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2017 Best Aluminum Bass Boats, Southern Edition

2017 Best Aluminum Bass Boats, Southern Edition

Aluminum Bass Boats ReviewAluminum bass boats reached a pinnacle in 2016 when John Cox won the FLW Forrest Wood Cup in a metal ride. That was the first time anyone had attained that level of tournament victory in what used to be called a tin boat. Are we seeing a new era of innovation and utility from the latest aluminum boats? We found these three new models stable, fast and designed with the tournament angler in mind. You may not be in contention for the 2017 FLW Cup, but these boats will give all bass anglers features and a price tag to enjoy their days on the water. -- John Geiger, Senior Editor

Aluminum Bass Boats Crestliner

Ever since Crestliner debuted the PT 20 at last year's Bassmaster Classic, it's proven itself tournament-worthy, appearing regularly in the highest levels of competitive bass fishing. Our test boat came with a 200-horsepower Mercury Optimax engine, which matched the maximum HP rating of the hull, a MotorGuide X5 80-lb. 24-volt bow-mounted trolling motor, and space for 9-inch flush-mounted electronics and windscreen on the single starboard console. The bow also has space for a 7-inch flush-mounted unit. With an MSRP of just $31,995 for boat, motor and trailer, we found the PT 20 is a true tournament-grade performer at a weekend angler's price. -- Kristen Monroe

FISHABILITY


At 20 feet, 5 inches with a 8-foot beam, this is a big bass rig. It has lockable compartments for up to 22 rods. The center rod compartment alone holds 10 rods up to 8 feet, 6 inches in length with more storage space along the sides. The PT 20's 45-gallon livewell is tournament-grade — aerated and fully insulated with dual lids, divider, timer, recirculating system with pump-out and LED illumination.


HANDLING

The test boat launched out of the hole in less than 2 1/2 seconds with very little bow rise. While it isn't the speediest bass boat on the water, I was pleasantly surprised with the PT 20's stable, smooth ride at all speeds. The throttle response was excellent with the gutsy 200-horse Mercury Optimax quickly pushing the lightweight, aluminum hull to 55 mph at WOT.

The helm is simple and smart with a rotary switch panel, two multi-function gauges and room for an audio system head unit. Plenty of room exists to install a second, larger, RAM-mounted sonar/gps unit. While our boat was rigged with the standard throttle, a pedal-style Hot Foot throttle is optional. I am 5-feet, 2-inches tall, and I had no issues with visibility and could comfortably access all controls.

SPECIAL FEATURES


The PT 20 is about as worry-free as a bass boat can get. Its .110-gauge aluminum, 12-degree deadrise hull can get places that most glass boats wouldn't dare to go, and not a single piece of wood can be found in its structure. Two drink holders are located in the cockpit with another at the bow. The standard USB port at the helm is also a thoughtful and practical touch. Gotta love things like that.

The PT 20's standard, modified bucket seats, removable pedestal seat and pro fishing seat are all very nice.

Crestliner Specs


WHAT WE LIKED AND WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE

We were pleasantly surprised by the way the PT 20 handled. The price is fantastic for what you are getting. An optional on-board battery charger is available, but it really should be standard equipment on a boat like this.

Aluminum Bass Boats Ranger

Once behind the wheel, I quickly accelerated the RT198P on pad and enjoyed the drive of an aluminum boat comparable to fiberglass. The boat impressed with its custom-fitted marine upholstery matching seats and sleek fiberglass single console. As I stood on the casting deck, I was amazed by its stability. I really took to this aluminum boat and the boat-trailer-outboard package. Ranger Boat has tailored this rig to the entry-level tournament angler or older angler who wants to get out of a more expensive fiberglass boat. It comes rigged with several features like 6-gauge trolling-motor wiring, lockable storage, 26-gallon livewell, trolling motor and lots of storage. -- Brad Wiegmann

FISHABILITY

Large decks in the front and back were stable. In fact, they were so stable that, while fishing, I'd forget that there was an angler on the back deck. The hull tracks straight for great maneuvering ability around boat docks or trees. Its two matching cushioned bucket seats can be removed as needed. I don't think anyone would have a problem fishing in a tournament with this boat.

HANDLING

The foam-filled, wood-free construction pad bottom-hull tracked true down the lake or powering hard around corners. It went 58 mph with two adults and a third of a tank of fuel. It had a quick hole-shot and top speed was remarkable. But dropping off plane at mid-speed dramatically slowed up the boat. Conveniently located pull-up cleats, passenger grab handles and drink holders.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The rod-friendly storage areas under the deck, on top of the deck along the offset console and running rod rack next to the passenger provide storage and protection when fishing or driving down the lake. Its dedicated insulated fiberglass cooler kept drinks cold. The trailer that comes with it is full of features like Road Armor finish, swing-away tongue, and directional painted wheels.

Ranger Specs

WHAT WE LIKED AND WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE

The RT198P's single-axle Ranger Trail Trailer also features 4-inch channel frame and hydraulic surge disc brakes. We'd like to see an upgrade to a Minn Kota Fortrex 80-pound-thrust trolling motor. We'd also prefer a butt seat for the front deck.

Aluminum Bass Boats G3

The G3 Sportsman 19 bass boat offers a complete aluminum package for both the competitive and recreational angler. I checked out the storage and layout and discovered many of the boat's advantages. The front casting deck featured a recessed trolling motor foot control and two seat-mount holes that allowed me to set up my seat to run the trolling motor in a comfortable position. What sets this boat apart is the massive storage underneath the front deck. The port storage box is a rod locker that can safely hold six rods up to 8 feet in length. The starboard box can be a rod locker or extra storage. Center boxes can store everything you need for a day of fishing. -- John Neporadny

FISHABILITY

The front deck has ample room for two anglers to fish side by side without bumping into each other during a cast or hookset. I fished along a windy point and was able to easily hold the boat's position with the Minn Kota 24-volt 70-pound-thrust Maxxum trolling motor. The boat was also easy to maneuver as I fished in between and around boat docks.

HANDLING

During three hole-shot tests, the boat's best time coming out of the hole was 2.28 seconds, with an average of 2.52 seconds for the three attempts. I reached a top end speed of 49 miles per hour (speedometer reading) with the Yamaha 150 engine. The most impressive part of the test run was the dry ride even when I turned into the white-capped waves.

SPECIAL FEATURES

A bonus feature is the three smaller storage compartments (one found in the front deck step and two found in the rear deck) capable of holding four Plano intermediate utility boxes. The storage areas under the driver and passenger seats are another great feature for storing small items such as vehicle keys, fishing license, wallet and cell phone.

G3 Specs

WHAT WE LIKED AND WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE

The serious amount of storage area spread throughout the boat makes it easier to organize your gear. The livewell divider blocked aeration flow; the pump needs to be repositioned or another aerator pump should be added to the other side.

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