Wellcraft has undergone something of a rebirth in recent years, including new ownership and a steady stream of new models. One launched a couple years ago which just resurfaced on our radar is the 221 Bay. You may have noticed that recently, southern-style bay boats have been gaining a lot of ground in our neck of the woods. Their low draft, raised casting platforms, high performance, and low profile are ideal for light tackle casting. And as this style of boat becomes more and more popular among Chesapeake anglers, the 221 Bay is a boat of renewed interest.

wellcraft 221 bay boat running
The Wellcraft 221 Bay is a bay boat worth checking out. Is it the best bay boat for the money? We leave that to you to decide.

One of the strong suits of this model is that’s it’s designed for real-live fishermen, not wannabes who are more interested in “crossover” boats. The livewell in the aft deck provides an excellent example. It has 34 gallons of capacity, is baby-blue inside, and has a light and a timer. A half-measure fishboat would have a 20 gallon well with a white interior and no light or timer. Rodholders provide more evidence of the boat’s fishy attitude. There are four behind the leaning post, four on the T-top, four more in the gunwales, and six vertical holders in the console. You’ll also find rodracks under the gunwales with foam padding inserts so your reels don’t bang against the fiberglass inwales, and a locking rodbox in the foredeck.

Another high point on this boat is the helm and console layout. Lighted toggle switches with breakers line the top, there’s room for flush-mounting large MFDs and other electronics, there’s a padded, multi-level footrest, and tackle stowage under the leaning post. The console overall is kept quite svelte, which does mean that the head compartment is very tight (cousin Bubba might need to leave the swing-up forward entry open in order to squeeze in), but also means fishing space is maximized.

Did we mention that the Wellcraft 221 Bay is a screamer, too? With an Evinrude E-TEC G2 outboard on the transom it busts past the 50-mph barrier at wide-open throttle. What’s really surprising, however, is that even running at full-tilt the boat still gets around 2.5 mpg. Drop back to a more reasonable cruise in the mid-20s, and you’ll nearly double that fuel economy.

You say, what about the Wellcraft of this size designed for slightly bigger water? Check out our video mini-review of the Wellcraft 222 center console, a very similar model:

Will a bay boat prove to be the best pick for you? That’s a question we can’t answer. But two things are for sure: if you like the idea of light tackle casting in the shallows, few platforms will be as adept at the task. And if a new 22-foot bay boat is in your future, the Wellcraft 221 Bay is a model you’ll want to check out.

Wellcraft 221 Bay Specifications:

LOA – 22’4”

Beam – 8’6”

Displacement – 2500 lbs.

Draft (hull) – 1’2”

Transom Deadrise – 15 degrees

Fuel Capacity – 52 gal

Max HP – 250

Area Dealers – Hawk’s Marine, Middle River, MD, Edgewater, MD, and Kent Island, MD, (410)-204-4800.