Boat Reviews

Tracker Bass Tracker Classic XL – Get Back To Your Roots

Tracker has revived a theme many builders lost sight of long ago: simple and inexpensive works when it comes to small fishing boats.

Walk the docks at any boat show in this day and age, and you’ll see acres of massive center console fishing yachts powered by outrageously huge V-8 outboards like the chart-topping Seven Marine 627, the Mercury 450, and the Yamaha F425 XTO.

Each and every one of these boats, impressive though they may be, shares the same one weakness: you’ve gotta be utterly rich to afford them. And unfortunately, as these mega-expensive fishing machines have grown to dominate much of the market, the availability of smaller, easily affordable fishing boats has plummeted. Thank goodness for new boats like the Tracker Bass Tracker Classic XL. List price: $10,995 for the boat-motor-trailer package. That’s about half the cost of an average Harley, half the cost of a Kia Soul, and half the cost of the console cabin air conditioning option on a lot of those monster CCs.

Bass Tracker
The Classic XL may be simple and small, but it’s guaranteed to generate some big smiles.

Before you say “I like fishing for a lot more than just bass,” don’t let the boat’s name fool you. It’s really no more or less a “bass boat” than any other fairly small, simple, decked aluminum fishing boat. Casting decks are raised fore and aft but there’s also a relatively large center cockpit, and you can leave in the pedestal seats or pull them and fish standing up, as you please. Besides, when you get right down to brass tacks the things that make boat good for bass fishing are quite similar to the things that make a bay boat good for so many inshore fisheries.

Tracker Boats
No, you won’t want to go punching through any oceanic inlets. Beyond that, however, most relatively protected fishing grounds will be fair game.

Wait a sec—you can’t really take a boat like this into saltwater, can you? Of course, you can. Other than the fact that thorough freshwater wash-downs will be necessary following every briny trip and some fittings may still need to be upgraded, remember that the hull is aluminum, the deck is pressure-treated ply, the engine is a Mercury 40 ELPT FourStroke, and the trailer has Galvashield corrosion protection. The only major part of the system you’d want to swap out immediately would be the Minn Kota Edge trolling motor, which is a freshwater model.

Bass Tracker Classic XL Specifications

  • LOA – 16’8”
  • Beam – 6’5”
  • Draft –1’1”
  • Displacement –780 lbs.
  • Transom deadrise –6 degrees
  • Fuel capacity –6 gal.

What does a fishing boat this simple and inexpensive get you”? Everything you need to get to the fish, really: a nine-gallon livewell, a Lowrance Hook 4x fishfinder (admittedly basic yet still effective), four horizontal rod holders, and cranking and trolling motor batteries. Most of us would want to add some vertical rod holders and you’ll need a carry-on cooler to keep the catch chilled, but that’s about it.

boat reviews
This may be a basic boat, but it comes right out of the box with almost all the fishing basics you’ll need.

What about optional features? They’re virtually nonexistent. One of the ways a manufacturer can keep costs down is by production-building the exact same item over and over again, and the more a boat can be customized, the more cost tends to get out of hand. For the Classic XL, the only factory options available are a cover and adding brakes to the trailer. That’s it.

Fair warning: you do have to expect a boat like this to be on the bumpy side in a chop, and potentially a bit wet. Of course, you can say the same thing above virtually all boats with 16’8” of LOA. But we do note that a very simple hull design (a 0.100” one-piece aluminum hull with pressed-in chines and strakes and six degrees of deadrise at the transom) and just 780 pounds of displacement should temper your seakeeping expectations a bit. Construction-wise, however, you may be a bit surprised at just how well the boat’s put together. Stringers and corner braces are all-welded, the two-inch gunwales are extruded, hatches are aluminum, and below deck cavities are foam-filled.

bass boats
The hull is simple and traditional. It’s also backed by a limited lifetime structural warranty.

Performance-wise, the standard 40-hp motor is plenty for this rig. Yes, you can upgrade that to a 50 for another $400 or so, but why? The stock engine will get you speeds of over 30-mph with a person or two aboard, and a cruise in the 20-mph range.

Tracker Boats
Another advantage of a small, simple boat: you don’t need gobs of horsepower to zip around from hotspot to hotspot.

Is the Bass Tracker Classic XL likely to top anyone’s dreamboat list? Nah. Will it draw eyeballs and cause involuntary drooling, like those million-dollar fishing machines at all the boat shows? Of course not. But boats like this have the potential to make any average American Joe just as happy as those one-percenters—and maybe even able to out-fish ‘em, too.

For more information, visit Tracker Boats.

Lenny Rudow
Lenny Rudow …has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, and has authored seven books. He is currently the Angler in Chie...