Things have changed over the years and definitely for the better, at least when it comes to today’s modern fishing boats and motors. They ride better, have more effective floor plans, and are definitely more comfortable to fish out of. They’re also powered by high tech outboards that run smooth as silk, go a whole lot farther on a gallon of gas, and do it virtually without any smoke. The good old days were great but you’d never get me to give up what I have now for what I had then.
My first new rig was a 12 foot Meyers johnboat powered by a six horse Johnson that never failed and was tough as nails. I spent most of my time fishing and learning smaller lakes and rivers primarily because of the limitations of my craft. The next rig wasn’t that much larger but the S-14 deep and wide Lund did open up many more opportunities including lakes like Mille Lacs, which I was able to fish on the calmer days. The S-14 didn’t ride that well and the 15hp Johnson couldn’t move it that fast but on some of the nicer summer days you could find me working the deep mud flats in the middle of the lake with one eye glued to the Humminbird Super Sixty and one eye on the weather. Any sign of trouble and I’d be headed for shore, hoping and praying all the way in. My first "performance" boat was a 1600VII Ranger which was my first glass boat and at the time was all the rage. It was also the boat Al Lindner was running and if it was good enough for Al it was plenty good for me. I spent a lot of quality time in that rig and it proved to be a terrific multi-species boat and even used it to compete in bass tournaments held around the state. Eventually having made the decision to jump into big time walleye tournaments I decided to go with the deeper aluminum boats and over a twenty year span ran Alumacraft, SeaNymph, Lowe, Roughneck, and Crestliner. All had their good points and detractors but aluminum has evolved and made some big strides when it comes to ride and layout. Glass on the other hand has been out front from the beginning and continues to lead the way in all categories. Simply put; glass rides drier and smoother and runs faster, not to mention it’s easier on the eyes. It rides faster because it’s molded and is perfectly straight. Anything less (like rivets and weld warping) creates drag and drag slows everything down. Another big bone of contention is dry storage and nothing thus far has measured up to the capability of glass. In fact I haven’t had a genuine "dry" storage compartment since I sold that 1600VII. Truth be known; fisherman need dry storage and lots of it. The absence thereof can ruin boxes full of tackle as well as clothing and carpeting that can become mildewed and rotten. Glass manufacturers like Ranger Boats have taken the dry storage issue seriously and have gone the extra mile to make sure compartments that are supposed to stay dry do exactly that. They’ve done it by incorporating molded lids and gaskets that fit like a glove, along with a channel system that has been engineered to keep water moving away from the lids. The result is storage that stays dry and for us anglers; staying dry is huge! Ranger Pro Mark Courts of Harris, Minnesota runs fiberglass for another good reason: "Glass is easier to control when you’re dealing with wind and waves and doesn’t get pushed around like aluminum. You can troll a tight contour line or make a controlled drift with a minimum of effort."
Some anglers have shied away from glass because they’re afraid of scratching up the hull when pulling the boat up to shore. To help protect the hull glass manufacturers like Ranger have incorporated keel protectors that are heavy duty and molded in and make parking on a sandy or gravel bottom a lot less nerve wracking.
While four-stroke outboards have been accepted as being "green" and that two-strokes are on their way out it simply isn’t true. High tech two strokes like the Evinrude E-Tec are super-efficient and use less oil than a four-stroke. They’re also lighter and have a better hole shot which can help you get on plane much more quickly. There is also a misconception that four-strokes troll down better but they still need the RPM’s to keep running and really have no advantage. On the other hand; four-strokes have lightened up and have a much better hole-shot than they did a few years ago and it really boils down to a personal choice.
It’s hard to say what the next big deal will be but right now we’ve got it awful good. All that engineering and technology means I’m going to be able to stay on the water that much longer and there is no place I’d rather be.