Today I’m going to jump the gun here on Old Bass Boats and move from the 1974 ads we ran a few weeks back to a manufacturers catalog from 1984. What we’re looking at is a 1984 Model Year catalog from Minden, Louisiana boat manufacturer Tide Craft. Tide Craft was a maker of boats of all kinds including bass boats in the 70s through the 80s. Doing a search on iBoats, they state the company went into business in 1973. But, from our 1972 Old Bass Boat Ads piece, they had advertised in Bassmaster that year.
Tide Craft was a popular boat where I grew up on the west coast. Western pros Mike Folkestad and Larry Hopper ran them, and they were sold out of at least two dealers in the southland in the 70s. My best friend bought Hopper’s ‘77 model and I fished out of that boat several times. It was 17-feet long, had a Mercury Black Max 150 hanging off the back of it and it hauled for the day.
After the start of the ‘80s, you were hard pressed to find a Tide Craft in southern California as most serious bass fishermen were purchasing Ranger, Champion, Skeeter and MonArk.
This 1984 catalog features 9 models ranging in size from the 14-ft 10-in Raven to the 16-ft 8-in Wildfire XV-150. We’ll go through each boat and look at what was offered to the angler back in the day.
Wildfire XV-150 / Wildfire XV-150 F/S
The Wildfire XV-150 was the largest boat offered by Tide Craft in 1984. I found this curious due to the fact they were making a legitimate 17-foot boat back in 1977. Why the decrease in size, I’m not sure. Maybe it was for speed?
The boat had an 86-inch beam and a motor rating of 150hp. Hull weight was 1100 pounds and could carry 1275 pounds total, 685 pounds for passengers or gear.
Standard equipment was poliflake deck and band, two aerated livewells, marine grass carpet, two raised casting decks, console steering 12-24 volt trolling motor plug running lights, bilge pump, rod box, two fold-down chairs, fold-down drivers and passengers seats, switch panel and sport wheel.
The optional equipment list is long but one curious item is the 18-gallon gas tank. This begs the question what the standard tank capacity was as 18 gallons with the old 150 Mercury wouldn’t get you too far. Read through the list of options to get more of an idea how well we have it these days.
The picture provided really gives you an idea of where bass boat technology was at the time. The first thing that caught my eye was the front deck and the lack of storage in middle of the boat. This was standard in the day and most anglers would store their Plano 777 right on the floor behind the front deck.
Next, check out the rod locker. This rod locker appears to open from the inside and would hold maybe 5 to 6 rods.
Looking at the floor plan, I would guess that the livewell placement is one in the front deck, front center, and one in the rear deck, rear center behind the bench seat. This too was standard in the day. There appears to be tackle storage directly in front of the driver’s console and on the rear deck directly behind the passenger and driver’s seats.
The Wildfire XV-150 also came in a Fish and Ski model noted as the Wildfire XV-150 F/S. This boat differed from the fishing model by the addition of a passenger console and bench seats forward of the consoles. The hull weight was stated the same as was the capacity.
Cheetah XV-115 / Sunburst XV-115 F/S
The next boat offered was the Cheetah XV-115. At 15-ft 9-in the boat had a 77-inch beam and was rated for a 115 hp motor. Hull weight was recorded as 850 pounds and total capacity was 1090 pounds. Standard equipment was the same as the Wildfire except for the addition of a padded sun cushion. Optional equipment again was the same as the Wildfire and the Cheetah also came with the optional 18-gallon tank.
The floor plan of this boat is what I would call minimal, but again, pretty standard for the mid-1980s. The rod locker can’t hold a rod much over 6 feet in length and it looks like they’ve placed a livewell on the front deck again. I assume there’s storage under the passenger and driver’s seats and maybe under the center seat. The bilge area may also have some storage since this boat only needed 2 12-volt batteries.
The Cheetah XV-115 wasn’t offered in a fish and ski model but it looks like the Sunburst covered that need. It appears to have been built off the same hull as the specifications are identical. The Sunburst had an added passenger console and lounge-type seating in front of each console.
Spitfire V-15 / Sunfire V-15 F/S
The Spitfire V-15 was 15-ft 3-in long and had a beam of 74-inches. It was rated for a 100 hp motor and weighed in at 700 pounds. Maximum weight capacity was 990 pounds and could handle 4 people.
The boat came standard with a built-in gas tank (no capacity stated) but had the option for a 12-gallon tank. A single livewell carried your fish. Again there’s no discussion about storage but I assume there was storage under the driver and passenger’s seats and in the bilge area.
The Sunfire V-15 F/S appears to have been built off the same platform as the Spitfire for those in need of a fish and ski model. The addition of the passenger console and bench seating completed the package.
The Rustler came in at 14-ft 10-in and weighed 725 pounds. It had a 65-inch beam and was rated for a 60 hp motor. Rod storage was again an inward opening locker that might have held 3 to 4 six-foot rods. The front deck has what looks like two storage compartments. Or one of them may be the single livewell as stated in the standard equipment.
The boat has two casting decks and might have storage under the driver and passenger’s seats. The single livewell may also be placed between these two seats. For such a small boat, it has a lot of comforts for the angler. And with a 60-horse motor, it probably flew.
Raven PJ-H10 / Raven PS-H10
The Raven series boats were a neat little 14-ft 10-in hull that featured no casting decks and were bare boned. The hulls had the same dimensions as the Rustler but without the casting decks, the hull weight was 225 pounds less. That probably resulted in the decrease in the maximum rated horsepower you could put on the PJ H10, which was 50 hp. The PS H10 was the stick steering version of the boat and rated for a 35 horsepower, which I believe was the maximum rating for any stick steer boat. Still at 500 pounds the boats most definitely moved.
Each boat offered one single livewell and padded seats. The option for a built-in 12-gallon gas tank was mentioned but I’m not sure if the standard option was a built-in tank. You could probably get by just as well with the 6-gallon portable tank.
With no decks I bet these boats were stable to fish out of and look at all the storage in the stick steer model. No compartments to open but you do have to worry about rain getting into your gear.
Tide Craft offered some cool boats for 1984 but it still begs the question why they didn’t offer a bigger boat than 16-ft 8-in. Maybe it was fuel prices, or they were trying to cover the weekend fisherman. By this time, most manufacturers were building boat as long as 20 feet and rated for 200 hp motors.
Curious whether the company was still in business, I did an thorough search on the net to find out. The search revealed the original company sold in the mid-90s to a Texas firm and then went out of business around 2001. At that point, the original owners bought back the rights to the name and as of 2007 were back making boats. After a further search, I’m certain they’re not in business anymore as I was unable to find anything on the net later than 2008.
I hope you enjoyed the look back at this 1984 Tide Craft catalog. It not only gives you an idea what they had to offer but also what pretty much every other boat company was doing in the bass boat industry at the time.
Smiths Marines in Minden Louisiana, Melvin Smith Founder of Tidecraft, still there, still selling and working on boats.
Ditto on the previous comment, Smiths marine is still hanging on. Mostly selling a few new boats, lots of used boats, fiberglass repair, and all other boat repairs, and engine rebuilds. I saw Melvin last month.
Don, Thank you for the comment!