft Pro V 200 is designed for big water and can be built with a hardtop or used with a soft-top.

Big water means big fish, and frequently, wind and waves to match. Spend any time in the pounding surf and swirling weather, and you’ll quickly appreciate the stability and dry ride provided by heavy-gauge, all-welded Hewescraft boats. With their thick channel supports and box beam construction, Hewescraft boats are engineered to handle the rigors of fishing the Pacific Northwest and beyond - anywhere that oversized fish swim.

In 2020, Hewescraft introduces the 200 Pro V, a versatile boat that can be built with a hardtop or used with a soft-top, and manufactured with a motor well or an extended transom. This boat is the starting point for anglers making the move from smaller, lighter-weight boats into the heavy-gauge, all welded market. Indeed, the 200 Pro V features a stout, .190” aluminum bottom plate, a 94” beam, a variable dead-rise hull, and a 30-degree bow entry for a smooth ride. Moving aft, the bottom widens to 14 degrees, providing stability across the beam and performance while underway. With the 200 Pro V hardtop, you’ll stay dry in the rain and protected from the big waves of the Great Lakes and coastal waterways. If you take a wave over the bow, two large scuppers will drain the bow in a matter of seconds, while the fully sealed, walk-through windshield’s door keeps the elements out and the cabin dry and comfortable.

The Hewescraft 200 Pro V incorporates a wide range of angler-friendly features, starting with its 48-gallon fuel tank to support extended runs to productive fishing grounds. The fishing deck boasts an enormous 90 sq. ft. of fishable space, plenty of room for a family or a few fishing buddies. Add an adjustable bow casting chair for even more fishing room. You’ll also find bow and transom fish boxes, a fish tower, grab handles, downrigger brackets, a wash down system, bow trolling motor power point, interior and exterior lighting, multiple seating options, and even multiple cabin options—you really can outfit the Hewescraft 200 Pro V to your exact needs.

Hewescraft boats carry a lifetime hull warranty on all welds to the original owner, transferrable to subsequent owners for a total of 10 years after the original sale. hewescraft.com

Starcraft Delta

2020Boats
Starcraft Delta 178 FXS

Starcraft Marine has been building aluminum fishing boats since 1903 and sets the standard among North American boat builders with breakthrough designs and countless industry firsts. Today, Starcraft continues to lead the industry with innovative interior layouts that maximize interior space and high-performance hulls that deliver exceptional strength, fuel economy and performance.

New for 2020, Starcraft introduces its exclusive hull design, the Vertex Performance Strake (VPS) hull. The new VPS hull promises elite performance including quicker time to plane, faster hole shot, undisturbed water to prop and a higher and drier ride. Additional benefits include greater stability and less horsepower required to optimize the boat’s performance. The VPS hull is featured on Starcraft’s new 2020 Delta models in 17- and 18-foot lengths.

Owning the Starcraft Delta is like having a top-of-the-line tournament boat but without the extraordinary price tag to match. The Delta has pro features like twin FreshCatch livewells, a durable vinyl floor for quick and easy washdowns after a productive day on the water, and a big raised bow casting deck to provide you and your partners with ample space as you cast baits and fight fish. Look closer at the Delta and you’ll find locking in-deck rod storage and a pro-style console with plenty of space for electronics you need to track down elusive trophies. The Delta’s Integrated Gunnel Track System makes adding and positioning accessories, like rod holders and tool caddies, flexible and convenient. 2020 Starcraft Delta boats are available in 16-, 17-, and 18-foot lengths with single console, dual console, or tiller floor plans. A wide range of in-demand options and upgrades are available across the series, including flip-down jump seats and a stainless steel three-step boarding ladder.

The Delta series and all Starcraft products feature an industry leading Lifetime + 6 Warranty. starcraftmarine.com

Carolina Skiff Aggressor

2020Boats
The 192 Aggressor from Carolina Skiff provides spacious decks, front and rear livewells, and ample rod and tackle storage.

Contemporary anglers demand versatility in their watercraft—a boat that performs just as well chasing bass and crappies as it does when pursuing redfish and speckled trout. Boats that are adaptable to a wide range of environments and target species can be challenging to find. For 2020, Carolina Skiff—a leading manufacturer of durable, versatile, stable and economical boats for over three decades—has introduced a new series of 19-foot boats that provides a competitive edge to both freshwater and inshore anglers. The four 192 Aggressor Boats are sure to elevate multi-species angling to new heights.

Carolina Skiff’s 192 Aggressor Boats are at home in both fresh and coastal waters. All four models share a lightweight, V-shaped hull to help knock water down and keep anglers dry, no matter where they fish. Anglers can choose from four unique versions of the 192 Aggressor Boats, including dual console, side console, center steer or standing center console configurations. All four 192 Aggressor models have spacious front and rear decks, front and rear livewells, and a swim platform with a ladder. You’ll also find a wide range of angler-friendly features in each 192 Aggressor, including Velcro rod savers, quick-disconnect windshields, and ample rod and tackle storage compartments.

Inshore anglers will immediately gravitate toward the 192 Aggressor CC, or Center Console, which features Carolina Skiff’s unique four-position adjustable leaning post with a removable 70-quart cooler. This configuration offers anglers the advantage of an elevated 360-degree view when fishing and when underway. Freshwater anglers will appreciate the familiar feel of the 192 Aggressor DC, or Dual Console. With bass boat-inspired consoles and comfortable seating, this boat is packed with a host of competitive fishing features, including a passenger console with a tackle tray and grab handle, two deluxe fold-down jump seats with premium diamond-pleated upholstery, two removable fishing seats, and a large rear livewell with dividers and LED lights.

Carolina Skiff offers a five-year warranty to the boat’s original owner. carolinaskiff.com

Outboard Motors

2020Boats
Honda BF250

Modern outboard motors bear little resemblance to the loud, smoke-belching powerplants of yesteryear. Today, boat owners enjoy access to powerful motors that are also smooth, quiet, fuel-efficient and environmentally conscious. Engineered with specific applications in mind, these outboards are designed to optimize the performance of the hulls they drive. Here is a selection of the most compelling new outboard motors to hit the market in 2020.

Honda BF200-225-250 with iST

The majority of fishing boats between 18 and 21 feet long are driven by motors in the 200-250 HP range. This sweet spot in the outboard market propels innovation in performance and design, yielding motors such as the new BF200-225-250 engines from Honda Marine. Boasting a host of new features, updates and improvements, these V6, 3.6 L, 4-stroke outboards also include Honda’s exclusive Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST) system.

The Honda iST system is a simple, yet robust digital linkage between the engine and the shift/trim/throttle control, providing a 21st-century gateway to features that boaters demand, including effortless shift and throttle control, fine tuning of throttle settings at any speed, enhanced docking and low-speed performance, and much more. The design of the components complements their operation; while mechanical engine controls are tough and rugged, the iST throttle controls are sleek and modern. Honda couples iST with powerplant enhancements that improve corrosion resistance and reliability, while facilitating common maintenance tasks. For example, changing a high-pressure fuel filter on any of the new V6 motors can take as little as five minutes.

New Honda BF200-225-250 V6 outboards with iST are supported by Honda’s industry-leading five-year, non-declining warranty. Learn more about these and other Honda outboards by visiting marine.honda.com

Yamaha V6 V Max SHO 200 HP

Yamaha V MAX SHO outboards were first introduced 10 years ago, as an evolutionary step toward 4-stroke outboards that could match or exceed comparable 2-stroke performance. Available in both a smaller, in-line 4 configuration (175, 150, 115 and 90 HP) as well as a larger, V6 4.2L offering (250, 225 and 200 HP), Yamaha V Max SHO outboards are excellent choices for many 17 to 21-foot aluminum and fiberglass hulls.

For 2020, Yahama introduces a new member of the SHO family: the V6 V MAX SHO 200 with a long, 25” shaft. The target market for this new outboard includes deep-V, multi-species or walleye boats, as well as performance pontoons or tritoons that require a long-shaft outboard. Indeed, boaters can expect the Yamaha V6 V MAX SHO 200 to deliver impressive hole shot, acceleration and top-end speed, all in a super-quiet package that boasts Yamaha’s legendary reliability. Yamaha accomplishes these impressive feats with a host of engineering advances, including plasma-fused sleeveless cylinders that are lighter and 60 percent harder than steel. This also allows Yamaha to enlarge cylinder bores without increasing their dimensions, creating 4.2 liters of big-bore displacement without adding weight.

Additional features that anglers will find attractive include a powerful, 50 Amp alternator output to provide long-lasting power to suites of marine electronics, as well as compatibility with Yamaha Command Link digital gauges. yamahaoutboards.com

Mercury 450R

Mercury Marine raises the bar for high-powered 4-stroke outboard performance with the new Mercury Racing 450R. Engineered to make big boats go fast, the 450R will find a welcoming home on the transoms of offshore boats and catamarans, as well as high-performance bass boats like the new Bass Cat Jaguar—the first bass boat rated to carry a 450 HP motor. At over 300 pounds lighter than the nearest competitor, the Mercury 450R delivers an industry-leading power-to-weight ratio in a compact, efficient package. Multiple gearcase, control system, tie bar, and styling options are available to create a fully customized outboard performance package.

The Mercury 450R is based on the same 4.6-liter V8 powerhead found in Mercury Racing 300R motors, with power output augmented by a 2.4-liter twin-screw, water-cooled supercharger. To manage engine heat, the 450R is fitted with a special high-capacity oil cooler and an exclusive poppet valve in the midsection to provide a higher volume of cooling-water flow when required. Mercury engineers scrutinized the weight and design of each component to achieve maximum power with minimal weight. Notably, the Mercury Racing 450R delivers all of its performance on readily available 89-octane pump fuel.

The Mercury Racing 450R outboard is backed by a three-year limited factory warranty and a three-year limited corrosion warranty. mercurymarine.com

Marine Electronics

Humminbird SOLIX MSI+ G2

Powered by a new, intuitive user interface and a host of ever-expanding capabilities, the Humminbird SOLIX MSI+ G2 sonar/GPS combo serves as the nucleus of an intelligent, boat-wide network for fish finding, digital cartography and boat control. High-frequency MEGA Side Imaging and Down Imaging provide unparalleled resolution and clarity, while true-CHIRP 2D sonar yields clutter-free sonar displays and textbook fish arches. Custom mapping tools like AutoChart Live enable anglers to quickly create their own contour maps for secretive waters that are off-the-grid. Learn more by visiting humminbird.com

Minn Kota Ultrex with Built-in MEGA Side Imaging and i-Pilot Link

The dominant bow-mount trolling motor among serious bass anglers receives a major enhancement for 2020 with a fully-integrated MEGA Side Imaging transducer. Users will enjoy the power of MEGA Side Imaging at the bow, delivered from a transducer that is fully protected from the elements and subsurface hazards, while eliminating cluttered wires and extraneous hardware. The Minn Kota-exclusive i-Pilot Link system delivers industry-standard GPS anchoring capabilities with Spot Lock, and is fully networkable with a variety of Humminbird SOLIX and HELIX fish finders. minnkotamotors.com

Minn Kota Talon Shallow Water Anchor

A versatile anchoring system that can extend as deep as 15 feet, the Minn Kota Talon includes user-selectable anchor modes for rough water or soft bottom, a convenient worklight with two colors and three brightness levels, and a built-in wave absorption feature that keeps the boat pinned in place even in whitecaps. Bluetooth connectivity provides for a wide range of wireless control options, including the Talon phone app or through a Humminbird fish finder.

Power-Pole CHARGE Marine Power Station

Leave the dock with peace of mind knowing you’ll be back with help from the Power-Pole CHARGE, an AC/DC and bi-directional DC/DC, all-in-one marine battery manager and charger. CHARGE is designed specifically for boats that have up to three trolling motor batteries and one 12V main cranking battery. This 500-watt power station delivers up to 40 amps of charging power to the cranking battery and 25 amps to the auxiliary batteries. With Power-Pole CHARGE you can run your trolling motor and your accessories without worrying about your battery levels. power-pole.com/charge

Garmin Force Trolling Motor

Garmin enters the bow-mount trolling motor arena with the new Force, a high-efficiency motor designed to operate with either 24V or 36V input. Its brushless design enables quiet operation both above and below the waterline, with imperceptible levels of sonar interference. The Force comes with an integrated transducer optimized for freshwater use with Garmin CHIRP traditional and Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonars. Wireless networking with compatible Garmin chartplotters enables additional boat control and navigation options. garmin.com

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