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Watercraft Article: 2005 Glass Bass Boat Roundup

TackleTour's 2005 Fiberglass Bass Boat roundup

Date: 3/27/04
Watercraft: Freshwater
Manufacturer Various
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: If you own a bass rig it was probably your single biggest investment in the sport, and one of your most beloved possessions. Choosing the right glass boat shouldn't be a decision you make lightly. Fresh manufacturing processes and availability of enhanced materials has certainly narrowed the performance gap between most brands, yet each and every manufacturer does approach the design and manufacture of these high speed fishing rigs slightly differently. Some builders emphasize decisive performance, others highlight innovation and wealth of features, and still others focus on being the very best value. We sort through the countless manufacturers to highlight what we believe are ten exceptional brands, all of which currently offer tournament ready rigs straight out of the factory.


The Allison XB21 is one of the most unique fully featured bass rigs on the market, and effectively combines a multi species and traditional bass boat layout together

Allison: Allison bass boats have a long and colorful racing history and have won numerous  speed records with their racing boats. Today Allison manufactures one of the most inimitable bass rigs available. The XB-21 is laid out on the deck like most other bass boats but features a number of designs that are anything but traditional. For starters there are two rows of seating, more like a multi-species boat. The XB-21 features a unique racing like hull that makes use of 40 years of racing development. This boat bottom is designed to be extremely smooth riding with more dead-rise angle and a longer keel than conventional bass boats. The design also improves handling in rough water. The boat is chock full of features including docking head lights, a car like gear shift, skid planers to improve hole shot, and a 5 gallon trash receptacle that doubles as an onboard toilet, now that's what we call convenience!


The Cougar FTD (Full Team Deck) has an incredible amount of storage and features Basscat's instantly recognizable console design

Basscat: Many anglers think Basscat is a newcomer in the premium bass boat arena due to their successful recent strides, but the family owned company has actually been building boats since 1971. Bass Cat won the J.D. Power and Associates award in 2005 for the highest customer satisfaction with fiberglass bass boats. Bass Cats are well known for their aggressive hull and console designs. The fiberglass consoles house full size graphs or GPS units flush mounted adjacent to the steering column. Basscats are built with the company's trademark vacuum compression manufacturing technique which help create a very sturdy hull. Popular models include the affordable 18 foot Sabre, and the aggressively styled fully loaded Cougar FTD. The Cougar features a new deck layout with 6 massive storage compartments. Perhaps the very best thing about Basscat is the peace of mind that comes with the outstanding limited lifetime structural warranty which is transferable to the next owner.


Champion boats all feature a simple yet elegant design that stresses a wider beam

Champion: Champion has been building classically styled bass boats for near 30 years now. The company encourages anglers to "ride and decide," and pairs anglers with authorized dealers so that they can test drive the boat they are interested in. Champion boats are broken up into two categories, CX and Elite. CX boats are tournament ready rigs that come with everything you need in a competition class rig. CX boats are available in 18'7", 19'8", and 20'3" lengths. Champion's Elite boats are fully loaded with amenities, and are well known for their smooth ride. These boats feature extra wide beams for increased stability and reduced draft when at rest, while still capable of producing plenty of performance when the boat is cranked up to full throttle.

The Gambler Intimidator Dale Earnhardt Limited is just about the meanest looking boat on the water


Gambler: Gambler bass boats are regarded by many anglers as one of the fastest rigs on the water. Its no surprise that the company builds a Dale Earnhardt limited edition boat aptly named the "Intimidator." Gamblers feature genuine Dupont Kevlar in their double hull construction. Gambler in conjunction with Dupont developed the system in which Kevlar is used to create a stronger "back structure" where the inner hull is bolted to the outer hull mold. Gambler boats also feature a exclusive system called T.A.C. or Total Attitude Control. The T.A.C. delivers unmatched control to anglers by utilizing electronically controlled stainless steel tabs recessed under the hull in combination with a hydraulic jackplate to achieve an ultra fast hole shot, even in extremely shallow water. This unique system helps Gambler boats stay on a level plane even at slower speeds. All this technology does come at a price, and an Intimidator rig with a 200hp power plant will cost in excess of 40,000 dollars.


Ranger's new Z Comanche boats are the sleekest most feature rich Rangers ever

Ranger: No bass boat roundup could ever be complete without mentioning Ranger Boats. Rangers have long been the hallmark of bass boat quality and to many anglers they still represent the very best boat on the market. To compete with the newer more feature rich and aggressively styled boats Ranger answers with the Z Series. The new Z-Comanche brings a new level of performance and fishability to the Ranger family of boats. These sleek boats come complete with the full gamut of features including SRS seating, solid state digital switching (no fuses), and an exclusive Dri-Latch compartment locking system. The new hull design combines the stability Rangers are famous for, with improved acceleration and overall handling. The Z series boats are currently available in sizes from 20'5" all the way up to 22'2". For 2005 Ranger is sweetening the deal with added value offerings with any new boat. New Ranger owners will receive 2 custom GLoomis rods, a deluxe boat cover, a Ranger leather jacket, and a group membership, all of which add up to $2,400 in bonus benefits.


The Nitro NX series of Nitro bass boats offer exceptional value and clear cut pricing


Nitro: Nitro boats belongs to the colossal Tracker Marine Group, which owns many popular brands of watercraft including top selling Tracker boats, Tahoe, Kenner, Mako, Procraft, and Seacraft. Nitro boats have come a long way over the years, and have really become the point of reference for value among bass boats. Nitro's mid range boats like the NX750 and NX882 are among the preeminent boats when it comes to the best bang for the buck. Clear cut pricing and availability also make Nitro a favorite among anglers looking for their first glass boat. But don't rule out Nitro when it comes to high performance either. Nitro boats are endorsed by some of the biggest names in the industry including Rick Clunn and Kevin Van Dam. Nitro's big guns include the 9 series boats and the extremely innovative 911CDC which features a center dual console design allowing anglers to fish 360 degrees all around.


The Procraft Pro 185DC is made to be tournament ready with plenty of features at a reasonable price


Procraft: Nitro boats may be well known for exceptional value but Procraft isn't far behind. Procraft is yet another Tracker Marine Group brand. While not as well known as Nitro, these boats are now being distributed by Bass Pro, making these affordable boats one of the easiest boats to get into. Like Nitro, these boats feature a clear and publicized pricing structure and the brand offers many promotional incentives making it easier for first time buyers to get on the water. Procraft boats feature plenty of deck space and a sensible fishing features. Many fully loaded Procraft rigs with 225hp motors retail for well under $30,000 out the door. Procraft boats come with Mercury outboards and motorguide trolling motors. 


The Skeeter ZX250 comes with all the features that make Skeeter's inimitable, the torque transfer system, stern sponsons, and Yamaha 250/300hp VMAX powerplants


Skeeter: Skeeter boats pioneered of the whole bass boat category when it released the very first bass boat in 1948. It was then that the name "Skeeter" was adopted because of the boat's long needle shaped nose, very much like that of a mosquito. Skeeter has come a long way and these tournament quality lineup of boats continue to be among the most sought after. The SX line of boats are among the best value on the market for a quality bass boat. The TSX lineup of boats are full on tournament rigs and make use of the famous Skeeter torque transfer transom and stringer system, as well as the no splashwell design. The TSX and ZX aluminum torque transfer system are legendary, and the entire boat can actually be suspended by the engine bolts alone, with absolutely no stress or damage to the hull! The flagship Skeeter is the ZX300 which is just about the boldest boat on the market with a length of 21'10", a 64 gallon fuel tank, and a monster 300hp Yamaha VMAX!


Stratos boats are highly configurable, and anglers can choose any powerplant they want. The new Pro XL boats are designed by boat veteran Alan Stinson

Stratos is a member of the Genmar family of watercraft. Genmar is the parent company of a number of well known brands including Four Winns, Seaswirl, Wellcraft, Champion, and most famous... Ranger. While Ranger boats range in price from 15-60K most Stratos boats are considerably more affordable ranging from 13-45K. Stratos built its first bass boat in 1984 and has earned quite a following among local tournament fisherman. The Pro XL series are all designed by veteran Alan Stinson, and are an excellent blend of handling, fishability, and speed. Stratos boats deliver wide casting decks, oversized rod lockers, and dry storage boxes, all at very aggressive prices. Another nice thing about Stratos boats is that you get to pick exactly what powerplant you want to make use of, and every boat comes backed with a limited lifetime hull warranty.


Triton boats are becoming a common sight among tournament anglers


Triton: Triton has enjoyed incredible success over the last year, and the company shows no signs of letting up. This year Triton is the only official boat of the Citgo Bassmaster Classic. Triton boats are known for their excellent combination of stability & speed and the backbone of every Triton consists of a exclusive "Zero Flex" stringer system. This system has two braces running from bow to stern, and seven cross members connecting starboard to port. Each stringer is hyper engineered to fit into each hull with 100% contact. This design helps make Triton boats among of the most rigid on the market. Triton's are easily recognizable on the water with their sleek round windshield design and ergonomic floating consoles. The company also made headlines with their exclusive Triton Res-Q retractable boarding ladder, making them the safest boat on the water. Anglers that fall in the water can easily board the vessel by deploying the hidden boarding ladder from the back of the boat. Triton's newest "X" series boats come in 19'8" to 21' sizes, and feature increased dimensions, a higher profile, and extra freeboard making them superior performers when crossing long distances of rough water.

Conclusion: When deciding which brand of boat to select ask yourself the basics, in what type of water do I normally fish, how long of a boat do I really need, what attributes are the most important to me...Speed? Stability? Safety? Styling? Features? ...or all of the above? Its good to know that no matter what your personal requirements are there is sure to be one boat out of the lineups of these 10 manufacturers that can address your needs. Most builders in 2005 have increased the size and stability of their boats, and this season's crop of bass rigs feature increasingly expansive decks, a wealth of storage, and more ergonomic interiors. Efforts by a number of these manufacturers to increase ride quality and raw speed also bode well for anglers currently shopping for that perfect rig. Never have there been so many choices, and whether you are preparing to pull the trigger on your first glass boat, or in the process of upgrading to the biggest & baddest rig on the water its good to know that you've got plenty of options.









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