words & photos - Jeff Webster
Big, trailerable centre console sport fishers don't come much better than the Grady White Fisherman 209

- Class leading build quality
- Impressive handling and ride
- Spacious head compartment and console storage area
- Plenty of seating
- 316 grade stainless fittings throughout
- Optional overhead T-Top is a ripper
- Wonderfully quiet and smooth Yamaha 250hp four-stroke

- Slightly stern heavy -- needs negative trim (or tabs down) to plane quickly
- Anchor well opening is too small
- Would prefer a full-height transom wall with more freeboard
- Important and desirable options bump up the price

- Great fishing boats from a legendary American brand
Grady White is a long-standing US powerboat brand that enjoys an excellent reputation throughout the world for offshore performance, handling, ride and build quality.

In U.S. customer satisfaction polls, Grady White regularly scores the highest marks in its category, and the privately owned, fifty-year-old company is committed to building the best quality boats on the U.S. and world markets.

In the Grady White boat range there are 26 models stretching from 5.5m through to 10m in length. The entry model is the Fisherman 180 centre console. The flagship is the impressive Marlin 300 walkaround cabin. In between there is a wide variety of centre consoles, dual consoles, cabin boats and walkarounds to choose from.

In Australia, Grady Whites are currently being imported by the Gold Coast’s Game And Leisure Boats. They have a number of models available, including a trailerable centre console called the Fisherman 209.

- Reasonable starting price, but options add up
In standard form the Fisherman 209 is pretty well outfitted (certainly by Australian standards), but most of the really good fishing and boating gear, stuff that is virtually mandatory, is optional.

Examples include the hydraulic steering, live well, T-Top, trim tabs, etc. Adding these and other desirable options bumps up the package price.

A bare-bones Fisherman 209, fitted with a Suzuki DF140hp outboard and Magic brand alloy tilt trailer, will set you back around $85k. By contrast, the test boat, which was fitted with just about every possible option, has a retail price of $127k. That’s a big difference -- but you do get a lot of extra gear.

In addition to the big Yamaha 250hp four-stroke (which adds nearly $12k by itself) and previously mentioned options, the test boat was fitted with a deluxe lean seat with flip-up bolster (instead of two pedestal chairs) and vertical rod holders, Alpine stereo, cockpit and forward padded bolsters, casting deck insert, seat cushions for casting deck and rear quarter seats, portable head/toilet, swim platform and ladder, raw water deck wash, and a cockpit shower. 

- Only the finest hardware and materials
Grady White prides itself on the standard of finish and build quality of its products. Each boat is crafted using the finest materials, and fittings, and the fibreglass is hand-laid (no chopper guns) for a uniform thickness and consistent structural strength.

Underfloor, Grady Whites have computer shaped, router-cut no-rot plywood stringers that are glassed into position while the hull is still in the mould -- to ensure the hull retains its shape and does not warp.

Closed-cell foam is sprayed in between the stringers to dampen hull noise, increase strength and to provide basic flotation.

Reinforcing the transom is an angled aluminium brace to support the power and weight of modern outboard engines.

All steel fixtures -- including the cleats, rails, rod holders, drink holders, steering wheel, etc., are made from 316 grade stainless steel instead of the cheaper 304 grade.

- Family and fisherman friendly
The Fisherman 209 is designed as a family-friendly fishing boat and this is evident in the configuration of the forward deck area.

In standard form the bow area has a moulded 83-litre insulated fish/storage box on both the port and starboard sides, with a walkway between. By adding optional, clip-on seat cushions you can create a comfortable forward seating area for four people.

Fishermen will want to go at least one step further by adding the optional casting platform insert. Once locked into position, the two-piece fibreglass insert creates a level deck that is about 1.1m x 1.7m in size.

Cushions are available for the casting deck to convert it into a large sun lounge.

Other standard features in the bow area include four drink holders, two bow cleats, a low bow/grab rail on each side, and a removable ice box/cooler in front of the console which doubles as a seat.

The anchor well in the Fisherman 209 is oddly shaped -- at least by comparison to what we are accustomed to in Australia. The anchor is designed to slide into the well vertically, with the anchor rode underneath. There's no problem with that, as it could work quite well. The trouble is that the opening for the anchor well is far too small. You can feed the anchor rode into the well easily enough, but there is a limit on the size of the anchor. Further, it will only accept a Danforth style sand anchor.

The design and function of the anchor well may be questionable, but the console set-up in the Fishermen 209 is brilliant. It’s a big console with plenty of room for engine instruments and electronics -- but the best feature is the large head compartment tucked away underneath.

Accessed from the starboard side of the console, the head compartment is a spacious 1.5m from the sole to the ceiling, with 1.05m above the toilet seat.

The test boat was fitted with the optional T-Top above the centre console with front and side clears to provide shelter from wind and spray.

Other T-Top features include the anodised alloy frame, rod holders and grab rails, canvas soft top, overhead electronics cupboard, mounting points for outriggers, radio antennae and lighting, and a zip-up canvas pouch under the canvas top for the storage of life jackets.

As noted earlier, in place of the two standard pedestal chairs, the test boat was fitted with a deluxe lean-seat with flip-up bolster. The lean-seat comes with an aft-facing vertical rod rack to hold four rods.

The lean-seat box can be ordered with a tackle storage cupboard on the aft face, or like the test boat, with a huge 87-litre live well.

Moving aft, the rear cockpit and transom layout is family and fisherman friendly -- though I doubt the design will appeal to the die-hard Aussie angler. Most offshore sport fishermen would probably prefer more freeboard and a full-height transom wall to the current design which has moulded jump seats in the corners and a low, hinged board in front of the outboard well.

In defence of the Grady White’s transom layout, most U.S. built fishing boats in this size range have a similar transom design -- and it is popular with American anglers. I just don’t think it suits Australian conditions.

The issue is not so much about safety, but of comfort and ergonomics. A low transom design is fine if you are fishing bays and harbours – but when fishing offshore in 1.5m plus seas you need to have enough freeboard all the way around the aft cockpit to be able to brace yourself while standing and fighting a fish.

While there is minimal freeboard at the transom of the Fishermen 209, there is plenty along the sides (630-650mm) and the cockpit side pockets have toe-rails so you can wedge your feet under them.

Built into the side storage pockets are six horizontal rod holders -- three each side.

Other cockpit features include a full self-draining system (with scuppers in the transom corners), four stainless-steel rod holders, recessed stern cleats, and bilge/battery access hatches under the transom quarter seats.
- A solid top end, but needs negative trim to plane quickly
The Fisherman 209 is rated for an extra-long shaft (25”) outboard between 140hp and 250hp. At the Gold Coast’s Game And Leisure Boats, buyers can choose between Suzuki and Yamaha four-stroke power.

Entry packages can be put together with a Suzuki DF140 to keep the price down. This may be enough power for an entry package, but not a fully optioned rig. A realistic minimum for a fully optioned (and thus heavier) boat is about 175hp.

The test boat was fitted with the maximum 250hp in the form of Yamaha’s stunning 250hp V6 four-stroke. It really is an awesome motor; quiet, smooth and powerful.

In less than ideal conditions we recorded a top speed of 40 knots -- which is hustling for this size and style of boat.

From a standing start the test boat was not as quick as I had anticipated, and it needed a fair amount of negative trim (or trim tab) to lift it quickly up on the plane.

Through the mid range the hull accelerated strongly, though I do wonder whether the big Yamaha would have benefited from smaller prop -- as wide open throttle was just 5,500 rpm and most four-strokes are designed to run close to 6,000 rpm.

- A bluewater thoroughbred
The 2012/2013 Fisherman 209 is fitted with what Grady White calls its SeaV2 hull shape. Designed by renowned naval architect firm C. Raymond Hunt Associates, the Grady White hull has a variable deadrise on a fore and aft axis.

This in itself is not especially significant as most hulls have a variable deadrise to some degree. However, Grady White claims there are no two places along the keel of a Grady hull where the deadrise is the same; it is constantly changing from the base of the keel right through to the forefoot at the bow.

The aim of a variable deadrise hull is to achieve a soft ride without compromising stability and it certainly appears to work with the Fisherman 209.

I tested the boat in rough, 2.0m seas outside the Gold Coast Seaway and I could not fault the Grady’s performance. In seriously mixed-up, joggly conditions, complete with near breaking waves, the Fisherman 209 handled exceptionally well.

Accelerating up the face of some of the waves required some negative trim, but providing you kept on top of it, and trimmed the hull to the conditions, the boat performed very well. It was soft and it was stable -- both at rest and underway.

We did get wet, but on the day we would have copped a soaking in everything short of an enclosed cabin cruiser!

Beyond the Seaway entrance I turned and ventured back in, staying on the back of the waves for the run back through the bar. As we got closer I threw caution to the wind and accelerated down the face of a sizeable wave to check the following sea performance. The bow plunged into the trough, pushed water and spray to the sides, but then rode out unscathed, ready for the next wave. Perfect!

- There’s little to fault in a craft of this calibre
The Grady White Fisherman 209 centre console is an excellent fishing craft. I am not usually a fan of big centre consoles, but this one is a ripper.

The build quality is class leading, the hull is one of the best in the business, and it has plenty of standard features and options so that you can trick the boat out to your individual requirements.

I would personally prefer a different transom layout with more freeboard, and the design of the anchor well is less than ideal for Aussie conditions, but otherwise there is little to fault in the Fisherman 209 -- which is what you would expect from one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sport fishing craft.

8.8kts (16km/h) @ 2500rpm
19.3kts (36km/h) @ 3000rpm
24.8kts (46km/h) @ 3500rpm
28.5kts (53km/h) @ 4000rpm
33.0kts (61km/h) @ 4500rpm
36.4kts (67km/h) @ 5000rpm
40.0kts (77km/h) @ 5500rpm (WOT)

Overall rating: 4.8/5.0
Mechanical/equipment: 4.8/5.0
Packaging and practicality: 4.7/5.0
On the water Performance: 4.8/5.0
Value for money: 4.6/5.0
X-factor: 4.8/5.0

Price as tested: $127,270 including Yamaha 250 hp V6 four-stroke engine (with Yamaha digital pre-rig), hydraulic steering, tandem axle Magic tilt aluminium trailer, Bennett hydraulic trim tabs, deluxe lean-bar seat with flip-up bolster and raw water live well, Alpine CDA-118M stereo with four speakers, T-Top with canvas cover, rocket launcher, side and front clears, cockpit and forward padded bolsters, casting deck insert, seat cushions for casting deck and rear quarter seats, portable head, swim platform and ladder, raw water deck wash, cockpit shower, boat and trailer registrations. Garmin electronics gear is also available but not included in the price.

Priced from: $85,868 with 140hp Suzuki four-stroke and Magic tilt alloy trailer.
Centreline Length: 6.2m
Beam: 2.46m
Draft: 380mm
Hull weight: 1179kg
Towing weight: Approx. 1,900kg
Deadrise: Variable
Maximum power: 250hp
Engine as tested: Yamaha 250hp V6 four-stroke
Fuel: 310 litres
Maximum Persons: Seven

Supplied by:
Game & Leisure Boats
Factory 1, Runaway Bay Marina
247 Bayview Street
Runaway Bay QLD 4216.
Phone: (07) 5577 5811.

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To comment on this article click here Published : Saturday, 14 July 2012

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.