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05 Mar

Things to Look for When Buying a Bass Boat: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Bass Fishing Tips

Fishing from the banks is how most of us start, but as you probably know, that approach leaves you staring out into the distance at all the spots you can’t reach. Just wondering if that’s where your next big bass could come from.

As such, you’re probably looking to pick up a bass boat.

That sounds easy, but it’s a fairly big investment regardless of the type of boat you get, and the various features that come with different bass boats do make a huge difference in your experience.

Today, we’re going to go over all the little things to look for when buying a bass boat to finally get out to those hard-to-reach spots.

1: Know Your Price Range

Throughout this guide, we’re going to be talking about a lot of different features. Many of which will be fairly expensive. It’s important to note that you don’t have to immediately buy the finest bass boat on the market that loads all these features into one package.

First, if you’re on a budget, you might want to opt for an older, traditional, Jon boat. These are simple aluminum boats you mount a motor to, and if needed, you can even modify them to accept a multitude of new features as you build up your expendable income. This is a great way for younger anglers on lower budgets to enjoy boat fishing without starting adulthood in a ton of debt.

However, if you can afford it, you can skip all the modifying and third-party part buying and simply start with a mid-range, or even a luxury, bass boat with all the pre-installed features you need.

To get started, even if you go with a small aluminum boat, you should have an initial budget of at least two grand, though. As you look at fancier boats, you’ll be looking at prices of $20,000, $40,000, and even upwards of $70,000. There’s a huge selection of boats out there, and almost anyone can find something they can afford. You just have to know your budget and stick to it.

2: Capacity

First and foremost, you need a boat that has enough room for you and the people you’re likely to bring with you. If you’re a solo fisherman, this is a lot cheaper. You can opt for a smaller boat.

Even the smallest bass boats tend to have seating for two people, but there are also options with enough room and seating for four, six, or even more passengers at once.

This ties into our next tip, but you primarily want to focus on having room for your regular fishing buddies.

If you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time squeezing everybody on board, and if you have too much, you’ll usually waste money on a bigger boat with a bunch of seats you won’t use.

3: Storage Capacity

This ties in with our previous point. You don’t just need to worry about how many people you can fit on the boat. You’re going to need space for a lot more than you might think.

Before we even start talking about tackle storage, you’ll need room for properly placed life vests and rescue devices that are required by law in most areas, communications devices, food and drinks, basic repair and maintenance supplies, and more.

Then, there’s tackle storage. You don’t want to have to load up all your tackle boxes on the top of the boat and hope they don’t fall off when you hit a wave or jostle the boat too much. You need plenty of side compartments and storage locations to safely keep your expensive tackle.

This is a major problem with cheaper boats like the simple aluminum boats we mentioned earlier, but most proper bass boats feature integrated storage containers that are hidden within seats and other parts of the boat. That’s optimal because rather than having a cluttered boat, you can have tons of capacity without creating trip hazards or dumping half your stuff in the lake constantly.

4: Sonar Mounts

Sonar isn’t as popular with bank fishermen. There are options, such as bobber-like sonar attachments for your line, but most anglers don’t use them. On a boat, sonar is a staple. You’re covering massive lakes in a single fishing trip, and to save time, you want to use the advantages that sonar provides.

Unfortunately, sonar needs to be mounted on your boat. The actual sonar sensors and relays are connected beneath the boat and the interface you look at and work with is mounted to the dash near the wheel like a small tablet or computer.

It’s best to get a boat that either has mounting brackets pre-installed that will work with most sonar models, or just get a boat that comes with sonar capabilities pre-installed. You certainly don’t want to finance an expensive boat just to start drilling holes into it to mount things.

5: Water-Safe Storage and Electronics Compartments

You need a lot of electronics on your boat. Whether that means your sonar or something more crucial like an emergency communication device to help you get help on the water, you need to have areas that protect those electronics from water. In a worst-case scenario where you capsize, those things are gone regardless. 

However, you don’t want your emergency radio to get soaked from a big splash, your on-board phone charging stations to short circuit, or anything like that.

Not every bass boat has waterproof compartments for these things. You’re not out of luck, though. You can pack smaller electronics in waterproof bags and bring them on board just like any other gear until you need them, most sonar units have waterproof casings, and similar solutions are available. It's just best to have this feature integrated.

6: On-Board Charging Solutions

This is a basic feature in a lot of modern boats just like it is for cars. We’re so tied to our electronics in the modern world that it’s crucial to have some way to charge up your phone while you’re on the water.

With the old traditional options, you might need to find another solution such as power banks, but if you’re buying a proper bass boat, this is one feature that must be incorporated.

7: Your Transporting Method

One thing that doesn’t have much to do with the boat, but you still need to take it into account, is how you’re going to transfer the boat to and from the water.

It might be tempting, especially if you’re wealthy, to get the nicest, biggest, most amazing bass boat you can find. You’ll get tons of use out of it, and you’ll be the envy of every other angler at the lake. However, suppose you don’t have the big pickup truck necessary to pull that boat, as well as a boat trailer capable of holding it securely. In that case, you’ll be buying a driveway ornament.

Boats are heavy, and you’ll likely need a truck regardless of what type of boat you buy but take into consideration how much your truck can pull, and don’t buy something that is going to push it to its limits. You put yourself in danger, and you can potentially damage your vehicle.

8: Your Ability to Maneuver a Big Load

This goes hand in hand with the last point. Once you get to the lake, you’ll have to maneuver your boat through dense crowds of bank fishermen heading to the water's edge, and other boaters getting their boats to the ramp, of course, you’ll have to maneuver the boat into the water in reverse.

Try to get a boat that you’re confident you can do all that with.

This and the last tip are mostly minor considerations, but they’ll have a huge impact on your experience. You don’t want to be the guy struggling for half an hour to get your boat in the water while others wait.

9: Your Local Fishing Spots

If you regularly get to fish at a massive lake with the best conditions possible, you don’t have to worry about this. However, some lakes simply aren’t good for certain types of boats.

For example, let’s say you like to fish in the marshlands of Louisiana. There are all kinds of hazards in the water, and navigating through them with a big boat can be extremely difficult. It’s a horrible experience, to be honest.

Opting for a smaller boat, even if you can technically afford the biggest, best, boat on the market, is a worthwhile consideration.

Even for those fishing in the Midwest, around Florida’s mangroves, or in upstate New York in pristine lakes, the type of water being fished in needs to be considered before settling on a boat. Find one that matches where you’ll be fishing.

10: Live Well

If you’re a bank fisherman, you might use a fish basket or a bucket full of lake water to keep your fish and bait until you’re done for the day depending on what you’re doing.

On a boat, you don’t want to have to dangle a basket over the side and risk hitting it, and you certainly don’t want a bucket of water sloshing around and spilling minnows everywhere.

Getting a boat with a built-in live well is crucial. If you catch some bluegill you’re going to use for cut bait, or you want to keep some minnows alive, you simply dump them in the live well, and it circulates the lake’s water to ensure they don’t go into shock or run out of oxygen.

Is a Bass Boat Necessary?

Now that we’ve gone through the things to look for when buying a bass boat, you’re probably wondering if you really need a boat, or if you might just want some reaffirming words so you can justify the expense. Well, we won't leave you hanging.

A bass boat is 100% worth the expense. You’ll suddenly be able to explore the entirety of whatever body of water you fish without hiking through brush and trees with all your gear, you can cover large bodies of water in a short period to make the most of your trip, and it’s just fun to get on the water and drive around.

However, if you don’t have the means to transport it yet, or it’s not a purchase you can justify financially, you’re still capable of having an amazing time with the sport, and you can still get out there and break records.

Things to Consider for Your Bass Boat

Once you get a bass boat, you probably won’t want to spend much money for a while. However, it’s kind of like buying a tackle box. You get it, and then you have to start buying a ton of things to go in it.

We’ll assume you bought a boat that came with a sonar system. Here are all the little things you should buy first to accompany your boat purchase.

  • Boat Radio: Getting updates on weather conditions and being able to contact emergency services is crucial. Especially on big lakes where you can’t get back to the boat ramp quickly or people might not find you for quite a while.

  • Safety Gear: You need life vests and a rescue donut. Not only are these things legally required most of the time, but you do not want your buddy to fall over with an injury and drown because you didn’t have the equipment on board to help. Get a medical kit, too. It’ll help with the little injuries that every angler experiences.

  • Rod Organization: One of the cool things about using a boat is you have a mobile base. When you’re bank fishing, you likely only carry one rod, but on a boat, you can bring a variety of rods to switch between for different tactics. Buy some rod organization solutions to keep those rods clean, organized, and ready to go. Of course, always make sure you only use the regulated number of rods at once.

Finally, get the BassForecast fishing app. Right there on your phone, you’ll get real-time, in-depth, weather information where you’re at, maps of every waterway in the country, a spot-on solunar, and even more useful tips.

Whether you’re on a bass boat or fishing the bank, the BassForecast fishing app is a must-have tool.