Captain’s Report by Dan Armitage
If we had to pick a proving ground for freshwater fishing boats we'd pick one of the large lakes in northern Canada where the Ice Age Glacier had scraped most of the earth down to bare rock. It has been in these conditions that the Princecraft boat company has proved its aluminum boats over the last 57 years in business. From our vantage point it looks as if the company has taken aboard that prodigious experience and poured it into the Platinum SE 206. She is a premium-quality boat designed for demanding fishermen used to rough conditions. But because most Princecraft owners have families who like to go boating, too, the 206 also has amenities making it a good all-around vessel with creature comforts. In other words, the 206 is so packed with features, it is more than just a guy-only fishing machine.
Princecraft’s Platinum SE 206 is built for northern inland anglers who intend to cruise and troll across large, open waters. That means she has to be strong, stable and dry. That means she needs to have a relatively high freeboard and a high windshield and she has both. By loading it to the gills with virtually every feature an avid angler could dream of at a competitive price, the Princecraft SE 206 will be a compelling alternative to fishermen used to the same old names in aluminum boats.
Aluminum is King
Aluminum fishing boats are usually preferred by anglers who face rugged northern conditions fishing on waters hiding underwater ledges and protruding rocks. The alloy material is simply more durable, stronger, and more forgiving than is fiberglass. Aluminum may become scratched or dented, but rarely is punctured on impact.
All Aluminum is Not the Same
Most aluminum boat builders do not get into the fine details of grade and thickness of their hulls. Aluminum, of course comes in a myriad of grades and thicknesses, and all builders say they use the best stuff -- but Princecraft actually does. It prides itself on using 5052-H36 grade aluminum in its hull, which is the highest grade we could find when we surveyed other alloy boat builders' websites. This grade is recommended by suppliers for demanding applications such as in aerospace and marine. The grade of alloy that Princecraft uses is harder by nearly any measure than what most builders in class use, and it also has a slightly greater tensile strength, fatigue strength and shear strength than the material used in other boats in class that we were able to check.
Several features found on the Platinum SE 206 point to the boat’s intended purpose as a premium open-water fishing model--
First, the bottom shape is warped -- sharper forward and flatter aft -- just like one you might find on a fiberglass boat. She is relatively fine forward in order to cut through chop and not pound, and she has an 18-degree deadrise at the transom. Second, the boat's freeboard is relatively high for a freshwater fishing boat. Her reverse chines help keep her dry in a chop and her high, wraparound windshield deflects spray that gets blown aft.
The large splash well is self-draining and can shed considerable water from following waves or wash when back-trolling. The transom is built to allow plenty of room for an optional 9.9 auxiliary “kicker” motor.
The plating on the bottom is 2.8 mm and on the hull sides it is 1.8 mm thick. The hull has twin plating from bow to midships. That, together with the extra hardness of the plate provides a reassuring level of protection when venturing into unfamiliar skinny water at high speed. The 206 also has twin plating at the chine which not only provides extra strength for the bottom but it also adds rigidity to the hull and topsides. Extra-wide, flat-surfaced combings are reinforced for secure mounting of hand rails, rod holders and downrigger mounts. The hull is coated with urethane paint to resist chips from gravel while trailering on unimproved roads to remote launch sites.
The SE 206 model offers a 20-gallon (77 L) livewell with bait bucket forward and a 34-gallon (129 L) livewell aft . Both are circulated and aerated with timers and feature electric fill and drain functions. They also have overflow vents, a removable minnow bucket, a light, and a remote control thru-hull drain.There is also a fish box. The aft well pictured here can also be ordered as an insulated fishbox for those anglers who prefer to practice “catch and keep” rather than “catch and release.” The bow is wired for a trolling motor and the rail can be fitted with other fishing options such as rod holders or down riggers. Possibly the best fishing features are the forward casting platform and the moveable seats.
The helm console features Mercury SmartCraft System tachometer, speedometer and trim gauges atop a tilt wheel with Sea Star hydraulic steering system standard. Rocker switches to control accessories are set in a panel to starboard where they are easy to see and reach. Mercury’s DTS digital throttle and shift system is available with packages powered by optional Verado outboards.An AM/FM stereo is standard with iPod controls and a SAT radio is compatible. There are four 6.5" (16.4 cm) speakers installed, something that is a bit unusual on a fishing boat, and we like it.
One of the most outstanding features of the 206 is her seating. The helm seat is the best I have seen in class. It is deluxe, heated, has two arm rests, a high back, and most important it has an adjustable height power-post. This means no mater what your ergonomics, you will be able to see through the windshield and be comfortable. There are two deluxe pedestal folding seats. These can be moved to any of four locations. Further, there are two jump seats in the stern, which is often the most comfortable place on a boat. With the addition of an optional third pedestal seat the 206 will have very comfortable seating for six people with the bow area completely open for casting. The Coast Guard formula says that this boat has capacity of 10 people, but we would never dream of taking such a load in a 20' boat.
Just as Princecraft has not cut any corners on the 206, so too, is it providing a premium trailer as part of the package. It is a standard bunk-style trailer but it has tandem axles with disc brakes. It also has a swing tongue, bearing protectors and a weight of 1,215 lbs. (551 kgs). An optional trailer is available.
As well-equipped as the Platinum SE 206 is, some people will want some options. As I look over the list of items available, I find that I would probably opt for a second heated captain's chair for my companion, heated folding seats, and a wash down system.
Many anglers will want to go for the stand-up high top with stainless steel frame, tonneau cover and curtains connected to the windshield. This, along with the heated seats should keep you cozy in most conditions. Also, you will need a cover for the boat.There are 10 engine options, ranging from a 150XL Optimax to a 225XL Verado. Only Mercury engines are available from the factory as Princecraft is owned by Brunswick.
Cleat for the anchor rode.
The boat comes standard with four ss pop-up cleats, two at the stern and two on the rails abaft the windshield within easy reach of the skipper or companion. What the boat does not have but needs is a anchor cleat on the bow. Every boat should have ground tackle and a cleat for the anchor rode on the bow -- no other place is safe. Never anchor the boat from a stern cleat or one amidships. This is an easy dealer-installed option. Don't worry about putting on only one, that asymmetry is ok.
If you plan to do some pan fish angling on a small lake or small river, particularly in the middle of the U.S., then the Platinum SE 206 may be more boat than you need. Princecraft has other models better suited for that kind of application. On the other hand if you plan to go fishing in larger bodies of water waves can get big in a hurry, then you want a boat like to 206. If you fish where there are rocks, underwater obstruction and gravel, then you, too, are a candidate for the 206. With options like heated seats for guests and considerable canvas layouts for overhead protection from the elements, stock or custom-rigged, this boat should prove to be worth every dime. If you have never taken a serious look at a Princecraft, I would give the 206 a gander. Base price: $44,670.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|