Best Boats for Bass Fishing
If you’re serious about angling for bass, you’ll want to make sure your boat is up to the task.
“When you’re on the water, out in the weather, you really want to have quality,” Fishing League Worldwide Tour pro Scott Martin said. “You don’t want to have issues with your boat.”
There are thousands of different kinds of bass fishing boats out there to choose from. If you’re looking to buy a boat for bass fishing, this guide will get you started with some of the best models on the market that you might want to take a look at first.
- How we chose the best bass boats
- Best bass boats
- How to find the best bass boat for you
How we chose the best bass boats
According to Martin, there are three simple things that make a bass boat different from other kinds of boats. First, a bass boat will feature a large casting deck at the front where anglers stand to fish. Second, a bass boat will have a deck covered in carpet, which will help prevent equipment from sliding around. And finally, a bass boat will have a trolling motor, an electric propulsion device used to move quietly through areas where fish live.
We chose the best boats for this list by examining the makes and models used by the top 20 competitors in the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship standings; the boats listed below are the most commonly used among these professional anglers. Their rank on the list is based on how many anglers drive those boats, with those at the top having the most pros who use that model.
The MSRP listed for each boat is for the base trim in the latest model, according to the manufacturer’s website. Pricing is accurate as of the time of this writing.
Best bass boats
2020 Ranger Z521c
Why it’s great: Ranger Boats are the most common choice of today’s pro anglers — with seven out of the top 20 going with the brand — and this model is the brand’s top-of-the-line. The Ranger Z521c comes from the factory pre-loaded with a lot of features that tournament-level anglers like to see, including a 250-horsepower outboard motor, a high-end braking and anchoring system and an oxygenation system that keeps bait and fish alive longer.
The trolling motor comes with three batteries, so you’ll never find yourself unable to maneuver. Additionally, the boat boasts a custom trailer and a well-designed storage system.
2020 Skeeter ZX250
Why it’s great: This boat is loaded with space, which makes it great for team fishing. The Skeeter ZX250 has space to fit five people, and its eight different available color options are the icing on the cake.
The deck is customizable and designed for multiple anglers working at once. Two bike seats give you options at both ends of the boat. And when you’re ready to take it off the water for the day, Skeeter’s custom-built trailer has a tongue that swings out of the way, maximizing your available space.
2020 Bass Cat Cougar FTD SP
Why it’s great: This boat is all about comfort. An extended beam and padded deck gives you plenty of room to cast from, and storage options allow you access to your gear without having to stop. The electronics have a built-in security system, meaning you can leave the dock with peace of mind. A grab post makes it easy to get yourself up and into the boat, and lighted handrails make it easy to get around even as the sun goes down.
2019 Phoenix 920 ProXP
Why it’s great: This boat is slightly shorter than its competitors while maintaining width, which means you’ll have plenty of room for casting while enjoying improved maneuverability. All the hardware is made out of eye-catching stainless steel. The Phoenix 920 ProXP also comes with integrated storage for your nets in case you decide to catch fish that way. There are plenty of power outlets of all different types to juice up your electronics, and LED lights keep things bright both inside and outside the boat.
2020 Skeeter FXR21
Why it’s great: The newest model of the Skeeter FXR21 has been redesigned with lighter and stronger materials. It’s sportier, too, with performance-designed seats and an adjustable foot throttle that will get you up to speed in no time. A dry dock ventilation system makes sure moisture stays out of your boat. Plus, the proprietary tackle organization system in the center is a nice touch.
2019 Ranger Z520L
Why it’s great: This boat was built for speed, with a design and motor engineered for performance. The newly designed seats are installed on slides for easy adjustment. The front deck is very roomy and can hold lots of additional rods. Extra-wide seats and the padded casting deck makes it easy to fish all day.
2017 Phoenix 721 ProXP
Why it’s great: This model is less expensive than other Phoenix boats, but maintains the maneuverability that Phoenix is known for. The center console is larger on this model, allowing for bigger graphics that still mount flush. The front deck on the Phoenix 721 ProXP is slightly elevated, making it easier to pitch and flip. The passenger seat has a grab handle and footrest, making for a more comfortable ride. A new custom steering wheel makes for better maneuvering.
2020 Triton 21 TRX
Why it’s great: This boat is all about tackle management and organization, while still being known for being a comfortable ride. Its livewell system for holding caught fish and bait is tournament-ready, with a high-end oxygenation system to keep fish and bait alive longer and LED lights all over. A custom trailer has been designed for rugged terrain and highway driving.
2019 Nitro Z21
Why it’s great: Nitro’s top-of-the-line model was designed in consultation with Bassmaster pros. The drainage system is designed to get your gear dry even after you’ve hit waves the wrong way. The proprietary suspension system is built to keep you comfortable at high-speed, while a well-insulated cooler has been built into the deck and will hold the proper temperature all day. The outboard motor has a max of 300 horsepower, higher than most boats in its class.
How to find the best bass boat for you
As you can see, a good bass boat doesn’t come cheap. You’ll want to budget between $50,000 and $70,000 if you’re serious about the sport, Martin said.
That makes it imperative that you find a boat that works for you. As you’re shopping, pay close attention to a few key things:
- Size of the casting deck. This is where you’ll be spending your quality fishing time. Be sure there’s enough room for you and potentially a buddy or guide to stand comfortably, Martin said.
- Dependable outboard motor. Don’t skimp on the primary propulsion. “You don’t want to be stranded out there,” Martin said.
- Good electronics. Your GPS and depth finder will be crucial to your success, so make sure you’re happy with the devices that come with your boat.
- Fiberglass construction. The amount of fiberglass used in the boat’s construction is generally a good hallmark of its quality, Martin said.
That hefty price tag also means you might look for a boat loan to finance your purchase. Dealers often offer financing deals, and many banks and credit unions offer specialized boat loans as well. Typically, lenders will want to see at least a 15% to 20% down payment. LendingTree’s boat loan calculator can help you get a better idea of how much you can afford to spend on your boat.
Interest rates on boat loans can vary widely depending on the company financing the purchase and the buyer’s credit score, with rates typically being higher for those with bad credit. As of Oct. 21, 2019, U.S. Bank offered boat loans at rates starting at 5.74%, while at Essex Credit, a major boat lender, rates ranged from 4.39% to 7.69%, depending on the size of the loan and the length of time to pay it off. Dealers may require you to fill out an application to get a rate quote.
On LendingTree, you may be able to get up to five offers from boat lenders for your purchase, depending on your creditworthiness. By comparing rates and terms from multiple lenders, you can make sure you’re getting the best deal on your bass fishing boat.