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What Is The Best Sport Fishing Boat?

By Rob Bowman | Posted On Dec 27, 2020
Updated On Jul 13, 2023

"That's a loaded question." That was a common response when I started talking with United Yacht Sales brokers about what makes the best sport fishing boat and who builds it. The answers I received differed greatly, varying as a result of the experiences of the broker who had fished tournaments on particular boats, been a sportfish owner themselves, some had friendships with particular shipyards, or had previously been a captain for a sportfish owner. No matter what the interviewee's background, two things were very clear from the beginning of these conversations. One, everyone was resolute in their opinions and firmly believed that they were right. And two, there really is no best sportfishing yacht out there, but rather only the right sportfish for your particular fishing and cruising goals.

Whether or not you can determine what the best sport fishing boat is vastly depends on your opinions and tastes. Do you prefer a convertible, open express, or an enclosed bridge sportfish? Would you rather build your own custom sportfish or purchase a semi-custom production boat? Do you plan on competing in tournaments or recreationally fish with family and friends? How important are the interior living spaces and accommodations to you? And to add even more complexity to the decision, there are several luxury center-console builders who have built some incredible boats over the past several years, complete with cabins, that could easily rival a sportfish. 

If you have a hundred people at a boat show "What is the best sportfishing boat made today?", you'll likely get a hundred different answers. The best advice I can give is to have a conversation with a professional yacht broker who is familiar with the different custom boat shipyards, the production sportfish builders, the current brokerage market, and has the experience running many of these different boats. United has over 175 yacht brokers worldwide and our headquarters can connect you with the perfect one that specializes in exactly what you're trying to accomplish. Call us to get started today at 1-772-463-3131 or simply fill out the form on this page.

United Yacht Broker: Greg Graham

Best Sportfishing Boat: Merritt 72' and F&S 45' for different applications. Seen below: "PISCES V", the 45' F&S.

F-And-S Sport Fishing Boat

As an avid angler around the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, FL since the early 80's, Greg knows what it takes to compete in the South Florida tournament circuit. While he's not out selling everything from a 136' Horizon to a 76' Mark Willis Custom Sportfish, Greg manages two sportfish boats including a 72' Merritt and a 45' F&S. "The owner of these boats literally told me to go out and find him the perfect sportfish and I knew exactly what to get," remarked Greg. "The Merritt Yacht was built for world traveling and sleeps 9 people comfortably," he continued. "You have redundant systems throughout, two water-makers, two ice-makers, a dive compressor, and a lot more. Merritt builds an incredible custom boat."

"I call the 45' F&S 'The Ferrari' of sportfish," said Greg. "This boat was designed and built for sailfish tournaments close to home. It's a walk-around style and has both a Seakeeper 9 and a 6 live-well setup." Yes, you read that correctly, 6 live-wells in a 45-footer.


United Yacht Broker: Mordy Miltz

Best Sport Fishing Boat: Garlington 61, Viking 64, and Bayliss 62 (Who said you had to choose just one?)

Garlington Yachts 61

"Hands down, nothing rides out like a custom boat such as Garlington, Bayliss, Jarrett Bay, or a Spencer," said Mordy Miltz. "But for those owners that don't want the maintenance of a cold-molded boat, Viking Yachts would be the go-to for many reasons including consistency in the business, construction, and resale." An avid angler since the age of 19 and owner of a fishing supply company in the Northeast, Mordy got his experience fishing many of the most prestigious tournaments including the Mid-Atlantic 500, the White Marlin Open, and others. His current 46' Winter listing "FAMILY CIRCUS" is one of the hottest custom boats available on the market right now. Mordy listed his personal picks for the best sport fishing boat below:

  • Garlington Yachts 61 - "I love this boat because it is the best riding sportfish out there, in my opinion. It's an incredibly sought-after boat in its class and is almost impossible to find it under $2 million."
  • Viking 64 - "The Viking 64 is very roomy with either 3 or 4 stateroom configurations, (optional) CAT power, has great fish-ability, and versatility. You can fish tournaments or do a family cruising trip from the Caribbean to Nantucket and back, if you wanted."
  • Bayliss Boatworks 62 - "Bayliss is known for his world renown style in addition to his stunning fit and finish. He consistently produces the nicest sportfishing yachts year after year but when you meet him in person you just want to do business with him. In addition to build yachts, he also offers a full service and refit boatyard with the expertise of his builders. I had fuel issues while delivering a custom yacht that I sold a client and called him on his cell asking for his services and sent guys down there within minutes. You really can’t beat the service."


(Also Read: Is A Yacht A Good Investment? and How Much Does It Cost To Own A Yacht?)


United Yacht Broker: Steve Castellini

Best Sport Fishing Boat: American Custom Yachts 63 or Hatteras GT70

Hatteras GT70 Sport Fishing Boat

Steve Castellini knows production and custom sportfishing boats. In fact, he's proven himself time and time again with over 30 tournament wins including the opening year of the Mid-Atlantic 500. He's also fished Morehead City for giant Bluefin Tuna which he landed a triple header of giants including one at 700+ lbs. and two more in the 600 lbs. range. His knowledge and hands-on experience make him an excellent source of information for choosing the best sportfish.

"As for custom sportfish, from my personal experience I would say American Custom Yachts," said Steve. "First, you have to love the name American. Secondly, their quality of build, finish work, and performance is first class. There is beautiful styling and innovative ideas in each vessel that they build. These custom sportfish are built to fit the owners needs, particularly how they may travel and fish.

"I recall several years ago I had a client survey the 63 American 1995 called "Glory", he continued. "I was very impressed on how well she was built and maintained. To top that our sea trial was conducted out of St Lucie Inlet during a blow of 30-40kts of wind. Seas were definitely 6-10' and this boat rode around like a sports car eating it up. It was mind boggling. The captain did an amazing job at the helm showing off how well the 63 ACY ran in each direction of sea. A survey I will never forget!"

"For production boats I would say the Hatteras GT70 would rival any vessel in the water. It includes a 5-stateroom and 4-head layout with a massive salon. Outfitted with a Pipewelders tournament tower and High Seas tournament electronics package, Seakeeper, mezzanine and gigantic flybridge, this rig is exceptionally comfortable to travel and tournament fish. I recall fishing the MA500 a few years ago and told the Captain is was time to get going if we wanted to reach our spot 100 miles away before lines in. He told me to relax as we watched numerous 60-70’ tournament contenders turn around after attempting to go offshore. We left on Hatterascal pointed the bow into the northeast sea of 6’ plus and rode along at 33kts for 3 hours making it before lines in. Totally impressive all day long!"


United Yacht Broker: John Blumenthal

Best Sportfishing Boat: Too Many To List! John has a different take on the subject. See below.

Jim Smith Sportfishing Yacht

John's love for fishing has taken him around the world as a professional crewman and captain on marlin boats, particularly on the Great Barrier Reef. Now John has spent the last 15 years helping his clients buy and sell sportfishing boats for all different kinds of applications. John recently sold NO AGENDA, a 2018 Michael Rybovich & Sons 73, and currently has EURYBIA listed, a Jim Smith 60'. John has a different take on the answer to the question of what is the best sportfish and said his choices were "vast these days". 

"Design and technology has allowed boat builders to create the best sportfishing vessels in all classes including high-end center consoles, production, and custom sportfish," he said. "There seems to be a "standard of features" buyers look for in a vessel and most are fitted-out perfectly with a Mezzanine, Omni Sonar, Seakeeper, Water-Maker, Slushy Ice Machine, and the latest technology in electronics."

"It’s important to show my clients the efficiency of a vessel in speed and economy, stability and seakeeping ability. The vessel must be able to handle all types of conditions, whether you are in the traveling or fishing mode. Let’s not forget the cockpit, aka our “work station”, where all the action happens. This area needs to be well laid-out for anglers and crew to go to battle. At the end of the day there are so many vessels to choose from. Do yourself a favor and “hook up” with a yacht broker that has had the first-hand experience and one you can trust to guide you to find the perfect vessel."


With over 175 yacht brokers worldwide, United Yacht Sales has the largest network of boat buyers and sellers in the world. If you're looking to list and sell your yacht, we offer professional brokerage services that focus on YOUR boat. We aren't tied to new boat inventory or trade-ins we own. 100% of our marketing budget and our focus goes towards selling your boat. With nearly 1 million unique visitors each year to our website, plus the reach of our social media efforts, advertising strength with Yachtworld, and our strategic search engine marketing, we can find the right buyer for your yacht quickly. To get started with United, please use our 'What's My Yacht Worth?' form or call our main office at 1-772-463-3131.


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