Boats and Maintenance

Tips on Buying Bass Boats at Boat Shows

If you are in the market for a new boat, the beginning of a new year is the time to kick some tires and look at the best features that includes the fit and finish and desired power for that boat you desire. It is always better to have two or three models that you are interested in and determine which is best for you by how you fish and how much time you have on the water. 

Boat show and boat dealer season is upon us and no matter where you live there are some good shows that not only lets you go over the boats but also get some fishing information at the same time too.

When looking for a boat one of the first considerations for most is price. Although gas prices are low now they may or may not stay that way. A new boat is not worth much sitting in the driveway because it costs too much to pull to the ramp or take across your favorite body of water due to fuel costs. 

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The new Ranger Aluminum boats offer a lot of great amenities like their bigger fiberglass boats

Buying a boat is a bit like buying a pair of jeans. If they don’t fit they are not worth much. Careful consideration to the type of fishing you do, horsepower needed and how many times you expect to go are excellent criteria to determine which boat to buy. 

Brand affinity and recommendations from others also play in the equation too. Finding an honest broker who you trust can help make your buying decision easier.

It is very important to work with a reputable dealer that is trustworthy with your brand of choice too. To a certain extent buying a boat is a bit like buying it piece by piece. Package boats do work for some but ultimately you may want to upgrade your accessories at the initial purchase. Typically packaged boats have electronics and trolling motors that are base units. 

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(Photo: wired2fish.com)

The boat and trailer is the beginning but the right accessories can be just as important. Saving a few dollars now on engine, prop, electronics and trolling motor can save the budget today but spending a few to upgrade at purchase time can ultimately save money in the long term and make the experience even better. 

Check out our exclusive Wired2Fish walkthroughs of the 2016 Lund 1875 Pro-V Bass and the Pro-V Bass XS.

Your choice can be based on your experience with a particular construction, but today both fiberglass and aluminum boats offer many of the same amenities. Both Ranger and Phoenix offer high end fiberglass bass boats now. Makers like Xpress and Lund, however, both offer bass boats that provide high performance, can handle big water but are constructed of aluminum. 

Angler amenities have been stepped up in the last few years with more offerings that were before thought of only in fiberglass. Arkansas based Xpress Boats even builds several pad style performance boats including the X19, X18 and their flagship Xclusive X21, that can utilize a Yamaha SHO 250 horsepower engine, jackplate and a quiet dry ride at 70 mph. 

The new Lund 1875 Bass is set up to accommodate a big water ride but with the capability of use in smaller waters too. This boat features large casting decks, intelligent storage, and lots of room with improved handling for racing from spot to spot. 

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Ranger, recently purchased by Bass Pro Shops, continues to build high quality, performance boats in both fiberglass and aluminum. Top shelf features, superb fit and finish, and a resell value that is second to none makes Ranger the Dream Rig for most anglers. Their flagship Z520C in fiberglass continues to evolve with better livewell systems, compartment ventilation, and that sturdy soft ride that Ranger is noted for. The proof in the pudding for Ranger has always been what you don’t see under the cap with superior floatation, expansive stringer systems, and pultruded fiberglass transoms and supports that not only give it a quality ride but also adds to its durability. 

The Ranger Aluminum line continues to expand to flats and inshore models but you can’t go wrong with the RT178 and RT188 in their bass boat line up either. Priced effectively and available with just about every outboard on the planet the Ranger Aluminum Series is catching on rapidly and is a boat that is a perfect starter boat or one for the seasoned weekend angler. 

Phoenix Boats is a relative newcomer as a brand but has decades of experience in boat building and they have taken the tournament scene by storm with their 921, 920, and their 721 ProXP models. Their new lines have also seen significant growth with their 618 Pro as well. Phoenix came in to the game by making items like Hotfoot, Teleflex Hydraulic Steering, jackplates, rod buckles and USB power outlets standard equipment. Fishability is their middle name as they listen to angler desires and work hard to build fishing functionality into every boat they build. Large platforms, spacious tackle storage for up to 30 Plano tackle boxes and rod storage racks that can handle 14 eight foot rods puts them in a unique category among bass boats. The ergonomic curved console layouts give the driver ample leg room and comfort. 

For most of us buying a boat is a major family decision but its also very important not to cut yourself short on the functionality you need. Enjoying the full experience, learning more on every trip and utilizing the boat as a tool is very important. Whether a seasoned tournament pro and a once a month boater or weekend angler choosing the right boat is tantamount to a better experience. Boat shows are an excellent opportunity to look them over, sit in them and figure out how you can get the most for your money. Many times exhibitors have boat show specials where you can save a few bucks too. 

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Jason Sealock throws a bass back from his Phoenix Bass boat

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