The 4 Best Bass Boats of 2021

Catch a trophy fish with these stellar boats

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Best Overall: Bass Cat Puma FTD at basscat.com

"Top brand Bass Cat’s most popular premium range option."

Runner-Up. Best Overall: Nitro Z21 at nitro.com

"Nitro’s most advanced bass boat."

Best Aluminum: Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk at crestliner.com

"Boasts roomy casting decks in the bow and stern."

Best Multi-Species: Nitro ZV21 at nitro.com

"An aggressive performance deep-V hull for standing up to the roughest big-lake conditions."

As the name suggests, bass boats are built for a very specific purpose — bass fishing. These boats are low-slung, with raised platforms at the bow and stern for unhindered casting in any direction, and streamlined, so you can race out to your favorite fishing spots and back for weigh-in in record time. Bass boats are configured for use with an outboard motor in order to save deck and storage space and should have a mount on the bow for a trolling motor. Look for signature features including rod boxes and livewells that can keep live bait alive for hours at a time. Many bass boats are intended for tournament fishermen and have the price-tag to match, but some are more competitively priced for the everyday angler.

Here is a list of our favorite bass boats for your next fishing adventure.

Our Top Picks

01 of 04

Best Overall: Bass Cat Puma FTD

Bass Cat Puma FTD

Bass Cat 

What We Like
  • Durable

  • Quality materials

  • Spacious

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The Puma FTD is top brand Bass Cat’s most popular premium range option. It boasts a heavy-duty, ultra-comfortable fiberglass build and a 20’4” length that’s stable in open water yet easy to maneuver in tight spaces. The 94” beam gives you the confidence needed to go offshore. FTD stands for Full Team Deck, i.e. a front deck that’s big enough for team anglers to cast side-by-side. You’re spoiled for choice in terms of storage, with seven compartments in the front deck alone.

These include a ventilated central tackle box and an 8’ rod box with a tube organizer. The boat also comes with two ice chests and two triangular livewells, both with a pump-in/pump-out system, spray bars, and an inline filter. Use the twin Humminbird Helix 7 fish finders to choose a static spot or troll for bass with the included Minn Kota Fortrex 80 motor, powered by a battery and three-bank charger. The boat can hold 52 gallons of fuel and has a 200 to 300 maximum horsepower range. A stock engine and trailer are included. 

02 of 04

Runner-Up. Best Overall: Nitro Z21

Nitro Z21

Nitro

What We Like
  • Well organized

  • High-performance

  • Sturdy

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Nitro’s most advanced bass boat, the Z21, was designed with the help of champion bass fishermen Kevin VanDam and Edwin Evers. With a 21’2” length and a 95” beam, it has space for four anglers on deck. Force Flex suspension in the seats makes for a comfortable ride even in rough weather while an advanced deck drainage system keeps things dry. Experience push-button functionality thanks to digital bow and console controls. The boat comes with a Lowrance fish finder and a Minn Kota Maxxum trolling motor.

Under the step to the bow deck you’ll find an insulated cooler, while the two 19-gallon livewells are equipped with digital timers, oxygen generators, and dual remote drain controls. There’s space for ten 8’ rods in the port rod organizer and integrated gunnel lights come in handy if you stay out after dark. The boat has a fuel capacity of 55 gallons. Included in the steep price is a 225 HP Mercury outboard engine. There are several engine upgrades available (up to 300 HP) and all prices include a custom-fit trailer. 

03 of 04

Best Aluminum: Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk

Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk

Crestliner

What We Like
  • Compact

  • Oversized storage boxes

  • Powerful

What We Don't Like
  • Few seats


If you have a bigger budget but like the idea of an aluminum hull’s sturdiness (great when you do most of your fishing in heavy cover), consider the Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk. Its all-welded, deep-V hull measures 17’9” in length and it has a wide, 95” beam for extra stability. With space for five people, it boasts roomy casting decks in the bow and stern and premium bucket seats for the skipper and one passenger. There are 13 storage compartments in total, in addition to an illuminated central rod locker with 15 tubes for rods up to 8’ in length.

Other highlights include a 28-gallon, aerated livewell, and a removable SureMount aluminum accessory brackets. These let you attach cup or rod holders to the gunnels without having to drill through the metalwork. The price includes a trailer and a Mercury 90 EXLPT EFI FourStroke engine. Optional extras range from easy-wash vinyl flooring to a center seat or shallow water anchor. You can also add a Minn Kota trolling motor or upgrade to a 150 horsepower outboard.

04 of 04

Best Multi-Species: Nitro ZV21

Nitro ZV21

Nitro

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Easily maneuverable

  • Large rod locker

  • Sizable live well

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Light weight means it gets pushed around by wind

Some bass fishermen choose to shun specialty bass boats in favor of multi-species designs, especially if they typically fish in big water. The 2018 Nitro ZV21 has an aggressive performance deep-V hull for standing up to the roughest big-lake conditions. Measuring 21’7” in length and 100” across the beam, it’s plenty big enough for six people. It also carries up to 64 gallons of fuel and has a maximum horsepower of 350 (although it comes with a 250 XL OptiMax Pro XS capable of around 57 mph).

Many of its attributes lend themselves well to bass fishing, including a large bow casting deck with anti-fatigue matting, a 26-gallon livewell, and a 5.5-gallon baitwell. The driver and passenger seats have premium suspension and were designed in collaboration with Kevin VanDam. Keep your rods in the three-level central locker and discover new spots with the included Lowrance Elite-7 Ti Combo fishfinder and GPS. The price also includes a Minn Kota Terrova 112 trolling motor and a custom-fit GALVASHIELD-protected trailer. 

What to Look For

Size

Simply put: The larger your boat, the better suited it is for larger bodies of water, like big lakes and oceans, while midsize and small boats (typically under 17 feet) are better for rivers, streams, and small lakes. What you decide to purchase is entirely dependent on what kind of boating you want to do.

Features

There are oodles of features to consider when purchasing a boat, including type and number of seats, live wells, tackle storage, and rod storage.

Price

Like most vehicles, the price of boats vary wildly and are dependent on size and features offered. On average, a new boat with a outboard motor, trailer and normal features ranges from $18,000 to $60,000. Identify what is most important to you in your vessel (be that storage space, speed, maneuverability, etc.) and find boats that meet those needs.

FAQ

How should you store bass boats?

There are a multitude of ways and places to store your boat when it's not in use. The best way is in an enclosed garage, as you won't need to cover it and as long as your garage is locked, it's safe. Similarly, a carport helps offer protection from the elements (think rain and snow), but covering it is still a good idea, to try to keep critters and bugs out. If you're going to store it outside, make sure to cover it well to avoid sun and rain damage and make sure the cover is well supported so rain doesn't pool. Also make sure to keep the engine down so it drains in cold weather.

Are bass boats fuel efficient?

Most small boats use about three to eight gallons of gas per hour at cruising speeds. Faster speed boats can use upwards of 20 gallons per hour, but it all depends on the weight, size and make-up of your vessel.

Can bass boats go in saltwater?

Your bass boat is capable of going in saltwater, but it's better to keep it in fresh water, as ocean water can deteriorate some of the boats components. If you do use it in salt water, be sure to thoroughly wash it afterwards.

How should you clean your boat?

Cleaning your boat regularly is a good idea to keep it in working order. The carpet is probably the most prone to wear, with frequent contact to dirty feet, fish slime and occasional food and beverage spills. If you need to clean it, use a power washer and go from one end to the other to lift the gunk from the fabric. You might also consider a wet-dry vac. Next, when you clean the live well, make sure to use non-toxic products, as things like bleach can harm the fish you place in there. For consoles, which are often make of plastic and glass, an all-purpose cleaner works great and for viynl boat seats, opt for a vinyl shampoo like Star Brite. Finally, for cleaning the hull, start with a good power wash, making sure to get all the nooks and finish with a heavy duty boat soap.

What are the benefits of buying a new boat over a used one?

Great question. The answer depends on your repairs know-how, budget, and preferences. When you purchase a new boat, you know exactly what you're getting. You can also buy exactly what you want and often have a manufactures warranty if something starts acting up. Pre-used boats are often significantly cheaper and if there's a problem with it, it's likely already been identified (however, you should be sure to ask about any problems before forking over the cash).

Was this page helpful?