Boat Review by: Matt Spencer
Having a complete fishing line-up allows you to offer your customers options that are going to fit their needs and budget. For those dedicated fisherman who perhaps don’t want all the bells and whistles and like a more pure dedicated fishing boat, then the Princecraft Xpedition is the boat of choice.
First introduced in 2012 as a 17-foot Side Console, the Xpedition line has grown up tremendously over the past 5 years. In 2013 Princecraft expanded the line to 20 feet, introducing the 200 and 4 years later it has received a redesign, making it more powerful and “fishable” than ever.
At 20-feet with a 92-inch beam, the actual physical footprint of the boat hasn’t changed, and nor should it. It already was a great performing fishing boat with plenty of space, but for 2017 Princecraft found an even better use of that space. Right away the two additions were making both the bow and stern casting platforms bigger.
The bow casting platform on the Xpedition 200 WS is probably the biggest I have seen in this segment. It features a 17-gallon livewell, multiple storage bins and even netted storage on the portside for quick access to gear, a great spot to toss sweaters when it’s time to peel off the layers. Grab handles, a seat base and even a recessed well for your trolling motor pedal round out the bow accoutrements.
Moving between the dual consoles you will walk over the in floor rod storage, which upon first glance, doesn’t appear to be changed for 2017 until you look deeper and realize it has had a huge upgrade for the year.
Nine out of ten times a fishing rod gets put away into storage damp, not only when it’s raining, but just as the line holds the moisture on the spool. Addressing this issue, Princecraft has added a ventilation system to provide stead airflow through the compartment to help dry out the gear inside. A Ram intake can be found at the tip of the bow, which directs air into the compartment when you’re running or even when the boat is being trailered. When sitting at home either outside or the garage you can flip the switch and a powered fan continues to keep the air flowing. The keeps your gear in top condition but also reduces the chance of mold in your compartments and on life vests. The consoles have been made wider for 2017 giving you more room for what fisherman love - Electronics. By reconfiguring the gauge and switches layout and consolidating them Princecraft has created room for an up to 12-inch Raymarine flush mounted Sonar. The 200 I tested had the 9-inch a98 Raymarine, which was quite sizeable and didn’t take over at the helm like you think it might have. Additionally there is a spot to RAM mount further Electronics above the dash. Next time you see a serious fisherman launching at your local ramp, take note about how many graphs he has in his boat - one is never enough.
Storage under the consoles is open with netting to keep things in place, with very cool drawer storage above that. Originally this secondary space was open, but with the addition of drawers you can toss wallets and cell phones in there and be assured they will be secure.
Like I said before, Princecraft has made great use of every inch of space in the 200 WS. Again, that stern casting platform has been expanded, giving you more room to move around to net fish, or simply put a fishing seat in the base and relax. There is a 20-gallon livewell, along with storage for an additional battery.
But you will also find fold up jump seats in that same casting deck. These are well built to withstand being stepped on multiple times a day, but still quite comfortable to sit in, even for adults. I like a couple things about these seats: first is that they come standard with the Xpedition 200, but also by making the casting platform bigger, you’re also moving those seats farther away from the motor. Other boats have flip up seats but by the time they’ve flipped up you’re not inches away from the motor.
The one thing though is that if you go with the optional Mercury Verado that we had on our test model, you’ll have a hard time telling if the motor is running, even if you are sitting inches away.
Rated for a maximum of 250-hp that’s exactly how many ponies our Pro Verado had. While the Pro Verado is whisper quiet at idle, when you put the throttle down it comes to life with a high pitched growl, providing torque to shoot the bow into the air and make you grip the wheel a little tighter.
Worry not, the bow settles immediately as the 200 WS is on plane in a hair over 2 seconds and to 30 mph in 3 seconds. Top speed was 55 mph at wide open throttle although a more comfortable and economic cruise could be found at 2500 rpm where we were doing an easy 33.5 mph.
If you have never been in a Princecraft fishing boat before there are two things you will notice: one is that they love to be trimmed. They’re a drivers boat and when you trim the motor up as you increase speed you can feel the hull releasing from the water and see your speed quickly rise. That being said, they’re easy to trim. I’ve never had a Princecraft porpoise on me from too much trim or the boat not being balanced. It’s because they put the fuel tank in the center of their boats, keeping them well balanced and easy to drive. The second characteristic is that they run very dry. The ultra strong, H36 aluminum hull on the Xpedition features a reverse chine design, which is why it planes so quickly but also helps direct the spray down and away from the boat at all speeds, and especially when taking the boat over waves.
I’m quite impressed with the changes Princecraft has made to the Xpedition 200 WS for 2017. It was already a great fishing boat for the serious angler. But if I had to sum up the changes in one word, I would say ‘refined.” They have refined this package by tweaking a lot of the little details. When you compare this boat side to side with their competitors, you’ll see what I mean, and when you compare those fine details, you’ll see there is no comparison.
|Dry weight:||1,463 lbs||664 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||38 US gals||144 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Mercury Verado Pro|