How niche fishing boats took over the mainstream

Our US correspondent Elliott Maurice picks 5 of the best bass boats and explains the unstoppable rise of this once niche fishing boat design.

Most boats are built with a wide range of uses in mind, but some have very specific and targeted purposes. One of these genres is the bass boat.

Probably the most specialized of all fishing boats, these high-speed fishing rigs were created with a very low freeboard and shallow draft to maximize performance while creating the least amount of wind.

The idea is to get to the best fishing spots as quickly as possible in order to pocket the best spot, then enjoy a nice stable platform to reel in your catch.

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The only downside to this design is that it makes them quite a tricky proposition in choppy waters, so they tend to be used mostly on inland lakes and waterways. The advantage is that they are not so carried away when trolling.

The first thing to consider when choosing a bass boat is whether you want an aluminum or fiberglass hull. A fiberglass hull will add considerably more weight and therefore more stability.

However, an aluminum hull is not only lighter and faster, but offers superior impact resistance when entering shallow bays or rocky rivers and streams.

So how much horsepower do you need on your bass boat? Well, like any type of boat, there will always be extremes. An Allison XB-2002 bass boat piloted by David Shook at an APBA event in Crescent City, Florida, reached a speed of 116.6 mph, a record that has stood for seven years now.

What to look for in a good bass boat

If it’s performance you’re looking for, then Allison produces the fastest bass boats on the market. A fishing Prosport with a 300 hp Mercury Pro Max outboard can comfortably top 100 mph in the right hands.

Although it looks more like a racing machine, it is still a fishing-focused bass boat. Even a standard bass boat can hit well over 70 mph if you opt for a big enough motor, but driving at those speeds on a narrow, nearly flat-bottomed craft isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Prices also vary widely; a basic aluminum-hulled Crestliner Storm bass boat with a 9.9hp Mercury four-stroke engine can be had from just $13,000, while a top-of-the-line fiberglass Ranger Z521L complete with a trailer, two ground anchors, custom paint and an electric trolling motor can set you back over $100,000.

All of the best bass boats offer a wide range of fishing-focused options, such as live bait wells, freestanding front seats, dual consoles and electric trolling motor to maneuver silently around fishing grounds, so think carefully about your needs.

Another important factor to consider is electronics, with advanced sonar/sonar such as CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) and side-view systems offering ultra-clear 3D views of the seabed and detection modes of fish that sweep at low angles to port and starboard, so you can spot where the fish are further away.

The bass boat is an exciting proposition as a very purposeful tool, suitable for flat water fishing with up to 3 people. Easily towable with a shallow draft, a real bass boat extends the possibilities of sport fishermen to the extreme.

5 of the Best Bass Boats Available Right Now


Best Performance Bassboat: Allison Bassport Pro Elite

Looking more like a flatwater racing boat, this model has enough performance to put it in the ultra high end of performance boating.

With a 225 hp Mercury mounted on a hydraulic jack, this boat will literally fly out of the water, hovering in about 3 seconds from a standstill.

The Bassport Pro Elite has a fast cruising range of over 200 miles and with its largest engine option it will exceed 100mph, but it does require an experienced skipper at the helm.

A budget of $85,000 will get you a capable fishing machine with livewell, storage for up to 20 rods, trolling motor and ground anchors, plus safe manholes to attract fish. crowds on the quay.


Best luxury bass boat: Basscat Jaguar 22

With performance similar to the Allison and up to 450 hp available, this 22-foot beast exudes desirability. Built like a high-end Cigarette or Donzi, with machined aluminum rails and vents, the Basscat Jaguar 22 is absolute quality through and through.

The level of specification is impeccable, including two 8ft rod boxes, one 7ft rod box, two tackle wells, two live wells, two dedicated net wells, helmet box, 34 quarts, a trolling motor, double-space race-style reinforced seats and deck for up to 4 people.

With over 50 years of bass boat building, Basscat has put all of their experience into building their top model and even with a price tag that can easily exceed $100,000, this boat is a boundless champion of the breed.


Best Value Bass Boat: Nitro ZV19

The high-quality Nitro offers fantastic performance, better weather protection than most, and comes with some serious power in the form of a 200hp Mercury XL Pro, with DTS fly by wire controls.

Prices start at $55,000 (trailer included) or you can upgrade to a larger 225hp Mercury Pro Max outboard for $2,000 more, which gives a top speed of over 70 mph.

At 18’11”, this bass boat can accommodate up to 6 people on deck and its nearly 26″ deep interior will provide a dry ride.

The Nitro ZV19 has aired just about everything you can imagine available on a bass boat: live bait wells fore and aft, a Minn Kota 24v trolling motor, a second kick, trim tabs, bow mounted navigation and a choice of Garmin/Lowrance fish finders, plus spacious storage for rods, tackle and equipment.

This design also sports a fiberglass deep-V hull, which, combined with a loaded weight of around 4,500 lbs, means the Nitro ZV19 can handle some serious chop.

Huge options include cockpit, second forward mounted navigation and fish finders from Garmin and Lowrance.


Best budget bass boat: Boat-Triton 179TRX

Starting at just under $32,000, the Triton is still far from the cheapest bass boat available, but with its 115hp Mercury outboard (a 90hp is available for $1,500 less ), you can still expect 45mph performance and a very high level of standard equipment, including a color-matched trailer and aerated live bait wells.

Fully-equipped boats will still leave you with change starting at $40,000, which will include state-of-the-art Lowrance electronics with side-view sonar.


Best aluminum bass boat: Alumacraft Classic 165 Sport

Aluminum bass boats should be considered a separate category, as being freshwater only is a key limiting factor.

The flat-bottomed Alumacraft Classic is nevertheless a very attractive prospect. Prices start at just $13,712 for the base boat with 50hp of power, and for $28,000 you get a 90hp version with a good quality trailer.

The 165 Classic in Sport version gets a decent wrap-around windscreen, offering good protection against the weather underway. With 3 seats and a spacious foredeck, this aluminum boat offers all the typical bass boat extras, including Hummingbird’s latest sonar technology.

With a 5-person capacity, a dry weight of 955 lbs, and a stronger, stiffer one-piece bottom than the typical 2-piece competition, the Classic 165 is one of the best bass on the market and makes a compelling proposition. .

Earnest A. Martinez