Boats Trucks & Maintenance

Ranger RT188 | Feature-Rich Aluminum Boat

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Buying a Ranger RT 188 means the factory has already thought it out, it is equipped well at the base model ready for the water and the fit and finish of the boat is at a premier level. The goal is getting more people into a Ranger due to price point, resale value, brand recognition and honestly, just being part of the Ranger Family. Features like a fiberglass poltruded transom (there is no wood in this boat), fiberglass console, foam filled floatation and in-house built trailer and wiring gives the buyer confidence in this boat. If you have always wanted to own a Ranger the RT188 can fit the bill.

Forrest Wood built the Ranger reputation on doing things right the first time but also providing a boat that fishes well with the proper features right out of the factory. With Ranger you get to choose your color, you get to choose your options and you get the peace of mind to know that the boat was built right and will hold its value. The Ranger brand has said that for over 45 years.

Recently Ranger dove back into the aluminum market. Again it was about getting more first time boat buyers in a Ranger but ultimately it is also about getting into a boat, sometimes the first one, that would fish comfortably, handle rough water and have the storage and roominess that anglers were used to in their fiberglass line-up. The formula is pretty simple, build a boat that will fish like a big boat with a price point that most can afford without giving up the creature comforts they expect from Ranger. The RT188 comes in 4 different paint schemes and available options also now includes livewell recirculation, T&H Hydraulic Mini-jacker Jackplate and Oxygenator, and Sportsman II Power Pole installation at the factory. Anglers can also upgrade their trailer at time of purchase to aluminum if they desire.

I like the best features in “my” boats and like to add the functionality, if possible, for it to fish like many of the other fiberglass boats I have owned. Ranger Boats builds a boat that can be customized with those additional options and features easily but the base boat is a great boat for first time buyers, as well as, the savvy weekend angler.

The front deck of the RT188 is one of the first features I look for when buying a boat. The recessed footpedal tray is standard and the lids are sturdy and lockable. The center rod storage is long enough for 8 foot rods and the starboard and port storage areas are sized well for tackle, rainsuits and accessories.

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Some boats in this category with large front decks in the 18-19 foot class do not have much room for the co-angler on the rear deck but the RT188 has plenty of room with 2 storage compartments, a large livewell and a battery compartment that is easily accessed from both inside the boat and trailered. The fit and finish of the carpet, lids and trim says “RANGER” loud and clear, are cleanly trimmed, tight and square. There are no rough edges or gaps and the welds are clean and neat.

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The console and passenger area are large and provide plenty of leg room. I removed the center seat in my boat for easier access to the rear deck but the standard package comes equipped with a fold down center seat for three across seating. An optional step is available to the front deck on the 2015 model. Seats and wiring harnesses are all built in the Ranger Aluminum plant. Switches are toggle style, handy for the driver and gauges include tachometer, speedometer, fuel and trim. The race style steering wheel compliments the console’s contemporary yet futuristic look. There is plenty of space for larger in dash electronics but I chose to mount the Garmin 1040xs units adjacent to the steering wheel on an RMC mount at the console and over the trolling motor tray on the bow. I like to keep wiring neat and out of the way and used the Rod Glove E-Cable Gloves on both locations. Standard electronics unit for this boat in the console is the Lowrance Elite 3X.

The rod ramp and tool area on the passenger side is perfect for up to 6 rods without clutter and I either store my net adjacent to it or on the floor under the console. The tool areas in the 2015 model has been enhanced with placement in front of the recessed foot pedal and to the left of the console(s). You can see the entire layout of the 2015 here.

I also installed a Hydrowave and Talon Shallow Water anchor Fab at the bow too. Standard trolling motor for this boat is a Minn Kota Edge 45 and I upgraded to a Minn Kota Fortrex 80. The front switch panel includes trim and navigational toggle switches.

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I organize my boat with plastic, jigs and accessories on one side of the front deck and hard baits and spinnerbaits etc on the opposite site for easy access. Life jackets, tools and other accessories are stored under the seat in the divided storage area there. I replace and organize these storage areas after each trip and do my best to keep tackle to a minimum to reduce weight and allow for a quicker and more balanced ride. This boat is wide with a 93 1/2 beam and the overall length is 18’8?.

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The divided livewell is large and can be accessed easily. Balancing the battery compartment is crucial for the best ride at top end and idle too. I also installed a Minn Kota 3 bank smart charger on the transom supports using a plastic backer board and rubber grommets to eliminate shock to that unit. The rear storage areas are set up with extra oil, funnel and cleaning products on one side and a standard removable cooler on the other. Plano 3700 boxes fit nicely on both sides should you want to put tackle in those locations. A wiring schematic is housed under the starboard rear storage compartment lid and breaker switches for power and trolling motor are in the rear battery compartment. Fuel capacity is 21 gallons.

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I chose the Mercury 115 Pro XS with a 21 pitch prop for my boat. I also added a T&H Atlas Hydraulic Jackplate and two Minn Kota Talons with brackets. I used the T&H Transom support brackets on the jackplate for added strength. The 2015 models can be equipped with a T&H Mini- Jacker Hydraulic plate and a Sportsman II Power Pole from the factory as options. I also added Rod Buckles and Transom Saver to my boat. Covers, spare tire, and aluminum spoke wheels are also options.

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The Ranger RT188 fits the bill for the first time boat buyer or seasoned tournament angler and comes equipped with everything you need for a great day of fishing. The neat part of this boat is its adaptability to adding bells and whistles, as I have done, to make it a tournament ready rig as well. This boat gives you the option. The boat as it is set up here, fully loaded runs in the high 40’s to low 50’s mph and has a steady comfortable ride even in rough water. It is a dry ride and loads very easily on the Ranger built trailer with Road Armor. The swingaway tongue allows it to be stored in a garage, 21’8?, with a width including the trailer at 95 inches. The standard package RT188 with a 115 Mercury ProXS MAP pricing is $22195 for this boat.

We filmed a walk-through of the RT188 with Brent Ehrler that you can see here.

Stop by your Ranger dealer or take a look at them and other models by going to the Ranger Aluminum Boats website. You will be glad you did.