A New Year A New Boat?
By Jeff Morton
Now that the holidays are over, 'tis the season for fishing and boat shows - a chance to get out to walk and talk fishing and see all the latest goodies from the manufacturers. Maybe this is the year to get that new (or first) boat. The fishing and boat show season brings plenty of promotions and "deals" (hopefully) designed to get you into the "boat of your dreams." With some careful thought and planning this can occur.
When people approach me at the shows to look at Ranger Boats, I begin by asking two questions: "What do you like to fish for?" and "Where do you like to fish?" The answers will generally tell me what type of boat to show prospective buyers first. For instance, if someone tells me they go down to the old mill pond and catch crappie, then they probably aren't going to be interested in a high-end boat, just something to get them into the water to have some fun.
I also look to see who is along - if mom and the kids are in tow, then I know that, like it or not, dad isn't necessarily getting a Comanche 520SVX with a 225 Mercury OptiMax on the back (now if he considered the twin consoled 520DVX...). At that point a good compromise is a play and ski boat or a boat with plenty of freeboard (read: tall sides) to help keep the kids safely in the boat when it gets windy and the waves kick up.
When looking at a boat, I think a person should consider the following three things:
- Is this a boat you would be happy with for awhile - does it have what you want, where you want it? This is an obvious but sometimes overlooked item - especially with the thrill of the hunt and people become enamored with the shiny metal flake finish and forget that the rod locker isn't long enough for their beloved 9'8" Muskie Masher rod. Get in the boat with the dealer rep and look around - sit in the seats and check things out. You can quickly determine whether a model fits your needs.
- Look at the fit and finish. This is a tell-tale sign of quality. Check to see how the carpet is put in - especially around the hatches. A sloppy job there usually speaks volumes. Step on the hatches - are they really bouncy? That's not good either. Look at the compartments - are they plastic, metal or fiberglass and how are they put in? One of the things I like to do in the fiberglass Rangers is jump down inside one of the back storage compartments to show how strong they are and how integrated they are into the boat. And at 250 pounds, that's some pretty good weight going into that compartment - without a problem.
- What do you get for your money? Look at the features and compare. Are they including a standard model locator or an upgrade? The same goes for the trolling motor. Also look at the little things that mean a lot... like a 1000 GPH bilge pump (rather than 500 or 750 - how bad do you want to bail in a storm or emergency?!), six gauge wiring instead of ten or eight (heavier wire means more power goes from the battery to your locator, trolling motor, etc.).
Another thing to consider is the quality and value, which can be seen in the resale value of a boat. Check out an ABOS Blue Book on your favorite brands and see the median value of the one-year old models - especially if it's a model you are considering. These numbers can be really enlightening.
Ranger dealers will be glad to talk to you about the Five Star Advantage: Quality, Safety, Innovation, Performance and Resale Value - which aptly sum up a Ranger. Any other boat or fishing questions?
Jeff Morton is a tournament angler who fishes the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division and the Northland Bass Northern Wisconsin Team Circuit. He is a 2 Time B.A.S.S. Illinois State Championship Qualifier and has won the Northern Illinois Make A Wish Charity Bass Tournament.
Jeff proudly represents Ranger Boats, Bedford Sales, CastAway Graphite Rods, Bill Stasek Chevrolet, Maui Jim Sunglasses and Just Hank's Custom Embroidery and Digitizing.