Over the years, we have seen tremendous strides in bass boats. Going from tri-hulls that scooted you across the water at modest 25-30 MPH speeds, to high performance boats that cruise at a speed higher than you can legally drive on most highways. Boat handling, deck platforms, and storage have all increased by leaps and bounds making bass fishing more comfortable for the angler. Some boats have the feel of standing in your living room, with padded carpeting, spacious decks, even heated seats. As these advances increased so did the primal spirit of man, bigger and more power. This has lead to boats that reach nearly 22 feet long and are powered by motors that are 250-300 horse power.
I hear it all the time, “Bass boats are so expensive” or “I bought a house for that much”, the list of statements after the sticker shock is endless. However, can you blame anyone for wondering why a bass boat can cost 40-70 thousand dollars depending on the brand and/or rigging. Ten years ago you could buy a fully rigged bass boat for 25 thousand dollars, 20 years ago you could buy a fully rigged bass boat for 12 thousand dollars. So why the huge increase in price. There are several reasons for why the prices have jumped to incredible amounts.
Of course, there is always the stand by excuse, supply and demand, or inflation. However in today’s current market that doesn’t hold a lot of water. The demand is there, but the financing is not. Lack of banks willing to finance large boat loans is on a serious decline. This factor alone may end up bring the prices down some, but I don’t see it as being significant influence. What it has done is created a market for bass boats that are not rigged to the maximum with additional features. Some companies have put a smaller more base line model bass boat in their line up to help keep the market moving with lower prices.
The high cost of bass boats is our fault, the angler. We, the anglers, want bigger and better bass boats and the industry created them. We want 21 foot bass boats with 250 horsepower motors, 10 inch screens on our fish finders that can look down and to the side while being interlinked with other electronics, trolling motors that will pull a dock out of the water. Just trolling motors alone have gone from getting you around the lake to the “More Power” syndrome with over a hundred pounds of thrust. Not that long ago a 12 volt system was enough for most conditions, then came the 24 volt system, and everyone thought that was a must have. Now a 36 volt system is nearing a standard feature. With the increased voltage comes increased batteries and increased cost. These are just some of the things that we get excited over. We haven’t touched on shallow water anchor systems, hydraulic jack plates and steering, or extra suspension and disc brake systems for our boats trailer.
Let’s look at a boat that could be purchased 15 years ago. I bought a 17 foot Nitro with a 115 Johnson on the back of it. It came with a 60 pound trolling motor, which was more than enough to pull the boat around. It also came with an aluminum prop, now the props have to be stainless steel simply because the motors are too strong. I was proud to have a flasher on the front of the boat and the console electronics, well there weren’t any. No Jack plate, no hydraulic steering, not even a hoot foot for the throttle. Single axle trailer with brake and turn signal lights on it. This boat cost me just under $13,000.
Today, you can still get a 17-18 foot bass boat, with basic features for what would be considered reasonable money. Stay with an outboard under 200 horsepower, keep the standard electronics (no side scan, no down scan, no GPS), and don’t upgrade that already high power 70 pound trolling motor. You won’t really need a jack plate or hydraulic steering because you will be able to control the motor without any trouble. A completely base model boat, after all it’s not the boat that catches the bass; the angler catches the bass.
For more discussion on this, and to blast me, swing by the forum and let us know what you think. Why are Bass Boats Expensive