A few days ago, we talked about the 1977 model-year boats from Alumacraft to Glastron. Today, in Old bass Boats – 1977 Part Two, we’re going to start with Holiday and end with Rhyan Craft. A total of 40 picture ads to check out.
In Part One of Old Bass Boats – 1977 we stated that 39 bass boat companies had advertising in the magazines we looked through. A huge increase from the years prior. Many of the companies producing boats back then were new to the industry, even in 1977. Many have since ceased operations but there are still a few that are still around today.
Here’s Part Two of the old bass boats of 1977.
Holiday, Yellville, AR – From our research, Holiday started advertising their bass boats in 1976 and continued in 1977 – although the same ad used in ’76 was used again in ’77. The only boat they advertised was a 15-foot model called the Classic. It was rated for an 85-horse motor and weighed in at 760 pounds.
The hulls were built with fir stringers and marine-grade plywood transoms – pretty much typical for the day.
I like how they say they’re boats are built for a smooth ride in rough water. Personally, I’ve never had a smooth ride in any 15-foot boat in even a small chop.
Hurst, Orlando. FL – Hurst came into the industry in 1976 and soon after that, became National Bass’ premier sponsor. The first ad, which was in all the National Bassman magazines of the time, was the only ad they placed.
The second ad came from American Bass Fisherman magazine and features their B-175, a 17-foot 2-inch boat with what they state is a 7-foot 9-inch beam. Is that right? That’s 93 inches. Looking at the ad, it might be possible, but I think it’s a typo meant to say 79 inches or 6-feet 7-inches. Aside from that, the boat weighed in at 900 pounds and had a 180-horse motor rating. Hurst branded this as their top-of-the-line boat with two aerated livewells, bilge pump, 22-gallon aluminum gas tank, gas gauge, and fold-down seats. The boat was U.S. Coast Guard Certified for Rotation (obvious typo) and Horsepower rating.
According to iBoats.com, they only produced bass boats until 1978. I remember seeing two of these boats back in 1978 and their hulls were awful similar to the Skeeter Wrangler. In 1977, they produced six different models between 15 feet and 17-1/2 feet in length.
Hydra-Sports, Nashville, TN – In years past Hydra Sports had been placing a number of ads in the various bass magazines of the time and 1977 was no exception. This year they placed four different ads throughout the industry rags – each of them touting why you needed to buy a ‘Sport.
One interesting thing about their first ad shown is it appears that Hydra-Sports had just broken the bass boat speed record of 62.9 mph set by Delta Marine a few years earlier. Hydra-Sports new record was posted as 80.214 mph in one of their vee-hulls. The really interesting thing is the driver was the same driver from the Delta Marine run – Johnny Toon.
Within the four ads shown here they’re advertising three models, the 158-vee, the 168-vee, the 168-SX and the 178-SX. The SX series was built off their successful pad-vee hull design.
ICON, Forsyth, MO – Here’s a couple of curious ads. ICON Boats, I can’t find anything information about them on the internet, seems to have debuted their boats in 1977. The first ad, strange as it is, doesn’t even show a boat, stating, “So New That Pictures Are Unavailable.” Supposedly the 4+2 was a high-performance family boat with bass boat features. That tongue twister was sure to be nothing but a disaster – especially at 15-feet 4-inches in length.
The other ad they placed was also strange. For one, they stated that the ICON boat was the most demanded and respected bass boat being made. Hmm…….really? But what was really crazy was the name they gave it – Triton. By the looks of the boat, it was ancient in design even for 1977. Just look at the back deck – it’s reminiscent of MonArk’s Super Sport – the model that had the I/O. Why have such a high deck?
The final picture I found was again from Bass News, and just a picture of the ICON Triton. Nothing other than the length is mentioned – 16-2.
Javelin, OMC Corp, Waukegan, IL – Although Javelin didn’t place any ads in the magazines researched, Bass News did have a small blurb about the Javelin 85 in one of their magazines. The write-up doesn’t say how long the boat is, but it was rated for an 85-horse motor, which probably put it in the 15-foot range.
Look at the standard features – factory installed power trim (Bill Huntley’s trim still hadn’t made it to the motor companies en-mass yet), electronic ignition (I thought that came with the motor) and tuned exhaust. That must have been Johnson’s trick for that particular motor.
Javelin was owned by OMC Corporation, makers of Johnson and Evinrude outboard motors and from what I understand, this boat was sold solely with Johnson motors.
Johnson Bass Hawk, Olive Hill, KY – Okay, here’s one that’s a little confusing for me on a couple of accounts. First, I’m not certain if this is the same boat that eventually morphed into Hawk or it’s a completely different company. A quick search doesn’t show anything for Johnson Bass Hawk but Bass Hawk does show up – only nothing before 1985. Then a quick search for Hawk doesn’t reveal anything prior to 1997, and I know they were making boats prior to that.
Second on my list of curiosities is the names they have mentioned for pro-staffers – namely Corbin Dyer AND Paul Elias. I have no problem with the Dyer part, it’s the Elias part I have trouble with as they state his hometown is Manton, Michigan. It’s definitely Elias in the picture with Dyer so I did a little more digging. Sure enough, in several the American Bass Fisherman magazines I have, they list Paul Elias as hailing from Michigan.
Anyway, to the boat itself. Bass-Hawk lists the boat as a tunnel hull, so you know it had to be fast for the time. Other features listed are a 7-foot rod box, aerated livewells, bilge pump, an 18-gallon gas tank, and upright floatation. What they leave out it the length and the horsepower rating – but that isn’t important, right?
Kingfisher, Clarksville, TX – In years past Kingfisher had placed a number of ads in the magazines but in 1977, all that could be found was this small write up found in Bass News. Not much there except it was the Model 158, which has been discussed several times in past pieces of Old Bass Boats. Maybe Kingfisher was feeling the crunch of a growing industry? I guess we’ll find out in subsequent Old Bass Boat columns.
Mackie, Wake Forest, NC – We first introduced Mackie bass boats in the 1975 edition of this column, and they continued in 1976 – with this same ad. The North Carolina company came out with this 1800 model with a rounded transom, maybe the first in the industry, and was available in both glass and Kevlar. It featured a divided 32-gallon livewell (maybe the first of its kind) and built-in 20 gallon gas tank. The boat was also rated for a 150-horse motor, had dry storage and several other options.
This boat appears to be way ahead of its time in design. Looking at the pictures, it could be mistaken for a boat in the 90s or maybe even the early 2000s. I’d like to hear from anyone who had one of these boats and how they held up. If you’re familiar with the boat and company, please leave a comment below.
MFG, Union City, PA – We first talked about MFG in the 1976 version of this column – and today we look at pretty much that same ad. In this ad, MFG talks about their three models, between 14 and 17 feet in length. Nothing about motor ratings, weight, etc. Also of note is the boat was manufactured in the keystone state, Pennsylvania. Not many boats have come out of that state. And it surprises me that my buddy Jojo would own a Yankee-built boat.
MonArk, Monticello, AR – As usual, MonArk placed several ads in the 1977 magazines. Some black-and-white, others full color. They not only advertised their glass products but also their aluminum ones too.
Also, as with Glastron and Fisher Marine, they took advantage of having two big names on their pro staff of the time, in this case Jimmy Houston and Dick Busby. But, unlike in past years, MonArk doesn’t really go into any detail on their boats, except for their tin models. I guess when you have a Bassmaster AOY winner and National Bass Champion on your staff, you really don’t need to give stats like that anymore.
Omni, Alexandria, LA – Here’s another boat company that I’ve never heard of before, OMNI. In 1977 they placed one ad in Bass News magazine. They were touting their new Hurricane bass boat. Their claim to fame – two guys by the name of Bill Grafton and Bob Lowther had just won the U.S. Buddy Open Bass Championship, sponsored by the International Bass Association, with a total of 77 pounds.
Other than that, there’s nothing on the boat itself, just a rendering of the boat.
Polar Kraft, Olive Branch, MS – in 1976 Polar Kraft placed an ad for their 15-foot stick steer boat, model BF-44. This year they are displaying another boat, this time with a console, but don’t tell us anything of the model. Still, they give a pretty good list of specs. The boat was 16 feet in length, weighed in at 440 pounds and could handle an 85-horse motor. Pretty impressive for a boat that only had a 51-inch beam. I bet that little thing could keep up with the bigger fiberglass boats of the day.
ProCraft by Maiden Craft, Smyrna, TN – Here’s an early one for all you ProCraft lovers. These two 1977 ads don’t say anything about the boat models at all. How long, how much horsepower, nothing. But, as ads go, they are pretty nice shots of their boats – much better than most of the ads of the day.
Ranger Boats, Flippin, AR – The winner of the 1977 “who placed the most ads in magazines” award goes to Ranger Boats of Flippin, AR. This year Ranger topped all comers with a total of 12 ads and one write-up from Bass News. In these ads they talk about a number of subjects, including how they’d been the choice of Bassmaster for the past five years when it came to a boat for the Classic. They also talked about the pro television anglers who fished their boats, Roland Martin, Jerry McKinnis, Don Wallace, and Rayo Breckenridge.
By 1977 they offered a plethora of boat models from 14 feet to 20 feet in length in both outboard and I/O options. At the time, they probably offered more boats than any other manufacturer of the time – and they were probably the most popular boat to boot.
I’m sure if you fished back in these times and owned a Ranger, you’ll be able to find the model you owned in this long list of ads.
Rhyan Craft, El Dorado, AR – We end Part Two of Old Bass Boats – 1977 with another boat company I have no knowledge of – Rhyan-Craft. And, after reading the ad, I’m still no more knowledgeable on the boat they made other than it had 0.100 gauge ribs and the owner of the company fished national tournaments.
Although there’s no info on the boat itself, it does look like it’d fish well, assuming the beam wasn’t too narrow. Still, I can’t figure out why these companies wouldn’t put more in these ads describing their boats – especially new companies or companies that didn’t have that big a name.
Next we’ll finish up with the boats of 1977 and also give you an idea of the competition that was really heating up between B.A.S.S. and the other organizations.