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Sunday, January 6, 2008

• 2005 Bass Tracker V18 All-Fish

http://www.trackerboats.com/boat/specs.cfm?boat=2837

This is a review of the 2005 Tracker V18 All-Fish, not a brand new '07 or '08 Tracker. Things have changed slightly on the newer model and I'll mention a few of those changes later. I've had a few years to check things out. We upgraded the 90hp motor to a 115 Mercury Optimax. The trolling motor on the front is a 54lb thrust Motorguide. The boat came with a size 28 battery, but when that one died a few months ago, a 31 took its place requiring a custom battery tray job you can read about in an earlier post on this blog. I'm also going to avoid nautical speak as many boaters haven't got a clue what's aft, port, or starboard, and I don't want you to have a Joe Pesci moment (Lethal Weapon 4 reference).

The shifter is different on the new models. The '05 Tracker has the button on the side, not at the front of the gearshift. The motor tilt is also on the same side just below that button. I've felt the new gearshift on floor models and I honestly prefer the button the way it was on the '05. There is also a tilt control at the front next to the outlet for the trolling motor and a cord with a clip attached to the kill switch below the gearshift.

The V18 is fully carpeted, but the new anniversary models have some kind of rubbery plastic or vinyl. If ours ever needs to be recarpted, I'm going to ask if that stuff can be made to fit ours. The V18 All-Fish can seat four people, but you can fit five chairs on it. You could technically seat five, but I wouldn't want to ride at the front. It's not a safe place to sit when you're on plane. When riding with one other person, taking off and getting on plane is easy, but when I'm loaded down with three people, myself included, it takes a while to get back on plane. Think of it as an incentive to lose weight.

There are a total of six compartments in all, each held down with elastic loops except for rod storage which has a key lock. There are two cup holders and open trays at the front on each side and a cup holder by the windshield. Sonar units are mounted at the front and by the driver's seat. Livewells are located at the front and at the rear on the left side. A minnow bucket and two extra buckets also come tucked away inside the front livewell. There is a deeper floor compartment at the front behind the livewell. The rod locker is on the left side. There is also a rod strap located on the left in front of the rod locker lid. On the outside edge of the rod compartment, there are storage clips to store the night navigation lights. Spaces under two of the seats have enough room to slide Plano 3700 trays. The rear livewell is located on one side, but a storage compartment of similar size and plastic sealed construction is located on the opposite side. In the rear, the crank battery compartment is at the right and the trolling motor battery compartment is on the left. The gas cap is at the very back of the boat to the right of the motor. There are also four tie downs. Two are in the front and two are in the back. They've held up well for anchoring and tying off at the launch. I've even used them to tow a bass boat in slowly from a short distance after their main motor died on them.

There is a really slick looking windshield above the dash which protects the driver from wind, water, and debris. The in-dash display includes speed, RPM, gas, and battery voltage. When daylight begins to fade, all of the displays light up. The switches for livewells, aerators, and bilge pump are below the dash display as is the key ignition. Everything is easy to keep track of.

Other Info:
Length 18' 1", Max Weight Capacity 1420lbs, Weight 1115lbs, Package Weight 2129lbs, Fuel Capacity 25 Gallons2

Trailer:
Trail Star boat trailer, 8.5' 2x6 carpeted bunk boards (newer boards are 2x4)
Bunk boards tend to rot. Plan on replacing yours eventually. Consider making your own or buying vinyl bunks.

That's the boat in a nutshell. Now you'd like to hear my thoughts, right?

The V18 handles pretty well, but it's the first bass boat I've ever driven. After getting comfortable with the controls, I've been able to get it up to about 48mph on plane according to the gauge. I might be able to squeeze a little more out of it, but I don't want things to get unstable out there. The lake I usually fish is not very big. The gas mileage seems reasonable though. When the temperatures dip below 65, I have a hard time keeping the motor running when I first start out. By now, I'm sure it needs a tune up, but it's even done this when it was brand new. The motor runs fine in reverse, but you need a little more throttle going forward or it kills out once temps dip in to the 50's.

Wind usually comes in every afternoon down here and makes the lake choppy. The boat handles okay in chop, but can get a little bouncy and makes me somewhat uneasy. I always back off to about 40mph and keep moving along. I think most people who come to this post looking for reviews on this boat are wondering how it handles that choppy stuff. Sometimes the boat tilts to the right in rough water. I think I've ruled out weight being the culprit, although it's still possible. Sometimes rain water collects underneath inside the hull (I drain it all out via the plug and bilge pump). It's definitely not from a leak. The way the boat leans might also have to do with how the wind blows or the way the waves are in relation to the boat.

One last thing to mention is how shallow this boat can float. I take it in about a foot of water and weasel my way around. As long as you remember to raise the trim on the rear prop, you can get around in those shallow spots. Sometimes raising the trolling motor makes getting around in shallow water much less stressful, but most of the time, I leave it the height they set it at the factory. By the way, make sure your trolling motor was mounted on correctly. Mounting isolators prevent the decket from shifting and stripping the screws holding the whole motor to the boat. Make sure they put those isolators on.

While I'm talking about the motor, I have a couple of tips. Buy a spare stainless steel prop. There's no telling what you'll hit out there, but you'll ride at ease knowing a stainless steel prop is installed. Be sure to clean out the tiny hole on the front side of the motor shaft down around the level of the propeller. That's where the speedometer sensor is. It can get clogged with muck and your speedometer needle won't budge or give you a low reading. I've also written a blog post on how to locate the hole and clean it out. Also take a look higher up on the motor for a hole on the right side. The water circulating inside pours out through that hole. If you live somewhere that has mud daubers, be sure to cover that hole with some duct tape.

The 54lb Motorguide trolling motor has done well unless the wind is pushing at a steady 15mph. The battery drains fast when running the motor at full speed to fight that kind of wind. I still can't get the hang of the foot pedal and the motor still gets away from me at higher speeds. I also bring that prop through lots of hydrilla. That hydrilla hangs up in a trolling motor easily, but I can usually clean it all of just as fast. There are blades and motors out there that are better at going through weeds. You might consider trading up as I noticed the floor model the other day still had the same 54lb thrust Motorguide. Put a stronger motor on and you'll thank yourself later.

The biggest complaint I have is that there simply isn't enough storage. The picture on their site shows one that looks like you can cram a lot in there. You also have to fit life vests, other safety equipment, and tackle in there. You want to fill a livewell with fish, not gloves and bags. You can't get a lot of space with two or three people in the boat. Everyone will have their own gear. Just learn to pack light.

Since I brought up the livewell system, I'll mention a couple of things. The seal on the plug isn't the greatest and the water slowly leaks out. Any advice? Aside from using silicone gel or buying a new plug, what can I do to fix that slow drain? The holes in the rear of the boat that drain the livewell system have filter caps on them. Those caps can come off. The only thing holding them in is that silicone gel. Buy some more silicone gel at your hardware store or in the aquarium section at a retail store and smear some more on if one starts feeling the least bit loose. Take the old stuff off first and apply new gel to the plug before you place it back in the hole. While I'm talking about plugs in the back of the boat, there's one at the dead center you'll need to drain after every trip or after it rains. It screws in and has a rubber fitting. As you tighten the screw, it pushes the rubber around it out and against the sides of the hole. To drain all the water out, rest the boat at a steep angle and then pull the plug. I do it before and after loading the boat while I'm still on the ramp at the same time I'm running the bilge pump. Wet the sides of the rubber fitting to ease the burden of screwing it back in and be sure to get it as tight as you can so water doesn't seep in. Don't forget to put it back in! One of the biggest mistakes people make at the ramp is forgetting to put that little plug where it belongs.

The seats are comfortable. I don't like the low back seats many other bass boats use. I like something to lean up against, not something that only hugs my butt. Just be careful during a cast and don't hook one. Also go buy some graphite lube for the metal rods beneath the seats. Do not use oils to lube those things. You will create more of a suction force making it harder to pull a seat out, not easier. The graphite stuff isn't easy to find, but you want to have it on board.

I'll mention some final tips and wrap up. Moisture collects inside the compartments. The lid on the rod locker is metal and I've had corrosion build up on some spincasters and rods inside of that compartment. I'd love to leave my rods and reels in there but it's a mess that I'd rather not have to clean up. The moisture also leaves a musty moldy smell. The compartment that is lowest in the boat located towards the front behind the front livewell has actually collected water. I'm not sure where it came from, but it hasn't happened for a while. It's something to keep an eye on. Here's the lesson. If moisture can damage something, don't leave it in the boat when it's stored away. Keep your registration documents and manuals in a plastic zip lock style bag or take your paperwork inside after every trip. If you get caught out in the rain, the carpet is going to get wet and could possibly grow unwanted things that leave an odor. Buy an inexpensive carpet cleaner to suck up all the water and also to clean the carpet in the boat. Also buy a floating key chain for the boat keys. A boat cover is a great purchase, but it might stretch or allow water to pool and seep into the boat carpet. Read the post I wrote on protecting your boat cover. After a few years of use, you'll likely have to replace the boat cover anyway.

One last problem a lot of bass boats seem to have is with the gas gauge. Usually boaters play a guessing game trying to find out how much gas is really in the tank. I've had a few instances early on where the gauge was off, but in the last year of use, I've noticed a lot more accuracy. I'm both satisfied and confident with the reading. Having a little bit of patience helps too.























See you on the water.


References:
1. V-18 All Fish Layout [Online image] < http://media.trackermarinegroup.com
/tracker/images/TTV18AFOHO07_OH_08_500.jpg > 2008. 5 January, 2008.
2. "2005 Tournament V-18 All Fish Specifications Tracker Bass & Panfish Boats. 2008 Tracker Boats. 5 January, 2008. < http://www.trackerboats.com
/boat/specs.cfm?boat=2837 >


Related Posts:
Tracker Speedometer Fix
Protect Your Boat Cover
Merc Motor Tip
Replacing a Rod Strap
Lowrance X37TX Blinks -4.0°F

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

if no one has told you you can buy live well plugs with a litte lever in a 31/32 from moler i might not have spelled it correctly, i also have a 2005 tracker made boat and the live well plugs that came with it have popped out in rough water so i went to a plug like the bilge drain

Anonymous said...

bassfishingdem.blogspot.com is very pleasant to read. The article is very professionally written. I enjoyed reading bassfishingdem.blogspot.com. keep it that way.

DGP said...

Hey, Just found this blog and enjoyed reading many of the posts.

I am looking at getting a boat and found this review when looking up a 2004 bass tracker v18 with a 115HP. Still have it? Happy? I'm looking at buying the above boat that they're going to recarpeting. Any thoughts on the quality of the boat? Sounds like a good all around boat and I thought the 8200$ they had is a good price.

BassFishingDem said...

I can't tell you whether the price is fair, but the boat itself has done really well. It floats in some really shallow water and the ride isn't half bad. If you're on one of the bigger lakes up north, you might want something with a deeper hull. The 115 Optimax pushes it up to 45 or so. It does what I need it to do, but it may not be enough for someone who does a lot of bass tournaments. The only other thing I'd add is, consider swapping out the prop for one that's stainless steel.