Center Console vs. Dual Console Boats: The Most Important Differences

Are you considering adding a boat to your recreational lineup? If so, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make, like how much to spend, whether to buy a new or used boat, and the type of boat that will best fit your lifestyle. If you decide to buy a motorboat, you’ll also need to decide between a center console and dual console. 

These two styles of boats each have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing which one is right for you will depend upon how you intend to use your boat. Will you use it mainly for doing some serious fishing with a few friends or will you have kids and pets aboard your boat? Consider the pros and cons below before you go searching for a boat dealer.

Why many serious anglers prefer center consoles

Fishermen spend most of their time aboard a boat near the rails. They appreciate the extra space that a center console design offers. They can easily access the water from any spot on the boat, increasing their odds of catching fish. Boatmaker Grady-White explains that an open deck with walkways on either side of the console allows an angler to fight a fish from bow to stern. They can move around the boat quickly in order to keep up with even the hardest fighting fish. 

A compact, minimalist design with few obstructions along the rail helps minimize distractions. Dedicated anglers tend to be less interested in creature comforts than in landing a big one. That’s good, because a center console usually offers less protection from the elements that a dual console design.

Since it has aisles on both sides rather than just one center aisle, a center console boat generally seats fewer people in the protected console area than many dual console designs. Although it offers quick access to the water, that center console may also interfere with communication between the bow and stern.

Choose a dual console for casual family boating


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These boats have a family-friendly layout that lets parents experience more pleasure and less stress while on the water. Instead of getting from the bow to the stern by going around the console (as in a center console boat), there’s a safer path between the consoles on a dual console boat. If you’re boating with pets, a dual console boat is probably safer and more comfortable for them, too.

Older children and teens will appreciate being able to hang out in the bow away from Mom and Dad. Parents will appreciate still being able to monitor their children’s safety while they’re in the bow cockpit. That’s because there’s isn’t a center console blocking the view, simply a clear windscreen. Of course, that bow cockpit is also a great place for adults to hang out while enjoying the view!

The dual console motorboat has become the SUV of the sea for its multifunctional practicality and family friendliness. According to the online boating magazine Soundings, these boats are perfect for casual boating, relaxing on the water, or enjoying a variety of water sports. They also offer more seating and storage for larger groups or longer excursions than a center console boat.

However, all of that extra seating, storage, and comfort comes at a price. Serious anglers often prefer the increased deck space and better clearance offered by a center console boat over more amenities.

Neither design is better, they just fulfill different boating needs

A hardcore angler who most often takes to the water with a few fishing buddies will probably appreciate the extra fishing room a center console provides. A casual angler who generally takes the whole family along may appreciate the extra safety and comfort a dual console provides.

Only you can decide which of these two great designs will best meet your particular boating needs, now and in the future. Either design you choose is sure to provide you with many pleasurable boating experiences.