Thursday, January 5, 2012

Boat Review: The Amazing Aeon 24 XP Bay Boat

Bay boats are one of the most popular types of fishing machines in all of Florida. This is thanks to their unmatched versatility. They can float across the flats for redfish and snook, drift the passes for tarpon and sharks, or make long runs offshore for sailfish and tuna. They can also be rigged with some serious power to get you out to the fish and back home again at some serious speeds.

Aeon Marine of Palmetto, FL has just introduced their first entry into the bay boat market and it promises to look and perform like nothing else out there. The all new Aeon 24XP is beautiful 24’ hull that has some of the most unmistakable lines on the water. With an impressive 8 ½’ beam and less than 1 ½’ of draft, it’s a remarkably capable rig for both inshore and offshore fishing. It’s also rated for up to 350HP which puts the new Aeon’s potential top speed into a category that few other bay boats can match.

I had a chance to test drive the first 24XP last month on the Manatee River with Aeon Marine owner Will Leslie. The boat was rigged with a 250HP Evinrude, Aeon’s custom jack plate, an 8’ Power Pole, and had a full tank of gas. It was a dead calm afternoon on the river and the 24XP jumped up on plane in just a few boat lengths. Thirty seconds later we were cruising at 60mph and we easily hit the boat’s top speed of 67mph with this motor and its three blade stainless prop.

A lot of customers will probably choose to hang a 300hp motor from one of several manufacturers, and that will push the top speed into the mid-70mph range. The folks that go all the way with the 350hp option can easily expect to have an 80mph bay boat on their hands. For tournament or offshore anglers, this should be a very appealing package.

No matter what the choice in horsepower, the ride of the Aeon 24XP has to be experienced first-hand. I felt completely comfortable running this 3200lb bay boat at 60mph even though I’m far more used to running a 650lb skiff at half that speed. And just like the excellent Beavertail flats boats also built by Aeon Marine, the 24XP will absolutely eat up the chop. The best time to test drive any of these hulls is when the wind is blowing at least 20mph. An incredibly dry ride in almost any condition is an Aeon trademark and easily my favorite thing about their designs. The only time you’ll need to put on foul weather gear in these boats is when it’s actually raining.

On top of all that, the price of Aeon’s newest model is sure to be its most impressive feature. The 2012 24XP that I test drove will sell for under $65,000. That’s tens of thousands less than a few of its competitor’s with the same power.

If you’re in the market for one of the fastest and most versatile saltwater fishing boats ever built, give the new Aeon 24XP a very close look. It’s truly an original design that will definitely turn heads for years to come.  You can see it in person on Feb. 4th and 5th at the Florida Sportsman Expo at the Lee County Civic Center in North Ft. Myers.