May 14, 2014
Pro-Line Boats has been building boats for more than 40 years, with more than 23 models from 17 to 35 feet. All of the boats share the same manufacturing techniques, which the company backs with a 10-year transferable warranty. No wood is used building the boats with Pro-Line's Fiberglass Integrated Structural Technology.
Attention to detail and quality construction practices are found under the gunnels and cockpit soles with through-bolted hardware, backing plates, aircraft nuts, heat-shrink wiring, insulated boxes and more.
In St. Petersburg, we sea-trialed the 20 Sport, 23 Sport and 29 Grand Sport. Pro-Line continues with its already popular Bay, Sport, Super Sport, Walk Series and Express Boats. A customer has a wide selection of power to choose from, as Pro-line is partnered with Evinrude, Honda, Mercury and Suzuki.
The 20 Sport and 23 Sport are new from the bottom up, and both have lost their bow pulpits, which really improves the fishability of the boats. Their new consoles are molded to accept the T-Top legs, increasing the area outboard of the console. With the extra space and welded handholds, walking around the console is a breeze. The T-tops are built by Pro-Line, with ABS Trilon tops installed on boats under 28 feet to reduce weight. The consoles are wide enough to easily shelter two adults behind the console and the windshields are also large enough to be effective.
Powered by a 140 Suzuki, the 20 Sport planed easily and was plenty fast. The 23 was really impressive. As nice a boat as the 20 is, add a couple of feet (and a few bucks) and the number of days fishing offshore will increase dramatically. No matter who builds the boat, it has to be a really good one to feel comfortable running way off the beach, and this 23-footer had a particularly good feeling when running in open water. The boat when trimmed up just felt like it was meant to be offshore; it was easy to handle and if there had been rods aboard, I would still be out there.
We ran two 23 Sports which both topped out at about 46 mph. Trimmed right, one could probably get a little more speed from them, but why bother? The boats are plenty fast and fuel efficient. Very few times during weekend boat traffic or in the ocean can we even come close to 30 knots, let alone 40. The boat performed equally well with the single 250 Suzuki and the 200 Honda.
26 Super Sport
We were very lucky to hop aboard the new 29 Grand Sport with its designer, Marine Design Engineer Brett Pearman. Brett has been responsible for many of the successful Pro-Line designs. This boat is big and meant to run with the big dogs: 22 degrees of deadrise; 9 feet, 8 inches beam; 240 gallons of fuel; and family fishing touches such as walk-in center console, high gunnels, high freeboard forward, glass windshield with wiper, storage and ample fish boxes. The center console has plenty of room for a head, rod storage, dry storage and impressive headroom. The helm area is elevated with a built-in platform to provide excellent visibility over the bow at all times.
Of the 13 engine options for the 29 Grand Sport listed in the Pro-Line product guide, we were able to run the twin 200 Suzukis and the 250 Mercury Verados. The Suzukis were very adequate, planing quickly without a lot of bow rise and attaining about 46 MPH. The boat was pictured on the back cover of the August issue of Florida Sportsman magazine with a pair of 225 Suzukis. She runs 50-plus with the Verados and handles very well.
29 Grand Sport
The boat is great with either package, but I must admit it was fun going faster when somebody else was paying for the fuel at wide open throttle. Getting back to fuel-dock reality, the Verados provide a cruising speed of 32 MPH @ 4000 RPM burning about 16 GPH. The Suzukis also provide good gallons per mile at cruise.FS