The Manitou 22 Encore Pro Angler Full Front VP offers family comforts along with lots of fishing amenities that make her a versatile all-around rig.
This is a pontoon aimed at the sweet spot in family boating, with lots to offer both the cruising/wakeboarding/tubing/swimming family as well as those who truly love to fish and need a few specialized features to make it work. The price is more affordable than many luxury models that offer no advantage in space or utility.
The layout of the Manitou 22 Encore Pro Angler Full Front VP.
Patented V-Toon: The patented "V-Toon" center pontoon in the VP triple pontoon version is in effect a V-hull on which the boat rides at speed -- it reduces drag and improves performance, with the side sponsons delivering added load-carrying capacity and stability.
Lifting Strakes: The strakes run full length on the center pontoon.
Fishing Seats: Swiveling seats in the aft corners of the cockpit offer easy angling, and vertical rod holders keeps tackle ready.
Bait Wells: Aerated live bait wells make it easy to stay in the action.
Locking Rod Box: Keep tackle out of the way and out of sight in this box, which tucks away next to the gunwale. Racks inside keep tackle from tangling.
Sealed, Integrated Transom: The transom is built right into the back end of the center pontoon -- it saves weight, looks clean and prevents water from "loading up" on take off as some add-on pontoon transoms do.
No Hands Seat Hinges: These unique hinges allow easy storage access, folding seat backs up and out, and they stay put until one is ready to close them.
The Manitou VP hull system features a center sponson that’s both larger and mounted lower than the outside sponsons. Combined with the vee bottom and the full-length lifting strake on the center pontoon, the design delivers vee-hull performance in cornering and in softening waves.
• SeaStar hydraulic steering
• Bimini top with boot
• Automotive style fiberglass console with Soft Touch top
• Helm chair with reclining back and self-leveling arms
• AM/FM Sony CD Player with 4 speakers
• Stainless steel aft swim ladder
• Privacy curtain
• LED docking lights
• Lowrance Elite-4 color sonar
• Digital depth gauge
• Dinette table
• Dual livewells
• Upholstered, swiveling fishing seats
• Battery switch
• Mooring cover
Add the optional tow bar aft, along with the wakeboard rack and ski mirror and the boat is good to go for tubing, wakeboarding or water skiing. The aft fishing seats will double nicely as observer seats to keep an eye on anyone on the tow rope.
The stern area of the 22 Encore Pro Angler is a spot for a couple of anglers to relax, with rod holders, baitwell and drink holders all in reach of the swivel seats. We'd probably put an extra fishfinder screen back there so that eyes-on fishing is simplified during trolling or vertical jigging.
A Coleman cooler tucks into the front of the console out of sight but within easy reach. It's a low profile model with a broad, flat top that could double as a cutting board or a kiddy seat.
The optional extra cocktail table/hassock will be a plus both at party time and at lunch time, and it includes an ice chest hidden neatly away inside. It has wheels for easy mobility.
Add the optional stainless steel propane grill (see below) to make cookouts on board a snap, thus increasing the utility of the boat.
The Coleman cooler is a low-profile model that tucks into a compartment on the front of the console. The flat top doubles as a kiddy-height table as needed.
The portable table is padded to double as a footrest or child seat. It includes drink holders, with a hideaway ice chest inside. Note the wheels on one end for easy positioning when loaded.
The helm seat is a mid-back swiveling recliner, and when tipped back, the arm rests are self-leveling.
The lounge seats are extra soft, luxurious vinyl, and bases are roto-molded to assure that wood rot is never an issue.
Standard seating includes four swiveling fishing seats, one at each corner of the deck. In the "full front" model, however, the bow seats are replaced with a pair of lounging couches, more typical of most pontoons set up for general family use.
The helm layout features five analog gauges positioned high on the dash where they're easy to keep an eye on even with the boat at planing speeds. The smoked glass windshield is low profile, frameless, and removable -- it's likely unneeded in this boat, where maximum speeds will be in the mid-30s, but it adds eye-appeal.
An automotive-style helm with stylish, easy-to-read gauges and Soft Touch top dash will make less experienced boaters feel right at home behind the wheel of the 22 Encore Pro Angler. The standard wood-grain wheel could have come from an Escalade.
Performance and Handling
We did not test the 22 Encore Pro Angler on the water so we have no performance numbers to report. However, in the VP version of the Encore 22 Pro Angler Full Front, the center pontoon is 27’’ in diameter compared to the 23’’ on each side, and is mounted 1.5’’ lower than the outside pontoons, for a total difference of 5.25’’. This in effect makes the larger pontoon a planing hull, with the side tubes acting as catamaran-like sponsons for added lift and stability.
The VP includes positive angler strakes on the center toon. SeaStar hydraulic steering is standard -- a great improvement in ease of steering, getting rid of wheel torque on plane.
The VP model gets the larger 44-gallon (167 L) fuel tank, assuring lots of time between visits to the gas dock.
The 22 Encore Pro Angler has a shallow draft which allows her to prowl into weedy areas where gamefish lurk (like Muskie or Great Northerns.).
The boat can handle outboards to 150 horsepower -- plenty for any of the usual watersports. Manitou handles all major outboard brands -- Evinrude, Honda, Mercury, Suzuki or Yamaha. Power options go down to 25 horses. If price is the prime consideration, the cost of a 25-hp Yamaha, for example, is just $5,363 over the bare-boat price of $31,000. This is not enough power to do anything more than putt around a small lake or river, but it's a way of going pontooning at a very low price. Power of 90 horses and more is a much better option.
Options to Consider
The full canvas/isinglass enclosure for the aft area can turn this boat into a credible camper, which might make it well worth the $2,250 price. It would also be a great spot for everybody to hide from a sudden rainstorm.
The full enclosure for the aft cockpit area, shown here on Manitou's Oasis model, allows overnighting afloat, and also offers extra protection for getting home in a rain storm.
The stainless steel grill clamps to the rail, out of the way but easy to access when it's time for some brats or burgers.
Adding the optional stainless steel grill with integrated propane tank makes lots of sense to us. The grill ($350) clamps to the rail, and includes a domed top to hold in heat as well as to protect it when not in use.
A single battery switch is standard, but it's a good idea to add a second battery and the optional Blue Sea Systems dual battery switch to make sure that there is always power to start the engine, as well as to run the lights during nighttime entertainment or fishing trips.
A dual battery set up is always worth adding, especially on a family rig -- there's not much else worse than turning the key and getting a resounding silence when everybody is tired, sunburned and ready to go home. The dual battery switch ($375) should be a part of this addition -- it allows the owner to shut everything down and make sure the kids don't accidentally leave something running that will drain the power between trips.
The optional Porta-Potti is inexpensive at just $106 -- well worth the money for any family boat.
Most owners will want to add the Porta-Potti to eliminate the ever-present family bathroom concerns. The unit tucks neatly into the same compartment where the privacy curtain stows when not needed.
The double Bimini covers the forward lounge area to well beyond amidships. Note the LED docking lights on the front of the "fence" and the high mount of the running light atop the aft Bimini.
The optional double-Bimini can be very useful, particularly if one lives in a southern state where too much sunshine can be as much a problem as too little -- it's $1,225 with aluminum bows, or $1,600 with stainless. A power-Bimini is also available, for the ultimate in push-button convenience and instant shade -- $2,250.
The Lowrance Elite 4 sonar/GPS is standard, but can be upgraded to an Elite 5, a slightly larger unit.
The sonar/GPS that comes standard with the 22 Encore Pro Angler is a Lowrance Elite-4, a good little unit but the small screen makes serious bottom-watching a challenge -- upgrade to a larger screen model and it is a good investment for anglers chasing bass, walleyes or other structure-oriented fishes.
Rigged with a 150-Yamaha 4-stroke, the fully-loaded 22 Encore Pro Angler Full Front VP has an MSRP $57,110 without trailer. If a trailer is needed, figure an added $3,000 or so for a tandem.
There's a limited lifetime warranty on the plywood decking, and that portion of the guarantee is actually transferable, making resale easier. Limited lifetime warranty also applies to the pontoons, motor mounts, understructure, fence assembly and Bimini top frames. The furniture, top fabric, carpet and mooring cover get a 5 year warranty.
On plane, the 22 Encore Pro Angler Full Front VP rides high and banks into the turns much like a mono-hull vee-bottom thanks to the oversized center pontoon.
Engineering: The engineering on the Manitou triple pontoon models is truly unique -- basically, they're mounting three vee-hulls on the bottom, creating a running surface that more nearly approaches a catamaran than the standard triple-toon.
And, the larger 27’’ center pontoon is mounted 1.25’’ lower than the side 23’’ 'toons, which puts the bottom of the center pontoon more than 5’’ lower than the side pontoons. The result is a greatly reduced drag from the side pontoons when the boat is on plane, but plenty of lift and stability when she’s operating at displacement speeds. The company reports it experimented to get this elevation exactly right -- an inch higher or lower and things do not work. The positive-angle lifting strakes help get the boat on plane and improve cornering, the company says.
Extending the center pontoon below the side pontoons also allows for a bit of vee-bottom cushioning in the ride.
Another major benefit with the V-hull set up and lowered center pontoon is that the boat can actually bank into turns, giving passengers a much safer ride than the dead flat sliding-off-a-plate feeling one gets when a conventional pontoon goes into a sharp turn.
Aluminum on the outside tubes are .90 front, .100 rear for added stiffness, while the center tube is built from .100 front, .160 rear.
Underskinning: Like a few other performance pontoon builders, Manitou puts an "underskin" on the aft portions of the bottom of the deck. This prevents water from shooting up there and creating drag against the cross frames when getting on plane, as well as stiffening the whole frame -- an out-of-sight extra touch that marks quality in this boat.
Layout: The Full Front model replaces the standard swivel seats up front with lounging couches.
Center Storage Needed: One "option" we wish was standard is the in-pontoon storage compartment -- there's always a need for added storage for large items on a 'toon, and to get this option on the 22 Encore Pro Angler will cost around $1,500 -- quite a bit of added welding and cutting accounts for the price.
Quick Cleanup: Carpet or Sea Grass looks really good in the showroom, but if the boater is a hard-core angler, they’ll wish they had vinyl six months down the road. Vinyl floors in an assortment of finishes, including several colors in a great looking teak board pattern, are available for those who like the quick clean-up after a fishing or swimming trip -- or maybe a good compromise is to opt for the snap-in carpet or sea grass flooring to cover the vinyl when the family is on board. The fishing area aft is vinyl floored, and since this is also the haul-out area for swimmers, it's a good choice all around as opposed to carpet in this area.