In the early days of professional fishing, an 18-foot bass boat with a 150 hp outboard was optimum. Then the waters got bigger as B.A.S.S. ventured into the Great Lakes. The stakes got higher and bass boats stretched to 21 or more feet with up to 300 horsepower. But to most serious bass fishermen, an 18-footer is still preferred. Ranger serves up this Z518 with all the professional advantages of its bigger models and all the performance and efficiency of a compact model.
The Z518 has the tough fiberglass stringer and pultruded transom system that give the high-end Comanches their solid ride, speed and controlled handling. And when easing along shorelines and other cover, the 8-foot beam and narrowed gunwales give plenty of space to move about safely on a steady casting platform. Also borrowed from the upper-echelon boats is the trolling-motor pedal pocket, which gives anglers better balance and control while also reducing fatigue.
Like the Comanche, the Z518 has heavy-duty 6-gauge wiring, USB charging ports, battery cutoff switch and circuit breakers, on-board charging for three batteries and push-button switching.
Livewells are divided for competitive fishing, and they’re aerated and recirculated on a timer. At the bow, retractable tie-down straps keep rods secure on the fly with tips protected in the “slot” between console and gunwale. The buddy angler has a dedicated rack for his sticks, and grab handles and molded foot rests to lock himself into position on long runs to honey holes. Lockable rod storage abounds in the foredeck, with space for more than a dozen rods plus dedicated slots for utility tackle boxes. Gas struts hold the lids up while optional LEDs illuminate the compartments during access, like refrigerator lights. On-board coolers keep the drinks frosty and the sandwiches dry and fresh.
The Z518’s styling is snazzy too, bearing the trademark glossy gel-and-flake finish, matte-black trim and transom louvers that double as grab handles in case an angler needs to reboard after a spill.
The Z518 is compact but full-featured, and it comes at a family-friendly price without compromising fishability.
- Aft louver trim is standard in a matte-black stealth finish.
- Dash comes standard with Lowrance Hook 2, but a variety of factory-rigged devices are available.
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury Pro XS 150 hp FourStroke
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Tempest 14 5/8″ x 23″ stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.92:1
Fuel Load: 30 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Ranger Boats – Flippin, Arkansas; 870-453-2222; rangerboats.com