The first time I ran a Pioneer center console fishing boat, the character trait that jumped out and bit me was just how well built the boat was. There were no rattles or vibrations when we came down off of waves, the fit and finish equaled that of any molded fiberglass boat in its class, and there wasn’t a rough fiberglass edge or an unfinished compartment within sight. That model was the Pioneer 197, but bay anglers who want a little more room and a little more beef will be checking out the 220 Bay Sport.
Like its smaller sibling, the 220 Bay Sport is built to last for the long haul and it comes along with a lifetime—yes, lifetime—structural hull warranty (seven years, transferrable). Ninety percent of the area below deck level is foam-filled, and Pioneer uses a 2.3-pound density closed cell foam, which is significantly denser than that found in most boats. The stringers are also foam-filled, and are permanently bonded to the hull. The reverse-cap deck is bonded on while the hull is still in the mold, to ensure a perfect fit and a water-tight seal.
When it’s time to cast, the Pioneer is set up to serve: there are a pair of insulated fishboxes, a 72-qt. cooler, four rocket launchers on the leaning post, locking rod stowage boxes, gunwale bolsters, toe rails, twin livewells (15 gallons forward and 30 aft), and raised casting decks both fore and aft. The bowdeck arrangement has a step flanked by the fishboxes, up to an elevated section forward, with a relatively large lower deck area forward of the console. As a result the casting platform is a bit smaller than those on some competing bay boats of this size, which many anglers will see as a negative. Some others will see the ability to step down and fish from inside the gunwales as a big plus, however, for windy days on open water—when standing on an elevated deck would be a good way to fall overboard. In other words, the 220 Bay Sport will be a more likely choice if you tend to fish open waters more often than you head into protected back-country areas.
|Fuel capacity||65 gal.|
Like the Sea Hunt BX 24 BR we tested a few months back in Miami (see Sea Hunt BX 24 BR: Beast of a Bay Boat) the 220 Bay Sport has a sharp entry with plenty of flare in the bow. And like the Mako 21 LTS we also reviewed recently (Mako 21 LTS: Light Tackle Fishing, Heavy Duty Value), with a hull weight of 2,100-lbs. it can move along just fine with 150 horses. Up the ante with 200, go to the Mako’s max of 225, or sit 250 horses on the Pioneer’s transom; the Sea Hunt can take another 50.
Just how much will a 220 Bay Sport cost you? Their pricing is right in the middle of the marketplace, running in the mid to low 40’s. The standard equipment list is thick, mostly relating to the T-top, extra cushions, stereos, and the like. In fact, the only must-have that isn’t included as a standard feature is the raw water washdown. And most importantly, that rugged, offshore-style construction comes with each and every hull to leave the factory.