Center Console vs. Bass Boat: A Helpful Comparison

In order to have the best fishing experience possible, it is important to have a style of boat that fits best for you. If you are unsure of which style you should buy, then you are in the perfect place!

So what’s the difference between a bass boat and a center console? A bass boat is a great option for someone who is looking to use it for fishing a majority of the time, but a center console style is great for someone who is looking for a boat that can be used in many different ways including fishing and cruising around.

Although center consoles are heavier and less maneuverable, including less storage as well, they are better suited for people. Bass boats have more storage, are easier to maneuver, and are not as people-oriented because of the lack of seats. Generally, center consoles will do better in rough waves and large bodies of water than bass boats will.

In this article, I will discuss more on the common features of both a center console style as well as a bass boat and compare them to each other so you can gain an understanding of which one will be best for you. I will also include a few shortlists of pros and cons which will act as a summary of the article for you if you are in a hurry. Let’s get into it!

Bass Boat Characteristics

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

1) Easy to Control

One of the best things about bass boats is the fact that they are easy to handle, which makes them an excellent option for someone who is buying a boat for the first time. Since the boats are generally lightweight and small, they become easy to maneuver and do not have trouble gliding through shallow waters.

You will also find that a majority of bass boats come with swivel chairs or chairs that rotate in place. This allows you for an easy change of directions whenever you are reeling in fish and makes it even easier for you to handle them.

2) Wide Range of Storage Options

In addition to the overall ease to control, these boats also have a multitude of storage spaces for you on your fishing trips. Bass boats typically have built-in live wells for you to place fish in. The boats also often contain storage compartments underneath the main part of the boat which serve as a great place to keep extra tackle or any other equipment that you plan on using. With lots of storage and the ease to control, it is truly a great option for beginners or people on small lakes.

3) High Overall Cost

Starting with your initial purchase of the boat, it is already expensive let alone beginning to operate it on a daily or weekly basis. Bass boats will cost you in the range of $20,000 to $100,000 which is more than the average used car. The high price tag has a lot to do with the large motors and expensive fishing technology used on these boats.

For this reason, you should be dedicated to fishing from the beginning, rather than planning to use the boat once or twice a month to get your money’s worth. Cheaper options such as jon boats or small utility boats are always another option.

When it comes to cost you must keep the price of gas in mind as well. Many bass boats have very high horsepower engines due to the need to get to fishing spots as quickly as you can (great for tournament fishing). For fuel-efficient, your only getting around four to five miles per gallon.

This is not necessarily a problem if you will not be moving around to different spots, but it will still add up in cost relatively quickly. Since the price of gas only seems to be going up, this is certainly something to keep in mind.

If you want to save money, get an aluminum bass boat. Aluminum is much cheaper than fiberglass even though they perform very similarly. The used market is also full of bass boats that you can find for great deals.

4) Less People Friendly

This may seem counterintuitive based on our high praise that it is easy to control, but in this section, we mean that it is not a boat that is well designed to hold many people and to do so comfortably.

You will often find that the capacity of these boats is only one or two people, and very rarely will you see a design that can hold up to four people at one time. However, to do this, the people are generally squeezed together with not much wiggle room left in the boat.

Besides this limited seating, which is really personal preference rather than a requirement, these boats are also uncomfortable due to a lack of shade. Bass boats do not come with a top cover, which means you will be in the sun all day unless you are using it in a shaded area.

You are also sitting low in the boat, so you are likely to splash water on yourself throughout the time that you are fishing. These may seem like obvious things, but they are still things you should be aware of nonetheless whenever you are looking into purchasing a bass boat or are comparing it to a center console.

Pros and Cons of a Bass Boat

  • Easy to Control
  • Wide Range of Storage Options
  • High Overall Cost
  • Less People Friendly

Center Console Characteristics

1) Great for Multiple Uses

Whether you would like to use this boat in a lake near you or possibly out on the ocean, it will hold its own just fine. This boat is weighted enough that it can rock with the waves of the ocean just fine, rather than quickly overturning as a lightweight bass boat would.

What also makes this boat a great option is that it does not need to be used for just fishing, but rather it can really do anything out on the water that you can think of. It could serve as a host to your party out on the water or it could be pulling jet skis just behind you.

Also as the name entails, the console is in the center, so it makes it much easier for the captain of the boat to be able to see in all directions and have an excellent command of the boat. The seating options are also better in the center console style boats rather than a bass boat which adds to its multiple uses. The multitude of options is certainly an added plus when it comes to this style of boat.

2) Also very expensive

Even though these boats can be used for many different things, that also comes with a high price tag. Center console boats generally cost around $30,000 to $150,000, but many large ones on the market are over $300,000.

Many times these boats have multiple engines, which significantly raises how much gas you use.

The higher price mostly has to do with the fact center consoles are bigger than most bass boats, but smaller center consoles, also known as bay boats tend to cost around the same as bass boats do.

3) Wider Room to Work With

Now if you are reading this article you are most likely looking into these options to purchase a fishing boat, rather than a party boat. Well this boat is quite spacious and allows you to fish off of all the possible angles on the boat. However the seats are all stationary, so you will most likely have to stand whenever you are fishing. This is just something to keep in mind depending on what purposes you intend to use the boat for.

4) Difficult to Maneuver

For the most part with a center console boat, you simply take the pros of the bass boats and make them cons. In this case, the boat is more difficult to maneuver since it is heavier, which makes it require more power to move around on the water. What also makes it difficult is that these boats normally are unable to pass under a bridge since they have hardtops.

You would either just clip the hardtop on the bottom of the bridge, or you would be scrapping it across the bottom as you move underneath the bridge. Either way, you will most likely damage your boat.

With the added weight and required power, comes added fear of an engine failure. You will not be able to paddle your boat back to safety in the case that your engine fails. You could try to grab another’s boat’s attention to help you out, but this may not be possible out in the ocean. So be careful and make sure to always take care of your engine properly.

5) Less Storage Capacity

Since a lot of seats have been added for people, this takes away a lot of the storage that you once had on the boat or what you will typically see on a bass boat. There are still storage options underneath the seats on the boat, but the live wells are usually smaller compared to the bass boats unless you have a large center console.

In general a center console boat is designed to be more of an all-around option than a boat specifically for fishing.

Pros and Cons of a Center Console

  • Great for Multiple Uses
  • Lower Overall Cost
  • Wider Room to Work With
  • Difficult to Maneuver
  • Less Storage Capacity

At the end of the day, there are pros and cons for both a bass boat and a center console and it all comes to personal preference on which one you choose.