The very best bass boats around are highly specialized and very expensive, but if you’re looking for your first boat or have limited economic means, you’re probably trying to sort through the myriad of countless new bass boats for beginners. That can be a daunting task, but we’re here to help. This roundup of 10 top bass boats for beginners boils down the field to ID top contenders that are easy to learn to operate, easy to maintain, and easy to afford.
Alumacraft Prowler 165
With a sweet starting price of a mere $17,100, it’ll be tough to find a less expensive starter bass boat than the Alumacraft Prowler 165. Few boats will be easier to own thanks to a rinse-and-go interior (a spray-in liner is optional) and with a hull weight of 830 pounds, this bass boat can be hauled and launched with the most modest tow vehicles around. Yet it still has the features serious bass anglers demand, like a 20-gallon livewell, trolling motor pre-wiring, and rodracks with tip-protecting tubes running under the foredeck.
Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk
Above: 2021 Crestliner 1750 Fish Hawk Bass Boat. Photo by Crestliner Boats.
The Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk has been a stand-out in the field of beginner bass boats. Boats.com originally tested one and published a Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk review that provides a great overview of the boat. Particularly of note is the amount of V to its 12-degree deadrise hull making the vessel more comfortable that many other small aluminum bass boats in a chop. As an aluminum model it’s easy to trailer and requires very little maintenance, and it also offers rather spectacular performance for a beginner boat with a top-end over 52 mph. While this offering hasn’t changed much for the 2021 model year, it also stands out because another thing hasn’t changed much since we last checked out this boat almost five years ago: price, which runs at just a hair over $32,000.
G3 Sportsman 1710
Rigged and ready for action with a 40-hp outboard, the G3 1710 Sportsman costs far less than most new cars at an MSRP just over $23,000. The standard features you get in the base package, however, will probably cause you to do a double-take: a Minn Kota 55 Edge electric trolling motor, a Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5X fishfinder, a two-bank battery charger, an aerated livewell, a locking rodbox, built-in tackle trays, and a custom trailer are all included. If you want to jump into competition from day one without having to do a bunch of extra buying and rigging, this package is ready for action right out of the box.
Lowe Stinger 188
The Stinger was given a recent refresh by Lowe and the resulting package looks and feels like a high-end fiberglass bass boat, but without the high-end pricing; MSRP starts at $25,934 with a Mercury 75 ELPT FourStroke outboard and a trailer. It benefits from a wide-beam design (stretching the tape at 7’10”) and enjoys enhancements like a red-backlighted console, lighted toggle switches, a recessed trolling motor foot pedal, and bucket seats. With an 18’8” length overall, this boat also delivers a lot more sheer space than many competitors that cost significantly more.
While most beginner bass boats are aluminum as a matter of simple economics, the Z17 is a fiberglass fishing machine that manages to keep cost down to a reasonable $27,595 MSRP with an outboard and a trailer. Here’s the shocker: the standard powerplant is a potent 115-horsepower Mercury ProXS FourStroke that will have you racing to the hotspots at over 50 mph. On top of that, the package includes a bow-mount trolling motor, a 23-gallon livewell with an aerator and timer, and a Lowrance HOOK 4 fishfinder.
Ranger is known for building high-end bass fishing boats, but their entry-level Z175 can be had for a hair under $33,000 and gets you a fiberglass model with a 115-horse outboard plus a custom trailer with hydraulic brakes and Road Armor protective coating. Other significant stock features include a 15-gallon livewell, stainless-steel compression locks on the hatches, a Lowrance HOOK Reveal-5 fishfinder, a Dual Pro onboard battery charger, and a Minn Kota Edge 70-pound-thrust electric trolling motor. And this boat is built like its larger siblings, with a rock-solid pultruded transom, a fiberglass stringer grid, and gas struts on the large hatches.
Skeeter ZX 150
While the $36,395 NAP price tag may be the high-water mark in this roundup, let’s remember that this number is still well under the average price for a new pick-up truck in this day and age — many middle-class Americans will still find it thoroughly affordable. And this package is also the most powerful in this group, running with a Yamaha V Max SHO VF150 outboard that will net you speeds in the 60-mph range. That’s a lot for a beginner to handle, but it’s also enough to take you from an amateur to a pro. Getting a ZX 150 also gets you bigger, better accessories than most beginner boats deliver, like a three-bank battery charger, a standard (and upgradable) Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP fishfinder/GPS, tilt-hydraulic steering, a 24-volt 70-pound-thrust electric trolling motor, and a 12-inch jackplate.
Tracker Pro 170
Of all the dedicated bass boats out there, Tracker takes the most affordable pricing prize with the Pro 170. This 16’8” long, 6’5” wide rig comes with a 40-horsepower outboard and a single-axel trailer at the roundup-winning “no haggle no hassle” price of $16,995. The package deal includes must-haves like a fishfinder (a Lowrance Hook2 4x) and electric trolling motor (a Minn Kota 45-pound-thrust Edge). For the 2021 model year the Pro 170 also includes some enhancements, including Tracker’s Diamond Coat 2.0 powder-coat/clear-coat finish and an all-welded two-piece hull with pressed-in strakes and chines.
Triton 17 TX
Beating the $20K barrier is no small feat even for a starter bass boat, but the Triton 17 TX does just that. Rigged with a 50-hp powerplant and a trailer, this aluminum rig may be small but it has some very big advantages. The livewell, for example, boasts a whopping 30 gallons. The rodbox can hold rods up to eight feet long. And the integrated tackle stowage system houses a dozen Plano 3700 tackle boxes.
At $24,795 with a Yamaha VF90LA and a BackTrack trailer, the Xpress H17 has something other aluminum competitors in the same size and price range rarely offer: 0.125” thick 5052 aluminum construction. Most boats in this class have 25-percent less hull thickness, and some have hullsides that are even thinner. That extra beef will give any boat owner, beginner or not, confidence in the ruggedness of their fishing machine. The H17 also boasts Xpress’s “Hyper-Lift” padded hull design, which makes for a faster, drier ride. In fact, with 90 horses on the transom the boat can easily cruise in the mid-30s and tops out at over 46 mph.
To learn more in-depth information about bass boats, be sure to check out our Guide To Bass Boats article.