For the first time in its 52-year history, the championship of professional bass angling was won from an aluminum boat. On March 6 Jason Christie, a 48-year-old pro from Park Hill, Ok., won the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell, S.C., fishing from an Xpress X21 Pro LE powered by a Yamaha 250 V MAX SHO outboard. Another Xpress/Yamaha angler, Caleb Sumrall, made the final-day cut and finished 16th.
“We think this win in the Classic plus two 2021 Elite Series victories is validation of our product,” said Xpress Vice President of Marketing Clay Connor. “You can win at the highest level of pro angling with an all-welded aluminum boat with no sacrifice in performance.”
The Xpress X21 Pro LE is a prototype of a model that will go into production in 2023. The boat is based on the 21-foot X21 Pro model and will incorporate a number of changes suggested by Xpress pro anglers. Fuel capacity is increased from 40 to 50 gallons, the console is moved forward to accommodate Christie’s large frame and its top expanded to fit larger MFDs, and quick-drying SeaDek replaces carpeting throughout the boat.
The knock on aluminum bass boats has always been that the hull form could not be as detailed as that of a molded fiberglass boat, and thus could never match fiberglass performance. But the Xpress Hyper-Lift hull features a shape as complex as that of any glass boat and running a 24-pitch Yamaha SHO prop will hit 65 mph with a full tournament load. At just 1,580 pounds, the X21 Pro model weighs 370 to 695 pounds less than popular glass boats of the same length. That weight difference is a key advantage, according to Christie.
“The boat draws less so I can stand on the bow and get into some really skinny water,” explained Christie, “and if I need to push down over a log or a stump to get into a tight spot, it just takes a bump on the trolling motor. I also never worry about damaging the hull on rocks or a dock. I might scratch the paint, but this hull won’t gouge like fiberglass.”
Christie’s boat hangs the big Yamaha 250 on a 10-inch Atlas hydraulic jackplate, and the boat is rigged with two Power-Pole Blade shallow water anchors, five Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126Sv MFD, a Garmin trolling motor and three Lithium Pro batteries.
“The new 70 amp alternator on the Yamaha motor has made a big difference this season,” said Christie. “Last year we could barely keep up with the electronics. Now I’m getting back to weigh-in with plenty of charge.”
Family owned Xpress Boats was founded in 1966 in Friendship, Arkansas. The pad-bottom Hyper-Lift hull was introduced in the late 1980s, and the company moved to Hot Springs, Ark., in 2000. Today Xpress is on top of the bass fishing world.