Boat Review by: Matt Spencer
As the first family of boats, you should be quite familiar with the name Smoker Craft. You may not however be as well versed in their American Angler Series of boats. Hopefully that’s about to change since we spent some time doing a full water test of the American Angler Phantom 222 Offshore
Up until recently, American Angler operated on its own as part of the Smoker Craft Family of Products, including when we first tested the Phantom 222 Offshore. In 2016 they have been moved to under the Smoker Craft Brand, to be an extension of their fishing line up. This move makes a lot of sense to me since they’re part of the same family but are different enough that merging into the Smoker brand fills a hole in their line.
West Coast inspired, designed and built, the American Angler line is a river style boat that’s rugged, raw, all welded and durable. For the owners of these boats it’s not about wrapped windshields, fancy vinyl patterns and carpeted gunnels. It’s about functionality, durability and being able to handle anything thrown at them without much maintenance. Well that my friends is the Phantom 222 Offshore in a nutshell.
At an inch under 25 feet, the 222 Offshore is the longest in the Phantom line up. If you’re wondering to what Offshore refers, it’s the extension bracket that the motor is mounted to. Rather than being mounted traditionally to the transom, the 222 Offshore features a bracket, much like an extended swim platform, that allows the motor to be mounted back from the transom, saving room for a kicker as well. It’s check plated so you can walk on it to net a fish or get on and off the dock.
Looking into the Phantom 222 Offshore from the dock it’s very much what you see is what you get. It features a large cockpit fishing area that’s uncluttered, rod storage in the gunnels and all of the seating tucked up under the optional canopy with side curtains. There is facing bench seating, twin console chairs and a very simple, yet functional helm. The bow is open with a walk thru windshield but that’s more than likely going to be just for docking. Let’s just say “bow filler cushions” were not on the list of options.
Since the motor is not mounted to the transom they can beef it up a bit more and make it the full width of the boat. With this space they have put a large fish box that opens from the top. Along with an open storage bin. Still mounted on the transom but on the inside underneath you will find the washdown hose. This will come very much in handy as it’s an all aluminum boat with painted interior. You’re going to be more adept to getting it dirty because clean up will be a breeze. Simply take out the hose, spray it down and let it drain into the bilge and you’re on your way.
Twin plated doors open up to give you access to your batteries as well as your bilge. Inside both gunnels you will find storage for 3 rods, along with a shelf to put loose items and a toe kick below to secure yourself in as you’re leaning over to land your fish. The open cockpit not only lends itself to fishing, but also to island cottagers who need to load up their boat at the beginning and end of each weekend. You can put propane tanks, jerry cans, groceries, soil, lumber - you name it, all in the open cockpit and not take up any space of actual seating area.
Facing bench seats can handle two guests each, and not only do they fold down, but they also fold forward to reveal storage. This will be a great spot to put your extra life vests and safety gear. If you go with the optional canopy and side curtains, it will also remain protected from the elements.
The consoles on the Phantom 222 are very utilitarian. There’s hard edges, panel windshields, welds and zero frills. But again that’s what the traditional buyers of this boat want. It isn’t without some form however. Both seats swivel and have armrests and are rather comfortable. There is a gauge package at the helm, rocker switches and the throttle controls are ergonomically placed.
I must say I really appreciate boats like the American Angler Phantom 222 Offshore. These rugged, all welded aluminum boats are not only practically bullet proof, but they are masterfully crafted. Most fishing boats rely on trim pieces to hide any manufacturing blemishes. But with a boat like this, there is not hiding. Every weld is out in the open and therefore they must be perfect. You can run your fingers over them to feel the textures and gives you a better appreciation for the craftsmanship.
It’s a similar feeling when you head out for the water test portion. Since there is no carpet or plywood in the boat to absorb noise you hear the water lapping against the boat as you idle away from the dock. Again not for everyone, but those who like to hear the water against the boat treat as a therapy, I know I do.
Putting the throttle down for the 200hp Suzuki outboard, I don’t know if I was more surprised by the sudden burst of power that jolted me forward or the fact that there was almost minimal bow rise. River boats are meant to run in shallower water, so they’re designed to approach plane with less bow rise, and the Phantom 222 has almost none. I was on plane in under 2 seconds.
Part of that too was thanks to the inline, 4-cylinder Four Stroke Suzuki. This 200hp outboard is designed with more displacement giving you more torque, and believe me it certainly had that. The two were paired perfectly as I hit a comfortable cruise of 24 mph at 2000 rpm and 30 mph was at 3000 rpm. Unfortunately you can’t have your cake and eat it too so there is some top end speed loss based on the running nature of the hull. I hit a top speed of 45 mph at wide open throttle, not the fastest but again this boat isn’t designed for top end running.
So hopefully by now you have a new appreciation for the Smoker Craft American Angler line of boats. You’re going to start seeing them more and more as they make their invasion Eastward. They’re a no nonsense, rugged boat that can take anything you throw at them. With a spirit for fishing they will also make a great cottage or utility boat.
|Length:||24' 11"||7.16 m|
|Dry weight:||1,900 lbs||862 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||50 US gals||189 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Suzuki DF200A Four Stroke|