1976 Hydra-Sports ad.

In Old School Bass Boats 1976 Part 1 and Part 2, we covered from Arrow Glass to Raider Boats. Today in Old bass Boats – 1976 Part 3, we’ll finish the year off with Ranger through X-Calibur and also show you the Bassmaster Classic Boat for 1976.

In this part of the series, all the boats, except for one, has been covered here before. That one boat company, X-Calibur, is new to me. So, if anyone out there knows anything about this boat company, please make a comment below the article.

Let’s get on with the boats.


Ranger – By 1976 Ranger Boats had become the benchmark for the bass boat industry. Yes, they made/make a great boat, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact they did the most advertising. In 1976, they continued on with their stout ad campaign featuring six different ads in the various magazines. Each ad featured a different boat with a different scene. Their ad department was obviously good at what they did.

The first ad in the series showcased the new 185A, 18-foot 5-inch boat based off their Allison hull.  Ranger was fully committed to the pad hull now and were extending it to all their models.  Other than the length and that it had level floatation, nothing else was said of the boat.

1976 Ranger 185A boat ad.
1976 Ranger Boat ad.
1976 Ranger Boat ad.

Next was a black and white ad I found in Bass News’ September/October issue. There’s really nothing there except for a Ranger blazing down a glass-smooth lake. It’s a nice picture but really provides nothing if you want to know more about the boat and company.

Ad three in the series was to show the buying market that Ranger had boats from coast to coast. The inset picture was from San Francisco Bay and the main shot was from the 1975 Bassmaster Classic out of Currituck Sound, NC. Nothing about the boats, just stating that Ranger was a national company.

By now you’re starting to realize that Ranger isn’t worried about placing boat specifications in their ads. Ads four through six can attest to that. It appears they’re selling their name and a lifestyle. They want you to go to your dealer for all the particulars while they show you dream shots in the magazines.

1976 Ranger Boat ad.
1976 Ranger Boat ad.
1976 Ranger Boat ad.


Roughneck – Another Smackover, AR company, Roughneck’s ad department needed to take some lessons from their neighbors over in Flippin. Two ads, two boats in each ad and an address. That’s what made up their ads for the model year 1976.

I don’t know much about the company but word has it that Smackover is an oil town, hence the name Roughneck for their boat. I also heard that they were bought out by Eledocraft at some point. Wish I could say more about them but again, this is another boat company I have little knowledge about. Can someone fill us in?

1976 Roughneck Boat ad.
1976 Roughneck Boat ad.


Skeeter – Skeeter was another one of those companies who jumped on the Kevlar bandwagon for 1976. Offered as an option for their 16- and 17-foot boats, the Wrangler and SS-7 were fast boats for the time. In fact, the 16-foot Wrangler was the only boat its size to be rated for a 150-horse motor.

Also, look at their prostaff. Phil Greene, Elroy Krueger, Bo Dowden, Jack Hains, Freddie Grant, Wesley Fredieu, Tom Shockley, Dave Gliebe and John Fox. All of these guys were studs on a national level.

Back on the Skeeter Wrangler. I had a chance to fish out of this boat back in 1980 with a friend from the shop I worked at. The boat was slightly over 16 feet and outfitted with a 150 Merc. My buddy had a chopper prop on the thing, I can’t remember the pitch, and it took a bit to get it on plane. But once leveled out, the acceleration threw you back in your seat. Top speed with a pitot-tube gauge we’d do 63 to 64 mph and it felt like you were ridding a bull. Skeeter named this boat appropriately. It was fun to ride in.

1976 Skeeter Boat ad.
1976 Skeeter Boat ad.


Starcraft – For the past couple years, Starcraft heavily advertised their bass boat line with generally two or three different ads. This year, possibly due to Bill Dance leaving, they went with only one ad, and it wasn’t bass boat centric by any means. They offered very little description of their boats and the white hull on white background essentially made it to where you couldn’t see the hulls.

1976 Starcraft boat ad.


Stryker – We first ran into Stryker in the Old Bass Boats of 1975. And here again in 1976, they’re showing their wares. For 1976 they went and made a different ad but unfortunately, they don’t say much about it. More speed, better fuel economy, stable, two livewells, and the biggest standard feature package of any manufacturer. That’s about it.

1976 Stryker Bass Boat ad.


Terry – I found a Terry ad in every magazine I went through doing this piece. Most of them were a variant with the yellow boat, but I was happy to see they added a couple more. From the two non-yellow boat ads you can see the model year change. Pre-1977 their boats were named by their length in feet – like the ABF 15. Towards the end of ’76 they changed convention to go with the time and converted everything to the metric system – hence the 4.7m ABF. As with the metric system, Terry Bass Boats went away a few years later due to company buy outs and decreased quality from cost cutting materials. It was always a dream I had as a kid to own a Terry Bass Boat.

1976 Terry Bass Boat ad.
1976 Terry Bass Boat ad.
1976 Terry Bass Boat ad.


Tide Craft – In past Old Bass Boat articles we’ve shown a few Tide Craft ads. Most of them, no, all of them, were probably the worst ads I’d ever seen. So, I was very surprised when I saw the first Tide Craft ad in the 1976 magazines. Although it was still in black and white, it was actually well thought out and useful. You had an idea of what the inside of the boat looked like, and it provided some of its features.

Then I was even more surprised when I saw the second ad with an actual boat on the water. Finally Tide Craft! An ad that actually lets me see your entire boat! It wasn’t much in regards to the specifications but at least it was an actual boat.

1976 Tide Craft Bass Boat ad.
1976 Tide Craft boat ad.


Venture – Venture Bass Boats were first advertised in the 1975 calendar year. They touted bass boat speed records and fishability. In 1976 it appears they decreased their ad campaign as I only found one ad in all the magazines I searched.

In that ad they’re still letting the world know they had the 15-foot bass boat speed record. As a side note, they let you know they offer their boats in 15, 16-1/2- and 18-foot lengths.

1975 Venture Bass Boat ad


X-Calibur – The last one for 1976 and again, one I know nothing about. X-Calibur offered two different models according to this ad. I have to guess that the 1560 was a 15’-6” boat and the 1800 would have been an 18-footer. What gets me about these boats are their weights and horse-power ratings. Scares me just to think of riding in one of them. An 18-foot boat that weighs less than 1000 pounds can’t have much glass in it. I wonder how they handled rough water.

1976 X-Calibur Bass Boat ad.


Bassmaster Classic Rig – As mentioned before, Ranger got a lot of press outside their own ads because of the Bassmaster Classic boats. This year was no different. But in the 1976 magazines through the September/October issue, the ads for the Classic boats were for the 1975 model Classic boat – not the 1976 boats. The in the September/October issue, they presented the 1976 Classic boat.

If you think about it, at the time the Classic was held in the October/November time frame. Getting rid of 25 or so boats in less than a couple months wasn’t easy. So, in order to get them out the door, they continued the ad campaign through the first months of the following year.

Then, right as the current Classic was held, they launched the new ad campaign for the 1976 Classic model. That’s what I’m going to concentrate on here.

This ad campaign brings back a flood of memories for me. A close friend of mine at the shop gave me my first ride in what I considered a real bass boat and this was the boat.

1976 Bassmaster Classic Rig.
1976 Bassmaster Classic Rig.
1976 Bassmaster Classic Rig.
1976 Bassmaster Classic Rig.

Based off the Ranger 175-A hull, the hull was called the 175-AC, “C” for Classic. It was beyond fully loaded for a boat of that period. Check out the list of components.

  • Johnson 115 HP motor with trim and tilt
  • Stainless-Steel prop
  • Kill Switch
  • Dual automatic OMC bilge pumps
  • Power Pedestals (2)
  • Hand rails
  • SilverTrol 96 amp batteries (3)
  • Battery boxes (3)
  • Built-in fuel tank (18 gals)
  • Boat reins (4)
  • Plug-in stern light
  • Aerated livewells (fore and aft)
  • Silvertrail trailer
  • Key locked dry storage
  • Padded fold-down seats (4)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • CB Radio with antenna
  • OMC instrument panel
  • Lowrance Fish-n-Temp
  • Lowrance LFG-300BC (on console)
  • Poly-Turf carpet
  • Bow-mounted trim button
  • Johnny Reb LectrAnchor
  • Silvertrol Executive Pro trolling motor (12/24v)
  • Plug-in Bow Light
  • Silvertrol T.E. System
  • Rod Locker

All this for the price of $6.595.

You may look at this and laugh but back in the day packaged boats were still a twinkle in Johnny Morris’ eye. This was the only way to purchase a fully rigged outfit from a manufacturer. By today’s standards, the boat may seem a little incomplete. But this was the schizz back in 1976.

1976 Bassmaster Classic Rig.

That does it for the 1976 model year of advertising. We hope you enjoyed this look back on the history of our sport.