January 25, 2018
Anglers have plenty of choices when it comes to buying a new boat. We took a deep dive into latest bass boats, V-hulls and other fishing crafts in our series on the best new fishing boats for 2018.
Our writers and editors looked at features, specifications, handling and fishability on eight different models.
We also found many things we liked and a few we'd change.
We featured the Ranger Z520L Comanche, Skeeter ZX250, G3 Sportsman 200, AlumaCraft Voyageur 175 Sport, Starcraft Titan 186 DC, Smoker Craft 182 Pro Mag, Ranger 2080MS Angler, Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk.
Check out our reviews in the gallery below (click on the headlines for full reviews).
If you enjoy fishing for a variety of species that live in vastly different habitats, then you already know the challenge of finding a capable boat — one that can glide silently through weedy shallows yet with the ability to troll deep, open waters and absorb a good walleye chop. You want the protection of high freeboard and a full windshield to keep the spray out on windy days, yet you also need an open layout that won't interfere with casting. The boat should carry plenty of guests and the whole package has to be compact enough that you can tow it with something less than a semi and launch it from rough, unmaintained ramps. Built to fish hard, the Titan is constructed from hefty .125-inch aluminum plates on the bottom and solid .80-inch plates on the sides, double-riveted along the chine and transom seams. 'Titan ' is an apt name for this rig, with its battleship-like build. That's further augmented by its internal torsion beam construction, which gives the Titan a stiff, solid frame that won't flex or twist when running in chop with heavy loads. The result of this over-engineering is a tremendously smooth ride, crisp handling and the ability to gobble up chop. The Titan's raised front deck, big walk-through windshield and an open main cockpit with raised stern deck give this boat maximum versatility. Click on the headline for more info.
When stepping aboard the 182 Pro Mag you'll be surprised by how much space there is on this 18-foot boat. There's comfortable seating for up to eight people, with ample space to store all of their gear. The huge raised bow deck conceals vast amounts of in-floor storage, an 18-gallon aerated livewell, and a large, lockable rod storage compartment. The rod storage compartment holds up to six rods rigged and ready to go, yet safely protected from harm. Thanks to some thoughtful engineering, the front deck is high enough that the tall windshield protects occupants exceptionally well but doesn't gets in the way when casting. A 28-gallon aerated livewell in the stern accommodates a tournament-load of fish with ease. Additional rod storage in the gunnels is a welcome feature. Make certain you spring for the optional ventilation system that dries gear and rods that are put away wet, greatly reducing mildew and protecting expensive tackle from rust damage. Underfoot, the 182 Pro Mag comes with Smoker Craft's Sea Weave flooring as standard equipment, offering the durability of vinyl, but in an attractive non-slip finish that looks great even after years of hard use. The gunnels have an integrated rack system that allows rod holders, downriggers and other equipment to be easily mounted wherever they are needed. Click on the headline for more info.
The 1750 Bass Hawk is a lightweight aluminum bass boat/multi-species rig that will turn heads. The 17.9-footer has a massive front deck, with two large and two small storage compartments to accommodate the most afflicted tackle hoarder. An illuminated center rod locker holds 15 rods measuring up to 8 feet with room for another four rods in the cockpit's port rod storage area. The cockpit includes helm and passenger bucket seats with the option for a third center seat. All of the seats have storage underneath. On the bow, flush-mount electronics (up to 9-inch screen), cup and tool holder and LED light strip at the command center proved very practical. I found the 1750 offered ample angling space for two, with the rear deck having gobs of storage compartments (the Crestliner engineers made use of every cubic inch of usable space). Equipped with a 150-hp Mercury OptiMax, our 1750 popped out of the hole and planed effortlessly with a top speed of 52 mph. Under full power, the boat rides smoothly, due in part to the variable degree deadrise hull design and welded, one-piece keel. I found the Crestliner Bass Hawk has a nice mix of features offering fishermen a very solid, all-around fishing machine. Click on the headline for more info.