In today’s post we’re going to look at a 1988 ProCraft Boat Brochure and relive what bass boats of that era had to offer. Although we are 10 years behind with respect to the Old Bass Boat ad articles we’ve been publishing the last year, this will give us a chance to look and compare some of the changes that were made over that decade.
Based on the ads we’ve presented in several Old Bass Boat ads pieces in the past, ProCraft started out as a bass boat model developed by Maiden Craft out of Smyrna, TN in the mid-1970s. The first ads I encountered in the major publications began in 1975 and were placed in American Bass Fisherman (ABF). Maiden Craft continued to place ads in the various magazines and around the 1977 time, they moved from Smyrna to Murfreesboro, TN, roughly 12 miles southeast of Smyrna.
In 1977 and 1978, American Bass Fishermen used two different ProCraft models for their Grand Prix fish-off, ABF’s version of the BASS Masters Classic. The ’77 boat was built off a ProCraft 1640 hull that sported an Evinrude 140-horse motor. ABF also got on the BASS Champs bandwagon and produced what they called the Mini Grand Prix Bass Rig using ProCraft’s 1500 hull mated with an Evinrude 70-horse motor.
The 1978 Grand Prix boat was built off a ProCraft 1700 hull with a 140-horse Evinrude. ABF continued offering a less expensive boat to compete with BASS Champs, and in ’78 they continued with the ProCraft 1500 but mated it up with a 55-horse Evinrude, calling it the Po’ Man’s Bass Rig.
So, there’s a little ProCraft history to start with.
By 1988, the year this brochure was printed, ProCraft had an impressive lineup of bass boats and multiuse boats to offer, 18 total to be exact. The brochure describes each model, listing both standard equipment and optional equipment – an exhaustive list to be honest. The only problem I see with this brochure, and it’s a huge problem, is ProCraft does not list ANY of the information a prospective buyer would want to know about each boat. What’s its length, beam, horsepower rating? None of that information is present in the brochure.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these models. We’ll have to infer some of the specs, but at least we can see what these boats offered for the most part.
This boat seems to be ProCraft’s flagship when it came to a pure bass boat. I assume it’s 19-feet 5-inches based on the model number, and I’d also assume it would handle a 200-horse motor, which was becoming popular at this time.
Some of the standard features were fore and aft aerated livewells, adjustable driver’s seat, two rear storage compartments, rod locker, dash panel, 36-gallon fuel tank, dual steering, and a livewell recirculating that was only on the rear livewell.
Those are some hefty standard features for the day, but they do date the boat. It wouldn’t be long before all boat companies did away with the front livewell system, for example.
But what I’d really like you to look at is the front deck, or lack thereof. The pedestal seat mount is placed at the end of the front deck. From there back past the console you’re standing on the lower deck. All this open space was used for tackle boxes and maybe an Igloo cooler.
It was around this same time that full Flippin’ Decks would become the norm. Evidently ProCraft hadn’t embraced that concept by the looks of their boat designs.
Another thing to point out with respect to the front deck is its height compared to the gunwale height. The deck is at least 4 inches lower than the gunwale at the bow and probably 6 inches below at the end of the deck. Imagine trying to pitch with your feet that low in the boat.
Now look at the bow and imagine how you’d attach one of today’s trolling motors to it. There isn’t much room and that’s because the trolling motor mounts of the day were chintzy.
Again, we’re going to have to make some assumptions here with respect to length and horsepower ratings. I assume this boat is 17-feet 8-inches long and is probably rated for a 150-horse motor. This probably would have been ProCraft’s most popular boat for tournament anglers as it would have met B.A.S.S.’s horsepower restriction of the day and still had the performance needed to fish competitively.
This boat had the same standard amenities as the 1950 Bass except instead of a 36-gallon fuel tank, it had a 24-gallon tank. It too had a rear livewell recirculating system, as well as fore and aft livewells. If I was the boater and owned this boat, my fish would be going into that rear well and my partner’s fish would go in the front well.
As with the 1950 Bass, the front deck ends at the forward pedestal mounting bracket, leaving an open cockpit for the storage of your tackle boxes and a cooler. If it rains, all your gear gets wet. We sure do have it easy these days.
The 1660 Bass model I assume was 16-feet 6-inches in length and was probably rated for a 140-horse motor. It sported the same Standard Features as its big brothers the 1950 and 1780. It even had a 24-gallon tank, which would give you a pretty good range for the time.
Just as in the boats mentioned above, the front deck was low and it stopped at the back of the pedestal mount, not leaving much room for the angler to fish. The open cockpit had room for maybe one big tackle box between the console and the front deck.
Speaking of the room in front of the console, back in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a company, I forget their name, that came out with a tackle restraining system for this area of the boat.
It was a stainless or chrome plated tube about 1-inch in diameter that would mount on the front of the console and the vertical wall of the rear deck. The rod would be positioned about six to eight inches above the cockpit floor and would prevent your tackle boxes from moving into the main cockpit area while running down the lake. It wasn’t 100% effective, but it did work.
So far, the boats we’ve looked at have all been what I’d consider fully loaded bass boats. Now, with the 1600 Bass, we’re looking at a rig that was made for the angler who may not have wanted to competitively fish or didn’t have the means for a fully loaded boat.
I assume this 1600 Bass was 16-feet in length and probably had a horsepower rating of 90 to 115 horses. You see in the standard equipment list it has been trimmed back from the boats presented above, having about half of what the other boats offered.
The biggest cutback is the internal gas tank, which is an option on this boat. I assume the bilge area of the boat would accommodate a couple 6-gallon tanks based on the fact it would handle a 17-gallon internal tank.
Looking at the boat, it appears to be fishable and has a wide beam for its length.
We’ve seen the ProCraft 1500 in the 1977 and 1978 ABF ads mentioned at the start of this article and we’ll assume here that this boat is an upgraded version of that. Based on the model number, I guess it was 15-feet 1-inch in length and more than likely had a rating for a 70-horse motor.
Like its big brother the 1600 Bass, Standard options are limited and if you didn’t want to use portable gas tanks, you could get the 12-gallon internal tank as an option. Looking at the floor plan, the boat again appears to be fishable for its size.
Here’s the last bass boat in the 1988 ProCraft Boat Brochure, the 1420 Bass. If model number mean anything, I’d guess this model was 14-feet 2-inches in length and probably had a motor rating of 40- to 50-horsepower. It has the same standard options as the 1510 Bass and looking at them side-by-side, they really appear to be the same boat.
Boats this size are being embraced by today’s Tiny Boat community but back in the 1970s through the 1980s boats of this size were all over the place. It’s only been the last 25 years where any hard-core bass angler wouldn’t be caught dead in a boat less than 19 feet in length. How times change, and how history has the penchant for repeating itself.
Overall, the boats offered in this brochure are what you’d typically find in the late 80s. They may have been a little behind in accepting the new ideas and concepts that were coming to light during this time in the industry, but who’s going to gamble on an unproven Flippin’ deck when that would require a complete retooling of your molds.
In its day, ProCraft was known for quality and although they left some really important information out of this brochure, you can bet these boats were solid fishing platforms. In the late 90s or early 2000s, Johnny Morris bought ProCraft/Astro. He continued making the boats for a few years and then dropped both lines. If you remember, Timmy Horton used to fish out of a ProCraft and Astro before he went with Nitro.
I’d like to get my hands on some more ProCraft brochures to share with you all so if you know of any that exist, please leave a comment below.
For more history on the ProCraft and Astro Brands, head over to Bass Boat Central. There are several posts by some knowledgeable boat freaks who can give a much clearer history.
You can view the entire brochure below in the Gallery. Click on the first image and then scroll through using the arrow.
My first fiberglass boat was a 1989 Procraft 178 Stalker with a 90 HP Mariner motor and 24 gallon gas tank. You could upgrade to 115 Mariner. It came with a Motorgiude trolling motor. It was one of the first fully equipped fiberglass package boats. I don’t own it, but it’s still running and has all of the original equipment.
Thomas, that was a heck of a boat in the day! I guess that it’s still in use is a testament of how well they were built!