Boat Test: 2004 Pro-Line Pro-Line 26 Sport

Boat Tested2004 Pro-Line Pro-Line 26 Sport
Price As TestedNot Available
Category Center Console
Manufacturer Pro-Line
Length27ft / 8.23 m
Sheepdogs make demanding pets because of their long heritage as working dogs. They constantly need to be challenged - to find something to do. A big offshore, centre console such as the Pro-Line 26 Sport is similar. This outstandingly capable boat seemed almost embarrassed to be simply swanning about in the calm waters of a Thousand Islands inner channel, instead of bucking a stiff headwind enroute to the Gulf Stream.

Impressive also was this particular Pro-Line's unique history. It had spent a summer decaled up as an OPP patrol boat - overseeing the inspections of over 1,000 pleasure craft. That workmanlike past underscored our impressions of quality construction in this boat. All that action and the Pro-Line looked like new.

The Pro-Line 26 is a brawny piece. Dry hull weight less engines is 4,500 pounds. That's a lot of fibreglass and it shows in the quiet ride and the absolute lack of shake or flex throughout. It also shows in the thickly moulded storage hatch covers and in the deep non-skid pattern cast into the full, self-bailing cockpit liner.

Heavy duty defines the stainless steel deck hardware and railings. Not the least of which is the massive Bimini frame - a showpiece of stainless tubing and faultless welding. The intricate frame does more than just hold up the Sunbrella. The structure also adds rigidity to the centre of the hull, provides safety handholds for captain and crew, supports an overhead storage bin, positions lights plus VHF and radar antennae and ices the cake with four high-mount fishing sockets.

The large console is similarly multifunctional. The box's dimensions are oversize to accommodate a roomy head. The helm station locates the wheel and controls at the proper height and angle and presents a set of SmartCraft gauges plus an array of rocker switches and indicator lamps. A deep, full-width cabinet with a clear acrylic door sits above the controls, ready to keep maps, binoculars and the like safe from the elements while providing instant access. The console is wide enough to give wind protection for two braced against the standup leaning post. A generous footrest extends across the base of the cabinet.

Fishing is the Pro-Line's mission statement. There's a spacious casting platform and a bait and tackle station. Rodholders abound.The baitwell holds 35 gallons and the foam insulated fishboxes measure 45 gallons each. As well, this 26 Sport is suitably configured for family outings. There are bench seats aplenty, behind the leaning post, in front of the console and across the stern. Plus, removable cushions convert the casting platform to a "bowrider" area.The convenient through-transom door is there for landing fish, but it's also ideal for stepping on board and for tow sports.

The question remains - why are burly saltwater fishing boats doing recreational duty on Canadian lakes? Some contend that they're a reverse-status reaction to noisy sportboats. Others point to their safe, tough, roomy, selfbailing practicality.We think it's because they're fun to drive.There's nothing like standing tall at the helm in the middle of a talented boat, cruising fast. Grin time.
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