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Help picking boat length...

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I'm considering buying my first bass boat... eventually... It will be something used.

 

I haven't done a lot of fishing from bass boats.  I've only been on a couple of 16.5 ft boats in recent years. My neighbor has one, and we used it a lot last summer. That started the itch for me.

 

I have two boys - 5 and 3.  

 

I want a boat that we can all grow into together.  From my experience, fishing three out of a 16 and a half foot boat just isn't much fun.

 

Storage is not really an issue, so it doesn't matter to me if storage length is 18 ft or 26 ft.

 

Other than fishing space, deck space, and compartments/storage... What are some trade-offs of a 17-19ft vs a 20-21ft?  I've heard some people complain about the maneuverability of larger boats in the water.

 

The majority of the time I will be using this boat on Old Hickory Lake. That lake has a lot of trash that floats around, so running 70 miles an hour down it, is not something I'm just itching to do.  Sure, a nice 250 would be fun, but I'm not convinced I need anything that big. I realize that shorter boats will have smaller motors.

 

My gut is telling me that I would not regret buying a bigger boat. I'm just wondering if anyone has any reason to argue against that.

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Usually the longer the wider. More storage room and stability. But it also means heavier. Bigger motor to push it and a bigger vehicle to tow it. More $$$$ to operate and maintain it.

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Towing won't be an issue. I'm just curious if there are any "on water" reasons people don't like the larger boats. 

 

I'm pretty picky about how things are arranged and think I would really appreciate having the extra storage space of a larger boat. 

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Launching & recovering a boat solo can be a little tricky depending on where & when one does it. 

If that's something you'll be doing routinely, there may be a happy medium regarding size that could come into play - especially until you gain some experience.  So bigger may not be better right there.

All things considered, one may be able to apply many of the same considerations when picking a boat and it's size as one might for a vehicle.

Needs to fit who'll be riding in it.  Larger ones often offer a 'better ride'.  Larger ones certainly have more storage.

New ones often don't have the challenges that used ones have.  New ones come with warranties - some used do not.  Large ones cost more all the way around.  Large ones are less forgiving in tight quarters but are better for 'long rides'. 

Good Luck

:smiley:

A-Jay

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Here is my advice and I learned it during 40 + years and have owned 11 bass boats, canoes, and jon boats. Size is best determined by the waters you intend to fish and personal preference. I live in MD, so the boat I needed to safely fish an electric only reservoir is very different than the boat I use to fish the big waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna River and the Potomac River.  I also travel and have boated on Old Hickory and regularly come out there to fish on Dale Hollow and Center Hill. I am in love with your area. I intend tpo retire somewhere near Cookeville.

Here is the boat I currently use. It is a wide bodied aluminum Lowe Bass boat powered by a 75 Merc. It has all the same goodies my 20 foot ProCraft had on it. By the way, I test ran that ProCraft on Old Hickory back in the 90's.

I spent the day touring ProCraft's factory, then the customer rep took my wife and I out for the boat test.  HPIM0400.JPG.885d8717318a746eb51641c3b6cee2d9.JPGHPIM0300.JPG.50fee754d6795390c9830a291dab9ac9.JPGDSCN0017.thumb.JPG.68abd741e3c29adb0f6892b99954f650.JPGThat last picture is the same boat after it was repowered. That was done to safely fish the bigger tidal water. That is a 171/2 foot rig. It is wide enough to be very stable BUT it would not be a good choice for real estate when fishing 3 anglers. 

I would make a couple of decisions first. What  is my budget and do I intend to go with a big aluminum or with a wider fiberglass. If this was my choice I would go with a boat somewhere near 19 foot.  Let's assume for the minute you are looking for a new rig and can afford it. Please take a couple of rod trips for research purposes.

First you have a Bass Cat dealer in Old Hickory TN, just north and west of Nashville. It is called Riverside. Go sit in a Panterra II. It is one of their best selling models. It is 19'1" and of the older narrower body styles.  There is a Triton dealer in Cookeville. Go take a look a Triton 189 TRX and the 19 TRX. The 189 TRX will be 18'8" inches and will feel like an aircraft carrier because of the wide bodied hull.  Next on your little trip would be a stop in  Livingston Tn at Sportsman Center. Bob is a great guy (the owner) and he carries Phoenix Boats. Go sit in a 618 and some of their 19 foot models. Lastly, go to Bunch Marine in Harriman TN. They stock lots of Rangers, Tritons, Nitros, and  Trackers.  They carry those brands in both fiberglass and aluminum. In addition, I would look for dealers that carry Xpress and Chrestliner boats.  Xpress is probably the top of the line aluminum bass boat as far as that goes. 

Now if you are going to purchase a used boat all of this research will cement in your mind what you prefer and what used models to look for.  Many good used boats show up at these same dealers. 

A 20 to 21 footer with a 225 or 250 will be a lot more expensive to operate than a 18'9"-19'6" with a 150 to 200.

Since you live where you live I highly recommend you spend some time fishing Center Hill Lake as well.  When you get a boat let's talk fishing in your neck of the woods for sure. Yo are blessed where you live and the waters you have to fish.

 

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If I had kids 5 and 3 I would be considering a deep V instead of a bass boat.  It would be a lot safer with that age kids.

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5 minutes ago, Jig Man said:

If I had kids 5 and 3 I would be considering a deep V instead of a bass boat.  It would be a lot safer with that age kids.

 

Completely agree. 

 

 

I made the mistake of buying a bass boat. I had always fished 2 people in my boat but the year I bought my bass boat I started fishing 3 proper all the time. A bass boat sucks fishing 2 up front and one in the back. I don’t like being crowded up front. I used to have a Crestliner Fishhawk and it was a much better boat for multiple people. You lose a lot of feet of a bass boat by the way you sit so a 19’ foot bass boat is really like a 17’ foot boat. 

 

And with 2 kids that age a deeper boat is better so kids don’t fall out. 

 

In this kind of boat a kid can sit in a chair and have their pole over the wall. Most kids get tired and don’t want to stand all the time too. 

 

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I appreciate the information and replies.  I'm sure everyone gets tired of newbies asking the same questions over and over....

 

I would say my time will break down like this:

 

40% by myself

30% with a buddy either casually fishing, or fishing "unofficial" tournaments in the evenings

30% with the kids/wife

 

A new fiberglass boat is not in my budget, unless I keep saving.  I'd rather spend less and get on the water sooner than wait another 3 years.  

 

I glanced at a a Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW in Bass Pro the other day.  At $26,845 + tax (with a 150), it's still more than I want to pay... but I did really like the size of it!  It seemed like it had a lot of space.  

 

I haven't really considered aluminum boats, but it sounds like maybe I should.  If they're safer for the kids (and I can see why), that'll be a positive selling point with my wife.  :)

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Another item to consider is the style of fishing that you generally do.  Bass fishing is almost exclusively casting and most would agree that a traditional style bass boat is ideal for it.  However, if you do any trolling or back trolling or drifting, etc than a deep v style boat is generally suited better for that.  You're probably not going to find something that meets 100% of your needs all the time.  If 70% of the time you'll be fishing either by yourself or with just a buddy, pick one that will fit that mold and do what you can with the other 30% of the time that's with the wife/kids.  70% > 30%

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Here is a bit of a compromise boat that might work for you.

https://nashville.craigslist.org/boa/d/1994-lund-16-ft-aluminum/6524005997.html

 

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Here is a much nicer version of this type of V hull. It is a 2015 Alumacraft Escape 165 (a 17 footer).  Thy want $11,000 and it comes with a Yamaha 25 horse engine. It is located in White Bluff TN.  With a boat like this you add a fourth seat down in the floor. When you are riding around all 3 are sitting in the cockpit. When you fish, someone fishes from the front seat, one in the middle and one from the rear. Here is the listing and a few pics.

6599971_20180201075314177_1_LARGE.jpg?t=

 

6599971_20180201075316228_1_LARGE.jpg?t=

 

6599971_20180201075317088_1_LARGE.jpg?t=1265101

 

http://www.boattrader.com/listing/2014-alumacraft-escape-165-cs-103238474?refSource=standard listing

 

Here is a youtube video on the same model boat.

 

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Another suggestion is stop in Bass Pro ans sit in a Tracker Pro Guide V-16SC  When you run all persons sit in the cockpit. When you fish one angler runs up front, on angler moves their seat to the back deck, or add another seat. A brand new one runs roughly $17,650 new.  Just a thought. The kids will enjoy running into Bass Pro anyway.

Pro-Guide-V-16-SC_img170894_700.jpg

 

 

 

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For the "family" time is it going to be used to pull tubes or skiers?  My first concern is always safety so if I'm 10 miles from the ramp and a storm is moving in, I want to be able to get back asap.  

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I fished for seven years out of a 17 foot tracker TX17 (Bass boat style).  It was fine for two, doable for three but cramped.  I recently bought what I believe will be my last boat and fishing three at a time as well as storage played a big role in the decision.  In the end I bought the Tracker PT 190 and I'm glad did.  Like you the 195 was a bit more than I was willing to spend.  With the 190 I gave up no length and only 7" in width compared to the 195. 

 

With you son's being the ages they are, those who suggested that you get a deep V have very valid points concerning the safety of your children.  A traditional bass boat style does not provide much "man overboard" protection for the tykes.  Perhaps you could by a used deep V for use until they grow some.  Then if you still desire a bass boat style, make the switch. Fishncamp's suggestion on the Tracker pro guide V16 seems spot on.

 

 

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Having owned several glass bass boats the 19' single console was my favorite length. Long enough for up to 225 hp w/Jack plate, good rod locker length, wide enough to be stable in rough water, doesn't require a tandem axial trailer, enough deck space for 2 tournament anglers or 3 anglers fun fishing. 20-22' bass boats are more smoother ride in big 3'-4' waves, more storage room and with a jack plate a little difficult to maneuver in tight areas like coves or around docks. 

Tom

PS, kids are safe in bass boats if you are a safe boater... all of you wear PFD’s.

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