The Smart Angler’s Guide to Buying a Used Bass Boat

fiberglass bass boat

Purchasing a used bass boat can be a great way to save money while still getting a boat that meets your fishing needs. However, navigating the market for used boats can be tricky. Here are vital factors to consider that will help you make an informed decision and choose a reliable, waterworthy vessel.

 1. Establish Your Budget

Before diving into the specifics of the boat itself, determine how much you are willing to spend. Include the purchase price and potential repairs, modifications, storage, insurance, and operational costs. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the average price of a new bass boat can be upwards of $20,000, with high-end models reaching $80,000 or more. Used boats come in at a lower price point, but setting a budget helps narrow your search effectively.

 2. Check the Boat’s Condition

aluminum bass boat

The condition of the boat is the single most crucial factor when buying used. Here’s what to check:

 Hull Condition: Look for cracks, repairs, signs of severe abrasion, or blisters in the gel coat. Minor stress cracks might be cosmetic but can indicate underlying issues.

 Transom Integrity: Check the transom by pressing down on the engine (mounted on the transom) and watching for flexing, which suggests rotting inside the transom—a costly fix.

 Floor Firmness: Walk around the boat and feel for soft spots on the floor that indicate rot, particularly in older boats.

 Upholstery and Seats: While these are easier and relatively inexpensive to replace, their condition can indicate how well the boat was maintained.

 3. Inspect the Engine

The engine is often the most expensive component of the boat. A poorly maintained engine can lead to significant additional costs.

 Start the Engine: It should start quickly, idle smoothly (check for excessive smoke), and rev up readily.

 Check the Oil: Look at the engine oil; it should be clean and not gritty. Dirty oil suggests poor maintenance.

 Test Run: If possible, have the boat taken out for a test run. Check for unusual noises and vibrations when the engine is running.

 Service History: Ask for records of engine maintenance and repairs. A regular maintenance history is a good sign that a boat is well-kept.

 4. Electrical Systems and Controls

Faulty wiring can be a safety hazard, especially on the water.

 Check all Electronics: Ensure that all electronic items such as the fishfinder, GPS, lights, and pumps are functional.

 Control Mechanism: Test the throttle, steering, and shift controls for smooth operation.

 5. Trailer Condition

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If the boat includes a trailer, examine it thoroughly. A lousy trailer can jeopardize the boat’s safety and your own while transporting.

 Check the Frame: Ensure the trailer frame is rust-free and structurally damaged.

 Tires and Bearings: Check for worn tires and listen for noisy wheel bearings.

 Lights and Brakes: Make sure that all lights work and, if applicable, that the brakes are in good operating condition.

 6. Water Trial

Always insist on a water trial, not just an engine test in the yard or at the dealer. A boat might behave differently in the water — issues like leaking, poor alignment, or handling problems can arise.

 7. Professional Survey

For high-value transactions, consider hiring a qualified marine surveyor. They can provide a detailed report on the boat’s condition and highlight potential issues requiring costly repairs. This service typically costs between $10 to $20 per foot of boat length.

 8. Legal Check

 Ownership Proof: Verify that the seller is the valid owner of the boat by asking to see the title and registration.

 Outstanding Liabilities: Check for any liens against the boat (indicating outstanding debts) by determining its registration number.

 Conclusion

Buying a used bass boat involves careful consideration and thorough inspection. By focusing on the overall condition, engine health, electronics, and legalities, you can find a great deal on a boat that will provide years of fishing enjoyment. Use resources like Boat History Report to check for accidents or significant repairs and consult forums like The Hull Truth for community insights and advice.

Happy boating, and here’s to a great catch on your new (used) bass boat!

You can reference the National Marine Manufacturers Association for broad market trends and data or BoatUS, which provides a detailed Boat Buyer’s Toolbox for further information. Additionally, checking out local dealerships and connecting with experienced anglers at marinas can offer invaluable hands-on advice.

Upcoming 2024 Boat Shows: A Must-Visit for Every Fisherman and Fisherwoman

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Are you an avid angler or someone who loves the water? The year 2024 is packed with boat shows that you won’t want to miss. Here’s a list of some of the boat shows happening in 2024:

1. Chicago Boat Show: McCormick Place – South, Chicago, Illinois (January 10-14).

2. Atlanta Boat Show: Georgia World Congress Center, Hall C, Atlanta, Georgia (January 11-14)

3. Detroit Boat Show: Huntington Place, Detroit, Michigan (January 20-22 and 25-28)

4. Cleveland Boat Show: I-X Center, Cleveland, Ohio (January 18-21)

Shows in Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Hartford, Louisville, New York, Houston, Schaumburg, Baltimore, and St. Louis.

Why Fishermen Should Attend

Educational Opportunities

Boat shows are a treasure trove of knowledge, especially for new boaters. They provide a unique opportunity to learn about boating, with many non-profit and volunteer groups offering education on boating basics. You can expect practical, hands-on knowledge and demonstrations of processes like docking and navigation.

Comparison Shopping

If you’re in the market for a new boat, boat shows are ideal for comparison shopping. You get to see a variety of boats in person, feel the quality, and assess features crucial for your fishing needs. Plus, you might snag a great deal with competition among manufacturers and dealers.

Family Involvement

Boat shows are family-friendly events, perfect for introducing your loved ones to boating. With kid-friendly exhibits, contests, and learning demonstrations, it’s a fun way for the entire family to embrace the boating lifestyle together.

 Networking and Lifestyle

Boat shows aren’t just for the novices; even seasoned boaters find value in these events. They provide a platform to network with fellow boaters, discover new gear, and engage with individuals sharing similar interests. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the boating community and explore the lifestyle further.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or just starting, the 2024 boat shows offer something for everyone. These shows are a must-visit, from educational opportunities and comparing the latest boats to enjoying a family day out and networking with other boating enthusiasts. So, mark your calendars and prepare to set sail on a new adventure at these exciting boat shows!

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When you buy your boat, remember to outfit it with The Key Captain, our patented remote locking and unlocking system.

The Different Types of Bass Boats

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There are several different types of bass boats, each designed with specific features and capabilities to meet the needs of anglers.

fiberglass bass boat

Fiberglass Bass Boats

This is the most common type of bass boat designed to provide a smooth ride on the water. They are typically 16-21 feet long, have a shallow draft, and are powered by outboard engines.

aluminum bass boat

Aluminum

They are often less expensive than fiberglass boats and are lightweight, making them easier to tow and launch. They are typically 14-18 feet long and powered by outboard engines.

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Pontoon

These boats are designed with a large, flat deck and are ideal for fishing in calm waters. They are often used for recreational fishing and are equipped with livewells, fish finders, and other fishing gear.

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General Fishing Boats

These boats are designed for anglers who want to fish for multiple fish species, including bass, walleye, and musky. They are typically larger than traditional bass boats and have more storage space and features for storing and organizing fishing gear. Often you will see these boats on a charter expedition.

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Center Console

These boats are designed with a center console that allows the driver to access the controls and navigate the boat easily. They are typically larger than other bass boats and are often used for offshore fishing.

Get the Most Out of Your Fishing Experience

Now that you know how to pick the best bass boat, don’t rush. Take your time, compare the different models, and make sure your preferred boat features align with your specific angling needs. Happy fishing!

Most importantly, ensure your boat gear is safe and sound with The Key Captain!

5 Tips to consider when buying a boat

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Any new boat – a bass, walleye, or pontoon – is a significant purchase. Here are five trustworthy tips to make a sound purchase decision.

Timing can make or break you.

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So when is the best time to buy a boat? For most buyers, winter is the best time. According to Boating magazine, late fall also works because many dealers want to move their inventory.  

A general rule of thumb is that most owners and dealers are more willing to cut you a discount when business is slow, and they have several months to wait before any of their boats hit the water again.

Regional boat shows are rife with deals.

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Besides discounts on a massive selection of boats, you don’t want to miss out on the information you can gather at the shows. Discover Boating editors agree that boat shows are a quick and convenient way to familiarize yourself with manufacturers and compare their products. Many boat festivals invite you to bring the whole family and participate in a fun day of demonstrations, seminars, and activities. In northern Ohio, the next boat show will be the Sandusky Boat Show in August.

Shop local, but always shop around.

As with any significant purchase, don’t go with the first dealer you meet or buy the first boat you see. You will spend much time using your boat, so do your homework. Shopping around allows you to compare and contrast prices and models.

If you’re new to buying a boat, we recommend you shop within 50 miles of your home or marina. Deal with someone who’s been in the business a long time. A local dealer can talk with you about where and how you want to do your boating and make recommendations based on your wants and needs. Like a car dealer, the right boat dealer saves you time and worry.

Finance your boat through a marine lender.

If you’re going to finance your boat, you should always go through a marine lender, not a commercial bank. In finance, boats fall into a strange middle ground between a car and a home. Like cars, boats depreciate, but like vacation homes, the interest is usually tax-deductible,

Even though it’s a niche market, marine lenders are very competitive. So do shop around for the best financing terms you can find.

Enjoy the experience.

The most important thing is to have a good time. Don’t stress, and don’t rush. Savor the adventure, and let yourself fall in love with the right boat at the right time.

About Sarasota Quality Products

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We are based in Westlake, Ohio, and produce top-quality locks and latches for bass anglers, walleye fishers, and the occasional fishing person. We can ship The Key Captain, our signature product, to any US dealership or OEM for installation on your new or used boat. Give us a call, or send us an email if you need help with your product selection.

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