Bass & Walleye Boats: Top Guns, Part III

Here's an inside look at ten more red-hot fishing machines.

28th January 2002.
By Staff

At Bass & Walleye Boats, our challenge each year is to build the world’s most complete fresh-water fishing-boat Buyer’s Guide. The 2002 Top Guns edition was compiled by phone, fax and e-mail, as writers around the country worked to uncover the very best manufacturers have to offer.

In Part III of this buyers’ guide (for the first two installments of the guide, see “Related Items” at right), you’ll read about fast boats and expensive boats, slow boats and “value-priced” boats. Our data boxes have been refocused to include rigged weight and trailered weight, two important figures to know when towing. Prices listed include an engine, with the boat on a trailer, unless specified otherwise. And we’ll never forget to provide an estimated top speed. Enjoy a tour of the world’s best boats. — The Editors

Marathon

Marathon Europsport 21

Marathon Europsport 21

The 2002 version of Marathon’s popular dual-purpose aluminum fishing boat, the Eurosport 21, maintains the 18-degree deep-V hull design that has made it a favorite among anglers who cross rough water to get to fishing grounds. Combined with a linear deadrise and a built-in 24-inch setback for the outboard, the Eurosport is fast, as well as seaworthy. Rigged with a jackplate and a high-performance outboard with low-water intakes, the boat can approach speeds of 70 mph.
Constructed of welded-plate aluminum, backed-up by four box-stringers and nine stiffening brakes, the Eurosport is a great choice for anglers who frequent rocky bass and walleye waters. The aluminum hull measures a full 3/8-inch thick and is flanked with sides and gunwales that are joint-laminated and surrounded by a reinforced, welded rubrail.

The hull of the 2002 Eurosport is filled with vibration-dampening, soundproofing, flotation foam below decks, while topside is a wide-open cockpit covered with synthetic, nonskid flooring. A wraparound windshield that bridges the consoles breaks in the center to allow access to the raised floor of the bow fishing area. The starboard helm console sports a fully instrumented dash and the cockpit is fitted with welded side trays for storage.

The options list available for the Eurosport is impressive. It includes a custom trailer ($1900) and, for anglers who need maximum durability, the choice of adding 1/16 inch of thickness to the aluminum hull ($950). Marathon does not package its boats with an engine, but add another $9960 for a Yamaha 150 two-stroke. — Dan Armitage

Specifications

Model Name Marathon Eurosport 21
Price (without engine or trailer) $14,276
Estimated Top Speed 62 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 175
Length 21′
Beam 85″
Construction Welded aluminum
Rigged Weight 1,200 pounds
Trailered Weight 1,750 pounds
Fuel Capacity 50 gallons
Livewell Capacity 35 gallons
Load Capacity 6 persons

For More Information

Marathon Marine
Dept. B&WB
7719 44A St., Edmonton, AB
Canada TB6 2R5
(888) 461-8079
marathonmarine.com

MirroCraft

MirroCraft Aggressor EXP 175

MirroCraft Aggressor EXP 175

A huge hit among walleye anglers when the model was introduced last year, the 17-foot side-console Aggressor EXP 1775 from MirroCraft has been refined for 2002 to make it stronger and more durable. The construction highlights include an extra plate on the outside of the transom to beef it up and a twin-hull layout on the boat’s bottom.

The Aggressor’s hull is riveted and built of two layers of 0.125-inch-thick marine-grade aluminum, an asset especially appreciated by walleye fishermen who frequent rocky waters and push through pounding seas to get to the fish.

A semi-V hull and exaggerated bow flare keep the trip dry and comfortable in wind and waves. The Aggressor’s broad beam (89 inches) keeps it stable once the boat is anchored or slowed to trolling speed.

The MirroCraft’s large, twin livewells are complemented by a pair of oversized 40-quart bait-wells, long rod lockers, lots of dry storage space and other standard features that include a tilt-steering wheel, an aluminum floor and three comfortable fishing seats.
Elevated casting decks on the bow and stern offer great accessibility for anglers, yet there’s enough freeboard to keep them feeling safe in rough water. Fully carpeted decks keep things quiet and sure-footed topside. There’s plenty of room on the bow for an electric trolling motor and space on the transom for a kicker, either electric or four-stroke.

Options offered aboard the new Aggressor EXP model include a stereo, hydraulic pedestal seats and a mooring cover. — Dan Armitage

Specifications

Model Name MirroCraft Aggressor EXP 1775
Price (with Mercury 125 hp) $16,250
Estimated Top Speed 46 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 150
Length 17′ 10″
Beam 89″
Construction Riveted aluminum
Rigged Weight 1,50 pounds
Trailered Weight 2,400 pounds
Fuel Capacity 29 gallons
Livewell Capacity 2 at 26 gallons
Load Capacity 6 persons

For More Information

MirroCraft Boats
Dept. B&WB
39 N. Harding Ave.
Gillett, WI 54124
(920) 855-2168
mirrocraft.com

Monark

Monark Pro 754

Monark Pro 754

First-time bassboat buyers take note: Monark continues to offer its Pro 754 bassboat for people looking for an entry-level bassboat that is still fully featured with what you need to fish. This is Monark’s number-one-selling bassboat and it markets strongly in the South and in Missouri.

The Pro 754 was introduced in 1999, but it does have some new features for 2002. Take, for example, the boat’s Quick Plane, modified-V design that the company has incorporated into its 0.100-inch, welded-aluminum hull to get the boat out of the hole faster and to improve cornering, top-end speed and dry ride. Meanwhile, torsion-beam-integrated construction controls the flexing of the hull. Underfoot lies 3/4-inch, seven-ply, pressure-treated flooring, covered with marine-grade carpet.

The boat comes fully packaged with a color-matched, EZ Loader bunk trailer and an engine (a Mercury 40 ELPTO is standard power). There is plenty of space to stow your gear, with a portside rod box, lockers beneath the driver’s and passenger’s seats, and beneath the fore and aft casting decks. A 743-42 trolling motor from MotorGuide, tacho-meter, fuel gauge, rack-and-pinion steering, 12-volt power point, dual bow and aft Rotocast livewells (12 gallons each), and two pedestal seats are also among the standard features of this boat. Optional items include a variety of outboards, a Humminbird Wide 100 fishfinder, mooring cover and a galvanized bunk trailer.

A lifetime warranty guarantees the hull. Meanwhile, a lifetime-limited warranty ensures the longevity of the deck. — Mark Halvorsen

Specifications

Model Name Monark Pro 754
Price (with Mercury 75 ELPTO) $12,496
Estimated Top Speed 36 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 90
Length 17′ 1″
Beam 771/2″
Construction Welded aluminum
Rigged Weight 1,400 pounds
Trailered Weight 2,056 pounds
Fuel Capacity 18 gallons
Livewell Capacity 2 at 14 gallons
Load Capacity: 4 persons

For More Information

Monark Marine
Dept. B&WB
P.O. Box 517
Topeka, IN 46571
(219) 593-2500
monarkmarine.com

Nitro

Nitro NX 896

Nitro NX 896

Nitro bassboats combine high performance with a long list of features and a reasonable price. This company’s Top Gun was given an all new look and reint
roduced in mid-2001; bringing back the performance and ride of the original 896 hull.

The Nitro NX 896 is targeted at bass tournament fishermen and sold mostly in the South and Midwest. The handlaid hull is braced with a fiberglass-stringer assembly and joined to a 2-inch pressure-treated transom. AME resin strengthens the decks without adding weight. The front deck includes a storage compartment flanked by two rod lockers. Storage compartments are also built-in on both sides of the livewell behind the bench seat. Compartments are covered with weight saving, insulated, aluminum lids. The insulated 33-gallon livewell has two aeration and recirculation pumps with timers and remote drain control.

Standard equipment includes: dual rack-and-pinion steering; Humminbird Pro 160 SX sounder; MotorGuide 12/24V foot-controlled trolling motor with 67 pounds of thrust; single or dual (add about $300 and 32 pounds for dual) consoles with smoke-tinted Plexiglas windshields; custom dash with pewter accents; speedometer, tacho-meter, voltmeter, fuel, trim and water-pressure gauges; Guest two-bank battery charger and a color-keyed, factory-matched, drive-on trailer with single axle, deluxe step pads, chrome wheels, folding tongue jack, outboard motor support, tie-downs and swing-away tongue.

Options include custom colors ($495), electronics upgrades and OptiMax engines with 150 or 200 horsepower. — Allan Tarvid

Specifications

Model Name Nitro NX 896
Price (with Mercury 200 XR6) $21,995
Estimated Top Speed 70 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 200
Length 19′ 6″
Beam 92″
Construction Fiberglass
Rigged Weight 2,346 pounds
Trailered Weight 2,971 pounds
Fuel Capacity 50 gallons
Livewell Capacity 33 gallons
Load Capacity 6 persons

For More Information

Nitro Boats
Dept. B&WB
2500 E. Kearney
Springfield, MO 65803
(417) 873-5900
nitroboats.com

Norris Craft

Norris Craft didn’t change its popular 2000 FXLD Vee for 2002; a testament to its fishability and performance. Introduced in 1997, the 2000 FXLD is for anglers who want a fast hull with all the amenities.

The FXLD Vee uses a time-tested, 20-foot pad-V hull built the old-fashioned way — from encapsulated wood and fiberglass with composite reinforcement materials. We tested this hull in B&WB’s July/August 2001 issue and found it to be a solid 80-plus mph performer with a 225 Pro Max. It’s real appeal, however, was its miserly way with fuel. It achieved almost 6 mpg in cruise range. Top speed handling was smooth and clean, with just a slight tendency to chinewalk; which is easily kept in check with practice and careful use of the trim and jackplate.

Detail fans will love the FXLD for its pain-staking attention to the little things; all the livewell lids are rimmed with aluminum carpet trim, cut and fit to perfection. The livewells and seatbacks are custom-gelcoated to match the boat’s exterior. Anodized gauge bezels adorn the dash, and the rigging is as immaculate as it can get. Other features include a hydraulic Detwiler jackplate, TeleFlex SeaStar Pro hydraulic steering with Pro Trim controls, Lowrance fishfinders in the bow and driver’s console, and more. Color choices combine tasteful solid gelcoat hues with metal flake to arrive at a striking scheme that shines with high gloss.

The 48-year-old Norris Craft produces only 70 boats per year. Nevertheless, a Norris Craft boat isn’t inexpensive, and could be an excellent fishing investment that will pay returns for many years. — John Tiger, Jr.

Specifications

Model Name Norris Craft 2000 FXLD Vee
Price (with Mercury 225 Pro Max) $34,900
Estimated Top Speed 83 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 300
Length 20′ 5″
Beam 94″
Construction Fiberglass
Rigged Weight 2,100 pounds
Trailered Weight 3,120 pounds
Fuel Capacity 32 gallons
Livewell Capacity 45 gallons
Load Capacity 5 persons

For More Information

Norris Craft
Dept. B&WB
P.O. Box 209
LaFollette, TN 37766
(423) 562-7629
norriscraftboats.com

Patriot

Patriot’s 2050 Dual Console fishing boat is built upon a deep-V hull, similar to hull designs of offshore powerboats, with three lifting strakes per side and a concave chine. However, the 2050 DC has a user-friendly walleye-fishing interior with 25 inches of freeboard in the main cockpit area and 41/2-foot-long rod rails on each of the gunwales, which makes for an appropriately designed Great Lakes fishing package.

The boat has a 5-gallon baitwell and a 5-gallon cooler in the bow casting-deck, along with four stowage boxes. More storage is available under the driver’s console, and in the stern of the boat there is a 45-gallon livewell. Between the tall driver’s and passenger’s consoles is a large rod-stowage locker with room for 12 rods up to 81/2 feet long.

The lamination schedule of the Patriot 2050 DC includes between three (hull sides) and six layers (bottom and transom) of 24-ounce-roving fiberglass, which results in 5/8 to 1 inch of solid fiberglass. No wood is used in construction and the lay-in carpet is easily removed for cleaning up at the dock.

All wiring harnesses, control cables and hydraulic-steering hoses run into an extremely organized system of plastic piping that is secured with fiberglass to the inside of the deck. This arrangement makes it easy to install aftermarket equipment and to perform necessary preventive maintenance and repairs.

The Patriot 2050 DC is built in Lancaster, Ontario, Canada, and is distributed by Jim Devenport of J.R. Fishing Source in Wisconsin. — Doug Thompson

Specifications

Model Name Patriot 2050 DC
Price (with Mercury 225) $31,900
Estimated Top Speed 69 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 225
Length 20′ 6″
Beam 88″
Construction Fiberglass
Rigged Weight 2,150 pounds
Trailered Weight 3,150 pounds
Fuel Capacity 64 gallons
Livewell Capacity 45 gallons
Load Capacity: 6 persons

For More Information

Patriot Boats
Dept. B&WB
3640 Cedar Creek Court
Jackson, WI 53057
(262) 677-8903
jrfishingsource.com

Princecraft

New for 2002, the side-console Super Pro 188 DLX has a lot for anglers to like, including plenty of open deck space, storage and fishing features. The new Super Pro comes complete with a Lowrance X-49 sonar, raised casting platforms fore and aft, a built-in tackle box, two large combination livewell/baitwells with timers for aeration and circulation and buckets for bait, lockable storage for rods up to 7 feet long and six seat base locations for the three high-back fishing chairs, which are all standard.

The hull is built of 0.100-inch-thick aluminum, with sides 0.072-inch thick, coated in a high-gloss paint. The boat’s 94-inch beam offers stability, as well as space for fishing, while the advanced reverse-chine-hull shape allows the boat to handle extremely well in a variety of water conditions. The Super Pro’s side console comes complete with full instrumentation, including tachometer, speedometer, voltmeter, trim and fuel gauges, and a panel to the right of the dash offers plenty of space for electronics. No-feedback, dual-cable steering is standard, as is a quick-release smoke windshield and interior lighting.

The bow-fishing platform features no fewer than five storage compartments — all with carpeted aluminum lids — for a deep-cycle battery, the anchor and fishing tackle, as well as a cargo net topside for quick access to items such as planerboards and bottom bouncers.

Options offered with the new Super Pro 188 DLX model include a 15 hp Mercury kicker motor, 24V bow-mount trolling motor and downrigger mounting plates. — Dan Armitage

Specifications

Model Name Princecraft Super Pro 188 DLX
Price (with Mercury 150 hp) $28,639
Estimated Top Speed 53 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 150
Length 18′ 4″
Beam 94″
Construction Riveted aluminum
Rigged Weight 1,169 pounds
Trailered Weight 1,970 pounds
Fuel Capacity 35 gallons
Livewell Capacity 69 gallons
Load Capacity 6 persons

For More information

Princecraft U.S.
Dept. B&WB.
703 N. Huntington St., Suite 102.
Syracuse, IN 46567.
(877) 777-4623.
princecraft.com

ProCraft

ProCraft’s Top Gun entry for 2002 is designed to appeal to a wide range of serious bass fishermen. The Pro 185 SC (single console) comes standard with a 115 hp engine that keeps the sticker price and fuel consumption more affordable. The 115 is great for general fishing or club tournaments and ordering one of the optional engines up to 175 hp makes the boat competitive in regional and national events. Fish wait for weigh-in in two 14-gallon livewells with low-heat-transfer lids. Livewell management includes a Max Air Induction system and pump timers for aeration and recirculation. The boat sells best in the South and Midwest where bass is king.

The Pro 185 has been around for about five years, but improvements keep it young. Its handlaid hull is now strengthened with AME resin and braced with fiberglass stringers that combine to make it more durable than ever. ProCraft backs the boat with a 10-year ProGuard limited structural warranty.

Standard equipment includes: dual anti-feedback steering; marine-grade 20-ounce carpet; Zercom in-dash sonar with surface temperature readout; 12/24-volt MotorGuide trolling motor with 60 pounds of thrust; smoke-tinted windshield; speedometer, tachometer, voltmeter, fuel, trim and water-pressure gauges; recessed cleats and a factory-matched custom trailer with 14-inch tires on chrome wheels.

Options include a rod organizer, MotorGuide or Dual Pro onboard charger, hydraulic steering and foot throttle with Pro Trim. Trailering options include surge brakes, a swing-away tongue and a galvanized trailer with galvanized wheels. — Allan Tarvid

Specifications

Model Name ProCraft Pro 185 SC
Price (with 175 hp engine) $19,995
Estimated Top Speed 66 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 175
Length 18′ 2″
Beam 88″
Construction Fiberglass
Rigged Weight 2,175 pounds
Trailered Weight 3,295 pounds
Fuel Capacity 38 gallons
Livewell Capacity 2 at 14 gallons each
Load Capacity: 5 persons

For More Information

ProCraft Boats
Dept. B&WB
2500 E. Kearney
Springfield, MO 65803
(888) 776-5520
procraftboats.com

Ranger

Pictured above is the Ranger 520DVX Limited Series. Starting from left, photos of all models in this buyers' guide run in alphabetical order.

Pictured above is the Ranger 520DVX Limited Series. Starting from left, photos of all models in this buyers' guide run in alphabetical order.

Ranger’s 520DVX Comanche Limited Series comes out of the factory fully loaded for 2002, with a host of standard features. For example, standard electronics on the 520DVX includes two Garmin 240 depthfinders, two Everstart Deep Cycle trolling batteries, a Minn Kota Maxx 74 trolling motor and a three-bank onboard charger. Well-placed courtesy lights, as well as lighted compartments, are other much-appreciated features.

Most buyers will rig the boat with a Mercury or Yamaha 225 hp engine, and SeaStar Pro hydraulic steering keeps the big powerplant in control. Ranger integrates 15 inches of setback into the hull, which helps holeshot and cuts down on backwash after a quick stop.
At the helm, a cutting-edge digital-switching system replaces individual rocker switches. The digital network reduces the number of wire connections and performs better than rocker switches, according to Ranger.

On the front casting deck, rod storage is on both sides. Each rod locker features oversized openings, locking latches and air shocks to lift and hold the lids open while storing and retrieving rods. On the rear casting deck, the recirculating 25-gallon livewell (located in the center, just behind the middle passenger’s seat) has a removable divider and filter screens, and runs on an automatic timer. The insulated live-well is lined with gelcoat, and utilizes a unique aeration system. This below-water oxygen injection process maximizes efficiency and includes the additional security of two pumps aerating the livewell. — Doug Thompson

Specifications

Model Name Ranger 520DVX Limited Series
Price (with Yamaha 225) $38,150
Estimated Top Speed 70 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 225
Length 20′ 9″
Beam 921/2″
Construction Fiberglass
Rigged Weight 2,612 pounds
Trailered Weight 3,862 pounds
Fuel Capacity 58 gallons
Livewell Capactiy 21 gallons
Load Capacity: 5 persons

For More Information

Ranger Boats
Dept. B&WB
P.O. Box 179
Flippin, AR 72634
(800) 373-BOAT
rangerboats.com

Ray Craft

This East Texas boatbuilder’s Top Gun remains the V190 Pro. Introduced in 1995, this solid boat with classic styling remains popular with guides on two legendary bass factories, Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend Reservoir. Beyond the piney woods, it’s also the choice of serious bass anglers in the rest of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The boat can be tricked out with a 200 hp engine and jackplate to run with the high-performance pack, but it also performs well with less power, endearing it to guides and other budget-conscious fishermen.

Storage is abundant under the front and rear casting decks and below the bench seat. Two large, front-hinged hatches cover the bilge area. You can kneel on one while opening the other and access batteries, pumps and oil tanks without getting near the edge of the boat or hanging over an open hatch lid. The forward deck is roomy enough for two stand-up fishermen and the divided livewell easily supports tournament catches for both.

The hull has a reputation as a stump-resistant, stable fishing platform that’s easy to move with a trolling motor and tough enough to slam through rough water when it has to. Standard equipment includes: Teleflex no-feedback steering, two removable pedestals, dual-cable steering; carpeted storage compartments; gas-cylinder supports for compartment lids; custom bench seat; driver and passenger hand rails; single-axle custom trailer and a 5-year limited warranty.

Options include dealer-installed electronics, built-in battery charger, foot throttle and a dual-axle trailer with brakes. — Allan Tarvid

Specifications

Model Name Ray-Craft V190 Pro
Price (with 200hp Yamaha) $18,995
Estimated Top Speed 70 mph
Maximum Horsepower Rating 200
Length 19′
Beam 92″
Construction Fiberglass
Rigged Weight 1,981 pounds
Trailered Weight 3,121 pounds
Fuel Capacity 44 gallons
Livewell Capacity 27 gallons
Load Capacity 5 persons

For More Information

Ray-Craft Boats
Dept. B&WB
P.O. Drawer 596
San Augustine, TX 75972
(936) 275-3456
raycraftboats.com


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