The Nitro Z-6, Ranger Z117, and Triton 17 Pro share one thing in common: theya€™re relatively affordable bass boats that are also, though on the small side, competent competitors. And finding a tournament-level bass boat that costs less than $30,000 or so is no easy chore.So, what if you want to become a bona fide bass pro?
Or, even thoughA you know you won't quit your day job, you justA insist on being the best bass angler you possibly can be? In truth thisA doesn't make a hugeA difference, and none of these models is likely to seem a whole lot larger than the others. All of them are designed for optimal fishing with two aboard, but they have enough seating and room for three when another buddy wants to join in. Add in dealer prep and shipping and cost goes up a grand or so, and there are a few options youa€™ll need (the automatic bilge pump isna€™t a standard and the stock prop is aluminum, not stainless-steel). And you dona€™t have to stress out over getting the best deal possible, since Nitro offers a a€?no haggle no hasslea€? nationwide price.
That price includes a lot of extra gear everyone needs but manufacturers rarely supply (like a fire extinguisher, paddle, and horn).
Electrical components have Deutch-style waterproof connectors, but one annoyance is the automotive-style fuse panela€”breakers would be a big improvement.
Tackle-hungry anglers will love the aft deck compartments, which can hold up to seven trays or be used for bulk stowage. Youa€™ll also like the fact that extra stowage is built in under the port and starboard seats.You might be a bit less enamored with the single-step re-boarding ladder.


The use of pultruded parts (in the transom and under some mounting surfaces) is a highlight: fiberglass is tensioned, rolled through a resin bath, and then pulled through a temperature-controlled die. The glass is resin-impregnated to the perfect level, excess gets squeezed away, and fibers are organized into specific shapes.
The finished part is denser and stronger than normal fiberglass, which makes its use ideal in high-stress areas.Inspect a Z117 closely, and youa€™ll notice that all parts of the boat are built with this kind of ruggedness in mind. Compartment liners are beefy, the sturdy lids all have gas-assist struts, and even the trailer sets itself apart, with features like Road Armor finish and stainless-steel fenders.As one might expect, using these sorts of construction techniques and materials does up the ante. Therea€™s slightly more stowage in the bow, and it has the most rodbox capacity (for rods up to seven feet). Fortunately ita€™s aerated, has a divider, filter screens, and a timer.The dash is a high-point, with more room for larger electronics than the competition. And take a close look at the bow design, which incorporates the trolling motor and recessed foot pedal, flush-mount electronics, and switch panel. At 36 gallons, this boat has the largest livewell of them alla€”and ita€™s serviced by not one or two, but three up-sized 800-gph pumps. Much like the Nitro, after adding in all the extras and desired up-charges, $25K is a realistic figure to keep in mind.
Therea€™s room for improvement with the cleatsA (whichA are recessed on the Nitro and are pull-ups on the Ranger), because Triton simply mounts them along the inside of the bow and gunwalesa€”where theya€™re bound to stub toes and snag fishing lines. Construction highlights include the use of Tri-Core polyurethane coring, AME 1000 resin, foam-filled stringers, and four transverse bulkheads tied into the stringer system.


Speaking of which: all three of these boats will run in the mid to upper 40a€™s, possibly hitting 50 in the right conditions. The Triton should gain a slight edge in the speed department since ita€™s a couple hundred pounds lighter than the others, but remember that in a boat this small, an extra person or a full fuel tank is all it takes to make up the difference.All three of these boats also include a Lowrance Mark 5x Pro as the standard fishfinder. If youa€™re familiar with this unit youa€™re probably laughing right nowa€”ita€™s a black-and-white LCD which goes for under $200, and any bass fisherman leaving the dock with one is seriously under-gunned in todaya€™s world of marine electronics. But remember that size will be an issue on the Nitro and the Triton due to dash constraints.
You can go to color, side-scanning, and down-scanning on any of these boats, but only the Ranger can handle significantly larger screen sizes.All three of these boats also come with a custom-matched trailer. And all three have limited lifetime warranties on the hull and structure of the boat, though Nitro offers one year on the pieces-parts while Ranger and Triton each offer three years of coverage.So now you know the good and the bad about each of these small but serious fishing machines.
If size matters, construction quality is paramount, you like hauling a huge selection of rods, and you dona€™t mind paying a bit more, youa€™ll probably lean towards the Ranger Z117. If cost is a significant consideration, therea€™s a good possibility youa€™ll narrow the field to the Nitro Z-6 and the Triton 17 Pro.



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