This will turn into a Ford vs Chevy thing because everyone has their favorite. I like Ranger/Merc combo. Ranger because its a quality boat and the company stands behind their work (Also 3 years in a row #1 in JD Powers Customer Satisfaction rating) Its important to have a dealer you can trust and we have not one but TWO good Ranger dealers in town, Sunland Marine and Southwest Boats. The owners are all good people in my book. Merc because everyone can work on them, the parts are cheaper, and its made in America.
I vote for Triton and Merc from Complete Marine. Here's the usual advice, drive them all. What suits one doesn't work for another. I have been completely satisfied with the boat, motor and service over the past 2 yrs. Although I will say that I believe there are other quality boats out there. I had a Champ prior to this and loved the way it drove. My tourney partner for years had Rangers. Lots of excellent choices. Get feedback on the service for post sale issues, that will make a big difference on how you feel about a given product as well. You could buy mine and I would be able to talk the wife into an '04 TR21 X Series with a 250 Merc.
Seriously, Denny and B.D. have great comments about the issue. The common denominator in their posts is the Merc. I've talked to several guys that work on outboards that say if they had to recommend an outboard it would be EFI preferably Merc.
I definately like Ranger. When the boat opens up and it's on plane, it's a nice ride! I prefer Yamaha and Johnson motors do to less shop time/repair.
Also, for $10,000 less, Procraft makes a nice boat. I've been fortunate enough to fish with Nastybasser in his ride for the last three months. He has a 250hp Merc on a 21' ft boat that screams across the lake (72-78mph)! Make sure you get the sissy bar or trailer ball seat placement installed so you don't lose your backseater! I like the sissy bar. :lol:
I own a Tr21 w/225 merc and have no problems(love the boat),but the front deck on the Gambler is second to none(my p owns 1 )boats are so close today that you can afford to be specific to your own fishing needs. I agree w/del for 35 grand you can find a choice 1 yr old boat,but most important on any boat if you plan to keep it a while factor in the extended warranty ,it will pay for its self.Good luck there are lots of avenues to explore,but when you find the right boat you'll know!!!!
Here is the big question, what do you want speed or a good ride???????? I spend about 2000 + hours a year driving, testing and training people in boats. if it can be done in a boat i have done it, You have not lived until you launch a 27 foot ranger with twin 250s. I have drove about every kind Bass boat around. if you want speed get an Allison with a Johnson High output 225. also get a full face helmet and back brace with it(you will do 80+). you want a smoooooth ride get a ranger with a merc EFI, Not Optimax. you want a faster and semi comphy ride get a Triton Procraft, bass cat, Champion etc. I am getting older and i want a smooth ride in rougher water. I have a Ranger 492VS with a 200 Evinrude vindicator. it does about 58 to 63 depending on the load. I did a tourney at pleasant last year and was 27th out, by the time we hit the 1702 sign i was #1. I could take the 3 to 4 foot swells when the hotter boats had to trim down and back of the throttle to get off of the pad so they would not get airborn or start a fatal chine walk. worst ride in my life, 19 foot skeeter. launched it on a wake at 65+ they are tail heavy and when all you can see is the front deck over your head it is not a warm aand fuzzy. Luckily the engine hit first and when the boat hit it cracked the top capand caused certain body parts to become imbedded where they should not be. never been in one since. best bet is go for some rides........
Oh, Do like Delw said, buy used, you will save thousands. i will never buy a brand new boat. i buy when they are about 5 years old. a 38,000.00 dollar boat cost me 12,000.00. even if it has a blown power head. they cost about 2 to 3 grand rebuilt out of Fla. you do the math.
Well, I have been doing the Bass Gig over 20 years and have owned or been in them all....And two boats that I would never own is a Nitro or a Skeeter. The Nitro's fit & finish in my opinion is absolute crap...And though the Skeeter is a pretty fast boat...you better get yourself a good chiropractor...Those babies will beat you to death.
As mentioned previously, having a good local dealer is very important in choosing a rig. I personally own a Champion w/ a 175 Merc EFI.....and it is an excellent boat that I bought from Tempe Marine. Luckily I have not needed their service too often but when I have they have done a good job. The Champ seems to have a good top end as well as a pretty smooth ride
Though I am a Champ owner I can never say enough nice things about Rangers...They Kick Ass Pure & Simple.....And they charge for it...LOL
One quick mention on the New/Used Dilemma: I personally Love brand new things....I like piece of mind....and dammit I will pay for it. I have been towed in enough fricken times for one life time...and I know that eventually It will happen again....But 4 years with a brand new Champ and I've driven back onto trailer every time out (knock on wood).... You just never know for sure how well any pre-owned boat was taken care of (unless it was a buddy's).....”Buyer Beware"
For JasonR - I came across a guy this Spring looking to sell a brand new BassCat he won that was garage kept and is over a year old. I was unaware of a local dealer also until then - he said Scottsdale Marine is the dealer. Hope this helps.
90% of the way a boat rides is the guy behind the wheel. If you know how to drive the boat you are in you can make just about anything ride good. I have ridden in every bassboat there is except a basscat and i have had good rides and bad rides in all of them. Granid a 20' boat is going to ride better than a 16 foot boat, but there you are not comparing apples to apples. So much determines how a boat rides besides the manufacturer and the length, motor height, setback, heck even in some cases prop. The bottom line is if you learn your boat and play with the setups on it and use your head, with practice you learn how to drive it and that makes it ride better.
Example. The 492 that boat cop has is a heavy boat and does not get as much lift as say a skeeter. Therefore you have more boat in the water. The rough ride comes from a boat leaving the water and reentering it. So if the boat does not leave the water that often it is going to ride great. The guys that have the skeeters and other boats that get alot of lift of course they are going to have to slow down in rougher water. That much lift makes it really easy to go airborn which inturn will have the boat land hard.
You have to decide what you want, whether it be speed, ride, stability, but you have to remember, you can very rarely get both. Your deeper V boats are going to ride better, but not be as fast. the flatter the bottom the rougher the ride, but the more speed you will have. Personally for around the phoenix area if i get another boat it will probably be a skeeter. The lakes close buy don't get bad enough often enough.
I will agree with everyone on the Ranger. I perfer the Evinrude motors but then again I own a champion. I disagree with one statement though.... I still believe to this day that Boneheads 18' rides better then my 20'. Just my opinion but my backseater tends to agree. as for buying a boat go used. I was in the process of buying brand new and started looking at boats 2-3 years old. Saved 14000 buying a used and its about maintence!! You treat her right and she'll be good to ya! Dont get me wrong doing your own color scheme and all that is great but no matter how fast or how new your boat is doesnt mean you can fish!
I'd suggest looking at 60feet6inches Ranger. I've fished out of it numerous times and love it. You'll save alot of money and its excellent boat in excellent condition.
I've also fished out of NoviceDaves allison. This is by far the fastest boat around and it was smooth as silk when the water was glass, but I'd be a little scared of it on choppy water. Also, the ranger is better suited to fishing.
The guest above the guest is somewhat correct 90% of the ride is the driver. the other part of that is the boat being set up correctly. I e motor being the right height the prop being correct etc. Also the trim being used correctly.
Ive been with guys and the lake has 4" chop on the water and your being beat to death.
Novice daves Little 18 foot skeeter has one of the nicest rides of a boat I have ever been in the boat had a 175hp merc in it and was set up perfectly. The boat ran on air the whole time. its wierd feeling when your not used to it.
I like speed so a little rough ride doesnt bother me( ask me about this in 10 years)
This Cajun I got is a 21'9" boat with a 200 hp on it, it has a huge deep V. It can take rough waves with no problem at all. Its not fast but its very very fishable. I mainly got it for the bigger lakes like mead and havasu and hopefully the delta a time or 2.
The motor is about 25hp-50 hp to small for the boat with that extra hp I could probally get a better ride. It takes a while to get that rearend off the water.
I'm a little partial to Rangers and have had 3 over the last 30 years (I kept each one around 8-10 years apiece). I bought my 1999 20'6" 519DVS model with 225 Merc Optimax a year ago, so it was a 4 year old boat when I bought it. The owner lived in Minneapolis, MN and used the boat 2-3 times per summer and the rest of the time it was garage kept. Not a scratch on it. Low hours. I basically bought a like new boat for a used boat price and I have not regretted it one bit. The day after I bought it a shipper was in Minneapolis picking up a Jeep Grand Cherokee to bring to Scottsdale, and he had room for my boat. I paid $750 round trip airfare and lodging and $800 for shipping. The owner dropped another $1,000 off the sale price to offset some of my logistics expenses. Rangers have great quality, fit and finish, resale value, and they are known around the country. They are heavier than a lot of boats, not the fastest but fast enough, and I get a pretty decent ride out of it. Ask Joe Owens what he thinks of it and you'll get an unbiased opinion from a non-Ranger boat owner. My vote is for Ranger/Merc.