Boat builders continue to design fishing rigs that are a step above what was available even last year. And while no one boat can adequately serve every angler’s needs, the one rig that does everything you want it to do has the potential to become your personal “dream” boat.
The following selection of boats range from top-of-the-line fishing machines meant for ultra-serious anglers, to family fishing/fun rigs that serve well whether you’re chasing gamefish or enjoying a sunset cruise. Check them out, but be sure to visit the manufacturer’s websites for information on many other boats as well.
Whether they take to big water in the upper Midwest or a popular southern reservoir, families that enjoy fishing and boating want the most out of their time on the water. Measuring 18 feet, 8 inches, the Ranger 1850LS is rated for 175 horsepower and offers increased space, stability and must-have features to enhance comfort and storage.
At the helm, it features a new console designed to provide room to flush mount large-screen electronics along with multi-function gauges and a new membrane style switching system. It also comes standard with a Minn Kota 70 Power Drive trolling motor, dual onboard charger and a Lowrance Mark-5X Pro sonar unit.
An insulated cooler and baitwell are located forward of the windshield, where a folding deck extension can turn the bench seating area into a fully functioning front deck designed for serious fishing. At the rear, the carpeted deck space has been increased for even more available fishing room. Other popular features include a built-in ski tow, boarding ladder and space for a kicker motor at the stern.
The rig’s deep-V, walk-through windshield design allows for significant storage capacity built into the deck and cockpit areas, highlighted by a drop-in/out rod storage system that converts the center ski storage area into a dedicated rod box capable of housing rods in excess of 7 feet. Additional rod storage is located in the portside gunnel.
The Charger 596 is a big, top-quality, high-performance, full-featured bass boat with some unique features. Nearly 22 feet in length, the boat is built with composite construction and a sturdy four-inch thick transom; it will handle any of the high-horsepower V-6 outboards, and features 10 spacious storage compartments.
Unlike other bass boats, the unique sloped deck and gunnel design gives you a great view of what’s ahead and the triple-step hull puts the big rig on plane fast. The patented ProAir livewell cooling system uses the boat’s built-in ice chest to cool the livewells and keep your catch alive and lively.
Lowe Frontier 1860SC
The Lowe Frontier 1860SC Jon Boat offers the do-it-all sportsman an excellent fishing and waterfowling rig. At 18 feet, with an 85-inch beam, it’s a sturdy, stable platform for either pastime.
Construction is SuperLock all-welded, all-aluminum with closely-spaced rib structures, solid extruded center keel and TufDeck aluminum alloy decks and floors. It features a side-console layout, with a 22-gallon aerated livewell, bow deck storage compartments, and two seats with pin-type pedestals seat bases in bow and aft deck. Navigation lights, bilge pump, side gunnel rod organizer with three rod holders, and extruded aluminum accessory receiver gunnel are all standard. So is the olive drab paint job, but an optional camouflage finish is available.
Gambler Outlaw 1900 Pro
The Gambler, high-performance, fully-equipped Outlaw 1900 Pro bass boat is designed for the serious bass angler. Features include two rod lockers, large center storage compartment, two rear-deck boxes with tackle trays, large insulated cooler, reinforced aluminum hatch lids with locks and gas-spring openers, and foot-recess for trolling motor pedal.
Twenty-gallon rear livewells with 1000 GPH recirculating pumps, external pumps and timer offer plenty of space for you and your partner’s catch. Seating includes two fixed-seat poles and tilting Gambler fishing seats. Performance package includes Kevlar construction, adjustable 6-inch jackplate, adjustable Hot-Foot plate, Hot Foot and cable.
Deck boats offer the roominess and safety of a pontoon, but with a higher level of performance, and those that include fishing features provide the ultimate in family angling fun.
With a length of 20 feet, 5 inches, and a 200-horsepower capacity, the PlayCraft FX4-20 FishDeck can accommodate up to 10 people. The craft features the PlayCraft Glide-Ride Hull, lots of below deck storage for skis and/or rods, two forward and two aft fishing seats, an optional aerated livewell, built-in rear entry with swing down ladder, fiberglass console with full instrumentation and plush L-shaped seating. The rig also comes pre-wired for and optional trolling motor, plus three safety gates, ice chest, windshield, and AM/FM stereo with two speakers.
Skeeter FX 21
Staying in the trend to bigger bass boats, Skeeter comes in with its FX 21, boasting a 20-foot, 10-inch hull with a beam of 96 inches. Rated for up to 300 horsepower, the FX Series hull is designed specifically for Yamaha’s VMAX SHO outboards, a combination that maximizes performance with lightning-like hole shots and a higher top end.
Features include a Digital Multifunctional System Command Center, digital bow panel, ice chest under the center bench seat and in-floor cooler, with spare prop holder mounted inside the cooler. Tilt-hydraulic steering makes for easy handling of the big boat, while its logical layout and spacious tackle storage system add to the rig’s overall fishability.
“Any Weather, Any Water, Any Fish.” That’s Stratos’ theme for its versatile 385XF multi-species boat. At 18½ feet, with a 99-inch beam, and a rating for a 200-horsepower power plant, it’s clear the massive deep-V was built to take on big water under just about any weather conditions.
The 385XF offers solid tracking and a smooth, dry ride over big water, which means anglers can get to far-flung hotspots and still be in good shape to fish. It features seven different seating locations, a 24-volt Minn Kota trolling motor, Humminbird electronics, an integrated tackle organizer, large aerated livewell and built-in baitwell.
Lund 1625 Fury XL
Anglers looking for a versatile boat with fishing prowess will love the new 1625 Fury XL. It features extensive bow storage, including a large center rod locker and spacious cockpit for unrestricted fishability.
Yet, it’s small enough to fit in most garages and is easily towed to hard-to-reach waters. The rig measures 16 feet, 3 inches, with an 80-inch beam, and comes with a center rod compartment with tubes and butt holders for six, 8-foot rods. Plus, huge, deep storage compartments with oversize doors in the bow to house lots of tackle and accessories.
It’s available in three versions. The tiller model is rated for outboards up to 50 horsepower, while the side-console and walk-through dual-console boats can handle engines up to 60.
The 1625 Fury XL also features Lund’s SportTrak and ProTrak accessory mounting systems for quick-and-easy placement of rod holders and accessories, and for snapping on the cover. Included, is a 36-inch, 15.5-gallon livewell with timer and built-in bait management system, 12-gallon portable fuel tank and a 12-volt trolling motor plug.
This go-anywhere boat loaded with fishing features, yet its slightly smaller footprint means it’s wallet-friendly.
Due to their high performance and quality, Xpress boat models have been among my favorite brands to test. Built on the famed Xpress Hyper-Lift Hull, the X19 is hot—with extremely fast hole shots—and capable of handling rough water.
Powered by Yamaha, the X19 has huge lockable storage compartments located in the bow, including an enormous rod locker. The back deck contains additional lockable storage, and a large livewell. Comfortable European style seats set off the good looks and provide comfort even in rough water. Xpress boats are the original all-welded aluminum boats, dating back to 1966.
Ranger 175T Angler
This 17½ footer is Ranger’s newest addition to its popular line of multi-species fishing boats. The tiller-control 175T Angler touts an elevated level of fishability and comfort while delivering excellent performance and style.
Rated for 75 horsepower outboards, it features an instrument panel with a full complement of gauges and rocker switch controls and comes standard with Lowrance Mark 5X Pro electronics. Standard equipment also includes a 6x2 onboard battery charger, premium marine upholstery, recessed tie cleats and a 50-inch livewell designed to help keep big fish stress free.
In addition to room for large-screen electronics at the console and bow, generous storage areas include an insulated cooler with drain, plus space for rods up to 9½ feet in the starboard rod locker and 7 footers in the portside compartment.
A 23-gallon fuel tank is mounted under the front deck for enhanced load distribution, easier planning and outstanding rough-water performance, and the deck itself is covered in a slip-resistant coating, topped with snap-in marine carpeting to make for easy cleaning.
Additional features include a sliding captain’s seat for maximum comfort, as well as an integrated access panel at the stern for quick access to bilge pumps, and a recirculating livewell.
SeaArk Stealth 210
SeaArk, builder of quality all-welded aluminum fishing boats, introduced a new 20-foot, 6-inch (83-inch beam) addition to its popular Stealth Series bass boats. And like the rigs we tested previously, the Stealth 210 features SeaArk’s 15-degree V-hull design that provides an extremely smooth ride over rough water.
Big boats come with big storage and the new 210 has plenty. Rated for outboards up to 175 horsepower, it features two rod lockers, plus three bow and two rear storage compartments. It’s built with .100 gauge aluminum, all aluminum floors and decks and carries a lifetime hull puncture warranty. An optional tournament package includes a recirc pump on the livewell, fresh-water timer, rod buckles and pro casting seat exchange. It’s a good choice for anglers who need a big boat without an equally large price tag.
Phoenix 920 Pro XP
Phoenix Boats introduced a new model, the 920 Pro XP. At 20½ feet, with a 96-inch beam, the new bass boat shares a couple of design elements with its larger cousin, 921 Pro XP. It features all-composite construction, an extra wide front deck for angler comfort and maneuverability, plus the same running surface made the 921 fast, agile and responsive.
The 920, which officially debuts at the 21013 Bassmaster Classic, is rated for 250 horsepower, and features a number of innovations, such as under-seat net storage, rotating tackle system and completely enclosed console. A Lowrance HD 8 comes on the bow and console.
Polar Kraft Kodiak Sport 170 FS
All-around family fun is the focus with PolarKraft’s Kodiak Sport 170 FS. The17-foot, 1-inch fish-and-ski rig features a three-piece aluminum hull (96-inch beam) with double riveted seams, extruded aluminum keels and aluminum bow and stern castings, the fish-and-ski model is rated for up to 150 horsepower, and can carry up to six passengers.
Family-friendly features include a boarding ladder, bow lounge pads, stern jump seats, bow and stern storage, a custom-molded dual console with curved walk-through windshield, and a sliding helm seat on a locking pedestal. Features for fishermen include Lowrance X4 Pro sonar, lockable rod storage, and a livewell with auto-manual timer.
Allison is well known for producing racing hulls and high-performance bass boats, and has a reputation for coming up with extremely innovative designs.
The company’s new E-Ped (electronic pedestal) is one of them. E-Ped is a telescopic mast that elevates a sonar/chartplotter/GPS to a convenient height above the casting deck, giving anglers the ability to view and operate the device more effectively and efficiently from a standing position. When it’s time to get on plane, it fully retracts to deck level, placing the electronic unit flush with the bow panel where it won’t interfere with aerodynamics or visibility when the rig is under power.