You choose an aluminum bass boat when you want the most rugged hull construction and the lightest weight. That leverages the horsepower for added performance, plus it saves gas and minimizes auto maintenance when it’s towed behind the family vehicle.
That’s exactly what Ranger had in mind when it presented the 198P. But Ranger took its game up a notch over the competition by adding a pad (that’s the “P” in 198P) on the keel near the transom to make this aluminum boat perform like a fiberglass bass boat. And it worked, too, as our tests revealed. We pushed the throttle to the firewall, then started trimming up to let the rpm climb. By the time we reached wide-open throttle at 5,500 rpm, we clocked it at 56.5 mph. You would expect a boat to be skittish at that speed, but we haven’t found a Ranger yet that couldn’t handle the throttle, whether across chop or in turns.
When we finished with the performance runs, we stepped up to the bow platform and dropped in the trolling motor. Its control pedal is recessed in the deck, easing control, angler balance and fighting off fatigue for all-day fishing. That’s a trick Ranger moved in from its tournament boats. The same goes for the consoles set away from the gunwales. That leaves a channel between the console and the gunwale that is positioned just right for laying rod tips in after lashing the butts down on the deck with retractable rod straps. A three-seat bench is standard, but an optional console system (pictured) is available.
Still more tournament-ready features were designed into this aluminum fisher, like the dividable livewell with refill and recirculation systems. Also noteworthy is the fiberglass liner of the storage compartment ahead of the console — that, and its insulation, means it’s ideal for use as a cooler.
And when you think you’ve found everything on board, lift up the aft hatch to see convenient access to pumps, batteries, the battery switch and charging system.
You could call the 198P the 198PT, for “tournament-ready.”
* This is the only aluminum bass boat with pad-hull performance that we have tested.
* 198P features the same foam-filled hull construction as Ranger’s fiberglass boats.
* Casting deck on the 198P has a recessed trolling-motor foot pedal for easy operation.
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury OptiMax 150
Drive/Prop: Tempest 23″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 25 gal.
Crew Weight: 240 lb.
$28,795 (with Mercury 150 Pro XS)
Ranger Boats Flippin, Arkansas; 870-453-2222; rangeraluminum.com