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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I were down at the Ford show trying to compare the fishing boats. We are not interested in a "bass boat" as we have a couple of younger kids, so I would like the higher sides of a "walleye" boat. My wife was really interested in the Tracker 17' as it had a larger raised platform in the back so she could sit looking forward and still have something to put her feet on. We have a 19' Searay open bow that is setup for cruising, but we (really I) would like to have a nice setup for fishing.

Without being able to water test the rides and "fishability" of the boats, what other options/factors should I be considering for Tracker, Lund, Crestliner, Alumacraft? These are the tin boats, but what about the glass of stratos, tuffy, etc? What do I lose or gain between tin and glass?

* Warranty seems comparable.
* Layout has not been a major factor as I have not fished in too many boats to know what I like and dislike. The live well up front with me in the bow seemed like a nice touch,,, saving me from running to the back.
* Motors are a major difference, but I have no opinions if something is better than any other. Any thoughts?
* Serviceability - Are there any service problems I should be aware of?

I know everyone fishes differently, but are there options or functions of your boat that is a must have that I might want to consider? For instance, live wells that are auto and pump out?

The show really got us fired up about getting a boat, but I would like to do my research to make sure that I am happy when the season is done.

The folks on this website are such a wealth of information; I know there will be a list of a dozen things I have not even considered. Thanks for your help!!
 

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I have a year 2000 Starcraft Pro-Elite 2000 and can`t say enough about it. 20 foot with a 102 inch beam makes for a great stable ride even in the StClair chop. There`s tons of storage, (still trying to fill it) LOL.They also make the Pro-Elite in an 18 footer which you stated was the size you were interested in. I also take the wife and kids and they have a ball. Tubing, joy riding and such. Starcraft boats are well made and owners seem to hang on to them. There`s not too many used ones out there. I recently saw the new Starcraft Futura and was very impressed with it. I spoke with the designers of the boat and was impressed with how much thought went into it. The Futura also is an 18 footer. I purchased my rig from Wilson Marine in Brighton and am very satisfied with them as far as service and the treatment I recieved. h2o gave the site, www.starcraftmarine.com Good luck with your purchase in whatever boat you decide on.
 

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basshawk,
Did you look at the new Triton 176 welded aluminum fishing boats at the D&R Sports area? There was a lot of interest in them at the show.

You might want to look at the Ranger multi-species fiberglass boats too like the 618T or the 618VS. That's give some variety in layout, quality and style.
 

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I own a 2000 Lund Explorer - 17 ft. I am very happy with the boat. It is a medium "V" that handels some very rough weather on St. Clair, and it is ideal on the inland lakes. A couple of the major benefits with this boat are 1-it is aluminum, so it is much lighter to tow, 2-Lunds are excellent quality and it has a high real sale value, and 3-it has ample storage and looks great. A couple of the drawbacks (although minor) are: 1-My model did not have locking lockers, 2-the paint job looks great, but if you use the boat on a consistant basis the paint is basically like a car finish. Which means it can and will get scratched, nicked etc. The paint finish is also on the inside of the boat, so tackle boxes, shoes, anchors can all nick the paint. This is one problem that you wouldn't face with a fiberglass boat. It is a bit of a pain, but I am very particular about my boat.
I would also recommend a Trailmaster trailer. It is very heavy duty. Mine has a collapsable tounge (a major benefit in the garage), and walkon fenders.
Good luck, Bassin Bill
 

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The absolute first question you need to ask yourself is "where & how will you be fishing most often ?". I think you have half the answer, with your desire to purchase something that will be suitable for the family. But answering the where part will better help you determine the size and type of construction you will need.

I made this mistake with my first boat purchase.
 

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Good advice Alex.

Basshawk,
Not sure what type of fishing you're planning on, how big of a boat you want or what your price range is. Two years ago I was in the same situation as you. A bass boat wasn't an option for this family man and I wanted a boat that fit in the garage. I looked around for a long time before I made my decision. I almost bought a Tracker Targa 17 until I found the PrinceCraft TSP Tournament Super Pro 178. PrinceCraft boats are made of the highest quality aluminum and are finished very nicely. They're built like a tank. Some of the other boats that I looked at already looked old because the paint quality was poor and the upolstery and trim work looked like it was slapped on. I have a removable tongue and my boat fits in a 20 foot deep garage with the door closed. With a 115 Merc the boat gets up okay and goes around 45 mph. It has higher sides that are around 7 or 8 inches wide. You can purchase PriceCraft accessories like downrigger mounting plates, seating, canvas, etc... that is made for the boat not aftermarket. One word of advice, don't skimp on the motor. I didn't want to send the additional bucks for an optimax or 4 stroke and now I wish that I would have. Like my father would have said, another $1500 or $2000 on your loan is like a woman pis___g in the ocean.

Good luck and enjoy shopping.
 

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Hey Basshawk,

I do not claim to be an expert, but I hope this helps.

I was down at the show helping out Wonderland selling boats and during the span of a show you learn that every buyer seems to have their own reasons for picking out a boat. Here are a few things that you should consider. This is boat show season and every dealer is putting together a great package to bring in the buyer. Most tins will have the basics; (3) seats; trolling motor and a battery, free cover, warranty's...Do your homework. Write down the items in the packages you look at. Compare quality first, then price.

I found most packages do not include the spare tire. A good salesperson will include it in the price and tell you they added it. Seats are another item. Most 17' to 19' boats are packaged with (3) seats. I always offer a fourth one. It is something you don't think you will need standing on the floor of the boat show, but you will love it having it on the water. Other things that can be added, usually at a discount, during the show season are a ski tow bar, ladder, bimini top, CD radio (sometimes included), etc. As Alex stated, define your use for the boat. Three, four times a year...well then some of that stuff may not be that important.

To me the most important decision after you found your boat is the motor size. Most packages are set-up with a size or two lower than the maximum rating for the boat. Obviously, this keeps the price a little lower and more attractive, but it does not mean the boat is under powered for all situations. For instance, a 17' tin with a 40 HP would be fine on inlands and maybe the river. But on the bigger waters, Erie & St. Clair, I would suggest getting the most horsepower you can afford. Main reason is safety. If you need to get off the big water fast, you want the ability available to do so.

Service is another biggie. Ask about the service. You might even go out and visit the place. Ask around to other boaters. There is nothing worse than having your boat down for half a summer due to poor service.

Again, these are just some my suggestion. Some may disagree. Be patient and shop wisely. Make sure you get everything you want.

If you have any other questions or want info about the boats at Wonderland, feel free to email [email protected]

I hope your boat buying is a fun and successful.

See you on the water.

GeorgeT
 

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STARCRAFT
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone.

Regarding the use of the boat, I would hope to go out to St Clair bass / walleye fishing about once a week (weekends). Ideally, the family would come with me or meet me on the water for a little fishing then tube rides for the kids. Otherwise, my plan is to fish early in the morning on weekends and get off the water at lunch time so I can spend time with the family. I would also hope to fish a weeknight once every 2 weeks. Call me chicken, but I have been on St Clair when I didn't want to be (bad weather came quick!). So I prefer to launch and fish in that general area instead of running from one end to the other.

My parents have a cottage on Lakeville Lake. We would probably spend a weekend a months out there for some warm water (compared to St Clair) tubing, swimming, and fishing.

It seems folks are relatively happy with what they have and I know it is all about personal preference. Is there a boat that I should stay away from due to quality or service concerns? Even if it is not from personal experience, do folks have a general questionable feeling about a particular boat?

My thoughts - Are they reasonable?
Alum vs Glass - We have a Pontiac Montana (minivan) that I wish to pull the boat with. I think I would like to go with an aluminum boat so it would be a little lighter to tow. I want to do some more research on how the boats are constructed. I believe Tracker uses the full thickness alum throughout the boat, while others use a little thinner on the sides compared to the bottoms.

Motor size - I agree with others about leaning towards a larger motor than deemed necessary. I grew up skiing with a 70hp Johnson and feel this is close to the bottom hp I would want. I don't plan on doing too much trolling and feel I could use my trolling motor for the rare cases instead of getting a separate kicker or worrying about idling down the main motor. My fishing trips are usually less than 6 hrs on the water so I don't think I would drain the trolling battery(??).

Seating - making sure I have adequate seating for my wife, 2 kids, and myself.

Trailer - ideally, dual axle with brakes. With the minivan, are brakes an option I should consider or would it be something that I should strongly consider. Looking at 17 or 18 ft boat.

Thanks again for everyone's help.
 

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Brakes arn't even a question. Definately get brakes for the trailer. What's your price range that will narrow you search down alot. The StarCraft should be in the top 3. Lund is good also. Think service, say where is service for my boat. Good luck in your choice and let us know your final outcome.

h2o<----watch those video's on the StarCraft in the site i sent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As for a price range, $13 to $16k is where i think i should be for what i want to get.

Thru may errors, i finally realized that paying for what you really want and not settling for something due to price is the best way to go.
 

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A Tracker from Bass Pro would seem the way to go.

Have you considered a used boat. More bang for the buck

h2o<---says just a thought
 

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QUOTE(basshawk @ Mar 10 2004, 11:36 AM)Thru may errors, i finally realized that paying for what you really want and not settling for something due to price is the best way to go.
Agree 100%
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
H20 - we have looked at used boats and i am fairly comfortable getting a boat a couple of years old. However, my wife was a big fan of the "lifetime" warranty on the hull and decking to the original purchaser.

We may go with a used boat to get that bang for the buck until we determine for ourselves what we really need / want in a boat after a couple of seasons.

I have looked at the various sites mentioned under another topic related to selling a boat. The best spot i have found is Boat Trader. There are a couple of dealers in the Trader that have something close to what we are looking for, but not exactly. I am in the process of talking to them about finding what i want.

I believe we have agreed to a single consol layout for extra walking around room.

The swing away trailer tongue would be a wonderful option for me with our garage. Rather new concept in trailers i believe, so it limits our used boat population.
 

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You may want to check out the new Mirrocrafts. They offer an 18 footer that has a very unique set-up in the back (they had them at the Ford Field show). The back end has a bench seat that flips down and turns into another casting deck. Very family friendly, without sacrificing fishabilitiy.

If you are pulling with a minivan, I would not go with anything over 18feet and I would go single axle. You do not need the extra axle with that light of boat. The double axle is heavier and harder to manuever by hand in the garage.

I used to have an 18 foot lund Tyee, with a single axle, which would be pullable with a minivan. Now I have a 19.5 foot Champion Fishunter with a double axle. I could not pull mine with a minivan.

Good luck,

Mike
 

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Even though many people think differently on this site, Bass Pro is not the place to buy a Tracker boat. All of the Bass Pro stores are franchise owned, meaning that Jonny Morris truly can control what the boats sell for. They sell by the book and by the book only. The independent stores like myself(Dand R Sports) and ohio marine have some room. We are in control of ourselves. The only thing that limits us is the very little profit margins in a tracker. We also have many opportunities that the franchise stores do not. We are able to offer some very great deals on left over models, other out of business dealers inventories and scratch and dent models that usually are not either. If you are looking at a tracker please give us a call.

Joshua Cooper
 

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Basshawk, do yourself a favor and check out the Crestliner 1850 Sportfish O/B. It has six person seating and the rear seat converts into a large rear fishing platform. For aluminum, it's a great looking boat and the interior is far from spartan.
http://www.crestliner.com/boat_info/boat_m...odel.asp?BID=28.
While you're there also check out the 1850 Fish Hawk. It's available in single and dual console.
If you're not a fan of welded hulls, checkout the Smokercraft Millentia Series, particularly the 172 (17'2"), the 192 (18'10"), and the 212 (20'10"). These aluminums look good, too.
Both the Crestliner and the Smokercraft have lifetime hull warranties.
http://www.smokercraft.com/2003/aluminum/m...illentia192.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We really liked that crestliner with the folding bench seat in the back. I was told at the Ford show that it did not come with a single console which kinda made us pass on looking further at it. I will make some phone calls and follow up on this if it has the single console. Looks like it has all the features we are looking for.

I think i would like to go with the alum hull for the weight.

As of now, it looks like Tracker, Crestliner, and Starcraft are the front runners. Narrowing down the search!

Joshua Cooper - I will give you a call this week.
 
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