Ranger’s Z185 might be a bargain in terms of cash, but it represents no shortcuts in terms of ownership satisfaction. The pad hull steps up on top when skimming over the water, hitting mid-50s on the speedo. When it crosses wakes, it holds its ground, skipping over them with minimal sideways rocking. Few bass boats can accomplish this so easily. And when you trim it down and feed in rudder, it cuts an arc on the water that breeds confidence in its handling.
Off plane and under trolling power, the platform is as stable as Ranger’s larger 520 Series, a fine feat for its compact size. The foredeck is huge, giving two anglers space to flip docks or brush piles, neither disadvantaging the other. The aft deck is also one of the roomiest in the under-19-foot crowd of bass boats, and both decks boast an ergonomically comfortable step up that doubles as a cooler at the foredeck and small gear storage on the aft step.
Underneath the foredeck are the makings of an armory of fishing equipment. Suspended rod storage is top-shelf; padded butt racks and individual tip tubes keep your gear safe and secure on the roughest water. Dedicated storage for Plano utility boxes means lure selection is a snap. The starboard locker is huge, and it’s ideal for rain gear and life jackets when the boat is stowed away.
The aft deck covers the business end of the boat, simplifying the responsibilities of checking oil and maintaining batteries and pumps. There’s even a spot for a spare prop and a jump-start switch on the battery to boost your outboard with trolling-motor batteries.
There are very few choices required by the angler to make this boat the ideal custom fisher, save electronics. There is room at the helm for a 12-inch sonar/GPS display and room at the bow for another.
Ranger reliably produces top fishers thanks to its attention to detail and loyal workforce. Each boat off the line gets the same focused attention of experienced craftsmen. When it’s time to fish, your only concern is where to cast and what lure to choose.
* Holds 20 rods in two lockers.
* Plano tackle storage is secure and easily accessible.
* Pad hull design maximizes performance on your choice of power.
* Built-in, insulated cooler.
* Custom trailer is included in the package price.
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury 150 Pro XS
Drive/Prop: Tempest 22″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.87:1
Fuel Load: 33 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
$32,995 (with Mercury 150 Pro XS)
Ranger Boats Flippin, Arkansas; 870-453-2222; rangerboats.com