If you can afford a new car you can probably afford a new Sportsman 212, which MSRPs for less than $45,000, comes well-equipped in the low $50s, and is one heck of a lot more fun to drive than any vehicle restricted to roadways. Although this is Sportsman’s smallest offering in the Open lineup they build it just like their bigger, more expensive boats, with perks like the Sportlink integrated electronics system based around a Garmin GPSMAP 942xs MFD that has NMEA2000 digital discussions with the powerplant, JL Audio stereo system, and tank level senders. It can even have wirelessly connected conversations with your phone and its Garmin mobile apps. Before we dig into the details, here's a quick walkthrough video of the boat.

Die-hard anglers will love how well-equipped this model comes right out of the gate, with quality touches that aren’t often seen on boats of this price. The transom livewell, for example, not only has a copious 25-gallon capacity but is baby blue inside to keep those baitfish calm, is lighted for night fishing, and has a clear gasketed lid on friction hatches. Stainless-steel toe-rails run down both sides of the cockpit, parallel to the coaming bolsters. The transom seat folds away to maximize fishing space in the cockpit and pulls up to allow for easy bilge access. Four flush-mount rodholders live in the gunwales, and there are four rocket launchers on the back of the leaning post. Six rods will fit in the under-gunwale racks, which we think could be made even better by adding stick-on foam padding where the reels hit the inwales. That’s a long list of seriously fishy features, but here’s an even bigger eye-opener: the Open 212 comes with a standard Airmar B60 tilted-element through-hull transducer, rather than the usual transom-mounted affair.

sportsman open 212 cc fishing boat
The Sportsman Open 212 hits that sweet-spot, where it's big and beefy enough for big waters but small enough to easily handle and afford.

Two recommends for making long days on the water more pleasurable for everyone aboard: first, get the optional anti-fatigue cushioned helm pad (a $225 option). Your back and knees will notice a difference at the end of the day. Second, while we’d normally berate a serious angler for equipping his or her ride with a ski tow-bar — you may end up losing some fishing time to pulling the kids around on tow-toys when the bite gets slow — in this case we say go for it. The ($430 optional) four-leg rig Sportsman uses turns out to be a great grab rail and leaning bar when you’re on the swim platform or using the three-step telescopic swim ladder.

What about performance? With the base 150-horse Yamaha outboard you’ll enjoy a cruise right around 30 mph while getting over 3.8 mpg and a top-end a hair over 40. If you can force yourself to pull back on the throttle (yeah, right) and suffer through the slow-down, best economy comes at a 23 mph, 3500 rpm cruise where the boat gets around 4.5 mpg. Opt for an F200 to bump the fast cruise to 35 mph and top-end to over 45 mph. Interestingly, the effect on efficiency is negligible until you get to wide open throttle, where you’ll lose a couple tenths of a mpg. Either way you cut it one thing is for sure: when it comes to serious fishability in a small, trailerable center console, this one’s going to be tough to top.

Sportsman Open 212 Specifications

LOA – 20’11”

Beam – 8’5”

Displacement – 2300 lbs.

Draft (min.) – 1’0”

Fuel Capacity – 64 gal.

Max. Power – 200 hp

Area Dealers – Riverside Marine, Essex, MD, (410) 686-1500.

See our other reviews of Sportsman Boats:

Sportsman Open 352

Sportsman 267 OE

Sportsman Heritage 251

Sportsman Open 232

Sportsman Masters 207 Bay Boat