Buying A New Boat

                               Ten Tips For Buying A New Bass Boat

It is always a delight to visit the dealers showroom and “smell the leather” of those new bass rigs.  Shiny and flashy are just a couple of words that describe these sleek new fiberglass dreams, and after caressing the sleek hull and smelling that new upholstery, your like a buck in rut and eager to sign on the dotted line.  But before you do, let’s look at a few “tips” that will help you in your purchase.

The very first item to consider is the price of gasoline.  A big ol’ 300 hp motor may get you from the dam to the upper reaches of the lake in record time, however, you better have way-points showing all on-water gas facilities or you may not make it back.  My suggestion would be to convert the two livewells to gas storage and keep the fish on a stringer. 

Is a 36 volt trolling motor enough power?  I have a friend that says “No!”, and is currently setting up two 36-volt motors side by side to get maximum performance.  I personally think that the 6 batteries are a bit too much weight for a 14-foot aluminum flat-bottom boat.  

Hand throttle or foot control?  I would have always said foot control until I got a gator aid bottle and a small tackle box caught in the linkage and had to run 12 miles down the lake at break-neck speed before I could get the mess loose.

How big a boat?  If you are going to fish Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn under stormy conditions I suggest something in the 90-foot range.  If you are a fair weather fisherman then go with at least a 20-footer.  Safety is not the primary reason for the 20-footer .. You just need lots of room for all your baits and other fishing tackle that are essential to being a bass fisherman. 

Aluminum or fiberglass?  This is really a no brainer.  Aluminum is lighter and will allow you to get better gas mileage, however, it launches like Evil Knievel when you go over sand bars or accidently hit a partially submerged stump.  I personally have made a stump jump that was 42 feet; however at Toledo Bend a friend of mine went 82-feet in the air.  Problem was .. He hit the water upside down so the record for the jump was not valid.  Stay with the fiberglass because that’s why they install “upright flotation” — to be sure that you will always land right side up

On-board stereo?  There is nothing more satisfying than to be blasting down the lake with the stereo booming out songs like Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones or I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash.  These are especially effective for night fishing because you can be fishing in the 6-Mile area and entertain anglers as far away as the dam.

Is boating apparel important?  Don’t kid yourself on this issue.  Coming to weigh-in wearing a dirty t-shirt and shorts is not nearly as impressive as wearing those freebie logo’d shirts and caps that the boat dealer has hid away in his office.  Don’t sign on the dotted line until you have negotiated for at least 7 shirts, 24 caps and try to get a few of those fancy koozies for your drinks. 

How important are electronics?  This issue may well be the most important of all.  A couple of huge color units are invaluable in defining you as an accomplished angler.  Other fishermen will see the units and think you are a “pro” whether you know how to turn the units on or not.  And keep in mind, the smaller units are really designed for locating small fish and the bigger units are essential in locating the big fish.  

Down-riggers for Texas fishing?  Unless you plan to devote most of your time to striper fishing stay away from installing down-riggers.  They instantly classify you as a northern redneck and odds are that in our timbered lakes you will lose all of that silly equipment the first day anyway.

What size prop is best?  This question has many answers depending on what performance you want from your boat.  Stainless steel props are best because they allow you to cut through trees and brush as you work your way back into shallow fishing areas.  I like a four or five blade prop because if I break off a blade or two I still have a few left to get me home.

Well there you are a few tips that may come in handy as you negotiate for that next bass boat.  What a great feeling it is to launch that new rig and blast off down the lake.  Forget the fact that you have more invested in the boat, towing vehicle and baits than you do in your home because it’s bass fishing time!   Good Boating — JB   


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