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Is a Boat Center Console Worth the Cost and Space

The center console of a boat is its central control station. It provides steering, trim control, radio, ignition, and various electronic systems, all in one convenient location in the middle of the deck. Having a center console on my boat, I know how efficient and convenient they are. Not every boat is suitable for a center console, but for those that are, they can make an afternoon of fishing or riding on the open water much more enjoyable.

To me, a center console is worth the cost and loss of space on your boat, especially if you set it up for fishing. A center console boat costs about $5,000 more than other boats, which is a lot, but it provides improved visibility, uniform weight distribution, and a convenient centralized location for electronics and steering. Whether you buy a boat with a center console or you install one after the fact, you’ll find it to be a useful addition.

Something to consider if you’re adding or tweaking your center console is a leaning post. This article covers everything you might want to know about leaning posts.

Advantages of a center console

I highly recommend a center console for those who want increased visibility and control from their boat. A good design can give you a 360-degree view of your surroundings, which enhances safety when moving through shallow waters. The center console allows for an all-round seating arrangement, which distributes passenger weight evenly across the boat. This helps to balance the boat, which improves handling and fuel efficiency.  When selecting a center console, you need to evaluate the amount of open deck space available on your boat and decide how much of that real estate you’re willing to give up. Before making a decision, you should have a good sense of how you use your boat. This information will allow you to balance the functionality of your boat with comfort.

Disadvantages of a center console

I don’t know of many disadvantages to having a center console on your boat. The obvious issue is that it takes up space on the deck floor, which is mainly occupied by the steering compartment and other electronics. Also, if you’re into watersport activities, then it won’t be the perfect choice due to its awkward hull design and lack of weather cover.

Center console features you must have

1. T-top

The T-top is an innovative type of center console roofing that provides shade to the passengers, while also protecting them from rain during their fishing trip. When installed, a T-top appears to have a ‘ shaped outline when seen from the sides and can provide protection from the elements for two or more persons on the deck area.

As for the design, its entire frame is directly linked to the center console compartment, without any straps or support brackets attached to the boat’s exterior. This allows for uninterrupted 360-degree views of the whole boat and its surrounding waters. I strongly recommend putting a T-top over your boat center console when planning to spend long hours on the open ocean, since the weather may change unexpectedly at any time and catch you unaware.

2. Hard top

Most hardtops are permanent structures attached to the boat’s bimini frame for support. They provide great levels of protection from ocean currents that may otherwise dump ocean water into the deck area. From my research, I can say that most hardtops are made from aluminum or polycarbonate sheets, which are strong enough to withstand the ocean’s turbulence, but also incredibly lightweight to help the boat balance better in deep waters.

3. Seat/ front sea

seat center console

From my experience, the front seat of most center boat consoles is typically used as a fishing vantage spot. However, it needs to be well-cushioned, so you don’t slam your spine or knock your teeth from the boat’s constant rocking against the ocean waves.

In most cases, owners forego helm chairs and instead choose leaning posts for their front seats, since they are more flexible and capable of adjusting with the currents. For a more comfortable sitting experience, consider putting up portable deck chairs, which vary from the heavy-duty deck models to foldup chairs that are more versatile and easily transferable to different sections across the deck.


The windshields of most center consoles are aerodynamically designed to divert the wind from the operator, while keeping a good distance from the angler. When choosing a windshield, I strongly advise you to check that it fits into the console perfectly, by following the console lines or T-top as per the design of the original boat maker.

Generally, the larger your boat center console, the bigger the windshield will be. Precise tooling from a windshield expert will also be required if you’re planning to create complex shapes or subtle curves to increase the windshield’s aesthetic appeal. Moreover, as a boat expert, I encourage the use of acrylic instead of glass for making your windshield, due to its strong and flexible molecular properties.

4. Livewell

Center console livewell

The livewell is a small-tank on a center console vessel that’s used to store bait or fish that’s been caught alive and needs to be kept so for long hours on an ocean trip. Typically, it functions by pumping fresh water from adjacent containers into the tank and keeping the waters well aerated.

From my personal research, I’ve discovered that it’s better to color the interior of your livewell blue, since it appears more natural to the eyes of your baitfish and keeps them calmer as if they were still inside the ocean. On average, a livewell has a water holding capacity of between 65 and 70 gallons.

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5. Cover

Center console covers are typically made from UV and mildew resistant fabric. They are often strapped on top of the boat to protect it from environmental hazards, such as water, dirt and sun damage. Whether you are at the dock or marina, the cover provides a quick and easy way to safeguard your boat and protect its interior from the elements.

The product is usually available in two designs, the easy slip-on model and drawstring closure, where you just push a single string at the center to close the cover. While I prefer marine-grade polyester fabric as the most ideal material for a center console boat cover, you are free to use any fabric as long as it is water proof.

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Types of boats you can add a center console to

Fishing boat

center console fishing boat

Ocean fishing boats are designed slightly differently from other types of vessels. Most of those I’ve come across have a deep-V or powercat design that’s ideal for trolling and offshore angling. They are usually constructed from 316-grade stainless steel metal, which is resistant to rusting, chipping, and denting. Anglers generally tend to draw the line farther and push harder compared to other boat users, so it only makes sense to have a strong boat that can take all the abuse without breaking.

Bass boat

A bass boat is considerably smaller in size compared to a fishing boat and is designed mainly for bass fishing in freshwater systems, such as rivers, lakes and tributaries. Most of these vessels consist of swivel chairs around the center console, which allow the angler to cast line in any position around the vessel.

Additionally, bass boats are usually powered by an outboard propeller that directs the boat swiftly from one location to another, as well as a trolling motor that drives the boat at a much slower pace across the surface where the angler is casting.

Aluminum boat

Aluminum boats are ideal for both freshwater and saltwater fishing trips. They are lightweight yet strong, making them easy to maneuver across the ocean or chase after high-speed fish, such as marlin that may otherwise outpace a much bulkier vessel.

These machines are not only simpler to trail or launch off the beach, but also run with far less power, which is great if you want to conserve the environment. I also advise those planning to use these boats that their various parts should be welded together, rather than being riveted. This will ensure they last longer and experience fewer leaks.

Jon boat

Jon boats are the most common type of fishing vessels in the world today. They consist of a flat-bottomed boat made from fiberglass, timber or aluminum with 2 or 3 bench seats surrounding the center console at the front and back areas.

In terms of construction, Jon boats have a nearly flat hull, which is useful in riding over ocean waves, rather than slicing through them in a similar manner as a V-hull. This design limits its use to calmer waters, where the currents aren’t too turbulent.

The bodywork usually consists of an open-hull that lacks a bilge and leaves the ribs wide open, but you can cover the ribs and create a flat, level board.

Cigarette boat

Also known as the go-fast boat, this is one of my favorite boat types in terms of design. It features a long, slender platform that houses the center console and an ergonomic planning hull that allows the boat to reach phenomenal speeds.

For bodywork, cigarette boats are usually made from a combination of materials, including carbon fiber, fiberglass and Kevlar, which are laid out in a deep-V style. This makes them strong enough to maneuver through higher waves in the ocean but at a much slower pace.

Apart from high-speed fish trailing, many people also use Cigarette boats for racing, since their sleek shape and immense power allow them to reach speeds of up to 150km/h in the open waters.

Hurricane boat

Hurricane boats are exclusive family ocean cruisers that are ideal for activities such as wakeboarding and skiing. They can also be fitted with a center console, which allows for a more refined cabin space that provides convenience and fish-ability. The vessel further has a broader aft to stern framework, structural integrity and sturdiness, which makes it ideal for everyday angling or even safe ocean-cruising.

No matter your needs, the Hurricane boat is spacious enough to allow everyone on board to roam around freely without feeling squeezed. It will make you feel energized and enthralled as you explore the expansive ocean waters.

Ranger boat

The ranger boat is a special category of bass fishing boat that’s mainly designed for catching black bass. However, the vessel recently expanded its boat line to include recreational options for those who are into leisure boating. These boats are made from either fiberglass or aluminum materials and come in an array of custom colors and upgrades that you can consider based on your individual taste and preferences.

These machines are optimized to deliver smooth and noiseless rides, unmatched performance, and rail-like handling all in one vessel. Ranger boats are also incredibly safe to ride even at high speeds, since they feature level flotation technology.

Common Questions About Center Consoles

How do I repair a boat center console

I once did a comprehensive repair on my boat’s center console that was showing signs of wear and tear, and I have some quick tips to share with you:

  1. If the balsa floor is broken, remove the top glass layer and take out the old core.
  2. Place a new balsa onto the existing bottom section of the glass using thick epoxy resin.
  3. Add a new fiberglass cloth and chop-strand mat over the deck, fair, and coating.

How do I clean my center console boat

As an owner of a boat with a center console, I strongly advise you to clean it regularly, so as to avoid growth of black mildew on the surface. However, with all its wires, batteries and electronics, you should be careful when cleaning this area to avoid any damage. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by spraying down the buss bars and harnesses of the console with protective electrical connection spray (CRC).
  2. Allow it to dry for a couple minutes with the door pushed open.
  3. Next, use a gel-mildew remover to scrub the console parts, taking care not to touch the exposed terminals, which should always remain covered.
  4. Rinse off the parts with clean water and a piece of cloth then finish by greasing the screws/washers to prevent rusting.

Read my super detailed article on mold and mildew control.

How do I install a center console on my boat

It’s possible to fix a center console on your boat yourself by following the simple steps below:

  1. Drill a couple of 6-inch port holes at the middle of your boat.
  2. Spread marine-grade silicone over the area to prevent water and debris from seeping under the console compartment.
  3. Make quarter-inch holes through your console and the angle flange every 10-12 inches and then fasten with bolts.
  4. After completing the bolting process, apply Polysulfide sealant for fastening and place a fat bead on the outside console, then gently trim out the star board for a neat finish.

The Takeaway

In the final analysis, a center console makes a great addition to most boats. You obviously need a large enough boat to avoid a crowded and awkward layout. But, with enough planning and thought, you can transform your boat into an extremely functional and enjoyable fishing vessel. I’m glad I added a center console to my boat. My only regret is not doing it sooner.

John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.