Deciding On The Best Bass Boat For 2023
Are you looking for a new boat or perhaps a few upgrades for one you already own? Do you have a specific model in mind? What is the best way to see a wide variety and get good information at the same time? How do you go about finding the best bass boat that fits your needs and gives you what you want for the money you have to spend.
Depending on your location, you may need to travel a considerable distance to put your hands on a model that piques your interest. You can see plenty of specs and pictures on the web, but if you want to see one up close and personal or set up a test drive, it can require several phone calls and maybe a few road trips.
If you’re lucky to live close to lots of water, you likely have several marinas within a reasonable driving distance. Sometimes though, you might have only one local dealer with limited inventory, and you’ll need a game plan to get you up close enough to do a slow walk around on a model that might interest you.
Fishing/Boat Shows For Bass Boats
Boat shows/ fishing expos are a great place to see a large variety of boats, motors, and accessories in one place. Often boat dealers from near and far bring several models to exhibit and their staff can also answer almost any question a prospective buyer might have. Additionally, when several marinas are present, prospective buyers can see practically every make and model currently available in one visit.
There is no substitute for a hands-on, up-close and personal inspection of a boat that catches your eye. Sometimes a prospective buyer can even arrange for a test drive during the show or at a later date.
I spoke with Sheila Bunch and her husband Curtis about the upcoming East Tennessee Fishing Show & Expo in Knoxville, TN which begins January 26, 2023, and runs through the 29th. She agreed that many people attend her shows for a hands-on experience when they’re in the market for a new boat. Shelia said that except for canceling the 2021 show due to covid, she had coordinated the annual Expo held in Knoxville, Tennessee, since 1990, and this is her 14th year planning and putting on these types of events.
“Often manufacturers use our shows to introduce a new line of boats, motors or accessories, so it’s a great place to see and gather the information that can help a prospective buyer make an informed decision in a family-friendly environment,” Bunch said She also mentioned that her shows include various seminars on water safety, innovative new products, demonstrations, and multiple activities for children
Companies often offer dealer incentives in conjunction with these boat shows and can include upgrades, accessories or special financing. In addition, it’s a great way to meet dealers from other areas, see various setups under one roof, and find out about servicing and maintenance issues.
Even if a buyer doesn’t pull the trigger at one of these events, the contacts and information gleaned can help them be better informed about their available choices. Sometimes these conversations can lead to arranging a test drive at a later date and eventual sale.
Bass Boats Dealer
I also called Buck’s Island marina in Southside, AL and spoke with Dan O’Sullivan about what’s involved in helping a customer find the best bass boat for the money. I asked him about his process to ensure their customers leave the parking lot with a smile and a model that works well with their fishing style.
O’Sullivan is in the marketing department at Buck’s Island, and he explained that how a customer answers a few questions helps to narrow his recommendations considerably when matching a customer with the best bass fishing boats for their needs:
- Do they fish recreationally or also in tournaments, local or regional?
- Do they prefer fiberglass or aluminum?
- Will the boat also be used for family recreation?
O’Sullivan reiterated a few of the points made by Bunch concerning fishing expos and boat shows. He said the role of boat shows has evolved over the years into a more diverse event that offers a greater variety of outdoor-related products, including boats.
O’Sullivan added that Buck’s Island is gearing up and looking forward to the Alabama Fishing and Expo event in Gadsden, Alabama, March 10-12, 2023. Shelia and her husband, Curtis, are also organizers of this event hosted by The Venue at Coosa in Gadsden.
O’Sullivan referred to Buck’s Island extensive selection of aluminum and fiberglass boats. He also described three primary boat/motor combinations and added a fourth to include premium tournament packages:
- Recreation and local tournaments/club fishing
- Regional tournaments
- Professional circuit
Before we get down into specific boats, there are some general things that you need to consider before you make your final decision. The physical dimensions, layout, and standard accessories can significantly influence a buyer’s choice.
Size Matters In The Best Bass Boat
Longer-wider, heavier boats are more stable, draft shallower and ride smoother in rough water. In addition, their ability to cut through rough water makes larger hulls better for larger rivers and impoundments.
Best Bass Boat Hull Designs
Deep V – boats are designed for larger bodies of water and provide a smoother ride through choppy water. However, these have added draft and less stability than other hulls.
Modified V – hulls start in the bow with a modified V shape that flattens out in the stern. The result is a lower water profile making for a stable, fast, well-handling all-around boat.
Flat-Bottom – boats offer shallow drafts and stability and are good in calm and small water but less suitable for rough or choppy conditions.
Skiffs – are designed for use in shallow water or flats. They feature squared sterns and sharp bows with a flat bottom for a shallower draft. However, because they sit higher in the water can be a little tippy and aren’t designed for rough water use.
Offshore boats – are all about deadrise. That’s the angle where each side of the bottom intersects with an imaginary horizontal line (the water line). Generally, the steeper the deadrise, the more efficiently the hull can run through waves.
Seating – Ensure the seats in your prospective boat are comfortable, durable, and a good fit. (Test them if possible)
Trolling motors/Power Poles – Their voltage and amp draw determines the number of batteries aboard. Therefore, carefully inventory the amount of storage you need for those batteries.
Sonar Mounts – Your fishing style will determine what mounting system you need. (Gimbal, Ram, Bridge, Dash)
Aluminum vs. Fiberglass – Each has pros and cons. New building techniques make aluminum hulls comparable to composites.
Horsepower – The size, weight, and where you fish will determine the appropriately sized motor. O’Sullivan stated that with so many options, it’s best to determine the type of water the prospective buyer will be running in and how many passengers they anticipate. When I asked about specific boat models for the upcoming year, he described the newest models by Skeeter, Bass Cat, and Falcon.
Dan described Skeeter’s newest model as the perfect pro-style boat for those fishing the Coosa river and similar small to medium-sized rivers or impoundments.
|Dry Weight: 2100 lbs|
|Minn Kota Fortrex 112 Trolling Motor|
|Gimbal Mounted Humminbird Helix 12 Bow|
|Gimbal Mounted Humminbird Helix 9 Bow|
|Skeeterbuilt Trailer w/ Tongue Step|
|Hydraulic Jackplate w/ Gauge|
|Hot Foot Throttle with Pro Trim|
|Hamby's Keel Guard|
|Exclusive 2023 75th Anniversary Badge|
O’Sullivan described the new Puma as longer and wider making for a more comfortable ride without sacrificing performance or speed. This model is from a company that has created numerous innovative concepts in its 50+ years in the business and has accumulated a large following of dedicated owners.
|Dry Weight: 2100 lbs|
|Mercury 250 ProXS (300HP max)|
|Two (2) Helix 7 CHIRP GPS0|
|Minn Kota 3 Bank Charger|
|Hydraulic Jackplate w/ Gauge|
|Underwater Wake Light|
|Bass Cat Puddle Light|
|Talos Lightning Detection|
|X-Mount Phone Holder|
O’Sullivan named this boat his choice for the rig needed to fish big water. From the Tennessee River to Lake Lanier or even the Great Lakes, Dan puts this affordable tournament-ready model at the top of his list of personal favorites
|Dry Weight: 2215 lbs|
|250hp Yamaha SHO four-stroke outboard|
|Humminbird Solix 12 Chirp Mega SI|
|Humminbird Solix 10 Chirp Mega SI CHO|
|Minn Kota Ultrex 112 lb 36v Trolling Motor|
|Marine Master Tandem Trailer w/ 18" Wheels|
|Gauge for Jack Plate|
|Black Keel Guard|
Best Bass Boat 2023 Conclusion
Whether your future goals include fishing on the national, regional or local tournament trail or spending more time with friends and family outdoors, call and speak to the staff at Buck’s Island and let them help you find a boat that fits your fishing or cruising style. Then, go to their website and check their inventory or call and get more information about a particular model. You can also call and order a custom model outfitted with the features you need.
If you’re in the vicinity of Knoxville, Tennessee, this January, go check out the vast array of fishing and boating accessories at The East Tennessee Fishing Show and Expo. Also, mark your calendar and plan to see a few of the boats from Buck’s Island’s inventory in nearby Gadsden, Alabama, at the Alabama Fishing Show and Expo scheduled for March 10-12, 2023.