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Light Fantastic

Nowhereis it written that you have to spend big bucks on a bass boat to fish competitively nor that fiberglass boats outperform aluminum boats. Truth be told, TRACKER® builds boats that perform like the more expensive fiberglass models and have all the same amenities of their fiberglass brethren, but at a fraction of the cost. A day on the water with the TRACKER® Pro Team™ 175 Special Edition served as a quick reminder as to why TRACKER is the No. 1 freshwater boatbuilder in the world.
Thosethoughts were skittering around in my head when the bubble-gum-colored floating-worm suddenly disappeared from sight and my line went tight. I knew a feisty little Dog River largemouth was on the other end.
Iset the hook with some vigor, sending a little shudder through the TRACKER® Pro Team™ 175's aluminum hull. The fight was on.
JoeBogard, my fishing partner manning the trolling motor, smiled: I'd just christened the newest addition to his Travis Boating Center showroom less than five miles from his Pascagoula, Mississippi, dealership.
ThePT 175 Special Edition package we were fishing from is fast becoming one of the best sellers in the TRACKER® line of welded aluminum fishing boats, and for good reason, too. At just over 17 feet in length, you really get a lot of fishing boat for the money.
Inthis age, when a decent ready-to-run bass boat and trailer package runs nearly $20,000, this TRACKER rolls out the door for less than $10K when rigged with a 25 hp outboard. From there, Bogard says the price eases up the ladder depending on which Mercury® outboard you want, up to the PT 175's 75 hp maximum rating.
Forexample, the package we were chasing marsh bass from was equipped with the Mercury® OptiMax® 75, which put the tag right around $17,000. That's a healthy price, but the OptiMax is a strong performer and miserly on fuel for its size. It makes the 17-foot TRACKER, which is based on a modified-V, all-aluminum welded hull with unique offset transom, really fly.
The75 hp OptiMax®, propped with a 20-inch-pitch stainless steel Laser II three-blade, pops up on plane in less four ticks of the stopwatch, making it really nice for running in skinny waters. From there, it runs up to its top speed of 40-plus mph in the time it takes heavier hulls to get to 30-mph. This boat is sporty.
Onthe other hand, the OptiMax® 75 is a heavy outboard, and when it's on the transom of a light hull such as the PT 175, it tends to make the boat sit rather bow high when the trolling motor is down- and to be quite trim sensitive when the boat is running at speed. One tick too much on the trim switch and the bow begins porpoising.
Fromour outing, I'd say that although the TRACKER® PT 175 is rated for the 75 and handles it fine, a better choice would be the Mercury® 50 hp four-stroke. The 50 would provide plenty of power while saving the buyer nearly $2000 in the process. Such engine power would also set the PT 175 in a more level fishing attitude, which makes maneuvering with the trolling motor better in wind or current.
Astested, the TRACKER® PT 175 SE cruises quite comfortably at 30 mph, and tops out at 42.1 mph with two aboard, a full fuel tank and a moderate amount of gear. The design of the hull bottom and its light weight contribute to the boat's speed performance.
Theseitems also attribute to its fuel efficiency. Fuel economy is maximized at around 3500 rpm where it gets 5.3 mpg. Put the throttle to the wall and you'll still get better than 4 mpg while the OptiMax® is turning 5400 rpm.
Whenit comes to a fishing platform, TRACKER® has done a commendable job. The TRACKER® PT 175 Special Edition is really well equipped and nicely laid out for angler comfort and convenience in a small space.
Itcomes standard with full instrumentation and a Lowrance® X37 fishfinder that shows surface temperature and the status of the trolling-motor battery. A built-in, two-bank, 4-amp battery charger is also part of the standard rigging.
Thefront and rear deck areas provide plenty of room to fish. Plus, the rod locker-located on the port side- and storage compartments are carpeted. The fore and aft tackle-storage lockers are small, which is to be expected on a 17-foot, 3- inch hull with a 6-foot, 11-inch beam. But they are fine for anglers who like to travel light with tackle already organized in drop-in plastic storage boxes. (TRACKER® actually provides those in each compartment.) There's no room for bulky tackle bags or tackleboxes except in the cockpit.
Still,there's a place for just about everything else a bass club or recreational bass angler typically brings on an outing. Storage for extra life vests, jackets, dock lines and a spare prop are found beneath the three seats in the cockpit area.
Rodstorage is more than adequate, as well. The portside locker will accommodate a half-dozen rods- a couple up to 7 feet in length.
Seatingcomfort is above average for an entry-level fishing platform. The PT 175 comes with a pair of fishing seats on pedestals, so whether fishing from the bow or stern you can sit instead of stand.
Wefound sitting preferable when it got a little windy because the hull's light weight and modified-V design on a narrow beam tends to make it susceptible to being a little rocky if the anglers step to the same side at the same time.
ThePT 175 is very easy to control and maneuver with the 12- volt, 46-pound--thrust MotorGuide® trolling motor, which is great when you are dodging stumps or fishing in tight structure.
There'sone livewell, located at the stern. It's divided and set up with a full-functioning aeration system with pump-out feature so tournament anglers are perfectly at ease heading to weigh-in.
Speakingof heading to weigh-ins, the PT 175, although a relatively lightweight aluminum platform, handles chop with the same ease as it gets on plane. The hull has a sharp point of entry that slices through smaller chop and enough deadrise at the stern to smooth out the ride. It also sports strakes that divert water away from the sides to keep the occupants dry as long as there's not a lot of cross-wind.
ThePT 175 is also unusually quiet for an aluminum boat. TRACKER® uses a full-length longitudinal box-ladder-style stringer system as the floor support. The voids are filled with flotation foam. This combination reduces water-induced noise to a minimum while giving the boat a very solid feel underfoot. Up on plane, it handles like a little sports car, responding quickly to even the lightest steering and trim changes. In short, it's just fun to run.
It'salso fun to tow. The trailer is a single axle with swingaway tongue, so it'll fit in the garage. Plus, the entire boat/trailer package weighs only 1700 pounds and is light enough so you can tow it with any small pickup or SUV.
All in all, the TRACKER® Pro Team™ 175 Special Edition is a nice boat for budget-conscious anglers who fish smaller impoundments or rivers, and who don't want to sacrifice the comforts and conveniences bass fishermen have come to expect.
Article by Bruce W. Smith
Reprinted with permission from Bass & Walleye Boats, July/August 2005.

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