Deciding On The Best Small Bass Boats
Catching fish from a riverbank or the edge of a pond can be fun and rewarding, but a small boat sure comes in handy to access water not accessible by foot. A small bass boat is perfect for getting into those little coves and backwaters that the larger ones just can’t reach. You can find all sorts of hidden gems in those waters that most folks don’t even know about. And if you’re anything like me, you relish exploring and discovering new fishing spots. My Dad’s first boat was a 14′ aluminum flat bottom that my cousins and I would slide into the back of our truck. We often tied Hawaiian Wigglers onto our bait casters and headed to nearby small rivers or farm ponds to take advantage of unpressured fish. Dad’s small bass boat definitely helped us access more and better fishing, and today the value of a small bass boat is pretty much the same, but boy how the watercraft options have changed.
Small Bass Boat Benefits
That old flat bottom was relatively inexpensive, easy to store and transport, required little maintenance, and was a good fit for my area’s smaller streams and ponds. Matching a fishing rig with one’s budget and the waters you fish is still a fundamental consideration when deciding how much boat you need. Smaller boats mean less length, width, and weight, requiring less horsepower. However, for those that mostly fish alone on smaller bodies of water, this decrease in weight usually translates into easier launches and better shallow water access.
Many anglers target smaller rivers and lakes and don’t necessarily need the roominess and speed of a 22′ fiberglass model pushed by a 300 HP outboard. In addition, they often fish alone or with a friend and don’t have room to properly store a larger model. They also mainly fish when the weather’s nice and don’t fish large impoundments with waist-high waves. This group of anglers represents a large segment of the boating population, using what many in the industry call Small Bass Boats. I spoke with Katie Grell about defining small when applied to bass boats, and we discussed several examples that fit into this category.
Katie is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Buck’s Island, adjacent to the Coosa River, about an hour east and a little north of Birmingham, Alabama. She shared the specs of several of their smallest bass boats to help me better compare the potential benefits of owning a small bass boat:
- Maneuverability- Smaller bass boats are typically more agile and easier to navigate than larger boats, allowing you to get into tight spaces and shallow waters where larger models can’t go.
- Affordability- Small bass boats are generally less expensive than larger boats, making them an excellent option for first-time buyers or those on a budget.
- Easy to transport- Most can fit on a single-axle trailer. Less weight means easier towing and the ability to launch in more remote locations that may lack a decent boat ramp.
- Lower maintenance costs- Small boats require less maintenance than larger boats, saving you money in the long run.
- Fuel efficiency- They typically use less fuel than larger boats, resulting in more savings.
- Versatility- Smaller boats are usually easier to modify for catching various species besides bass.
Overall, a smaller bass boat is a great option for anglers who want an affordable, easy-to-transport, and versatile fishing vessel that can handle a variety of waterways.
What Is a Small Bass Boat?
Now, down to the 64-dollar question- how to properly define a small bass boat. Grell’s job is helping fishermen zero in on the right boat for their fishing style. She knows past and current market trends and has tons of customer feedback, so naturally, she was able to help create a realistic definition.
Therefore, our working description will be boats in the 14-18′ range, plus or minus a few inches. Those old 14′ aluminum flat bottoms are still popular for smaller rivers and ponds. However, modern kayaks designed specifically for bass fishing are hard to beat for the serious bass angler.
Let’s review a few of the boats in Buck’s Island inventory that fall into the small category:
Kayaks as Small Bass Boats
Grell insisted that kayaks should be on the shortlist as one of the better small-boat options. She mentioned that Hobie and Jackson include multiple peddle-drive options with rudder steering and even reverse for the ultimate in hands-free propulsion.
Hobie Pro Angler- 13’8″
As the name implies, Grell said the Hobie Pro Angler are the preferred choice by many anglers on the professional kayak tour. It’s a fantastic piece of engineering designed with ample room for storage, tackle, and rods that offers an array of features in a ready-to-fish package that will make any fresh or saltwater fishing trip a breeze.
Jackson KNARR– 13’9″
The Jackson KNARR design team worked with big water tournament anglers to redesign its hull for maximum speed and stability to take on the surf and waves with excellent tracking. Its patented foot drive and luxury seating are convenient with ample rod and tackle storage.
Aluminum Small Bass Boats
G3 Sportsman 1710
This G3 Sportsman 1710 model provides plenty of room for chasing bass. The .100 gauge hull has a 92″ welded beam and a limited lifetime warranty. In addition, its three-across seating and innovative under-deck storage carry a 5-year bow-to-stern limited warranty. A 90-hp Yamaha and Minn Kota 55 Edge provide power and maneuverability, and a Humminbird® HELIX5® CHIRP DI GPS helps locate your target. It includes a two-bank battery charger. Options include dual console, power poles, and Hummingbird Helix or Solix 5, 7, 9, or 10.
Avid 18 XB
The Avid 18 XB has a .100 gauge 5052 aluminum alloy hull measuring 17′ 10″ and a 97″ beam that allows a draft of approximately 11″. An ergonomic color-matched fiberglass console comes standard with push-button LED switches, USB charge, and room for 12″ electronics. The boat comes equipped with a 115hp Yamaha four-stroke, and the hull has a limited lifetime warranty.
Fiberglass Small Bass Boats
The Skeeter ZX150 is a high-performance small bass boat that offers excellent speed and maneuverability on the water. With a length of 18′ 6″ and a beam of 95″, this boat is designed to provide a comfortable and stable fishing platform. It features a Yamaha V MAX SHO VF150 outboard motor, a spacious casting deck, ample storage space, and advanced fishing electronics. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, the Skeeter ZX150 is a reliable and efficient option for your fishing adventures.
The Falcon F185 bass boat is a sleek and agile fishing vessel designed for serious anglers who demand high performance and maneuverability on the water. With a length of 18′ 9″ and a beam of 94″, the F185 features a spacious and comfortable cockpit with ample storage compartments for all your fishing gear. Its hull is made of durable fiberglass and is powered by a reliable outboard engine, providing a smooth and responsive ride. The F185 also comes equipped with advanced electronics and fishing equipment to help you locate and catch your prey with ease.
Final Thoughts On Small Bass Boats
Smaller bass boats are a good option for various reasons, including affordability, maneuverability, and versatility. Their smaller size makes them easier to maneuver in tight spaces and allows better access to shallow areas that larger boats are often unable to reach. So, if you’re thinking about getting a new or used boat for fishing, I’d highly recommend a smaller bass boat. It may not be the fanciest boat on the water, but it’s got everything you need for a great day of fishing and adventure. And who knows, you might discover new fishing spots and make memories that’ll last a lifetime.