23'-27' Bay Boats Compared: Four Boats for Thin Water - 08/16/2018

Each of the four boats in this roundup come with lots of fishing features: ample rod holders, livewells, insulated fish boxes, unobstructed casting decks fore and aft, and so forth. Each rides on a modified-V bottom that reduces draft, but at the cost of high-speed comfort in rough water. However, folks shopping for boats like these are more interested in longshore fishing and general messing about than they are in breakneck offshore action. We'd be happy with any one of these four bay boats, and maybe you would be too. Read the intros and specs for each one, then jump to our Captain's Reports for complete information. Don't hesitate to contact us at BoatTEST.com if you have questions.

SeaVee 270Z Bay (formerly SeaVee 270Z) measures 27' (8.23 m) LOA; big for a bay boat and the longest of this quartet. And, as you'd expect, she's also the widest, with a 9'2" (2.79 m) beam, which gives her plenty of fishing space on deck. (She's also too wide for trailering without a permit.) Her extra size also means she can carry more power, up to 450 hp in single or twin outboards. With just 15" (.38 m) of draft, a dry weight of only 3,000 lbs. (1,361 kg) thanks to SeaVee's sophisticated construction methods (figure about 3,700 lbs (1,678 kg) with a 400-hp outboard) and a twin-stepped hull, the 270Z should really fly with a full team of horses on her transom. We'd mount a single Mercury Verado 400R on the standard jackplate; SeaVee claims a top speed of over 53 knots with this power. (We haven't tested the boat ourselves.) With 17 degrees of deadrise aft, she's not a big-water speedboat, but in typical bay chop she should perform well, and the moderate deadrise will make her stable at rest -- what you need for spincasting and fly-fishing. Add the optional fiberglass hardtop, or even a half- or full-tower with controls, and we think you'll have one of the slickest rigs on the bay.

Ranger Boats 2510 Bay (formerly Ranger 2510 Bay Ranger) is delivered with a trailer as standard equipment, so hook up your pickup and haul her to the launch ramp. She comes with most of the fishing gear you need, including a recirculating livewell; a 320-quart fishbox; a dozen rod holders in the gunwales, transom, and leaning post; and lockable rod and gear stowage. A Porta-Potti is optional. The helm is wide enough for a pair of 10" multi-function displays; on our test boat, one MFD was dedicated to engine data -- no conventional gauges here. Ranger offers a selection of Humminbird or Lowrance electronics. The helm and companion seats are plush, with flip-up bolsters for stand-up or sit-down piloting. A T-top is optional. Power is from a single outboard, up to 350 hp. Ranger lists a choice of Evinrude, Mercury, and Yamaha motors, both 2- and 4-stroke. Our test boat carried a 300-hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 2-stroke, which gave a little over 44 knots top end, economical cruise around 27 knots. Our test captain found her solid and responsive at high speed on a Florida bay, but her shallow-V hull and jackplate-mounted engine lets the 2510 Bay chase fish into very thin water, too.

The Wellcraft 241 Bay (formerly Wellcraft 241 Fisherman) is a combination bay boat and center console, with slightly more freeboard, and a deeper cockpit, than the other boats in this group. That makes her more family-friendly -- life isn't all fishing. Her 15 degrees of deadrise is a compromise between high-speed comfort in a bay chop and the shallow draft required for fishing alongshore. Wellcraft sells her as a standard boat with the gear most fishermen want, including raised casting decks around the perimeter of the cockpit, a livewell, insulated fish/stowage boxes, and in-gunwale rod racks. There are also two options packages: The Family package adds a portable head in the console and more comfortable seating in the bow; the Tournament package has an upgraded leaning post and cockpit interior, and fancy graphics. There's a complete selection of individual options, too, including a fiberglass T-top, premium sound system, and even underwater lights -- the new "must-have" for folks who fish at night. All 241 Bays come with a tandem trailer as standard. Power is from a single outboard up to 300 hp. With a 250-hp Yamaha, our test boat hit 43.5 knots.

The Robalo 226 Cayman has a Kevlar-reinforced hull, a superior construction feature not often found on a boat in this class. Kevlar adds strength to the laminate, but it's more expensive than conventional fiberglass. The transom is cored with a water-resistant composite, so any water seeping in through fastenings, drains or other penetrations won't cause serious trouble. (Robalo covers the hull with a 10-year limited warranty.) Below the waterline, the Robalo has an "extended V-plane" hull that carries the running bottom aft of the structural transom -- think of the outboard as mounted in a notch, with the hull carrying past on either side. This adds stability, a good feature when fishermen are wandering around on the aft casting deck, and makes for quicker planing, too. Fishermen will also appreciate the twin insulated livewell/fishboxes aft; there's a third livewell forward. There are casting decks fore and aft; the aft deck hides a fold-open jumpseat, good for lounging when the fish aren't biting. An optional portable head fits in the console. There's 4'9" (1.45 m) of headroom in this space, which also provides access to the back of the dash. A long list of options lets each buyer customize the 226 Cayman to suit. The boat comes with a trailer, and can handle up to 250-hp. Read our Captain's Report for performance data.

Again, don’t hesitate to drop BoatTEST.com a note if you have a question about any of these boats.

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SeaVee 270Z Bay

SeaVee 270Z Bay Interior
  • LOA: 27'0" (8.23 m)
  • Beam: 9'2'' (2.79 m)
  • Draft: 15" (.38 m)
  • Displacement: 3,500 lbs (1,588 kg) w/o power
  • Deadrise at the Transom: 17 degrees
  • Fuel Capacity: 98 gal. (371 L)
  • Maximum Power: 450-hp
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Ranger Boats 2510 Bay

Ranger Boats 2510 Bay Interior
  • LOA: 24'7" (7.49 m)
  • Beam: 8'6" (2.59 m)
  • Draft: N/A
  • Displacement: 3,050 lbs (1,384 kg) w/o power
  • Deadrise at the Transom: N/A
  • Fuel Capacity: 97 gal. (367 L)
  • Maximum Power: 350-hp
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Wellcraft 241 Bay

Wellcraft 241 Bay Interior
  • LOA: 24'4" (7.42 m)
  • Beam: 8'6" (2.59 m)
  • Draft: 1'2" (.36 m)
  • Displacement: 4,000 lbs. (1,905 kg) w/o power
  • Deadrise at the Transom: 15 degrees
  • Fuel Capacity: 87 gal. (329 L)
  • Maximum Power: 300-hp
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Robalo 226 Cayman

Robalo 226 Cayman Interior
  • LOA: 22'6" (6.86 m)
  • Beam: 8'6" (2.59 m)
  • Draft: 1'0" (.31 m)
  • Displacement: 3,200 lbs. (1,452 kg) w/engineT
  • Deadrise at the Transom: 15-degrees
  • Fuel Capacity: 60 gal. (227 L)
  • Maximum Power: 250-hp
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