A state-of-the-art bass boat in the 50s and 60s would soon be replaced by much more efficient designs in the late 60s and early 70s.

When I originally wrote this piece in 2012, there were not that many people seriously rigging out small aluminum boats for bass fishing, let alone using them to fish tournaments.  But how times change.  Today there is an entire “Tiny Boat” community whose sole purpose is to make their small craft as efficient for bass fishing as possible. Multiple GPS/Depthfinders, home-made power poles, jackplates, anything that goes on the big boats, these guys and gals are outfitting their boats with it.  And then you have the kayak crowd, who’s taken the tiny boat concept even further.  Not only do these anglers take their sport seriously, they have tournaments all over the country, some of them sanctioned by some pretty big sponsors.  If you’re interested in seeing some of these anglers, a quick search on YouTube will land you on a few channels. Here’s my favorite, though, Tiny Boat Nation, hosted by Mike Lopez out of Arizona. On to the original article.

A couple weeks ago we posted a piece on building a bass boat control center. The article was based on an article written by Howard A. Bach in the 1973 Bassmaster Fishing Annual. While writing that piece it occurred to me how in the early days, especially in the West where there weren’t many bass boats, all that was required to bass fish was a boat, some tackle and a desire to catch bass.

This was evident in the early magazines because a large number of the articles had pictures of anglers fishing out of their small aluminum boats – not full-blown bass boats mind you – catching fish. A good example is the opening picture for this article.

Terry Ryan’s budget bass boat for small waters. Bass Master Magazine Nov/Dec 1971.

Bass Master Magazine even, at the time, had a column printed in each issue called “Dry Dock Talk” where anglers would write in with new ways and ideas to rig your outfit for bass fishing. New ways to mount trolling motors, electronics, bilge pumps, rod holders, how to make dry storage, you name it.

Besides “Dry Dock Talk,” there was also a series of articles through the 70s on how to rig a boat for bass fishing – again pertaining to small boats. These again showed the ingenuity of anglers and their desire to make their experiences on the water more enjoyable.

The interesting thing about all of this, and this was eluded to in the Retro Ads piece Old Boat Ads – Bass Cat by Rick Pierce, is that all the tinkering by do-it-yourselfers is what led to nearly all the advancements in full-up bass boats.

With that in mind, I thought you might like to see a snapshot of some old DIYers in action. They not only helped pave the way for boats of the future but they also showed that with a little thought and desire, they could make a very fishable rig without spending a whole lotta dough.

Click through the pictures and you’ll see Terry Ryan’s “small waters boat” that he designed after moving to an area of the country where the only waters he could fish had horsepower restrictions. The boat has all the accoutrements of a bigger of the day. The cost? $500.00 – boat not included.

Also there’s the way James Corbin rigged his bare 1971 Terry to suit his needs. Notice he rigged everything out of sight and out of the way.

Also of note would be Don Hobbs’ Profile of a Bass Boat. In this article, Nov/Dec 1971 issue of Bass Master Magazine, Hobbs talks about what’s important in a bass boat and gives a general layout of features he needs.

James Corbin’s Last Chance Boat. Bass Master Magazine Nov/Dec 1973.


Ryan, Terry D. (1971). Here’s How to Rig a Bass Boat for Small Waters. Bass Master Magazine, May/June, 32-35

Bach, Howard A. (1972). Bass Boat on a Budget. Bass Master Magazine, Nov/Dec, 24-25, 52, 54.

Corbin, James L. (1973). Last Chance Bass Rig. Bass Master Magazine, Nov/Dec, 60-63.

Corbin's rigging.
Corbin's wiring diagram.
Don Hobbs' Bass Rig.
James Corbin’s Last Chance Boat. Bass Master Magazine Nov/Dec 1973.