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Many questions....


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I visit Minnesota many times a year to Muskie fish. I fish with my GF's stepdad, who has a newer 14' Alumacraft backtroller with a 25HP Yamaha 4 stroke. I'm seriously considering, essentially, upgrading their boat for them so I can have a bigger boat to fish out of when I'm there.

My reasons:

* Can't easily fish three people

* Need a proper Muskie net and a Big Kahuna is hard to put out-of-the way in that boat

* Would love to get out on Leech and Mille Lacs some day

* I have too much gear, can't hide all that either

* Rod storage would be nice too, preferably at least 7'6", 9' would be optimal

I've never shopped for a boat before and am in a quandry over the several different ways to go. It could well be I'd be happy either way, but I figured I would ask others to be safe. I'm definitely looking used, as I want to stay under $10k for sure, and would appreciate getting as close to $5k as possible. Yet there seems to be a $9k sweet spot for the nicer used ('95-'99) Aluminum boats.

Big Fiberglass bass boat VS typical MN Aluminum?

The nose of Bass boats are pretty low, the sides are generally lower as well. For instance, there is a '92 Nitro DC 2000 for sale for around $9k. I LOVE casting decks (I also fly fish sometimes), bass boats have them in spades. However, do I lose the ability to hit the heavier waves in the bigger water VS a Fish Hawk 1750 or Navigator 175 in a bass boat? Also, are the casting decks so high that you need to have 9' rods to effectively figure-8? The stepdad also fishes for walleye when I'm not around. Can you backtroll in a bass boat? I would love a Ranger Fisherman, but I don't think that's showing up in my price range \:\)

How high do you want the sides to be?

Based on my preference for open floor plan, my top three Aluminum choices are probably Fish Hawk 1750, Navigator 175 and Mr. Pike 17. Alumacraft has a few cheaper boats in the 165 class (Lunker, Classic), Lund has the Rebel. They have lower side height. Are they still tall enough for the big water I want to fish? Same question with a Tuffy Esox Magnum? The smaller Tuffys look great to me as far as floor plan, but they are so low...

SC/CS or Tiller?

Stepdad seems to have a preference for tiller, but his eyesight ain't all that great and seems like he should have a little better view of what he's steering toward. Like the openness of the tiller. Easier to backtroll with a tiller, unless you have a kicker, yes?

Rear casting deck?

Seems like the Crestliners and Alumacrafts have a usable rear casting deck. Do any Lunds?

Older boats?

There are obviously some nice deals on older boats, like late 80s to early 90s Crestliners and Alumacrafts, but I have very limited information on them. Are the beams as wide back then as they are now? Do the old Competitor 185s and Team 170s meet my criteria? I don't much care about new or flashy or fast, I just care about functional.

I'm not around most of the year. Is there a size at which it becomes significantly harder for one person to launch a boat in a little lake by himself, especially as he nears 60 and the operations are beginning to take their toll? I mean, this guy puts his boat in gear, powers up the trailer and cranks the thing backwards from the nose (pretty hefty shoulders). He won't be able to do that forever...

Sorry for all the questions, I greatly appreciate any guidance y'all can give!


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Hey PDX......

My rig is kind of a mix of the things you're looking for. 17 ft Lund, big enough to handle Leech on most days, but still small enough to hit an 80 acre little bass hole.

For your price range, the best bet will be aluminum. Most will be along the multi-species line, so the sides will be a little higher, as will the front deck. That's not the reason I use 8 and 9 footers, but it helps a little bit. The rear deck....well that depends on make and model, but you're right with Alumacraft and Crestliner having decent decks. My Lund rear deck is more of a death trap than a deck. One guy ended up in my splashwell, mine is too narrow, many of the Lunds are. Rod storage will be a challenge too, especially at the length you're looking for.

Tiller vs SC vs DC........ all about your own preference, +/- points can be made for both. Get a decent trailer underneath it and launching is still pretty darn easy.

You're on the right track! The $10k end will get you a decent 17 footer with a mid range HP. If you go on the low end there are some nice 16 to 16.5 tillers available. Fished out on Mille Lacs in a 16' Lund Rebel several times.

Older boats will meet your functionality needs for sure, and yes, the beams were a little narrower back then.

There's a post here a page or two back about building the perfect boat. Give that a read, you'll learn a lot there!

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Thanks so much, Chris!

I guess a simple follow up question is:

So when I see the following boats in my price range, should I ignore them or consider them, given I'm a Muskie guy and it needs to do Walleye as well?

Ranger 481VS Commanche

Tuffy Esox or Marauder or Rampage

Nitro DC2000

Alumacraft Lunker or Classic 165

The 97 Yarcraft 1785 Mille Lacs that was for sale here on FM last week

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Well, these are all nice rigs really. Fishing is fishin in a sense, so anything that gets you out is a "win". Alumacraft is proven year after year, Tuffys are an Esox minded boat, and the Yarcraft is maybe a bit more walleye first. That Yarcraft that recently sold sounded like a nice rig.

Couple things I'd look for since you're muskie first, and walleye as a close 2nd. Decks, optimize the layout for the best comfort in being on your feet while throwing muskie gear. I'll call rod storage a "bonus", and not a determining factor.

Walleyes: Can it troll down slow enough to fish walleyes and backtroll? Mines not the greatest for backtrolling, a downside of a dual console boat.

Comes down to the best bang for the buck. On a 10 year old boat for example, I'd look for less electronics maybe, and upgrade over time as the budget allows. Also, do not overlook the trailer, makes a big difference. Covers, Wavewackers, rod holders.....all things that can be added after purchase.

Hope that helps!

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OK, I think the thing I still don't know is how appropriate is something like a non-deep-V Ranger or Nitro, or Tuffy Esox for big water? Chad Cain told me he hated fishing out of the Tuffy Esox in rough water and to look at the Crestliners, so that put me back on aluminum. Yet I see so many out there saying "once you go fiber you never go back". So I get confused and befuddled.

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Hey PDX,

I run aluminum and have not owned glass, so take it for what it's worth.

I think there's things I can do in am alum I couldn't do in glass. Mainly, fish all kinds of water, rivers, lakes, etc. For your target price range, I beleive you'll get more boat for the buck going alum. Plus the 17 foot range glass boats aren't the same as a 17 alum in rough water.

If your money was mine, I'd look for a alum Crestliner, Amulacraft, or Lund type hull/make in the 10 year old range that wasn't loaded, so I could upgrade some add ons with 2008 level gear, and have a newer boat in disguise. If you buy from a dealer, there is some flex in you buying the accessories and having them do the rigging.

Tiller or console? Again your choice ultimately, and pending on the deal available one could be swayed.

Does that help?

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Yeah, that helps! All the fiber boats I'm seeing are 19' or 20'. I don't look *for* them, they just pop up on popular classified sites at the $9k price point and I see the casting decks and...well...it keeps me awake at night. Actually, everything about the opener coming up keeps me awake at night. Seriously, I didn't fall asleep until around 3AM because I couldn't figure out what rod I want to put my Curado on...it's going to be a long few months.

What you suggest is pretty much exactly what I've been looking for, I'm just easily distracted by shiny things. ADD 'n all, y'know?

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We fish muskies out of a 2005 Tracker Targa v17, we can and do fish 3 out of it. With a maxed out HP motor on this rig it should handle about anything you will want. This boat has a 60 on it but would be better with at least a 90.

I'm looking at upgrading also to a newer boat and have a 05 Targa in my sights also. Ultimatly will be using it as a stepping stone to a Ranger 620 VS. For now though staying with a 17-18.5 Alum SC or DC deeper V.

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Yep, I know!

I was lucky enough to be positioned in 2003 to buy a new rig. Based on how/where what I fish for, budget, and garage space I went 17' Lund alum multi-species, full windshield. I can honestly say in 5 years I have not had an ounce of buyers memorse. Envy of others.....yes!....but 2nd guessing no.

Sure I'd love a bigger rear deck, more and longer rod storage, but my rig has not kept me from fishing for what I want, and with the exception of Mille Lacs on 30mph north winds, when I want.

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Look at the Tracker line. The Pro-Team Bass Tracker should fit the bill. A new 17'5

with a 50 HP sells new for about $13,000. You should be able to find a used one priced right. If you are looking at spending $5K you are correct about getting a bigger boat that is fairly old or a late 90's early 2000 smaller traditional fishing boat like a Lund Rebel or Alumacraft Lunker. Any boat that has a large rear casting platform is not going to be a good boat for someone who likes to back troll for walleyes. Especially if they like to hover over a specific spot and need precise control.

Don't worry about us guys pushing 60. We can handle boats just like you young guys that don't know anything. LOL

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OK, I missed out on a sweet deal on a Tracker V17 Targa. Very bummed by that.

What do people think about early 90s Stratos Walleye boats like the 219w? Seems like it has decently high sides combined with 19' should be able to handle Leech OK. Nice deck, but can't see if there's much of one in the rear.

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Lunds are really nice boats. If you can get one in your price range it would be hard to go wrong. They are built for these lakes. My price was a little small for Lund. I went with Crestliner for a couple reasons. Width, man does this thing have walking room. Hull, no rivets and handles the waves like a dream. Full windshield, I have been on boats with out and when the rain and wind hits it is way better to tuck behind than to grin and tough it out. Options, dual livewells, lots o storage, and the history behind these boats. I was blessed to find one with not only a 125 2 stroke but it also had the 9.9 4 stroke kicker. With the gas prices I believe I will get my money's out of this.

Just make sure you get in it, kick back, look around. Stand up, walk around. It will feel right when you find it. Happy fishin!!

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Unfortunately, I'm in Oregon and the boat I bought is in Minnesota, so I had a proxy do the looking and feeling \:\)

I probably would have preferred a Fish Hawk 1750 for sure, but the Lund popped up and the proxy (who is 1/3rd owner as well) liked it. I wasn't seeing FishHawk 1750s under $11-12k. I didn't figure I would be all that disappointed in the Pro V. But yes, I did buy it and the proxy (my fishing buddy) should be taking it to his house later today.

So now that I have bought the thing, I have one more question:

It has a 2001 75hp Merc 2-stroke on it, as well as a Maxxum on the transom and the bow (not sure of the thrust, but I think 70 is the minimum on a Maxxum). If I want to troll, especially for muskies (therefore in excess of 3mph), should I have a kicker?

Here is the list of features the thing has:

1998 1775 Pro V 50th Anniversary

-new 24V bow mount electric motor w/ universal sonar (Minnkota Maxxum)

-new 24V stern mount electric trolling motors (Minnkota Maxxum)

-new Lowrance GPS/Graph LMS-480 (takes mapping chips)

-2 bank battery charger

-3 batteries (1 engine & 2 trolling) all three only 2 seasons old

-electronics locker

-7 ft. Rod locker (lockable)

-bow and aft livewell/baitwells w/ "Pro-long" system

-Captains chair w/ arm rests

-3 Air-ride pedestal seats

-travel cover

-bow battery gauge

-bow trim switch

-console foot trim

-Wave Wackers

-Spare Tire

-AM/FM Cassette Stereo

-VHF Marine Radio Antenna

-4 Flush Mount Quick Release Rod Holders

-Lifetime trailer registration

-Boat registered through 09'

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You shouldn't need a kicker, especially if wanting to go 3 mph. Your 75 Merc won't be as smooth as a kicker, but it will do just fine, especially for forward trolling cranks.

Congrats on the boat, hope you have a great season with it.

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OK next question relates to fuel economy.

How many hours would you need to troll with a 75 before having a 9.9 would make more economic sense? How much more economical is a 9.9 than a 75 at 4mph? Twice? Three times? Does going that slow foul the plugs on a 2-stroke 75 eventually?

What is the logic behind drift socks vs. trolling plates? Seems a trolling plate would be preferable to having something out there that line/fish can get hung up on. My assumption is you can't backtroll with a trolling plate?

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I dont think anyone would have a 9.9 for fuel efficiency. I would say trolling speed would be my determining factor. Depending on the fishes mood, I like to get down to 1.5 to 2.5 mph. I cant get that with an 80 hp.

I use a drift sock for that reason, drifting. On a windy day, early in the season when the fish are less likely to be aggresive, the sock will slow the boat down.

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I agree with boatfixer - the main reason for a 9.9 would be speed based more than fuel economy.

With repsect to trolling plates vs drift socks - drift socks, if you tie them off near the middle of the boat, do a pretty good job of staying out of the way without the loss in controlability in reverse that a trolling plate will give you. Plus, you don't have to worry about breaking a pin / etc with a drift sock and can toss it out when you need it.


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