Bass boats have never been better than they are today. The only downside is that it can be hard for buyers to sift through all of them to find the very best fit for their fishing style.
That’s why I put together a quick list of the bass boat brands that I consider to be the best. From top to bottom, these are the first brands I would consider in today’s market.
Obviously, there’s quite a bit of controversy when it comes to picking favorites. Don’t take any one ranking here as gospel. Everyone has different needs and I really do believe that every brand listed here has something to offer the right fisherman.
Without further ado…
The Ranger name carries a lot of weight in the world of bass boats. They’re one of the legends in the industry and for good reason- they make an outstanding product.
It’s not at all a stretch to say that Ranger’s hand-laid hulls may be the best out there. No surprise, as a quality hand-laid hull will almost always beat out a chopped hull. They are extremely durable and reliable for the long haul. I’ve spent a ton of time on Ranger boats and I’ve never been disappointed.
Here’s a quick clip of one of their flagship 2521L models on the water:
Not too shabby, to say the least.
Ranger hulls are also at the head of the class for stability in rough water. The ride is smooth in all but the worst conditions. If there’s any knock at all on Ranger hulls, it’s that they tend to be slightly heavier and a touch slower than some of the faster boats out there. In my opinion, that’s a worthy trade-off for the quality you get.
Fishability is also top-notch with any Ranger bass boat. They shape and layout is generally as good as it gets. That goes for almost any model you choose. The customization options are endless and it’s no problem to get a Ranger decked out with anything and everything you could possibly want.
It’s also worth noting that resale value on a Ranger is always very good.
Finally, Ranger customer service is wonderful. I can personally attest, as I have a Ranger bay boat in the family. Ranger has always been a pleasure to deal with and they’ve always stood 100% behind their product.
If you’ve got the cash to spend, a Ranger is always going to be a very solid investment.
#2 Bass Cat
Bass Cat is a brand that many bass fishermen swear by. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that “Once you have a Bass Cat, you’ll never have anything else.”
Overall, Bass Cat builds a boat that is right up there with Ranger in quality, but they do it within a smaller, more personal operation. This is a big selling point, as the customer service side of Bass Cat is probably the best in the business.
Here’s a video from Bass Cat. It does a good job of showcasing the features on their Jaguar model, my personal favorite boat in their lineup.
No matter what model you go with, a Bass Cat is going to ride and handle like a dream. The hull designs are purpose-built and feel great in the water. Comfort in rough water is something that Bass Cat excels at.
Compared to Ranger, Bass Cat boats definitely have a superior ride, while Ranger still wins out on maximum fishability and deck size. You can still outfit a Bass Cat with just about anything you want though with extra equipment and accessories. It’s just a little tighter when you’re actually on the deck fishing.
If you’re looking for a high-quality, insanely-good-riding bass boat with impeccable customer service, Bass Cat knocks it out of the park.
All-in-all, Legend makes one of the best all-around boats on the market. The fit and finish is as good as it gets and the attention to detail is outstanding. Even the smallest components of a Legend are held to a very high standard.
In the water, Legend hulls are some of the most stable. The handling at high speeds is something that is noticeably better than what you find in most other manufacturers. I’ve seen a few guys that (not that I’d recommend it) have put their hands in their pockets while doing 70+ in a Legend. Anyone who has ever driven an average bass boat knows that it takes some guts to do that at high speeds unless your running is extremely stable.
Legend deck layout is really wide, making it very fishable. It’s pretty much on-par with Ranger in this regard. You’ll always have a lot of room to stand, big livewells, and plenty of storage.
Just like the other top boat brands on this list, Legend’s customer service is great. Legend owners love their boats and they are a pretty loyal bunch. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard heard anything negative from but Legend owners owners dealings with the company.
If you want to haul $#@ in your bass boat, then you’ll fit right in with the average Skeeter owner. Whether or not they are the fastest hull on the market, the general theme around the community is that Skeeters are meant to be pushed.
From my experience, their reputation has always held up. I’ve been on both Skeeter bass boats and bay boats- they’ve always been blazing fast. The ride is also pretty darn good for such a fast hull. They’re also pretty stable, considering.
Skeeter build quality is pretty much in line with most upper-tier bass boats, even if it’s not quite at the level of the earlier entries. Personally, I consider a Skeeter to fall in a nice middle ground between performance and quality.
Customer service is also pretty solid, but it’s still behind the industry leaders.
Nitro is probably the highest-volume bass boat out there. They are known for building a solid boat that gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
A Nitro hull does a decent job of almost everything. There’s not really any one area where it struggles. That said, there’s not really any area where it blows the competition out of the park. The performance matches up very well with the price- right in the middle of the pack. Layout, equipment options, ride, and general fishability is all average to above-average in just about every Nitro model.
If there are gripes with Nitro, they are generally directed at one of two things- fit and fish or customer service. Neither of these are awful, but they are definitely well behind what you’ll find with other brands on this list.
Still, Nitro is a very good option for anyone who wants an affordable bass boat that will perform adequately in almost every area.
Chances are good that this list will stir up some controversy. I recommend using it less as a definitive guide and more of a starting point for your research. You’ll find plenty of anglers out there that own each one of these brands and absolutely love them.
Not everyone is looking for the same type of boat and priorities fall all across the spectrum. Some folks can’t imagine going with anything but the most stable, durable hull. Some can’t imagine not having the fasted boat on the lake. Whether you’re looking for maximum durability or the ability to pass other boats like they’re sitting still, I’m confident that you’ll find what you’re looking for in at least one of these brands.
So, now that you’ve made it this far, let us know which brand you like best. I’m sure there will be more than one owner who wants to let us know that we made a mistake by leaving out their choice!
And be sure to tell us if you end up with one of the brands listed here!