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First time buying a bass boat ( aluminum or fiberglass)


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As the title says. I’ve looked and done research for nearly 6 months. This will be my first boat other than a 1980s John boat with a 9.9 on the back. 
 

I really like the ranger 188p, but I’m not sure how it will handle lakes like okeechobee. 
 

Im either buying a nice aluminum boat and upgrading the trolling motor/adding power poles or buying something like a nitro17/ triton 18tx and keeping it pretty basic as it comes 

 

Lakes I will mostly be spending my time at are Lake Harris, Lake Okeechobee, St. John’s river, Lake pan so I’m not really sure how an 18ft aluminum boat will do. Any tips? 

 

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Watch this before buying anything:

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jmay1002 said:

As the title says. I’ve looked and done research for nearly 6 months. This will be my first boat other than a 1980s John boat with a 9.9 on the back. 
 

I really like the ranger 188p, but I’m not sure how it will handle lakes like okeechobee. 
 

Im either buying a nice aluminum boat and upgrading the trolling motor/adding power poles or buying something like a nitro17/ triton 18tx and keeping it pretty basic as it comes 

 

Lakes I will mostly be spending my time at are Lake Harris, Lake Okeechobee, St. John’s river, Lake pan so I’m not really sure how an 18ft aluminum boat will do. Any tips? 

 

I fished Okeechobee and numerous other Florida lakes most of my life.  I currently own a Ranger RT178. My house is a block from the City of Eustis boat ramp.  Okeechobee is a different animal.  There isn't a bass boat made that will allow you to fish Okeechobee comfortably 365 days a year.  Back when I was tournament fishing, I had a custom 22' Storm built just for that purpose.  Running 40 miles across Lake Okeechobee on a windy day will shake your bones.   I tore up a brand new bass boat in an Okeechobee tournament in the 70s.  Lucky for me, the boat was a sponsors. The good news is you probably won't be fishing in that weather.

 

In the last 50 years, I have fished out of just about every bass boat made.  Gamblers, Rangers, Hydrosports, Skeeters, you name it.  Aluminum boats make a lot of sense in today's fishing.  They are cheaper to buy, tow and maintain.  They are lighter and easier to load and unload.  They generally aren't as fast, but they are fast enough for me. I am very pleased with my Ranger.   It runs near 40 mph with a Merc 75 4 stroke and it hardly uses any fuel.  It rides much better than many of the other aluminum bass boats.  The quality is far superior as well.  Would I take it across Lake Okeechobee on a windy day?  Hell No!  Would I take it across the Harris Chain on the same day?    Yes, because I could run the shoreline.   The floor in my RT178 doesn't flex in rough weather like some of the cheaper aluminum boats. If you are used to fishing in a Jon boat, I believe you will be pleased as well. If you have any specific questions, I will be happy to answer them. 

 

 

Boat-1.jpg

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@Captain Phil is the voice of experience.  Listen.  I have fished Okeechobee and Harris Chain, and the St Johns river in a 20 foot glass boat.  All of them will at some time or another overpower what your boat can handle.  Driving skill aside, It will just be a little sooner with the tin rigs you are looking at. 

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Take a look at XPress aluminum bass boats, very well made.

Tom 

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What’s your budget?  That’s the real kicker.  I have a 99 BassCat and its a great boat.  If I had it in the budget, this is what I would look at.

 

#1 Lund Pro V Bass.  My personal opinion is that its the best overall design on the market.

 

#2 2024 Vexus AVX1980.  New hull design and its a lot like the Lund now.

 

#3 BassCat.  Whichever design I liked the best.  Right now, I really like the Bobcat, but its only 17.5 feet.

 

#4 Avid.  Don’t know if they will change their hull design to match Vexus, but it is a good boat.

 

#5 Put a Suzuki on it.

 

It really depends on lots of factors.  Budget, fishing style, Fish alone or with someone, etc….  If you’re going used, besides doing your own research, work with a reputable dealer.

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38 minutes ago, Obi_Wan said:

What’s your budget?  That’s the real kicker.  I have a 99 BassCat and its a great boat.  If I had it in the budget, this is what I would look at.

 

#1 Lund Pro V Bass.  My personal opinion is that its the best overall design on the market.

 

#2 2024 Vexus AVX1980.  New hull design and its a lot like the Lund now.

 

#3 BassCat.  Whichever design I liked the best.  Right now, I really like the Bobcat, but its only 17.5 feet.

 

#4 Avid.  Don’t know if they will change their hull design to match Vexus, but it is a good boat.

 

#5 Put a Suzuki on it.

 

It really depends on lots of factors.  Budget, fishing style, Fish alone or with someone, etc….  If you’re going used, besides doing your own research, work with a reputable dealer.

Wasn’t really wanting to spend more than 45k, that’s why the ranger 188p is what I was thinking. They’re around 34k, and I can do certain upgrades to it to keep it around that 45 mark. Just wasn’t sure how well it would do in the lakes I fish. 

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11 hours ago, Captain Phil said:

 

I fished Okeechobee and numerous other Florida lakes most of my life.  I currently own a Ranger RT178. My house is a block from the City of Eustis boat ramp.  Okeechobee is a different animal.  There isn't a bass boat made that will allow you to fish Okeechobee comfortably 365 days a year.  Back when I was tournament fishing, I had a custom 22' Storm built just for that purpose.  Running 40 miles across Lake Okeechobee on a windy day will shake your bones.   I tore up a brand new bass boat in an Okeechobee tournament in the 70s.  Lucky for me, the boat was a sponsors. The good news is you probably won't be fishing in that weather.

 

In the last 50 years, I have fished out of just about every bass boat made.  Gamblers, Rangers, Hydrosports, Skeeters, you name it.  Aluminum boats make a lot of sense in today's fishing.  They are cheaper to buy, tow and maintain.  They are lighter and easier to load and unload.  They generally aren't as fast, but they are fast enough for me. I am very pleased with my Ranger.   It runs near 40 mph with a Merc 75 4 stroke and it hardly uses any fuel.  It rides much better than many of the other aluminum bass boats.  The quality is far superior as well.  Would I take it across Lake Okeechobee on a windy day?  Hell No!  Would I take it across the Harris Chain on the same day?    Yes, because I could run the shoreline.   The floor in my RT178 doesn't flex in rough weather like some of the cheaper aluminum boats. If you are used to fishing in a Jon boat, I believe you will be pleased as well. If you have any specific questions, I will be happy to answer them. 

 

 

Boat-1.jpg

I appreciate the insight. I really like the ranger 178rt, but was wanting something slightly bigger. In eustis I have an aunt who lives on east crooked lake. I was just there fishing it today in my small John boat. It’s a great lake to fish! 

seems like I’ll be purchasing the 188p, and you’ve giving me a lot of insight. Thanks! 

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On 12/3/2023 at 11:14 PM, Jmay1002 said:

I appreciate the insight. I really like the ranger 178rt, but was wanting something slightly bigger. In eustis I have an aunt who lives on east crooked lake. I was just there fishing it today in my small John boat. It’s a great lake to fish! 

seems like I’ll be purchasing the 188p, and you’ve giving me a lot of insight. Thanks! 

 

I envy you!  East Crooked Lake is full of monster bass.  It's a private lake, so you are very lucky to be able to fish it.  I friend of mine lived on that lake for years.  I watched him feed the fish under his dock.   His blue gills were over a pound each.  Every now and then one of them would get picked off by a bass looking to be a yard long.  Amazing!

 

I paid $27,000 for my Ranger RT178 during Covid.  It was rigged as you see in my photo with a 24 volt Minn Kota, triple charger, 75 Merc, Ranger Trailer, two Lowrance GPS Sonar fish finders and an extra butt seat.  The dealer also threw in an 8 year factory warranty on the motor.  My boat fishes two guys comfortably.  I will sell it if you are interested.  $45K is too much to pay for an aluminum bass boat.  

 

If you have your heart set on a big bass boat, you are not going to be happy until you get what you want and you will be looking to trade up before it's time.  Most people finance their boats.  Buy a boat you will be happy with long term and keep it ten years.  The difference in the payment is less than the gas. 

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10 hours ago, Jmay1002 said:

Wasn’t really wanting to spend more than 45k, that’s why the ranger 188p is what I was thinking. They’re around 34k, and I can do certain upgrades to it to keep it around that 45 mark. Just wasn’t sure how well it would do in the lakes I fish. 

The nice thing about that model is that it has a pad hull (which is what the P stands for), so it should ride better in chop than the standard mod-v hulls of the other ranger RT series boats.  I don't personally know anyone who has this model but I wouldn't hesitate to buy it myself.  I have a 2016 Ranger RT178 and I will say that the mod-v hull is not very good in rougher water.  Luckily, I don't spend much time in that kind of chop either.

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1 hour ago, gimruis said:

I have a 2016 Ranger RT178 and I will say that the mod-v hull is not very good in rougher water.  Luckily, I don't spend much time in that kind of chop either.

 

You have to ask yourself "Are you going to fish when the weather is that bad?"   Big bass boats are made for fishing big water in whatever conditions exist at the time.   My 22' Storm was a useful tool when fishing Lake Okeechobee.  It was like fishing off an aircraft carrier in a canal.  Weight and fuel costs are also more.  Are you willing to buy a $50,000 tow vehicle to tow your boat and pay $100 or more each weekend in fuel just so you can go fishing?   By the time you get done, those bass could cost you $500-$1000 each assuming you catch any?  😅

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1 hour ago, Captain Phil said:

You have to ask yourself "Are you going to fish when the weather is that bad?" 

My answer and current situation is a definite no on that.  I fish 2 "big" lakes about 3 times/year each one and I definitely pay attention to the wind direction/speed before venturing on to those specific bodies of water.  For 90% of the lakes I am fishing, the RT178 does what I bought it for.

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Xpress H18 

Length: 17' 10"

Bottom: 67"

Beam: 93"

w/ Yamaha VF115LA

Depth finders & trolling motor 

$30,395

 

Xpress H17

Length: 17'

Bottom: 67"

Beam: 93"

w/Yamaha VF90LA

Depth finders & trolling motor 

$29,995

 

Both have a Hyper-Lift hull & handle rough water very well.

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XPress uses .125 thick aluminum, the Pro series offers lots of upgrades.

Tom

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A good friend of mine had a Ranger Rt188 for 10 years or so.  He loved it.  He sold it and bought a

Vexus 1980.  (a year ago, older model)  He loves it too.  He wanted a bigger boat and won't say a thing bad about the Ranger.   There's a BUNCH of good boats being made these days.   Some manufacturers has MAP pricing.  The price you pay may be less than the price you see.   

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4 hours ago, Susky River Rat said:

Tell that to us river guys who spend that on John boats for the river. 

we all know river guys are a completely different breed of fishermen.....at least i know i am and all the people I know who are river rats are....

 

what is more amazing is how much they spend and how little the stress about beating up their boats.  They are a tool to get to the fish we want to catch and they are going to get beat up in the process.

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On 12/4/2023 at 6:28 AM, Captain Phil said:

 

I envy you!  East Crooked Lake is full of monster bass.  It's a private lake, so you are very lucky to be able to fish it.  I friend of mine lived on that lake for years.  I watched him feed the fish under his dock.   His blue gills were over a pound each.  Every now and then one of them would get picked off by a bass looking to be a yard long.  Amazing!

 

I paid $27,000 for my Ranger RT178 during Covid.  It was rigged as you see in my photo with a 24 volt Minn Kota, triple charger, 75 Merc, Ranger Trailer, two Lowrance GPS Sonar fish finders and an extra butt seat.  The dealer also threw in an 8 year factory warranty on the motor.  My boat fishes two guys comfortably.  I will sell it if you are interested.  $45K is too much to pay for an aluminum bass boat.  

 

If you have your heart set on a big bass boat, you are not going to be happy until you get what you want and you will be looking to trade up before it's time.  Most people finance their boats.  Buy a boat you will be happy with long term and keep it ten years.  The difference in the payment is less than the gas. 

I appreciate it. You have a great boat! I was just looking at the 188 cause it’s a bit bigger than the 178, and a 115hp merc also. I’m not really wanting a bigger boat than that, even if I were to get a fiberglass it would only be an 18 foot as that’s all I can afford. My credit isn’t the best so financing is out of the question for now, as I’ve bought a newer truck earlier this year and my credit took a big hit. 
 

13 hours ago, Bird said:

Check out Lowe as well, love mine.IMG_20230207_175606.jpg.5d5310d51e8691578be0870c24e6bc43.jpg

Lowe has a good boat too but they’re more expensive than ranger. I was looking at all the aluminum boats and it seemed either vexus or ranger had the best prices for what you’d be getting. 
 

That’s a beautiful boat. 

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Okay you have chosen a boat.  Keep in mind most of them come with small sonar units and lower powered trolling motors and low amp chargers.  In many cases you can get upgrades a lot more reasonable at purchase or order than you can later on.

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17 minutes ago, Jig Man said:

Okay you have chosen a boat.  Keep in mind most of them come with small sonar units and lower powered trolling motors and low amp chargers.  In many cases you can get upgrades a lot more reasonable at purchase or order than you can later on.

Yes sir, not worried about ffs and stuff. I would rather use the money to be put towards spot lock or even power poles. 

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I wasn’t referring to ffs.  I was referring to quality units with decent sized screens.

 

On the power poles idea.  Give that some serious thought before you sink that kind of money.  I put them on my last boat and used them very seldom because my boat is normally deeper than they will reach.  I lost $1500 on that little experiment.  Now spot lock is a different story.  I use it several times a day.  Spot lock jog is one very great feature also.

 

 I can tell you that I fish 4 lakes and normally go twice each week.  With the hundreds and hundreds of boats that I see with “electric anchors “ I have never seen a boat with them deployed.

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