New Boats, Motors
By Gary Lewis
If you find yourself shopping for a boat, efficiency, speed, utility and fishability are likely your main motivators. And marine engineers from across the country have heard you. Looking at new boats and motors? Take the time to examine the options from the top manufacturers. There are more choices than ever in every category and options you may not have thought of.
The one common denominator in innovation was the requirement to stow more gear. Anglers are taking more tackle to the water than ever and we need a place to store it, yet keep it close to hand. Today's new manufacturing processes are making boats safer, more secure and more space- and fuel efficient.
Here's your Game & Fish guide to the new model boats and the powerplants that will drive your fishing in 2012.
Alumacraft Competitor 165 Sport
Brand new from Alumacraft, is the Competitor 165, available in the Sport, CS and Tiller models. The Sport is a 16-foot, 7-inch boat with a beam of 87 inches and a 35 inches maximum height with 23 inches to the floor. Rated for a maximum 90HP and a capacity of six people, the boat tips the scales at 1,160 pounds with a fuel capacity of 19 gallons and a livewell that holds 19 gallons. The Competitor is available in Olympic white, mica black, ice blue and canyon red.
Suggested Retail: $16,195 (with outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor, Humminbird graph and trailer)
Bass Cat Margay
All new from Bass Cat is the Margay, a 17-foot, 7-inch fiberglass craft rated from 70 to 150HP. With a 90-inch beam, the boat offers a broad fishing platform from front to rear and a front deck center rod box that can hold up to 14 rods and storage beneath the rod box. At the rear of the boat are two more storage compartments, as well as the battery and fuel tank spaces. Other features include a step down ice chest and a stainless steel ladder. The Margay weighs in at 1,250 pounds and can hold 26 gallons of fuel.
The Margay's trailer is constructed of three-inch C-channel frame and comes with 14-inch bright galvanized wheels and a spare tire.
Suggested retail: $23,900 (includes Mercury 115 and trailer)
Carolina Skiff 23 Ultra Elite Super Sport
For 2012, Carolina Skiff introduced the 23-foot Ultra Elite Super Sport, a boat designed to be at home in inshore and offshore waters as well as on lakes and rivers. The console is equipped with a starboard side door with step down access to a large head area. Standard features include eight rod storage racks below the gunwales on both sides to hold a total of 16 rods and bow seating with storage that wraps around a rounded bow. Stern seating offers a fold away bench seat. The 85-gallon fuel tank lays beneath the deck aft the console. Other features include a 32-gallon baitwell, a built-in tackle center, lockers, LED deck lighting, freshwater wash-down and a stern sink.
Suggested retail: Not provided
ClackaCraft 16-foot High Side
Clackacraft is building a lot of their new boats with side-drifting in mind. And they see the need to accommodate anglers who are bringing more rods to the river, rigged and ready. The Clackamas, Oregon-based company built their 16-foot High Side to stand up to the demands of big whitewater. This is a boat built for Northwest rivers like the Snake, Klamath, Rogue and the Deschutes. Rather than 23 inches on the sides, this model has 30-inch sides with a bottom width of 57 inches. Across the oarlocks, the beam measures 85-1/2 inches. The oarsman sits on a rower's tractor seat. The front bench comes standard with two padded fold down seats. There is dry storage under the rower and passenger seats. For 2012, options include a walk-thru rower's bench, a five rod holder and a rear knee brace.
Factory direct: $8,850 (with trailer, oars, anchor system)
Crestliner Pro Tiller
For 2012, the Pro Tiller offers more fishing deck space than ever. A deep hull design, a double welded transom and continuous welds on both the inside and outside are hallmarks of this Crestliner. A command console is situated on the port side, close to the captain's chair. A pull-out tray brings electronics within reach and locks and stows up to 10-inch graphs when not in use. A livewell and baitwell are positioned within reach on both sides of the tiller control. Rods can be stowed in a cockpit starboard rod locker and in a center rod locker. Lockable storage drawers help keep the decks free from gear. The 1650 is rated for a max 75HP motor, while the 1850 is built for a 90HP powerplant.
Prices start at $14.695
G3 Boats 166 Eagle SE
Measuring in at 16 feet, 5 inches long, the new Eagle 166 SE from G3 Boats is built on an all-welded two piece wide body aluminum hull with an all-aluminum transom and is rated for motor options between 25HP and 60HP. The Eagle 166 SE comes with a Minn Kota 45 Edge 12v trolling motor, the Garmin Echo 100 fish finder, a contour console which allows for customized dealer installed gauges, a 19-gallon easy to access aerated livewell, custom steering wheel, quick draw rod organizer, two fishing seats, wide casting decks and lots of storage.
The 166 Eagle SE is factory matched with a G3 custom powder-coated tubular steel trailer and is available in high gloss black with custom metallic red Carerra graphics and matching Midnight Star marine grade carpet.
Suggested Retail: $17,495 (with Yamaha 40HP 4-stroke and trailer)
Hells Canyon Marine Rush HD
Built for the brawling whitewater rivers of the northwest, the 22-foot Rush HD from Hells Canyon Marine comes standard with a 6.0 liter, fuel-injected Chevrolet engine, a Hamilton Jet 212 turbo pump, a tandem-axle trailer with electric brakes and a host of options that allows this boat to do double duty from fishing to water-skiing in the same day. Constructed on a five-stringer system, the boat measures 6.6 feet across the bottom and 8.8 feet at the beam. A 104 gallon fuel tank provides plenty of range. Sliding windows, three air-ride seats, a swim deck and step ladder, stereo system, rear heater and cup holders make for a comfortable ride.
Factory direct: $64,140
The new 1875 and 1775 Lund Pro-Vs are manufactured in both a side-console (SE) and a full windshield (IFS) version. Pro-V 1875 SE/IFS and 1775 SE/IFS offer fishing-friendly layouts, optional rear flip seat and casting platforms, more storage, generous tackle and rod space and newly designed driver and passenger consoles.
Lund's SportTrak System allows for customization, securing rod holders, cup holders, electronics and other accessories without drilling holes in your boat. The patented ProTrak Boat Covering System features a custom cover and adjustable snaps for a weather-tight fit. Optional aft flip-up seating extends the rear casting deck.
Suggested retail: $29,372/$34,507 (with 4-stroke outboard and trailer)
Ranger Z520 Comanche
The Ranger Z520 heads into 2012 with a long list of upgrades that include a raised front casting deck, better for flipping and pitching in shallow water. The raised casting deck adds more space in the storage compartments and rod lockers. A recessed foot pedal is standard equipment for 2012. The console is redesigned for more leg room and larger electronics. With a length of 20 feet, 9 inches and a beam of 95 inches, the Z520 weighs in at 1,825 pounds. Rated for a maximum of 250HP, the boat has two 24-gallon tanks and can take 1,650 pounds of passengers, motor and gear.
Suggested Retail: See dealer
Skookum Products Steelheader
Skookum Products' 10-foot Steelheader is a whitewater-grade cataraft built on a steel galvanized frame. Made to handle low water, small streams and long, steep rock gardens, the boat can take a payload of 1,000 pounds. The pontoons feature 150-ounce PVC seams and skid plates with 100-ounce tops for UV protection and Halkey Robert-style valves. Standard equipment includes seven-foot oars, oar locks, a Skidguard floor and rear deck, a flip-down padded swivel seat, cam straps, patch kit, air pump, hose and adapter.
For 2012, the Steelheader gets an optional upgrade with a cooler rack and motor mount that gives the angler a 5HP propulsion option. An angler can also opt for a dog deck on this boat.
Suggested retail: $2,250
Stratos 326 XF
Stratos engineers call their 326 XF a multispecies boat built to chase walleye, pike and musky in big water. With a length of 20 feet, 5 inches, the 326 XF is rated for a maximum 225HP and is available with a number of factory-matched outboards. The hull is designed for responsive handling and the fuel and battery compartment are aligned with the keel at midship for a smoother ride and stability at rest. The windshield is a walk-thru design, the carpet snaps in and out. There are three custom-fit folding seats, drink holders, an insulated cooler and lockable storage on port and starboard.
A Humminbird 728 graph, a Minn Kota trolling motor, a 50 amp breaker, hydraulic steering and flush-mount remote throttle control are standard equipment on the Stratos 326 XF. The livewell is located at the stern and a baitwell is found up front. Up to a dozen eight-foot rods can be stored under the front deck. Rounding out the package is a custom-built, tandem axle trailer, designed to perfectly match the boat.
Suggested retail: $45,395
Evinrude 200 E-Tec HO
Evinrude's 200 E-Tec HO is a 200 cubic-inch V6 that weighs in at just over 500 pounds. This two-stroke comes standard with three-year/300-hour spark plugs optimized for 87 octane fuel. The company advertises no need for inspections or adjustments, no changing oil or gear case lube and no spring tune-ups for three years and then every three years after that. With updated fuel and oil injection systems and stratified combustion, the engine performs well at trolling speeds. An acoustically tuned intake and exhaust and foam lining makes this a quieter motor and cleaner burning than other two strokes.
Suggested retail: Not provided
Mercury 150 FourStroke
Mercury Marine's new 150HP outboard is a 3.0-liter 4-cylinder inline made for single or twin applications. Compatible with Mercury's Big Tiller system, the 150 FourStroke may be rigged with standard mechanical cables. It is also dual cable- and hydraulic steering compatible and may run on either standard analog or full SmartCraft instrumentation. The freshwater flushing system allows engine flushing from inside the boat or when the boat is trailered. Other features include the SmartStart and an idle exhaust relief system.
Suggested retail: Not provided
New from Suzuki are two next-generation 4-stroke outboards, inline 3 cylinder engines with a host of features usually found on larger engines. Five percent lighter than older models, they incorporate dual overhead cams, direct ignition, a maintenance-free timing chain and electronic fuel injection. A new Trolling Control System allows a fisherman to increase or decrease engine speed in 50 RPM increments at the touch of a rocker switch.
Suggested retail: $8,475
New from Tohatsu is the 3-cylinder 35HP Jet Drive. It comes with a 20-inch shaft, electric start and a 12V charging system. Based on the power of the 50TLDI model, this new Jet Drive model allows boaters to run into areas that prop-driven models can't reach. For 2012, Tohatsu offers remote and tiller models. The TLDI series was recognized for ultra-low emissions with a 3-star rating from the California Air Resources Board.
Suggested retail starts at $8,393
Yamaha 3.3L F200/F225
For 2012, Yamaha Marine is introducing new "mechanical" F200 and F225 outboard models within its 3.3-liter V6 outboard family.
"It's our goal to continue to evolve our 3.3-liter V6 outboards to meet the needs of boaters who prefer large, powerful outboards that use mechanical control boxes," said Ben Speciale, Yamaha Marine Group President.
Both the F200 and F225 motors are now equipped with Variable Camshaft Timing, which allows the Engine Control Module to direct the Variable Camshaft Actuator to advance and retard camshaft timing based on the engine rpm. This increases the intake and exhaust efficiency in the low- and mid-rpm ranges which increases torque in the 2,000 to 3,500 rpm range for great low- and mid-range acceleration.
The motors are dampened to reduce engine vibration, and Shift Dampener System propellers are also available for these new outboards.
Suggested retail: $22,765