Boat Review by: Matt Spencer
The 18-foot aluminum fishing boat is probably the most competitive segment in the fishing industry. It’s that perfect size that you can take on big and small water alike, you don’t need a big truck to trailer it and you can fish for any species in it. You can spend a lot of money on a boat of this size or you can try to save some money but you’ll find if you don’t go with the right brand you’re going to have to make some compromises.
Starcraft Marine is trying to stand out from the pack with the introduction of a brand new model for 2016 with the Titan 186. An 18 and a half foot multi-species boat - the Titan 186 offers some of the best value in its segment. It also has some pretty spectacular performance as I found out when I got my hands on it at the Evinrude launch of their brand new 150-hp G2 Outboard, but more on that later…
If you look at Starcraft’s complete line of fishing boats on their website you will see they are listed with the most hardcore boats at the top - so the smaller, side console and tiller style boats for the casual angler located at the bottom of the list. Sitting pretty right in the middle is the Titan 186.
I say sitting pretty because it actually is! For 2016 Starcraft gave all of their fishing boats a facelift, introducing a new graphics package to modernize their time proven running surface. When you have your running surface dialed in there is no need to change it, but you should update the exterior and that’s what they did with a sharp two tone side panel. This Titan 186 had all white side panels with a black top deck, hull and stern. Matching this was the 150-hp G2. It had white side and top panels with black accents. Part of the appeal of the G2, aside from the many benefits that we will discuss soon, is that you can colour match your boat. Gone are the days of being loyal to one colour for your brand identity. It doesn’t matter what colour it is - you know an Evinrude G2 when you’re looking at it!
With a 99 inch beam the Titan 186 has an impressive footprint, giving you plenty of usable space inside the boat. Whether you are a weekend warrior or on the tournament circuit you are not going to have to make any compromises with this boat. Right away you will notice the large side decks on the Titan. This will help you if you need to step down into the boat but also it’s a great spot to mount the optional tracking system where you can add in Bert’s Custom Tackle accessories direct from the factory.
There are coaming bolsters and there is open storage in the gunnels. The rear casting platform can be used for exactly that, but it’s also home to the 25-gallon livewell - one of two in the boat! When it’s time to put the rods away and head out for a cruise, two jump seats fold out of the casting deck. You will find drink holders here and even a ski-tow mount. The Titan 186 is not a one trick pony! It’s ready for anything and even has drink holders by the jump seats. 3 fishing seats come standard with the Titan 186. There are 4 bases in the cockpit floor, one in the rear casting platform and one in the bow, so you can move these seats around depending on your fishing style. Something that it’s always focused on is that Starcraft makes all of their seats in house. This is nice because you know they can repair or update your seats should you find the need.
The Titan 186 features a full windshield with dual consoles. The consoles feature modern styling with a brushed metal look but also offer plenty of functionality. On the port side you will find a large “glove box” and directly below that is built in Plano tackle storage. The helm features a large blank space to flush mount your favourite fishing graph but there’s also room to mount more with the proper extension arm. There is a double row of rocker switches, gauges and AM/FM stereo with bluetooth and AUX input.
You will be able to stow and lock up 5 of your rods in the in floor storage, or you can just put them away when it’s time to take the kids tubing. That’s because there are bow cushions available with padded backrests with built in drink holders in the bow. While this is a serious fishing boat, I think you are starting to see that it’s able to pull double duty and can be a versatile family package.
There is two storage compartments in the bow, a seat base like I mentioned earlier and an 18-gallon livewell. It’s tough to find boats in the 18-foot category that have multiple livewells, especially ones that big!
The boat is pre-rigged to install a trolling motor and I recommend to get the “Power Pack Upgrade” straight from the factory which gives you a trolling motor along with a Humminbird graph along with many others.
Now I mentioned that I got to test this boat at the Evinrude launch of the new 150-hp E-Tec G2. For 2016 Evinrude has expanded their G2 line of outboards from 200 High Output down to a 150-hp. The 150-hp outboard is the jack of all trades motor so I was quite impressed Evinrude made the choice to expand these rockstar engines down to the masses. I had already tested the 150-H.O on two pontoon boats so I was very excited to see the application on a fishing boat. One of the standard features on every G2 is iTrim - an automatic trim setting. To activate you simply trim the engine all the way down while in Neutral and you’re all set. Before you say “I know how to trim my boat” I am going to cut you off and say there is no way you know how to trim your boat better than a computer - because that’s what’s in control here. The internal computer takes account of everything from engine rpm, speed, fuel flow and many other factors to give you the optimal trim setting.
So as I put the throttle down for a hole shot I noted that we were on plane in an impressive 3 seconds and immediately the iTrim went to work. Where I found to really enjoy this setting was when I wanted to make a tight turn. I was able to keep both hands on the wheel as the iTrim did all of the work.
While it is nice to have both hands on the wheel you don’t need it to help you turn. That’s because another feature of the G2 is the power assisted steering. That along with digital shift and throttle make for a pleasurable boating experience. No where does it say that if you’re in a fishing boat you can’t have nice features!
And of course there is the hair raising performance of the G2. The hair on the back of my neck still stands thinking about the power this motor has. The most fuel efficient cruise we found was at 3000 rpm and 22.75 where the boat burned only 3.8 Gallons Per Hour. But when you put the throttle down from there you will feel the incredible surge in power, even at higher RPM like 4000. 4000 rpm registered a speed of 32.7 mph but when we put the throttle down to 5000 rpm the motor sprung to life, somehow finding a new gear and jumped to 42.6 mph. To be able to make a 10 mph jump at the higher end of the range is pretty impressive. There was still a bit left too as we hit a top speed of 48.7 mph at wide open throttle.
Even if you pack the boat up with gear, fuel, fill the livewells and have your buds with you you will still get great performance, and that’s well under the max horsepower rating of 200 for the Titan 186.
It’s not always easy being the new kid in town. But when you offer such great value, fish-ability and match it with incredible performance like the 2016 Starcraft Titan 186 does, then you won’t have any issues making friends.
|Length:||18' 6"||5.64 m|
|Dry weight:||1,450 lbs||657 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||27 US gals||102 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Evinrude ETEC G2|