Boat Review by: Richard Crowder
Starcraft Marine of New Paris, Indiana is arguably one of the most prolific and diverse manufacturers of pleasure boats in the world. Consider this. For 2015, Starcraft offers well over one hundred models of boats from ten to twenty-five feet, manufactured in both aluminum and fibreglass, some outboard powered, others sterndrive powered, in seven distinct series including runabouts, fishing boats, deck boats, pontoon, utility, jon boats, plus a crossover series.
Starcraft’s fishing boat series itself exemplifies the depth and breadth of Starcraft’s range of offerings with twenty-six models from sixteen to twenty-one feet in eight sub-series featuring not only both riveted and welded aluminum but also fibreglass construction.
The riveted aluminum Fishmaster series of two models, the 210 and the 196 subject of this review, is described by Starcraft as, “The Ultimate Big Water Boat. With a wide beam, deep interior, large fuel capacity and high maximum horsepower, Fishmaster aluminum fishing boats give you the safety and control you need in the roughest conditions.”
The 196 Fishmaster at nineteen feet, nine inches length overall on a 100-inch (eight foot, four inch) beam with an interior depth of 31-inches is indeed a wide and deep boat and with its relatively deep-vee hull design with a 19-degree deadrise, is indeed intended and is suited for fishing the big waters. Outboard power of your choice up to a maximum rating of 200 horsepower will get you out to your favourite fishing hole quickly and back home safely.
What would be classed as a dual-console design, the 196 Fishmaster comes standard with a high protective wraparound windshield with a centre opening walk-thru section. A top with storage boot comes standard and to that can be added a walk-thru curtain, bow tonneau cover, snap-on cover, plus a drop curtain and side curtain set for added protection, comfort, and convenience in our often wet and cool prime Canadian spring and fall fishing seasons.
Four deluxe padded and movable composite bucket seats come standard and the driver’s seat has a slider adjustment. Two additional portable stern jump seats provide total cockpit seating for six and these jump seats can be removed to allow easier stern access when landing that big one. An additional seat base mount is provided in the bow casting deck. Power pedestals can be optionally added to the bucket seats. The entire cockpit and forward casting platform has vinyl flooring for easy wash-down and cleanup. In fact, a wash-down system is standard equipment.
The dash of the 196 Fishmaster is a modern looking molded unit (Starcraft calls it “pro-style”) with a curved upper pod housing chrome-accented gauges including a tachometer, speedometer, fuel, and voltmeter. An in-dash digital depth gauge is optional as is a graph-style GPS/fish-finder. An AM/FM stereo with auxiliary MP3 port is also standard as is hydraulic tilt steering and a 12-volt power point. The passenger dash features a lockable glove box.
Up front is a standard 41-gallon aerated livewell plus an in-floor storage compartment. Another storage compartment is found in-floor between the two rear bucket seats. Rod storage is built-in under both port and starboard gunnels, the top surfaces of which include side-deck aluminum tracks with plastic step pad inserts for mounting rod holders, etc.
Other notable optional equipment available to make your fishing experience more enjoyable includes kicker engine pre-rig, a 12/24 volt trolling motor, a 2-Bank ProMariner ProSport 8 or a 3-bank ProMariner ProSport 15 battery charger, a high back helm seat, and snap-in carpet.
Perhaps Starcraft sums it up best when it says, “the 196 Fishmaster is a big-water fisherman’s best friend.”
|Length:||19' 9"||6.02 m|
|Beam:||8' 4"||2.54 m|
|Dry weight:||1430 lbs||649 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||52 US gals||197 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Outboard|
|Engine HP:||Max. 200|