Proper Bass Boats:
Skeeter Starfire 185 w/ Black Max 150 55 MPH
Baker Custom Tunner w/ 200 Mariner 65 MPH
BassCat Cougar FTD w/ 225 Optimax & 250ProXS Optimax 68-69MPH & 75-78MPH
ProCraft 210 w/ 225 Optimax (I don’t know how fast it is yet).
Easiest handling so far under fair conditions:
I can’t really rate rough conditions, because so the only one I ran in rough conditions was the BassCat. I did run the Baker Tunnel in moderate conditions, and it would just suck waves into the tunnels and ride a little higher on top of the water upto 2-3 foot waves/chop. I had the BassCat in 3-4 foot chop with the occasional larger rogue wave. It took it. I once made a 30 mile run on 3 footers in the BassCat and average a little better than 60MPH the whole way. I got sprayed a bit, but I would not call it a wet ride. I’ve had worse rides in other people’s boats the same size. Probably the Baker and the ProCraft are the most forgiving of trim position.
1. Procraft 210 3 seconds light load
2. Baker might have been the quickest out of the hole, but I don’t remember for sure. Its a tunnel. That’s kinda cheating.
3. BassCat 5 seconds light load 7-9 seconds depending on prop and tournament load
3. Skeeter. I don’t remember, but I never remember ever worrying about how long it took to come out of the hole.
Of the four boats listed above I only still have the ProCraft. In fact if you follow this website you know I only recently acquired it. Of the four at the moment I like it the best. Its light, nimble, and fast, but its big enough to fish on comfortably all day. It also skips sandbars (ashamed look) better than the BassCat. LOL. Of the other threee the only one I wish I still had is the Baker. It was fast enough. Super stable at rest, and drove more like a car than a boat. If you turned the wheel it turned. It didn’t skip like a racing pad on other bass boats. It was the heaviest of them all, but the speed to horsepower wasn’t bad. It ran 65 (GPS) any day almost any conditions with a 200. It also sat the lowest at rest in the water, and was guaranteed to sink if it ever swamped. It sat low because it it didn’t have as deep a hull for its size as the others. While I wouldn’t say it skipped sandbars, due to its design it ran shallower on plane than the others. At top speed it felt like there was an air cushion on the tunnels holding it up.
My current stable is:
1. Waco2050-16 Merc 50 – 46.2MPH
2. Valco 14 Shallow V (Mud Motor Project)
3. Tracker Super 17 Pro Johnson 40 (speed unknown)
4. ProCraft 210 225 Optimax speed unknown.
5. Three canoes.
I am in the process of building a 20-22HP Twister XL mud motor for the Valco. If I get 20+ MPH out of the setup I will be thrilled. Its intended to be used as a lower river runner. By lower river I mean the Morelos Division. I’ve got the twister outdrive kit, but I’m waiting on a rare super coupon from Harbor Freight before I buy the motor to push it. I’m tentatively planning on a Predator 670 that puts out about 22 crankshaft horsepower. If you are interested in this watch for posts and videos about Bar Hopper. The idea is with a surface drive (Twister) and a Gator Glide coating paired with its shallow draft design it should do well hopping over sand and gravel bars in the lower river. I’ll probably add pods to it eventually for a little extra flotation in shallow water. If I get tired of waiting on a coupon for the Predator I may go with a Duromax. There is a 20HP one lunger available for just a little over half the price of the 22HP Predator. This boat is nominally called Bar Hopper. If you hear or see me refer Bar Hopper this is the boat I am talking about.
The Waco may get retired. I bought it back in 2003 just to win a better boat in an aluminum boats only series. We won the series (tied for anglers of the year with another team) but we didn’t win the fish off and the boat. I’ve probably caught more fish out of this boat, and may have won more tournaments with it as well, but I’ve owned it longer than any other boat, except one of my canoes. It came off the trailer once years ago, and it sat for a long time. The outboard sat on a pallet outside. I scabbed the boat back together several years ago, but I’m only now getting the motor running right again. My patches to the hull are not at the correct rake and the hull doesn’t perform like it should. I know what I did wrong, and I could fix it, but its a lot of work. I’m debating scraping it so I can fish more and using the Merc 50 on the Tracker Super 17 Pro. I just really like this boat for most of its life. I wasn’t kidding when I said I got this flat bottom jon boat upto 46.2 mph. That was measured with GPS with two guys in the boat and some gear with about 8-12 inches of chop on the water. That’s pretty fast for a jon boat. I didn’t believe it at first. We were running with the wind, so I turned the boat around and repeated it into the wind in the opposite direction. It would run 40+ in any conditions safe to open it up. In fact I always believed that Merc was a little on the hot side. With the tallest stainless prop I could find for it back then it would still over run its rated 5500 redline and hit about 58-5900 if I ran WOT trimmed just right. The current screw up hull rake won’t let it run anywhere near that fast. The motor has more, but the hull won’t ride right. I tend to compromise around 35. That’s what most folks expect out of this size jon boat anyway. I have called this one “The Tin Can” for as long as I can recall. There was a “The Tin Can Too” for a while, but its gone. I never put it on the water so I don’t count it.
The Tracker Super 17 is a project. It belonged to my friend Gary Summers, and it got taken apart by a family member of his to “make it better.” Well it didn’t happen and it was a bit to much work for my friend. One day he called me and told me to just get it out of his driveway. He was tired of looking at it. I’ve been putting it back together, and trying to “make it better,” but its taking a lot longer than I planned. If you are interested check out the posts and videos “Another Boat Project That Will Probably Never Get Finished.” As mentioned above this boat came with a 40HP Johnson. With a light load I was told it would plane, but with a heavy camping load it wouldn’t come out of the hole. I don’t know exactly what heavy camping load means, but Gary used to transport all the gear upriver for a scout troop campout every year. That could be a lot of gear depending on the size of the troop. The boat is rated for a 60HP outboard, and that’s what I’d like to put on it. I did fish out of it with Gary once or twice, but I honestly don’t recall how it performed. We caught fish. I guess it performed just fine. Seriously I’d like to find a late 90s or early 2000s 60HP 2 stroke in great condition for it, but if I don’t find one I can afford I may just pull the Merc 50 off the Waco and use it on this rig. The goal is to make this into a tolerable camp afloat fishing boat. Maybe with a lift off “camper shell” type cabin for winter fishing and camping.
So far I still have new boat glow over the ProCraft 210. Some of it was by surprise. I didn’t expect the 3 Second Holeshot, great handling, and nimble feel at all. It was a total surprise. I took it out expecting it to wallow around a little bit, and need a firm hand like the BassCat, but it wasn’t like that at all. I think its mostly because its a lighter boat. Being lighter shows. Its got gel coat cracks all over, but its otherwise solid. The carpet is trash, and I have some carpet, but I’m not sure I’m going to go that way. I am also considering EVA foam decking like Sea Deck. I’ve fished out of it (since I owned it) one time, and I caught fish. The first time I took it out was stunned by its responsiveness. This boat was called “The Last Ride” by the friend I bought it from. I have no desire to seek out bad luck by giving it a new name, but I sure hope its not “my” last ride.