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Watercraft Review (Bass Tracker 8)


"Look daddy a floating Suitcase!"
 

Date: 6/25/01
Tackle type: Watercraft
Manufacturer: Pelican Boats
Reviewer: Zander






Total Score: 7.6

Introduction: Shore fishing is a lot of fun but it definitely does have limits in terms of what you can do with lure techniques, and certainly in terms of daily fishing range. Sometimes it gets tiring when a seemingly endless line of boats cruise by and proud owners grin while their passengers wave at land trapped anglers. For those of us with the endless desire to get on the water and limited funds a inflatable float tube or pontoon boat is a great first step...but even these are limiting in terms of the tackle you can use, the range, and the fact you can't fish with a buddy. So for those of us who want to get closer to the experience of fishing from an actual bass boat, Pelican Boats offers the Bass Tracker 8. I purchased this boat from Directboats.com to see just how close to a true boating experience the BT8 is.
 

Bass Tracker 8 Fishing Boat

Material Ram-X
Actual Length 7'11" ft
Beam 49"
Weight 96lbs (boat only)
Max Load 500lbs
Max HP rating 3HP
Color Moss
Price as tested (boat only) $444.00 [MSRP 579.00]


Impressions: DirectBoats.com offered quick and friendly service, and I received the BT8 just 9 days after I placed the order. The BT8 arrived in a huge (I mean massive) plastic bag. The chairs required a quick installation to put the aluminum legs and the swiveling seats together, all of which took about 10 minutes. Two things I immediately observed. First, the color was very different then that of the almost blue image found online, our boat was unmistakably green. Second, the boat looked huge in my living room!

 

I stood in various areas on the boat and found it to be quite rigid in all sections except for the front 20% of the boat where there was a noticeable give under my weight. My initial impression of the construction was that the boat was cleverly molded to hold a variety of items from boxes to drinks on the side, and the rear had a recessed rectangle to prevent the battery from slipping around the boat.

I was eager to get the testing underway but before I could plan a trip to nearby Anderson Reservoir I would need to procure a few accessories.

Additional Accessories: To get the BT8 into fish-ready condition I added the following accessories:

Bass Tracker Accessories

Accessory

Cost

1 Minn Kota MK40 Battery 99.00
1 Minn Kota Endura 44 motor 167.95
1 Minn Kota Battery Meter 14.99
1 Minn Kota D.C. Charger 49.99
2 Life Jackets 19.99 ea = 39.98 total
1 Bottom Line 1200 Fishfinder 169.00
4 Scotty Rod holders 14.99 ea = 59.96 total


After procuring everything I realized the actual cost of the entire boat had now risen to 1044.87 (before tax). The most expensive portion of the boat other then the boat itself was the propulsion system which consisted of the battery, charger, motor, and meter. I decided it would be best for this test to keep all components in one brand, Minn Kota.

The customization of the boat was easy, and I used tapping drywall screws to secure the 4 Scotty rod holders. The Scotty rod holders were easily adjustable and could hold both spinning and casting gear securely.

Finally, I put all the accessories on the boat and noticed quite a bit of flex on the transom mount when I mounted the Endura motor, even though there was a metal plate affixed to it. It took 18 hours on the deep cycle charger for the Battery to reach a full charge, as indicated by a green light on the charger. I tested the battery off the charger with the portable battery meter and it also registered at full. It was definitely time to get the BT8 in the water and see what it can do!

 

Tests: This test was definitely a two man operation and I had MP join me for the maiden voyage. Putting the boat on top our test vehicle (Toyota 4Runner) was easy since it fit snugly on the rack, and was secured with just 2 strap ties. Fearing the boat might fall off I over tightened one of the straps and noticed the side of the boat start to bend inwards, luckily upon releasing the strap the boat returned to normal shape. The rest of the accessories fit nicely in the rear of the car.

 

When we finally got to Anderson Reservoir we first unloaded the boat, then filled it with all the accessories (and our tackle). We found the loaded boat to be extremely heavy, and carrying it with the two handles on the side was close to painful! Ultimately we found it was much easier, and efficient, to carry the motor and battery down first, then the unloaded boat.

Once in the water it was obvious the boat definitely was rear heavy as the battery and motor weighed down the back significantly. As we pushed away from shore we noticed the boat seemed to equalize quite a bit with 2 people sitting closer to the center. With both of us in the boat the BT8 rests 4.25 inches in the water, and is surprisingly stable.
 

While moving the BT8 is still stable enough to stand on and toss cranks from but is noticeably rear heavy thanks to the Minn Kota Battery


The Minn Kota Endura produces 44lb's of thrust...but the boat was still quite slow. Because the BT8 has large pontoons it is very stable, so stable that both Anglers can stand on opposite ends and cast without fear of capsizing. But these large pontoons cause a lot of resistance in the water requiring additional battery usage, and making the top speed of the BT8 just a bit faster then an individual's average walking pace.

 

The rod holders modification was excellent and I found we could catch a lot of Bass simply by trolling Norman DLN's at maximum speed.
 

The Scotty Rod Holders easily held both Spinning and Casting outfits


The transom mount did continue to demonstrate some flex every time the motor was turned on and off, and I wouldn't recommend putting anything other then a electric motor on the BT8 for safety.

 

The Ram-X material proved to be very durable and I discovered that landing the boat was as easy as powering towards shore at full speed. The size of the boat is snug for two people facing the front, but if both Angler's face opposite directions there is ample room to fish.

 

About 2 hours into the day, while testing the rotation of the boat (which is very good), a large v-hull boat cruised by and a little girl jumped up and down and pointed at us exclaiming "look dadddddddy a floating suitcase!" I feigned a smile and waved back. Later that day in the Southern most end of Anderson, where the water is very shallow and the fishing is typically good, I was able to once again wave at the little girl one more time as I was able to pass the v-hull and fish areas their boat simply couldn't navigate due to depth limitations. This is where the BT8 really showed its value. The BT8 can operate in just inches of water with the motor set high. So you can target areas the big boys can't.

The MK20 battery lasted 4 hours with constant movement at maximum speed with a full charge.
 

When the Battery Meter light is red it is definitely time to get to shore


So with our current setup the BT8 does have range limits, but it does increase your fishing area tremendously. We were able to hit exciting new areas of the lake, and fish with lures like deep divers and jigs that would normally snag up while retrieving from shore. Overall it was a great fishing experience a lot of the fun came from just being able to fish new techniques only possible with a boat, like trolling and jigging partly submerged vertical structures in the middle of the lake.

 

Ratings:

Bass Tracker 8 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The BT8 is built of Ram-X which also has UV inhibitors to protect it from the sun. Overall the material was very durable but did have some flex, which you would not found in a fiberglass boat 7.5
Performance The BT8 is a flexible boat and is easy to launch. It is a natural transition from a inflatable boat and the stability allows anglers to fish standing, with confidence 8
Price The BT8 itself is relatively cheap and Direct Boats.com offers good discount pricing, but the boat by itself is useless. The addition of a battery, motor, and charger brings the cost up significantly 7.5
Features Without any customization the BT8 is pretty plain. Sure it holds lures and drinks, but no rods. Definitely a better boat with customization! 5
Design (Ergonomics) The BT8 is built cleverly, and though it may not have a lot of features it does have a clean layout and has no parts that are easy to break 8
Application A shining star in terms of usability, the BT8 allows anglers to get on the water quickly without a boat ramp and quietly target waters not accessible to everyone 10

Total Score (avg)

7.6


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Affordable L 8 foot is a snug fit for 2
J Portability L Range limitation
J Room for Customization L Ram-X still flexes
J Stable platform to stand L Lots of water resistance
J Launch almost anywhere  
J Quiet on the water  


Conclusion: Pelican boats has designed the Bass Tracker 8 with function over form. This boat is durable, easy to use, and flexible in multiple fishing conditions. While it may not win a lot of beauty contests, it does allow anglers a whole new experience and way in which to fish with new techniques and access more areas. This is one "floating suitcase" you should consider if you want to get close to a full size bass boat experience without emptying your wallet.


Until next time....Tight Lines!





 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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