How did they do that? The question was presented by boating writers at the press introduction of Stratos’ all-new 176XT fiberglass bass boat, a 17 1/2 footer fully rigged with a 50-horsepower Yamaha, Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics and trailer for $12,995—less than that of one of the best selling aluminum brands.
The response from the folks at Ranger Boats, which provides marketing skills under the same corporate umbrella, was that it’s due to Stratos’ extremely efficient building processes.
Sounds great, but what about performance? After driving the 176XT on Bull Shoals Lake I can attest to the performance, ride, handling and amazing fit-and-finish. Starting with performance—the top speed I achieved with the Yamaha 50TLR two-stroke was 34.6 mph on my handheld GPS. The hole shot was excellent; about 3 seconds.
At the top end, with the engine fully trimmed out, the boat handled well, with no tail walk or porpoising. I jumped wakes, made sharp turns, and shut down the engine from top speed. There was some backwash, but most folks don’t do that very often.
The hull is rated for 75 horsepower, and speed checks for various engines include: 25TLR 18 mph; F60, 32 mph; 70TLR, 39 mph; and F75, 43 mph.
Fishability, of course, is just as important as performance. This boat has lots of well planned storage space, including extra rod storage under the front deck, in the same manner as many larger aluminum multi-species and bass boats. The console is also set well back, providing a high comfort level for long-legged drivers.
The 176XT has a wide footprint, providing an extremely stable fishing platform. One comparison between aluminum and fiberglass boats is the inherent stability of a fiberglass hull. For example, when anglers stand near, or lean over, the gunnel to land a fish, the 176XT’s list is extremely minimal—not so with many metal fishing boats.
The rig’s front deck is also more than large enough for two anglers to fish side-by-side, an important feature if you routinely fish with a friend.
A Minn Kota Edge 12-volt, 40-pound-thrust trolling motor provides fishing power and a 6-amp Minn Kota charger feeds the deep-cycle. A Lowrance X-50 sonar unit is located on the console.
No-feedback steering and a full console panel with switches, speed, tach, fuel and trim gauges provides driving information. The outboard comes with an aluminum prop, but the first thing I’d do, for extra performance and durability, is invest in a quality stainless.
The Stratos 176XT doesn’t cut corners on features either. There’s a large rear deck with an aerated livewell and lots of storage; plus a running rod rack, four tackle storage boxes and a spacious, well-laid out cockpit.
Seating includes a plush, comfortable three-across bench, with extra storage under the seat. Two comfortable fold-down fishing seats complete the package.
The Stratos 176XT comes on a single-axle trailer with 13-inch wheels, and a swing-away tongue for easy storage.
Any angler in the market for a new bass boat this year should include the 176XT in the selection process. Whether you compare it to other ’glass rigs, or aluminum hulls, the value is going to be hard to beat.
Stratos Boats, (877) 9STRATOS
Length: 17 feet, 6 inches
Beam: 84 inches
Max. Horsepower: 75
Max. Capacity: 1,100 pounds
Price as tested: $12,995