Just try to mount an assault on Ranger’s claim to be the legendary premier bass boat. The brand is so well known and so coveted that even the cowboy-hatted face of its originator Forest L. Woods is familiar to all but the most casual anglers. Ranger was not only the first in bass boats, they were among the first to offer fully foam-filled hulls, not only unsinkable, but capable of getting you home in the unlikely event of a hull-puncturing collision. Those elements are more than tradition at Ranger, they are primary helixes in its DNA. So too are top speed, ultimate fishability and long-lasting good looks.
When we levered the throttle on the Z522D, we knew Ranger had built a new category of fishing machine. Its easy planing stability and readiness to hit maximum speed — 60 mph in our test, which was 50 ponies shy of max horsepower — come from its patented “pultruded” transom, solid foam-filled construction, crisp keel and perfectly proportioned pad-hull design. Those are expected from a Ranger, but it’s the Z522D’s high gunwales that give it its surprising ability to shoulder through treacherous conditions that can suddenly crop up in the Saint Lawrence and Great Lakes. Yet its hull design makes the boat resistant to wind drifts when casting for trophy fish.
Then there’s the way Ranger thoughtfully blends in the most functional storage and maintenance systems. Go ahead, ride your equipment hard and put it away wet. The power-ventilated forward lockers for rods, tackle boxes and life jackets will tend to it. Battery maintenance is also done for you, thanks to the onboard charger system, easy-to-access circuit breakers, and the voltage-sensing relay system that keeps your trolling-motor batteries fresh all day.
The careful attention to detail and utterly fishable, high-performance boat design truthfully earns Ranger its claim to premier status, and that’s what will keep it there, no matter whose stable the brand calls home.
*Livewells are aerated, recirculating, and equipped with a pump-out system that completely empties them.
*On-deck tackle systems securely stow rods.
*Padded casting deck and recessed trolling-motor pedal keep anglers fresh all day.
*Transducers are factory-glassed into the hull for optimum performance.
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury Verado 250
Drive/Prop: Tempest 21″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 20 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Ranger Boats Flippin, Arkansas; 800-373-2628; rangerboats.com