On the walleye waters of the North Woods, Crestliner and Lund are much more than boat brands; they are institutions. The classic Lund logo, surrounded by a polygon shape that evokes either water or the outline of a fish, is as iconic in the region as the Hamms Beer bear or the red-and-white striped Dardevle spoon.
But Crestliner came first, founded as the Aluminum Boat Company in 1946 in Little Falls, Minn., about an hour’s drive from Mille Lacs Lake, the walleye capital of the world. Howard Lund built himself an aluminum skiff in 1948, and drove around New York Mills, Minn., with the boat on the roof of his car until a salesman from the city saw it and ordered 50 copies.
Over the years Lund and Crestliner have competed for the hearts of fresh-water anglers with boats that were always built to last a lifetime. Or longer. There’s more than one fisherman still trolling in grandpa’s boat. Both companies have dabbled with mixed success in other markets, but the primary focus has stayed on aluminum fishing boats. A Lund is assembled with rivets. A Crestliner is welded. And over the years both brands have enjoyed bashing the other’s technique. That’s toned down today, as Lund and Crestliner, formerly Genmar brands, have been sister companies in the Brunswick Boat Group since 2004.
And they’ll be like sisters sharing an apartment later this year, as Brunswick relocates Crestliner production from Little Falls to New York Mills, where the two brands will be built under one roof. The move is driven by the current economy, as both plants have been under-utilized. Brunswick has made it clear, however, the each brand will retain its individual design and be built on its own line. Lund with rivets, Crestliner welded, of course. Both brands will offer new models for 2011 aimed at a lower price-point, boats that will be easier to purchase and more affordable to own over the long run, which is just what we need these days.
Crestliner strives for style and versatility in its line, according to product manager Steve Rock.
“We build fishing boats, but 90 percent of Crestliner customers also use their boat for other activities, such as tubing and cruising,” said Rock. “So we try to design our boats to accommodate a wide range of boating fun, and give them a look that appeals to the entire family.”
To expand the versatility of its 1650 Fish Hawk, for example, Crestliner offers as options a full windshield and a convertible aft bench seat. Introduced mid-season in 2010, the 16-foot 8-inch 1650 Fish Hawk will have a base price for 2011 of $14,695 when rigged with a four-stroke Mercury 50 four-stroke. That price includes a ShoreLand’r trailer, MotorGuide Wireless 55 trolling motor and a Lowrance X50DS fish finder – quality stuff. This boat has a 7-foot 2-inch beam and a wide-open cockpit layout with multiple seating positions that will keep anglers from bumping elbows. There’s a 7-foot rod locker below the bow deck, an aft live well, and lots of storage – big-boat features in a compact package that will run well with a thrifty motor like the Merc 50 four-stroke. The 1650 can be ordered with two-stroke and four-stroke Mercs up to 90 hp. The boat is also available with dual consoles without the full windshield.
Crestliner will bring three other new models in the 16-foot category to market in 2011. Each has a generous beam of more than 7 feet. The 16-foot Fish Hawk 1600 SC is a side-console model priced at just $13,995 with a Mercury 50 four-stroke motor, MotorGuide Wireless 55, Lowrance X50DS, and trailer. It comes with two pedestal seats, a live well, locking rod storage and a 23-gallon fuel tank.
The Super Hawk 1600 is a fish-and-ski model aimed more at family boating. It’s 16-feet, 3-inches long, and has a pair of fold-down jump seats below the aft fishing deck plus a bow fishing deck that converts to seating. A full glass windshield offers wind protection. It’s priced at $17,671 with a Merc 50 four-stroke and a trailer.
Finally, there’s the new 1650 Pro Tiller, which shares its 16-foot 8-inch hull with the Fish Hawk 1650 but is set up for the dedicated tiller angler, with a locking command console to secure electronics, a 24-gallon live well and dedicated bait well each within reach of the off-set aft seat. Rigged with a Merc 50 four-stroke and Lowrance X50DS, it will be priced at $14,695 on a trailer.
Crestliner will drop its line of pontoon boats for 2011, leaving that market to other Brunswick brands.
The fact that respected – make that revered – walleye angler Gary Roach appears on its website says a lot about the Lund philosophy.
“Our heritage is fishing,” says Lund President Dirk Hyde. “We build boats designed by fishermen for fishermen, with input from both customers and our pro staff.” To that end, Lund boats tend to be more technically focused on angling than Crestliners.
The Lund IPS (Integrated Power Strake) hull design, for example, incorporates some of the complex shapes associated with fiberglass hulls, including reverse chines for a stable and dry ride and true tracking at trolling speeds, and a flat section on the aft running surface that delivers more solid water to the propeller area for better acceleration and efficiency.
For 2011, Lund will go smaller and lighter with its affordable new Fury and Impact models.
The 14-foot 9-inch 1400 Fury weighs approximately 470 pounds and is offered in a tiller-steer configuration rated for up to 30 hp. It will be priced at $9,195 with a 25-hp Mercury four-stroke and a Shoreland’r trailer. The 16-foot 2-inch 1600 Fury is priced at $9,722 with a 25-hp Merc four-stroke and a trailer. The 1600 Fury has a side console and remote-control 25 Merc four-stroke (rated for up to 40 hp) and trailer for $10,575. The 1600 Fury SS is rated for up to 40 hp. Each of the Fury models features a pair of pedestal seats, side and bow storage/rod lockers accommodating rods up to 7 feet 6 inches, a 10-gallon live well and an easy-to-clean vinyl deck.
The 17-foot 9-inch 1775 Impact is a step up in size, not just in length, but also in beam, as at 7 feet 10 inches it’s 20.5 inches wider than the Fury. The Impact is a roomy, full-feature Lund, with pricing starting at $21,270 for the side-console Impact SS with a 90-hp Mercury two-stroke motor and a trailer. The Impact Sport adds dual consoles and a full glass windshield for $22,736, also with the two-stroke 90 and trailer. Features of both Impact models include an expansive raised bow fishing platform, fore and aft live wells, two locking rod lockers, and a 27-gallon fuel tank. Either Impact model can be equipped a pair of optional aft seats ($534) that fold up from the rear deck – a feature that can make this boat comfortable for the entire family.
All prices are MSRP from the manufacturer and do not include freight, prep or taxes. Dealers set actual pricing.
Charles Plueddeman is Boats.com’s outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.