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What is a Bass Boat? (What makes them Unique)

Bass boats have more or less taken over the freshwater fishing boat market since the 1980s. With the massive popularity of bass fishing, their purpose-built design, and their ability to house a variety of features and accessories, bass boats are a favorite among many avid anglers.

Designed with a shallow V hull, large bow area casting deck, starboard console, and the ability to mount high horsepower outboards, bass boats are ideally suited for bass fishing. They work well in shallow water and moderately rough conditions for larger lakes and rivers so you can get to where the fish are.

The high horsepower outboards typically equipped with bass boats also allow anglers to get to their spots quickly and cover a large area which is perfect for fishing tournaments where money is on the line.

Bass boats are generally used for bass fishing, specifically, the three most common bass sportfish species; largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass. Bass are prevalent throughout the United States in freshwater lakes, rivers, and marshes.

Recreational fishing for bass is a beloved pastime in the United States due to its accessibility, fun, and popularity of professional bass fishing tournaments. As a result, bass boats are a common boat style with several boat makers specializing in them. This article will help you understand what makes them unique and if a bass boat is right for you.

What makes bass boats unique?

Bass boats are unique because they’re one of the few fishing boat styles designed for a very specific target species and fishing style.

Bass boats are small freshwater fishing boats that range anywhere from 16 to 26 feet in length. Hulls can be constructed from aluminum but are more commonly made from fiberglass. Most bass boats can safely accommodate outboard motors up to 250 horsepower or more.

The hull design allows for bass boats to run in shallow water, while still being able to handle some rough conditions if necessary. A large casting deck area in the bow portion is also a key feature that allows for up to two anglers to comfortably stand and make repeated casts, which is needed for targeting bass.

In addition to a large casting deck, bass boats can also be equipped with a number of accessories to make operation more efficient and effective for catching bass.

Aluminum vs. fiberglass bass boat?

Fiberglass may be the most popular material used for making bass boats, but aluminum may be the better choice for you.

Aluminum

Aluminum bass boats are

  • lighter
  • more fuel-efficient
  • longer lasting
  • easier to maintain
  • cheaper

Fiberglass

While fiberglass boats are

  • better looking
  • more stable
  • won’t dent (but can crack)

Personally, I prefer aluminum bass boats because of their more affordable price and how easy they are to maintain. aluminum doesn’t need to be waxed and shouldn’t corrode in water (source). However, if you need to fly through waves with reasonable stability, fiberglass may be the better option for you (or consider a deep-V aluminum boat).

What can bass boats be used for?

As the name implies, bass boats are best suited for the sport of bass fishing. Though rather obvious that bass boats are used for bass fishing, the design of bass boats has humble beginnings with bass anglers modifying aluminum Jon boats for their specific needs. With many technological innovations since then, the possibilities for what bass boats are capable of only continues to improve.

Bass boats trace their origins to the early days of the competitive bass fishing tournament scene. Competitive anglers wanted fast boats with ample casting space and the ability to mount electric motors, live wells, and other accessories. As a result, aluminum boats were modified until boat makers began making boats specifically for bass fishing.

With new materials, technologies, and more efficient outboard motors, bass boats are some of the most technologically advanced freshwater boats on the water today.

Can bass boats be used for other styles of fishing?

Though you may think that bass boats are only useful for bass fishing, their name is only derived from their most popular use. Bass boats can be used for any variety of freshwater fishing, including but not limited to walleye, panfish, bow fishing, and catfish.

The beauty of bass boats is that they can be configured and outfitted in various ways. So if you’re not a bass angler, you can still easily retrofit a bass boat to suit your fishing style and target species.

What kind of features and accessories can bass boats have?

Bass boats can host a myriad of different features. These “bells and whistles” can add to the comfort and efficiency of your fishing trips.

Standard features and accessories for bass boats include an integrated live well, bow-mounted electric trolling motor, padded seats, and storage compartments.

Additional features, such as shallow water anchors (aka Power Poles), trim tabs, GPS, fishfinders, and more advanced electric motors, can be added. All these accessories will make your bass boat more useful but will drive up the overall costs of your boat considerably.

What are the best bass boat brands?

There are several bass boat makers today that manufacture top-of-the-line bass boats. Although opinions vary, many agree some of the best bass boats come from:

  • Nitro
  • Ranger
  • Tracker
  • Skeeter
  • Triton

Although not strictly limited to these brands, these bass boat makers have many years of experience making and testing their boats on the water. Used by the best professional tournament anglers, these brands continue to make improvements to their boats. So if you want an exceptional bass boat, a boat from one of the above brands is a sure bet.

How much do bass boats cost?

Prices for bass boats vary quite a bit. A basic bass boat that’s lightly used can be an affordable purchase, but brand-new feature-rich bass boats will command a premium price. The good news is bass boats are available in a variety of price ranges.

For the lowest cost of entry into bass boats, used bass boats can be acquired through private sales for approximately $5,000 to $15,000. With these bass boats, you may find a good deal or diamond in the rough, but odds are you’ll have to do some repairs, upgrades, and modifications.

Smaller bass boats with basic accessories can be acquired from anywhere between $15,000 to $25,000. These boats are capable for avid anglers and weekend warriors, but not necessarily if you have professional bass tournament aspirations.

For the top-of-the-line flagship model bass boats with big outboards and advanced electronics, expect to cough up anywhere from $50,000 to as much over $100,000. These high-end bass boats are capable enough for top-level bass fishing tournaments and serious bass anglers.

What kind of vehicle do you need to trailer a bass boat?

The vehicle you’ll need to trailer your bass boat will depend on the size of your boat. However, for most bass boats, A ½ ton full-size pickup truck or larger SUV will work perfectly fine.

Avoid towing a bass boat with smaller SUVs and small pickup trucks, as they simply don’t have the necessary towing capacity. If you have a large bass boat over 22 feet, you may need a full 1-ton pickup truck for safe trailering.

Are bass boats good for beginner boaters?

Bass boats are not well suited for beginner boaters in most cases. However, bass boats are not inherently difficult to operate or load and unload at the boat launch. If you have some basic experience with boat operation and safety, a bass boat is a great choice.

If you’re a true beginner and don’t have much experience with boats, a bass boat may be a little intimidating. They can reach high speeds and require special care and attention that you’ll need some basic experience to handle properly.

Once you have some basic skills, knowledge, and experience with smaller boats such as small inflatable boats or Jon boats with a tiller motor, then you’ll be ready to start using a bass boat.

What are bass boats NOT ideal for?

Bass boats can be used for a variety of different situations. They can easily handle shallow backwaters as well as big open water, but they’re not perfect for everything.

Avoid operating a bass boat in very rough conditions. Although bass boats are commonly used in large bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, it’s not a good idea to do so unless conditions are relatively calm.

Be aware of high winds and storms and plan accordingly in order to be safe on the water with a bass boat. Bass boat die-hards tend to think they can handle any conditions, but it can lead to a very dangerous situation because bass boats are designed for use in relatively calm waters.

Bass boats are also not ideal for groups or families. While bass boats can perfectly accommodate two anglers, more than three anglers in total is not realistic. The deck space and casting area for bass boats are specifically designed with 2 anglers in mind. If you desire a family fishing boat, a deep V or pontoon boat may be a better option for you.

Conclusion

Bass boats are a popular recreational vessel for freshwater lakes and rivers all over the United States. If you love bass fishing, a bass boat will help you catch all the bass your heart desires.

Knowing a little background and basics will help you determine if a bass boat is right for you. Even if you’re not much of a bass angler, remember that bass boats can be used for any style of freshwater fishing. They can be configured in many ways to suit your needs and budget.

The reason for the popularity of bass boats is a no-brainer when you think about how versatile they are, their ability for customization, and how much fun they are!

What do you say? Ready to jump in a bass boat and head out to your favorite fishing spot?

Sam