Opinion: What Boat Are You Building, Given an Unlimited Budget?

Four top international anglers talk dream boats
Marlin Opinions
Four top international anglers talk dream boats. (from Left): Courtesy Byron Fields, Courtesy Audrey Koocher, Courtesy Rocky Franich, Courtesy Jonathan Webster

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Byron Fields, Austin, Texas

Byron Fields
Byron Fields Courtesy Byron Fields

I definitely would have to go with a 70-foot Spencer. It’s large enough for the crew to travel comfortably for long distances while still maintaining good speed and maneuverability. In today’s big-boat world, it’s also very ­fuel-efficient, and there are fewer things to break, which keeps you out of the boatyard and fishing more. Another consideration would be accessibility to smaller marinas. Seventyish feet is ­probably around the ­maximum size for ­marinas such as Honokohau Harbor in Kona, Hawaii, and ­having to eliminate some of the best destinations due to a few extra feet of boat isn’t a good trade-off for any traveling program.

Audrey Koocher, Islamorada, Florida

Audrey Koocher
Audrey Koocher Courtesy Audrey Koocher

As a sailfish ­tournament angler, I prefer the Release 55-foot walkaround. It’s ­important to be able to fish 360 degrees around the boat to encourage multiple hookups. A big rocket launcher with ­lots of customized rod holders is just icing on the cake. I like the wide beam that the 55 WA offers, as well as the inboard engines over having to negotiate a fish around outboards. A tower is a must-have, especially when ­spotting traveling fish in the sand or tailing fish on the ­surface. And with the conditions Florida’s cold fronts bring, a Seakeeper is also on the list.

Rocky Franich, Watsonville, California

Rocky Franich
Rocky Franich Courtesy Rocky Franich

I have been fishing in the International Masters Angling Tournament for over 20 years. During that span, I have fished on many fine ­sport-fishing boats. My boat of choice would be a Viking convertible in the 60-to-70-foot range. These boats are beautifully designed, well equipped, fast, and maneuverable, and are ideal for both light-tackle angling and extended travel. Viking builds a large ­number of boats of this size and is constantly making improvements on the small details to ensure delivery of a quality product. The other advantage is the extensive network of dealerships and support teams available to solve the problems that captains and owners encounter.

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Jonathan Webster, Leicestershire, England

Jonathan Webster
Jonathan Webster Courtesy Jonathan Webster

Any modern sportboat that’s ­best suited to light-tackle circle-hook fishing is what I’d be ­looking for. Thirty-five to 40 feet is what I prefer so that the rods are easily reached, as well as a hull that creates minimal white water so that the baits are visible to both the fish and the angler. In my dream world, the shape of the transom should allow for rapid ­backing speeds, and a nimble hull is a must for chasing down the larger billfish. Whether my dream boat is out there, I’m not sure, but thankfully, I have been lucky to fish on some that approach that high mark.

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