Choosing the best bass boats can be like picking the right lure – there are many interesting choices and all will catch fish to some degree, To help you cull your list, BoaterInput polled a number of current bass boat owners to find out which brands they would consider if shopping for a new boat.
But let me begin by mentioning that fiberglass bass boat owners are, in my experience, the most knowledgeable of all boat owners in terms of boat brands. This is because they tend to be avid anglers who use their boats a lot and like to stay up-to-date on new products. Plus many compete in tournaments and therefore have an opportunity to see and/or experience other makes in action. For this reason, when bass boaters tell you which brands they like best, it is probably a good idea to listen to what they have to say.
BEST BASS BOATS
In our most recent study, 129 fiberglass bass boat owners shared their opinions on which bass boats are best and why. We asked them to select their top 3 brands along with their 1 favorite that they would most likely purchase if shopping for a new boat. The following are the top brands mentioned, in order of popularity.
|Bass Boat Brands||% Selecting in Top 3||Favorite Brand|
Ranger has long been considered “the Cadillac” of bass boats and so it is no surprise that the number one reason, by far, for selecting the brand as their favorite was because of its quality of construction. Many of these same boaters stated that they have owned Rangers before and have had a good experience. The second reason is its smooth/stable ride. Rangers are not known to be the fastest boats on the water but they do have a reputation for delivering a smooth, stable and dry ride. Plus, the large amount of flotation used in its construction provides “peace of mind” as to the boat’s safety. The third reason is dependability – they hold up over time and, as a result, their resale value is usually good. You might pay more up front, but your total cost of ownership might not be much more over the long run. Representative comments regarding why many favor a Ranger…
Quality and durability, they stand behind their product and have been around a long time.
- “I have had 17, they are great boats. First in quality, tradition and design.” (Dave I., Claremore, OK)
- “I have owned 3 Rangers and feel it is the best boat built.” (John I., Emporia, KS)
- “Quality and durability, they stand behind their product and have been around a long time.” (Kevin O., Pelham, AL)
- “Best rough water boat for tournament fishing.” (Robert J., Diamond Bar, CA)
- “Longtime brand, top performance, smooth ride and fish ability.” (Troy C., Sylacauga, AL)
- “I believe it is still the safest, best, bass boat made.” (Jeff S., Longview, Texas)
- “Quality, durability, re-sale value, and performance. Not performance as far as speed, but performance based on the intended use of the boat and that is fishing.” (Jay A., Sand Springs, OK)
- “Best built, service, quality, holds value.” (Richard K., Hemphill, TX)
- “I have owned Ranger boats since 1983. They are very well built and extremely safe boats.” (Richard W., Spring, TX)
- “I have owned more than one Ranger boat, although the Triton is well constructed and possibly as sturdy and reliable as the Ranger, I have experienced all sorts of weather and waters in my Rangers and know firsthand how sturdy and safe and reliable they are.” (John E., Mannford, OK)
- “Quality and resale value of Ranger.” (Robert I., Palmyra, WI)
Skeeters are a slightly different breed than a Ranger. Whereas one might think of Ranger like a fine luxury sedan, Skeeter is more like a sports car. When asked why they selected the brand as one of the best bass boats, the most common reasons were “fishability”, ride/maneuverability, quality and price. Plus, some prefer the Yamaha motors (which owns Skeeter). For these reasons, Skeeter is often the favorite among “hard-core” tournament anglers or those who simply cannot afford (or don’t want to pay for) a Ranger. Representative comments…
Fish ability of the boat – I spend more time fishing than riding so fish ability must come first with me-My Skeeter FX 20 has a very smooth ride in rough water it also handles rough water at higher speeds better than most.
- “Fish ability of the boat – I spend more time fishing than riding so fish ability must come first with me-My Skeeter FX 20 has a very smooth ride in rough water it also handles rough water at higher speeds better than most.” (Harry S., Scott, AR)
- “Fast, safe, very fishable, lots of storage and looks GREAT.” (Bob D., Clermont, FL)
- “Best overall design and innovative styling. Best fishing platform (this is even acknowledged by many of my fishing friends who own competitive brands). Stability and Safety is very important to me; I have had several fishermen comment on the stability of my boat.” (Scott B., Kilgore, TX)
- “The Skeeter is module made and easy to perform maintenance. It handles well and is one of the few boats that can do a 180 degree turn at 50 MPH.” (anonymous)
- “I like the layout of the Skeeter and the price and quality!” (Mark M., North Canton, OH)
- “Price and features plus the motor that comes on them.” (Sport S., Maple Grove, MN)
- “I have had no trouble with the boat or Yamaha motor. The two dealerships I have dealt with were very knowledgeable and were a pleasure to work with.” (Vic K., Cross Plains, TX)
The appeal of Triton boats reflects the character of the company’s founder – Earl Bentz. Before founding Trition, Bentz was a champion boat driver for the Mercury Racing Team back in the 1970s and later launched Stratos boats – a value oriented bass boat brand. Given this background, it is no wonder that the main reasons some boaters consider Triton to be one of the best bass boats is because of its “performance”, quality and price.
- “Current boat is a Triton and best performing boat I’ve owned.” (George C., Allen, TX)
- “Experience with brand, fishability, build quality, appearance & styling.” (Randy D., Huntsville, AL)
- “Very good boat for the money.” (anonymous)
- “Price point, quality and selection of options.” (William D., Tallahassee, FL)
If you are willing to pay $50K or more for a bass boat package, you have many choices available. If not, then Nitro may be just for you. Price/value is clearly the main draw of this brand. However, its ride quality was also noted by a few.
- “I have owned 3 different brands of boats, but I have owned two Nitros. Both Nitros have been been the best bang for my buck. Rather than paying the more premium price I was able to use that extra money to upgrade my electronics, trolling motors and talon.” (Jason C., Bangor, ME)
- “Tracker /Nitro Company financial stability. Casting deck size. Layout & fish ability. Storage capacity. Boat stability in extreme weather conditions. Purchase value & resale value.” (Joseph L., Magnolia, TX)
- “Best boat on the market for the price and options available.” (Andy S., Henderson, NC)
- “Good boat, fair price and a great ride!” (Louis O., Sparta, WI)
- “I owned a Nitro before and like how they perform.” (Steve E., Ft Leonard Wood, MO)
Up until fairly recently, Bass Cat has been a privately owned company. Owners loved the fact that they were commonly treated like family and there was (and likely still is) considerable pride and care with each and every boat produced. As such, in our survey, the key reasons for favoring a Bass Cat were “customer service” and “quality”.
- “Best quality. Best service.” (David T., Madison, MS)
- “Quality, reputation, consistent ownership and owner support.” (Scott C., Paris, TX)
- “Good customer service, good ride. Well made.” (George G., Houston, TX)
- “Family owned and great warranty.” (anonymous)
- “Quality, performance, service.” (Brently H., Imboden, AR)
Here’s our input…if you are looking for a luxurious, top quality boat and a smooth, comfortable ride and can afford to spend a little more up front, then Ranger might be your best bet. On the other hand, hard core tournament anglers focused on performance or fishability should consider a Skeeter, Triton or even Bass Cat. However, if you don’t want to spend $50K or more on a bass boat but want a good quality, very functional boat, then Nitro is tough to beat.