How to Choose the Perfect Bass Fishing Boat

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Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass fishing has taken a huge step forward in popularity when compared to other species in the northern part of the world. It used to be that “all” Bigmouth adventures were done in the sunny south where it can be done year-round. As well, with fish like Walleye, Trout, etc roaming the colder waters, Smallmouth were only considered a bonus fish at best.

It seems things have changed though.

Nowadays, both bass species have risen high along the rungs of the target fish ladder and, in a lot of cases, are the favourite among north-country anglers.

Fish’n Canada’s Ang and Pete are two anglers that will attest that bass fishing is totally addictive. And in being so, they will also be the first to admit that once in… it’s all in… and that includes your choice of boat.

Boats for Bassin’

When bass boats were introduced, the thought came out of necessity. Bass anglers had specific needs that weren’t met with “normal” fishing boats. This was definitely spawned out of bass fishing tournaments. The evolution of bass tournaments has brought all kinds of refinements to bass fishing boats, designed to help out both the anglers and the fish.

Although the majority of bass boats are made of fibreglass, aluminum boat manufacturers like Princecraft have taken a huge step forward in catering to the bass fraternity as well. The beauty of the Princecraft lineup is that most of their fishing boats can double up extremely well for other species along with bass.

What We Like In Our Bass Fishing Boats

As we said earlier, bass fishing is pretty much an “all in” game. Between boats, outboard motors, electric motors, trailers, rods, reels, tackle, shallow water anchors, electronics, and on and on, it gets pretty intense.

The reality is though, these are all things that can be worked on attaining through time. The main deal here is the functionality of your boat.

Decks

Of course, the main essential of a bass rig is the front casting platform. This is an absolute must. A bass angler needs that high vantage point to be able to see fish-holding cover like weeds, trees, rocks, etc. They also need to see fish. Remember, bass are often in the shallowest of water and thus, become very visible. The high vantage of the front deck makes life so much easier than a lower position.

Bass fishing from the deck of a bass fishing boat

The spaciousness and height of a raised front deck makes bass fishing so much easier

The back deck, or platform, is next in line. Even when fishing alone, a back deck can come in handy when trying to land that Smallie of a lifetime that’s circling the boat. The addition of a second or even third body (two anglers up front, one angler in the rear) will make great use of the back deck. This area doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be big enough!

Trolling Motor Compatibility

The bow of your bass rig needs to be beefy enough to handle a bow-mounted trolling motor. The latest and greatest of these electric marvels are built with toughness and all kinds of features and this brings on more weight. Motors like the Garmin Force will give you years of excellent performance but they need to be mounted on a strong, firm surface.

As well, if you need the extra juice for absolute beastly power, look for a trolling motor receptacle that takes 24-36 volts with a 60 amp capacity. If you decide to install a 36-volt electric, a high amperage rating in the receptacle and the plug is a must in the safety department. Princecraft mounts these receptacles as a standard feature on some of their models.

Consoles vs. Windshield

Here is where a significant difference in boat types comes into play. On a walleye boat, for instance, a windshield is a no-brainer. The same goes for a Great Lakes rig. For bass fishing though, we prefer consoles instead. Remember that consoles also have windshields, but they are there more for wind protection than anything else. A full windshield protects you from all elements, especially rain.

As you can see here on this Princecraft Xpedition layout, a single console leaves lots of room for a bass angler to “run around” their rig. Princecraft offers a second console as an option.

We feel the smaller consoles suit bass fishing perfectly. (BTW, if you have a big boat then the second passenger console is a nice addition).

Factory Mounted Fish Finder

“Do I order a factory-installed fishfinder for the console?”

This one is a personal one in that you may be brand-specific like us. 

If you just want a fishfinder and don’t want to install one, then go ahead and purchase your rig with a built-in unit. 

Princecraft leaves lots of space for an in-dash, custom-finished, fishfinder installation.

If you are brand specific, and you have the choice, try ordering your rig without any electronics built-in. That way you can take on the entire project yourself or send it out to a professional installer.

Same goes for up front. A bow Chartplotter is just as important as a helm unit. If you are just getting into fishing then go ahead and order one that’s factory mounted. 

Remember, if you’re installing finders after your boat purchase, mounting bow and console units is a big chore but it’s well worth it for a custom setup.

Holding Your Sticks

Rod storage, both above and below the deck, is of the utmost importance. Princecraft has built-in storage on many of their models that can take up to 9 feet… much longer than the average bass rod used.

If the option of rod straps is available on the front deck, snatch that one up or you’ll have to mount a couple of aftermarket units (not a big deal but it may be more work than you want to do). These simple strap-down devices are an absolute must when moving from hotspot to hotspot (especially in wavy conditions) as well as when trailering your rig to and from the lake.

Livewells

Most fishing boats come with livewells as a standard option and they’re usually all the average angler needs. If you plan to fish tournaments or simply use your livewells a lot, make sure you look for those “extras” like an aerated “ProFlo” system, an intermittent recirculation system, overflow protection, a light is a nice touch, an anti-spill cover, an insulated lid and finally a protection filter on the filling pump intake.

Carpet vs. Vinyl 

Carpet truly is nice on bare feet and as bass anglers, we often fish in the fairest of weather. Barefooted angling is done more than you think. On the other hand, vinyl is so much easier to clean up at the end of the day. If you are a live bait puller for Walleye and worms packed in black dirt is your bait of choice, vinyl wins hands down. 

Comfort for a bass-buster vs. ease of cleaning for a walleye-wacker… hmmmm.

Extras

Power Switch: Don’t Get Caught Dead

There are some not-so-obvious items we would include that you look for when searching out a bass fishing rig. One of them is a battery shut-off switch for your electrical system. With all the electrical devices on modern-day fishing boats, there is sometimes what is termed as a “parasitic draw”. Even with everything switched off, you still could have some unknown power being used. If your boat sits unused (through the week) this parasitic draw can ultimately drain your batteries. 

A power shut-off switch will save your day. There’s nothing worse than getting to the lake and having a dead cranking battery! Turn the switch on when you either leave the driveway or get to the boat launch and turn it off when you’re done fishing.

A flick of the switch will ensure no drained batteries

Entertainment

A stereo might be a nice touch for your bass rig on those family outing days. Remember though, bass (base) notes produce vibration and fish DO feel vibration. If you are hitting the shallows of a gin-clear shallow bay, turn the tunes off.

Protection From The Elements

A boat cover is a fantastic option if available. Not so much for trailering but for leaving your prized bass rig in the driveway all week while waiting for your next outing.

Trailer: Looks vs. Longevity

Painted trailer vs. galvanized? This is a tough one and a coin tosser. If you want a slick-looking rig overall, a painted trailer is the way to go. If you want longevity in a trailer, a galvanized model will outlast anything out there. Painted models will definitely have their slick finishes slowly taken away with stone chips etc. This ultimately causes surface rust. Your choice!

CONCLUSION

Hopefully we have spread a bit of knowledge here in helping you decide on the features you want and or need in a bass fishing rig. Remember, a $150,000, fully blown, 21-plus-foot bass boat doesn’t catch the fish, it’s the angler. And as an efficient angler, you can do it just as well in a 16-footer with just the right amount of bass fishing necessities.

Good luck and have fun looking for and rigging up your ultimate bass rig.

Fish'n Canada

The Fish’n Canada Show first aired in 1986 with phenomenal success. In 1988 the program went coast to coast on CBC, the first North American weekly fishing show to broadcast on a national network. In 1992 the show went into syndication adding Global Television Network, prominent CTV and affiliates, and several cable networks. The move resulted in unprecedented fishing audiences. With the addition of WFN U.S. and The Sportsman Chanel Canada today the Fish’n Canada show dominates the airwaves with a national weekly reach of 3.5 million and ama of over 450,000 easily making it one of the most-watched “outdoors” programs in North America.

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