The Nitro Z-7 I tested was an absolute blast to drive. This mid-size fiberglass bass boat is fast, nimble and comfortable, and rather like a few young quarter horses I’ve worked, it took a bit of handling.
The hole shot was bow-high from the start, but re-propping should make a change there. Top speed, with a Mercury 150 OptiMax, was 62.1 mph, plenty fast for this size boat-and-outboard combination. Turns were sharp and crisp, and the ride smooth and comfortable.
At 6,000 rpm, however, there was chine walk, but it was fairly easily driven out as I continued to test. And when I shut down the engine at 62 mph there was very little backwash, due to the transom’s anti-splash design.
Another plus the hull offers is that it’s designed to accept and perform with today’s four-strokes, and that bit of extra transom weight might bring better handling to the table.
Strong And Capable
The Nitro Z-7 features a hand-laid hull construction with a fiberglass foam filled stringer system, resulting in a very strong boat with no hull flex or slap. Jumping waves created by numerous boat wakes on Table Rock Lake, I determined the Z-7 to be an extremely comfortable boat with a good dry ride.
Plus, its size, 18 feet, 7 inches, is in the mid-range—good for the serious angler or weekend warrior, yet not quite as big and heavy as a 20 footer.
Fit and finish was excellent, and featured the new High Performance Upholstery with a stain-resistant top coating. A bike seat as well as a fold-down fishing seat with composite frame adds to the comfort of all-day angling.
One of the main features I appreciated was the modular console, which makes it easier to get behind the wheel and increases hull strength. The console also features state-of-the-art multi-functional instruments with oversize chrome bezels.
The Z-7 is available in both single- and dual-console models, and is designed for serious fishing with or without a partner. A 34-gallon, aerated, recirculating, livewell with divider, timer and pump-out will keep fish lively, and make clean-up easy.
Oversize port and starboard rod boxes in the bow provide plenty of space for sticks, while additional storage includes a bow storage box and lift-out aft molded storage boxes that will accept Plano 3700 tackle trays.
A MotorGuide 24-volt, 70-pound bow-mount trolling motor is standard, as is a Lowrance X-96 sonar unit recessed in the dash. One feature I consider extremely important these days is a foot-pedal recess in the bow. Many older pro anglers are now experiencing chronic back and leg pain, partly due to early hard-running boats, but also because of having to operate those old-time foot controls for hours on end. The recess in the Z-7 accepts MotorGuide and MinnKota controls.
As the overall size of tournament boats has grown, so have the costs to own and operate them. The Nitro Z-7, however, provides a mid-size, mid-cost, but serious tournament package that will get you there, and fast, and keep you in the game all day.
Nitro Boats, (417) 873-5900
Length: 18 feet, 7 inches
Beam: 94 inches
Max. Horsepower: 200
Max. Capacity: 1,390 pounds
Suggested Retail: $24,995, with standard Mercury 150 OptiMax