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Sea-Doo Fish Pro Review

Sea-Doo Fish Pro Review An industry first, the FISH PRO is a Sea-Doo built for fishing. But is it good enough to open the world of fishing to the masses?

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Casting and fishing from the Sea Doo Fish Pro is easy.

Casting and fishing from the Sea Doo Fish Pro is easy.

I’ve been bass fishing for nearly 5 decades now, and over those years, water skiers and PWC’s have become the bain of bass anglers.  They’re noisy and kick out wakes that are disruptive to the serenity of fishing.  Plus there are those few inconsiderate operators that give respectable PWC owners a bad rap (we have those in the bass fishing world too).

   So when Sea-Doo approached me to try out their brand new Fish Pro watercraft, you can bet I was a bit hesitant. 

   “Go to the Dark Side?” I asked myself.

   But when they said I’d be the very first bass angler in the world to try it, AND I’d be fishing on Florida’s famed 13 Stick Marsh Farm, known for monster trophy-sized bass, I couldn’t refuse! Besides, you never learn anything unless you try something new. Given I’ve never been on a jet ski before, I had a lot of learning ahead!

 

The Sea-Doo Fish Pro

For years, Personal Watercraft (PWC) owners have modified their Sea-Doo’s for fishing. They’ve added rod holders, ice chests, tackle storage, and so on to make it possible to fish from their PWC’s. Some of these watercrafts are so modified, they look like something out of the Road Warrior movie!

   Now, Sea-Doo has come out with the first production model PWC specifically built for fishing.  The Fish Pro is a combination of clever design and versatility.

   Built on a large platform, it comes with a large cooler, rod holders, tackle storage, depthfinder, an extended rear deck, large fuel tank, and more.  It even has a 9-position slow-speed “trolling mode” for fishing (more on that in a bit).

   My first thoughts was that I could use this to get into areas you just can’t reach with a traditional bass boat.  But can you fish out of it?

 

First Impressions

Upon seeing the Fish Pro, my first reaction is that it’s big.  It’s a capable 3-seater, with an extra rear platform that gives it an even larger profile. A large 13.5 gal cooler with attached rod holders occupied much of that rear deck. The chest has plenty of room for beverages, food, ice, and of course fish.  Today I had a bait bucket in it with several water bottles, ice and lunch, and had ample room to spare.

   The cooler is attached by sturdy locking mechanisms, called the LinQ (pronounced Link) system, that enable a modular approach to attaching various accessories to the watercraft. I could easily see this cooler transformed into a livewell, and attaching a smaller cooler for food and water.

   Having never operated a PWC before, my biggest concern was falling overboard in alligator-infested waters! Ok, I’m exaggerating. Nonetheless, flailing about in the water while trying to board a PWC near alligators was not a scenario I wanted to experience. So as I examined the craft, I was relieved to see a large, folding boarding ladder as part of the standard equipment features.

   One feature that stood out, was the integrated depthfinder.  It’s built-in to the console for easy viewing while driving and fishing. The placement and design was not an afterthought. And the unit is an impressive multifunction Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 63cv Fish Finder with GPS navigation, CHIRP technology, and more.

   The bright, sunlight-readable 6” combo features both Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar and CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar. It comes preloaded with LakeVü HD maps covering 17,000+ total lakes, 13,000 with 1’ contours. Plus, Quickdraw Contours mapping software for creating personalized fishing maps with 1’ contours as you fish. It’s an impressive unit, and I’m was delighted to see it’s included with the Fish Pro.

   Another welcome feature was the large waterproof storage compartment in front of the seat, under the handle bars. Thoughtfully designed to be easily accessible while on the water, it’s huge.  I mean, wow, there’s a lot of room to store tackle, raingear, and more. A bank angler could easily fit 2-3 tackle bags in there without modification, and still have room to spare.

   After a brief driver introduction, it was time to go fishing!

 

Tales From A First-Time Rider

Even a novice like me can ride with ease.

Even a novice like me can ride with ease.

When I got on the Fish Pro, the first thing I noticed was that the seat and handlebars felt like a custom fit. Nothing about it was awkward or uncomfortable.  Then I stood up and rocked it side-to-side.

   It felt solid. I didn’t feel like I was going to fall over.

   Then I swung my leg over the console and stood up on one side.  It barely tipped. In fact, I was able to confidently move and fish all around the watercraft throughout the day, thanks to a wider design, lower center of gravity and extended rear deck. Never once did I feel like was going to lose my balance.

   This continued with slow-speed maneuverability.  The rock-solid platform combined with a slow idle made it easy to steer. I was able to make tight circles with ease.  It has a reverse throttle that provides additional control at slow speeds, plus it also works as a “brake” at faster speeds – and it really does works just like a brake.

   Before I blasted off, I took advantage of the waterproof “phone box” to store my phone, which also has a USB port. But I discovered that’s really all it’s for. There was barely enough room to stuff my wallet in there too, but that was it.  I’d like to see a larger compartment so you could store line clippers, sunglasses, or even a small Plano tacklebox too.

   When I first took off to get on plane, the strong, responsive 155HP engine was readily apparent.  It had plenty of power that provided powerful, quick acceleration.  While I’m used to going 70mph in a bass boat, this was different.

   At first I wasn’t confident in the stability and control enough to put the throttle down. But by the end of the day, I was going over 50mph in choppy water with ease.  Having never been on a PWC before, I discovered the learning curve wasn’t steep. Anyone that’s piloted a boat before, can handle one of these with ease.

The view at over 50mph

The view at over 50mph

   The engine is a gas miser too. I drove all over the lake that day, and used maybe 3 gallons at the most. Combined with the large fuel tank, Sea-Doo says you go 70 or more miles on a single tank, giving you the capability to reach far-away fishing holes and make it back.

   Better still, is the comfortable dry ride. I was fully expecting to be wet off-and-on throughout the day.  But never did I get wet, even while crossing wakes and driving in a windy chop. And riding across rough water wasn’t jarring or uncomfortable either. I felt in control the entire time.

 

But How Well Does It Fish? 

I’m used to standing on the front deck of a bass boat while fishing, so naturally I stood up to fish.  Yep, you can do it with ease.  Although it does take some getting used to, because you’re straddling the seat.  Standing in a wide stance throughout the day is little awkward, but completely feasible.

   Alternatively, you can fish while seated forward or backward. While sitting sideways, you can rest your feet on an angled gunwale lined with gripping material for stability and comfort. You can even stand on the side, albeit it is a bit narrow. I tried all ways while fishing and casting, and found I could do them all with ease without fear of losing my balance.

   That said, you need to be aware of where those rod holders are when casting. They hold the rods upright, which becomes a potential backlash if you forget they’re there. I ticked the rods a few times on the back cast, plus had one cast that took about 5 minutes of fishing time away as I cleared the tangled mess resulting from hooking the rod behind me on a cast. It would be nice if the rods could be moved out of the way once you reach your destination.

The stability of the platform makes fishing from one side possible.

The stability of the platform makes fishing from one side possible.

   I had to slide back on the seat to reach the rods, ice chest, and tackle storage. But this was easy, because the seat isn’t like the traditional saddle-back seats found on other Sea-Doo’s.  It’s more like a bench, making it easy to move on and around.

   The ice chest sports an external storage net that can hold 2 Plano 3700 boxes (standing upright). It’s strong enough to hold things in place while traveling. In fact, maybe a bit too strong, making it a little difficult to hold it open while pulling out the 3700. The good news is that you don’t need be concerned about losing anything while bouncing across whitecaps at full throttle.

   The ice chest has a recessed, flat lid that works like a table top as your rig your lures. The rubber-like lining keeps things from sliding around.  A feature I discovered after accidentally leaving a tacklebox on the ice chest when I moved to another spot. It didn’t move (thank goodness!).

   That said, it could benefit from adding a few storage options up front for holding a few bags of baits, hooks, and weights. Then you wouldn’t have to make your way to the back each time you needed to re-rig, especially on those days when the bass are tearing up your plastic baits.

   If you’re a bass angler, by now you’re wondering about controlling the boat without a trolling motor. I was too. I thought this was going to be the biggest challenge.  But frankly, it wasn’t as much of an inconvenience as I thought it was going to be.

   For the most part, I just drifted along the shore with the breeze, making small adjustments every now and then with the engine.  With practice, was able to fish with the engine off most of the time. It’s actually a quiet engine, so I wasn’t concerned about spooking fish. So turning it on to make small adjustments, and then turning it off, was how I did it. Maybe my experience fishing out of an inflatable raft in my teens came into play here, but really it wasn’t a hinderance. But I would add an anchor if I were to fish out of this on a routine basis. That way you’re not at the mercy of the wind so much.

   There is a “trolling” feature on the watercraft, allowing you 9 incremental slow speeds for trolling, up to 9mph. I found the slowest setting was still a bit too fast for covering the shoreline effectively in calm water. It’s akin to about a “40” setting on my MinnKota.  However, it could be just right if I had to fish with a spinnerbait against a strong breeze.  And it’s perfect for trolling lures for walleye, trout, and other species.

   Unfortunately, the big fish proved elusive that day, but I did manage to catch a few scrappy fish. Not bad for having never been on the lake before, fishing out of an unfamiliar watercraft, using borrowed rods and reels, and a small selection of baits.

   I did get to try out the optional stereo system while heading back to the launch. A simple Bluetooth pairing with my phone, and I was listening to “Sweet Home Alabama” as I drove across the lake. The sound is clean and crisp, and the speakers are optimally positioned and focused to give the rider a full stereo experience without blasting the music across the lake. This helps ensure you’re not one of those annoying guys that gives boaters a bad rap.

   Overall this is a good platform for somebody that wants a family friendly recreational watercraft that wants to use it for fishing too, especially if you don’t have the room to store a large boat.  Starting at less than $15K (without trailer), it’s an affordable alternative to pricy fiberglass bass boats.  In addition, it’s a great tool for getting to those fishing spots you just can’t reach with big boats with prop outboards.

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