Bass boat cheap but great in quality? You can find them. Affordable bass boats for tournament competition are hard to come by, but these three make the cut.
The Nitro Z-6, Ranger Z117, and Triton 17 Pro all have one thing in common: they’re reasonably priced bass boats that are also capable competitors, albeit on the small side. And finding a tournament-level cheap bass boat for under $30,000 is a difficult task. So, what if you want to be a true bass pro? Or, even if you know you won’t be able to quit your day job, you insist on being the best bass angler you can be? One of these three will most likely be a good fit for your fishing style, performance requirements, and budget. Let’s see which one it is.
The Nitro Z-6, powered by a 115 HP Mercury Optimax Pro XS, is a small bass boat, but it’s a powerful little fishing machine.
- Nitro Z-6, Ranger Z117, and Triton 17 Pro are affordable bass boats that are also capable competitors.
- Finding a tournament-level cheap bass boat for under $30,000 is a difficult task, but one of these three boats will most likely be a good fit for your fishing style, performance requirements, and budget.
- Nitro Z-6 is the shortest of these three contenders, but it is a powerful little fishing machine with even seating space among the three cockpit seats.
- Z117 Ranger is a little more expensive than the Nitro Z-6, but it is wider and longer, and it has a 24-volt Minn Kota trolling motor, an advantage over the Nitro’s 12-volt model.
- Triton 17 Pro is the largest and most expensive boat in this group, but it has a powerful Yamaha F90 outboard, and it’s the only one with a dual console.
Top 3 Bass Boat Cheap with Great Quality
The Nitro Z-6
With four inches less LOA than the others, the Nitro Z-6 is the shortest of these three contenders. In reality, this makes little difference, and none of these models will appear significantly larger than the others. They are all designed for optimal fishing with two people aboard, but they have enough seating and space for three if another friend wants to join in. The Nitro, on the other hand, is the only boat in this group to distribute seating space evenly among the three cockpit seats, rather than offering two larger port and starboard seats with a smaller center seat.
The boat’s MSRP (at the time of writing) is extremely reasonable at $21,995. When you factor in dealer prep and shipping, the price jumps by a grand or so, and there are a few options you’ll need (the automatic bilge pump isn’t standard, and the stock prop is aluminum, not stainless steel). Even with those extras, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $25,000. You also don’t have to worry about getting the best deal possible because Nitro offers a “no haggle, no hassle” nationwide price. That price includes a lot of extra gear that everyone requires but that manufacturers rarely provide (like a fire extinguisher, paddle, and horn). Nitro boats are available from both individual dealers and wholesalers.
Bass Pro Shops, so no matter where you live, you’re almost certain to have a dealership (and the service that comes with it) nearby.
Length 17’4″Beam 7’6″Displacement 1,300 lbsMax HP115Standard trolling motor55 lb thrust
22-gallon fuel capacity
32 gal. livewell capacity
The Z-6 has a large 32-gallon livewell with two 500-gph pumps (one for recirculation and evacuation, and a separate pump for filling and aeration). Electrical components have Deutch-style waterproof connectors, but the automotive-style fuse panel is an annoyance—breakers would be a big improvement. Anglers in need of tackle will appreciate the aft deck compartments, which can hold up to seven trays or be used for bulk storage. You’ll also appreciate the extra storage space built into the port and starboard seats.
The single-step re-boarding ladder may not be to your liking. It’s better than nothing, but climbing out of the water with just one step will be difficult.
One interesting feature is that you can add a second console ($550) to provide some protection for the passenger and gain a locking glove box.
The Ranger Z117 is built with the same construction details that have long distinguished Ranger bass boats from the competition. A standout feature is the use of pultruded parts (in the transom and under some mounting surfaces): fiberglass is tensioned, rolled through a resin bath, and then pulled through a temperature-controlled die. The glass is perfectly resin-impregnated, the excess is squeezed out, and fibers are organized into specific shapes. The finished part is denser and stronger than standard fiberglass, making it ideal for use in high-stress areas.
If you look closely at a Z117, you’ll notice that all parts of the boat are designed to be tough. The compartment liners are thick, the sturdy lids are all equipped with gas-assist struts, and even the trailer stands out with features like Road Armor finish and stainless-steel fenders.
As one might expect, employing these types of construction techniques and materials raises the stakes. Ranger claims that the boat can be purchased for less than $30,000 (NADA lists the 2015 model at $30,560), which is significantly less than the average price for bass boats and half the price of some.
Ranger makes good use of the fact that this boat has the largest footprint of the three. The bow has slightly more stowage and the most rod box capacity (for rods up to seven feet). The cockpit bucket seats are extremely comfortable, but the center seat (optional) is quite small.
Length: 17’8″ Beam: 7’6″ Displacement: 1,325 lbs Max HP: 115Std trolling motor: 55 lb thrust
23 gal. fuel capacity
15-gallon capacity Livewell
Another place where space is limited is the livewell, which is only 15 gallons, the smallest in the competition. It’s aerated, and has a divider, filter screens, and a timer, so that’s a plus.
The dash is a highlight, with more room than the competition for larger electronics. Consider the bow design, which includes the trolling motor and recessed foot pedal, flush-mount electronics, and a switch panel. It is, in my opinion, the best arrangement of the bunch.
Triton 17 Pro
The Triton 17 Pro is the cheapest bass boat of the bunch, despite being slightly narrower and lighter than the competition.
Despite being four inches narrower than its competitors, Triton outsizes them in several ways with the 17 Pro. This boat has the largest livewell of them all, at 36 gallons, and it’s serviced by not one, but two engines.
three larger 800-gph pumps Fuel capacity is also 10% greater than the competition. This significantly expands your bass fishing hotspot range.
The Triton’s standard trolling motor is 45-pound thrust (the Nitro and Ranger both have 55-pound thrust motors), but you can always upgrade it.
Fortunately, adding a few options here and there won’t be too difficult. This boat has the lowest starting price of all, at $21,495. (We did discover
a listing on the internet for less than $20,000). After factoring in all of the extras and desired up-charges, $25K is a reasonable figure to keep in mind. That’s an incredible value for a serious bass boat.
Max HP115Std trolling motor45 lb thrust
26-gallon fuel capacity
36 gal. livewell capacity
Of course, no boat is flawless. The cleats (which are recessed on the Nitro and pull-ups on the Ranger) could be better because Triton simply mounts them along the inside of the bow and gunwales, where they’re bound to stub toes and snag fishing lines. But aside from that, it’s difficult to find flaws. The use of Tri-Core polyurethane coring, AME 1000 resin, foam-filled stringers, and four transverse bulkheads tied into the stringer system are among the construction highlights. The trailer also has chrome wheels. That’s a nice touch.
All three of these models have a 115 HP powerplant, which will be the engine of choice for serious bassers—performance matters when it comes to tournaments. Speaking of which, all three of these boats will cruise in the mid to upper 40s, with the potential to reach 50 mph in ideal conditions. The Triton should have a slight advantage in terms of speed because it is a couple of hundred pounds lighter than the others, but keep in mind that in a boat this small, an extra person or a full fuel tank is all that is required to make up the difference.
All three of these boats come standard with a Lowrance Mark 5x Pro fishfinder. If you’re familiar with this unit, you’re probably laughing right now—it’s a black-and-white LCD that costs less than $200, and any bass fisherman leaving the dock with one is severely under-equipped in today’s world of marine electronics. Serious anglers will consider it essential to upgrade. However, due to dash constraints, size will be an issue on the Nitro and Triton. You can go coloring,
Any of these boats can handle down scanning, but only the Ranger can handle significantly larger screen sizes.
All three of these boats also come with their own trailer. And all three have limited lifetime warranties on the hull and structure of the boat, though Nitro offers one year on parts, and Ranger and Triton each offer three years.
So you know what’s good and bad about each of these small but powerful fishing machines. Which one is the best choice for you will be determined by your priorities. If the size is important, construction quality is important, you enjoy hauling a large selection of rods, and you don’t mind paying a little more, you’ll probably prefer the Ranger Z117. If price is a major consideration, the Nitro Z-6 and the Triton 17 Pro are likely to be your top choices. Then you’ll have to prioritize features like easy purchasing, fuel and live well capacities, seating, and storage options.
Whatever decision you make, one thing is certain: in the world of bass boats, all three of these models are relatively inexpensive—and all three have everything you need to compete in tournaments with the big dogs.
Want to go to the other end of the bass boat spectrum? Read our list of Fast Bass Boats.