There are bass fishermen, and then there are tournament bass fishermen. The guys who fish when it counts, when the big bucks are on the line. The ones who need a little something extra in their boats. They need speed and control to do 70 mph in traffic so they can get to the fish fast. They need dual livewell systems and ridiculous amounts of rod and tackle stowage so they can be prepared to throw whatever it takes to get a bite. In short, they need a tournament-quality bass boat.
Not hitting the tournament trail? Maybe you just want to own what the pros use. Who wouldn’t? To help you find the right rocket, we rounded up some of the fastest, best-equipped fishin’ fliers we could find: a Bumble Bee 2100 Super V, Nitro 929 CDX, ProCraft 210 Super Pro DC, Ranger Z21 Comanche, and Triton TR 21X. All of them are fitted to the nines; all of them are capable of being the first to the honey hole. Since they’re so evenly matched, it took some exhaustive research to find out which is the one that will bring home our trophy. It was hard, but we finally chose a winner. Don’t spoil the ending by looking to see who won first. Read through the whole thing—you’ll learn a lot.
As you can tell, these boats have a lot in common, from their open deck layouts to the keelpads that provide lift. A quick glance at our performance charts shows that they all leap onto plane and hit about 25 mph at only 2500 rpm. They have blinding holeshots of around three seconds and easily reach 70 mph. There are minor variations, but hull shapes all tend to have a combination of low, level chines and lifting strakes, with relatively flat deadrise for stability while the boat is at rest and anglers are casting. All have dual livewells, lockable rod lockers, and removable bike and folding-back pedestal seats. Each boat has enough standard features to make it tournament worthy.
The only obvious difference in this test was that four of the boats ran with the Mercury 225-hp OptiMax Pro XS, whereas the Ranger Z21 Comanche had a 250-hp OptiMax—essentially the same engine with a powerhead tweaked to gain extra horses. So how do you pick a winner? It’s all in the details.
The Bumble Bee 2100 Super V is probably the best pure performance boat in the group, excelling BT0605_34E.jpgthroughout the entire rpm range, not just at high speeds. It didn’t record the fastest top end, but it came close. Its price tag is right in the middle of the pack, making it a real value for a tournament-quality boat. It comes with a good selection of standards, but some of its amenities aren’t as upscale as on the other boats. And that keeps it from being our top dog. The Nitro 929 CDX is respectable in every criterion we used to judge these boats. Its performance, construction, finish, and fishing ability are all right up there. That said, it also didn’t stand out against the others in any category. Plus, it had the lowest top end and the highest ambient noise when running. It’s a boat you’d be proud to own, but it isn’t our big winner.
The ProCraft 210 Super Pro DC is the least expensive of the group and has the fewest amenities and a more basic level of finish. It’s a solid and predictably performing boat with enough of everything to satisfy the tournament angler. It’s another choice you can’t go wrong with, but if you’re looking for a boat with that little something extra, then you’ll have to look at one of the others. You’ll also have to pay more, too. The Triton TR 21X raises the level of finish. It also raises the price tag—it’s the most expensive boat here. It has the most comfortable seats and comes standard with a Hot Foot pedal that gives car-like speed control. It posted the fastest speed of the 225-hp boats and fell only 0.2 mph shy of the 250-hp Ranger. But it proved the hardest to control at high speeds.
That leaves the Ranger Z21 Comanche. Sure it’s about 10 grand more than the Bumble Bee, Nitro, and ProCraft, but its level of finish surpasses them all. You can see where the extra money was spent. It had a few issues in the lower planing speeds, but from 45 mph upward, it found its groove, and in the 70-mph range we felt very much in control. For us, this was the best total package. Now, please just find a place to stow those removable chairs and we’ll be happy.
Nitro 929 CDX
Stable and wide, it’s the most forgiving at top end, without the chine walking the others exhibited if not trimmed to perfection. It took on boat wakes and a small chop well. It’s the heaviest and slowest of the group, but it still hit 70 mph.
Composite construction. Comes standard with a fixed 10″ jack plate and pull-up cleats. The aft hatch lifts on a gas strut for access to the fuel tank, batteries, and oil reservoir. The wiring and rigging are neat and orderly for easy troubleshooting. Stowage boxes are removable plastic tubs, and hatches are aluminum. There’s a good view of the gauges. Rubberized flooring under the consoles, and the bow deck has padding under the carpet.
You get a recessed foot pedal for the standard MotorGuide trolling motor. There are two lighted, carpeted rod lockers. The port one has organizers for ten 7′ rods, the other has no racks. Another bow locker features a tackle management system to hold plastic tackle trays. Bungee cords keep rods in place while running. The two separate 18-gallon aft livewells are plumbed. There are two pedestals chair with a mount fore and aft. Standard Lowrance 332c fishfinder/chartplotter.
Most predictable boat at high speeds, with the most forgiving handling. Gauges easiest to read. Wide beam gives anglers more stability while walking around boat. Middle cockpit seat offers excellent comfort to a third angler.
The highest decibel readings on our sound tests, mostly from wind noise. Passenger exposed to blast despite windshield. Lowest top end of boats in this test.
$41,435 (w/single 225-hp Mercury OptiMax 225 Pro XS)
Tackle management system; 2 removable pedestal seats; port locker rod organizer; lockable rod lockers; 2 18-gal. livewells; MotorGuide trolling motor; Lowrance 332c fishfinder/chartplotter; 10″ fixed jack plate; 2-bank battery charger; 2 trolling batteries; cranking battery; 12v outlet; hydraulic steering; built-in insulated cooler; trailer.
Pro Craft 210 Super Sport DC
Because it’s designed for stability underway, there isn’t as much hull lift. So you have to keep the engine trimmed higher or you’ll plow. Since it doesn’t ride high on a tiny keelpad, it’s less squirrelly with less of a chance to break free. Yet it still broke 70 mph and had a solid holeshot.
Composite construction. It has a fixed 10″ jack plate and fixed cleats rather than pull-ups. The stowage boxes are plastic tubs, and the aluminum hatches lift with cloth straps. The helm has a basic layout, and the port seat has no windscreen to protect the passenger. Three separate hatches, rather than one, on the rear deck provide access to the rigging.
The MotorGuide trolling motor on the bow is standard. Rods are stowed in lighted lockable lockers. One holds 8′ rods with no racks, the other has tubes to hold twelve 8′ rods. There’s also a spot for rods under the passenger seat. Bungee cords hold rods down on the bow. The illuminated 45-gallon livewell system is divided with two separate pump and aeration systems. You get two pedestal chairs with a mount fore and aft. No standard electronics.
Less bow lift keeps more of the boat in contact with the water at high speeds for better control. Lighted rod lockers and livewell. Rod tubes set up in stowage locker keep the rods secure underway.
The passenger console doesn’t have a windshield. Aft locker lids lift with cloth straps. Hard to access stern rigging with three small hatches rather than a single big one.
$38,932 (w/single 225-hp Mercury OptiMax 225 Pro XS)
Hydraulic steering w/tilt wheel; 4 ss cleats; 10″ fixed jack plate; cranking battery; 2 trolling batteries; 12v outlet; 2 removable pedestal chairs; in-sole insulated cooler; 45-gal. livewell; MotorGuide trolling motor; trailer.
Ranger Z21 Comanche
This boat porpoises a lot in the 20-to-30-mph range, starts to settle down at around 35 mph, and at 45 mph hits its stride. It has great acceleration from 45 mph to the top end and isn’t adversely affected by wakes and a light chop.
Composite construction. The livewell and stowage bins are foam-insulated fiberglass and glassed into place. Cored fiberglass hatches are finished on both sides and lift on gas struts. Lockers are gasketed and guttered. Passenger grabhandle is stainless steel, not plastic. Three-bank battery charger, instead of two. A manual bilge pump backs up the electric.
There’s a standard Minn Kota trolling motor rigged on the bow. The carpeted port locker holds ten 8′ rods, the carpeted locker to starboard holds ten 6’6″ rods. The center locker stacks rods, with the lower level holding six 7-footers, the upper six 7’6″ rods. There’s a fully plumbed, divided livewell in the aft deck with separate hatches. Two removable fishing chairs mount on the bow or stern. Standard Lowrance X-135 fishfinder.
Highest level of finish of the five. Performed like a dream at 45 mph and higher. Best rod stowage set up of the fleet.
Porpoised at lower planing speeds. No dedicated place to stow the removable pedestal seats unless you tuck them under the forward step. No standard jack plate.
$51,000 (w/single 225-hp Mercury OptiMax 225 Pro XS)
Hydraulic steering; Minn Kota trolling motor; 18-gal. livewell; cranking battery; 3-bank battery charger; 12v outlet; Lowrance X-135 fishfinder; 2 pedestal chairs; lockable rod lockers; trailer.
Triton TR 21X
There’s a lot of bowrise coming on plane and squatting at low speeds, but things level out at higher speeds. Midrange acceleration is impressive. At wide open, it had the flightiest performance, chine walking when encountering any on-water disturbance. The engine might have been mounted too high, gaining speed at the expense of stability.
Composite construction. The hatch covers are made of aluminum and are guttered and gasketed. Comes with a Hot Foot pedal throttle. Has a three-bank battery charger and two electric bilge pumps. There’s a stainless-steel grabhandle for the passenger. The middle seat doesn’t flip down to make a step, but it has a low backrest. The only boat with a standard retractable boarding ladder.
The trolling motor rigging, including a recessed pedal mount, comes standard, but the motor doesn’t. There’s a 42-gallon, divided, fully plumbed livewell. Retracting rod straps on deck. Foredeck has a built-in fish measuring board and two rod lockers. The port locker is fitted with holders for 12 rods, the other has no racks. Two aft lockers hold nine tackle trays apiece. Two mounts on the foredeck for the two pedestal chairs. Standard Lowrance X-135 fishfinder.
Fastest of those with 225-hp engines. Great midrange acceleration. Most comfortable seats at the helm and passenger consoles. Standard Hot Foot pedal.
No standard trolling motor. Squatted at low speeds and wobbled at top end. Priciest of the group.
$55,206 (w/single 225-hp Mercury OptiMax 225 Pro XS)
Removable windshields; retractable boarding ladder; Hot Foot throttle pedal; hydraulic steering; 2 pedestal chairs; fish measuring board; 42-gal. livewell; Lowrance X-135 fishfinder; tackle boxes; lockable rod lockers; 3-bank battery charger; trailer.
Bumble Bee 2100 Super V
Excellent midrange and the best in the group at low rpm. It’s an extremely stable boat that handles well in turns, and it ate up boat wakes at high speeds—a key trait in tournament fishing. Among the four boats outfitted with 225 hp, it finished second for all-out speed.
All-composite construction. Hullsides are reinforced with foam coring. All stowage boxes are fully finished fiberglass—no plastic drop-ins here. The electrical system is protected by circuit breakers rather than fuses. Deck has pull-up cleats and padding under the carpeting to reduce fatigue while standing. Aft deck lifts on a gas strut in one section for good access to systems. Standard jack plate and a keel guard that stops chips when beaching and trailering.
MotorGuide or Minn Kota trolling motor’s pedal can be recessed into the deck or sit on top. The bow platform has straps to hold rods in place while underway—they retract while fishing. The carpeted, lockable rod lockers hold 9′ rods but have no racks. The 31-gallon livewell has a middle baffle and two hatches to distinguish bait from your catch. The two pedestal chairs have two mounts forward and one aft. Garmin or Lowrance fishfinder/chartplotter.
Bow casting deck has a closed-cell foam pad under the carpet to ease the stress of standing all day. Great stability and rough-water handling. Aft deck lifts as one for easy access to batteries and systems.
Gauges at the helm are partially obscured by the steering wheel. The small hatches aft have no struts or supports. Rod lockers have no holders—you just lay your rods on the carpet.
$41,600 (w/single 225-hp Mercury OptiMax 225 Pro XS)
MotorGuide or Minn Kota trolling motor with bow pedal mount; Garmin or Lowrance fishfinder/chartplotter; hydraulic steering; canvas cover; lockable rod lockers; 2-bank battery charger; 1’ jack plate; Hot Foot pedal; ss pull-up cleats; 31-gal. livewell; 2 pedestal seats; keel guard; trailer.