What is a Bass Boat's True Size?

I struggle with what size boat to buy.

In many of the smaller lakes (reservoirs) near me a 18 or 19 foot bass boat is a good size. But I just sold a 18'9" Stratos 285 Pro bass boat and it was way too small.

I'm convinced I need a 20 or 21 footer, but not all are the same. There is no consistency in how manufacturers size and design their boats. Many boats have a recessed splash well and the edges of the boat extend out from there. In effect, you run on a shorter hull as the motor is mounted inside the total length of the boat, not added on. (My Stratos was like that.) However, some boats do have the transom running evenly all the way across so you get more running surface, hence more true length.

It is not too big of deal I guess, but I feel cheated. Take the Skeeter for example. The fiberglass extends out from the back of the boat to make the measurement seem longer. According to the Skeeter rep (salesman) I spoke with at the boat show, the extensions help the boat plane faster (almost like trim tabs in a way).

But to get the deck space I'm looking for, I may have to go with a 21 footer rather than a 20. My biggest pet peeve on the front deck is how my rods are always under foot when I'm trying to fish. Most of my rods are 7 footers so I need deck space. I don't want to be breaking $200 to $300 dollar rods every time I go out.

And even in a 20 foot boat, the rear deck is so small on many models that the back seater has no room to lay out his gear. Of course, most pros aren't concerned if the non-pro partner has space or not. In many cases I invite my day's partners to fish on the front deck with me. (Another good reason for a big front deck.)

I'm not fishing many tournaments at this time so you would think that deck space isn't that important to me. In reality, I need even more space. When I'm not tournament fishing, I almost always have photographers and all their expensive gear on board.

You know those big hard-sided cases they like to stow camera bodies and lenses in don't fit in any compartments and in some boats barely fit under the passenger-side console.

So the hard cases are always banging around on the floor or behind the passenger seat, which leads to scratched gel coat or torn seats.

Even worse is when I take my family out. My two sons are tall and they need leg room; but my son-in-law is even taller at 6'8" and he has to fold up like an accordion to sit in just about any boat.

So I rode in a 21' Skeeter ZX model recently. It rode well, but we were only in a 1-foot chop most of the day, so I didn't get a chance to see how it rides in big water. It does plane fast, however. With three of us in the boat, including camera gear, it was difficult to get in and out of the seats without playing musical chairs around the camera cases.

I like the idea of having rod tie downs on the front deck (and some anglers install their own on the back deck, but the bungie-cord style on the Skeeter seem to me like they won't last very long. I prefer the Velcro-style straps.

Other than that, the Skeeter is still on my short list. If I buy Skeeter, I would opt for the i-class series. I am setting up a demo ride soon in a i-class and I'll let you know what I think.

In a later discussion, I would like to talk about engines. I prefer Mercury over Yamaha, always have. That is going to be difficult with Skeeter. In one of my previous boats, which was then owned by OMC (Johnson/Evinrude), I had to pay several thousand dollars extra for the dealer to re-power with Mercury. Even then, the dealer left some of the OMC gauges in the dash, so the boat was a mixture of Merc and OMC gauges. Although not noticeable to many people, it sure bothered me.

There is just so much to watch for in buying gear.

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