Today in Old Bass Boats – 1978 Part 2, we continue looking at the bass boats of the year, but this time we’re going to go away from the organizational boats and hit the mainstream. In the last article, we covered the tournament organization boats, namely American Bass Fisherman, American Angler, Bassmaster, Bass Casters Association and National Bass Association. Out of those five organizations, we covered nine different boats and five different manufacturers. It’s hard to believe that only a couple years before this, there was only one tournament organization, B.A.S.S., who offered its members boats.
Let’s pick up on the rest of the ads placed in 1978 bass fishing magazines and see what the state of the art was back then. In the 1977 version of this column, we saw 39 different manufacturers placing ads for their boats, in 1978 that number dropped by five to 34 – still a good showing. The number in today’s market is probably closer to 15 manufacturers give or take.
We’re going to go in alphabetical order and will cover from Alumacraft to DuraCraft today, then on Sunday we’ll pick up at Dyna-Trak and move through MonArk. Then, a week from today we’ll end with Omni through VIP. It should be a fun look back.
Alumacraft, St. Peter, MN – Alumacraft has been around since the mid-‘40s and has been one of the mainstays in Old Bass Boats here on the Bass Fishing Archives since we started this column. Their ads weren’t pretty, nor were they big. In fact, the ad accompanying this section was only maybe an 1/8 of a page.
Based out of Minnesota, they probably had enough sales to overcome the need to advertise, still it would be nice to see more of their line from that day rather than just one boat and one ad in the 50-plus magazines that were used for this piece. But who am I to talk, they’re still alive and kicking today and not that many other boat manufacturers can say that.
Arrow Glass, Memphis, TN – Arrow Glass is another boat company that started advertising early on in the bass boat revolution. In this advertising year, Arrow Glass had two models they were showing off, the Piranha SS and the Lark SS. The Piranha was based off of a 17-foot hull and was a Fish-n-Ski model – something that was getting to be very popular during that time. Not much else is said about the boat, such as dimensions and capacities although the boat in the ad has a 115 horsepower John-Rude hanging off the back.
Like the Piranha, the Lark, was also a Fish-n-Ski model, this one measuring out at 15-feet 6-inches in length. Not that I’ve ever taken to skis but I’m not sure I’d want to be operating a 15-foot boat with someone on skis behind me. Again, the ad doesn’t leave much with respect to specifications but it looks to have a 50 horsepower Mercury on it.
Astroglass – Not sure how this Astroglass model came by its name but I’m sure it didn’t last long. The Cheater SX was a 15-foot 6-inch boat that could handle up to a 120-horse motor and weighed in at 800 pounds. The hull was made of Kevlar and came with a host of standard features. The one I like it the 74-inch rod box, which looks like it might be able to handle 4 rods. It’s amazing what we fished with back in the day.
On the serious side, if you look at the deck, it appears with this boat was trying flush-mounted deck lids. It would still be a couple of years before this concept would take hold and manufacturers got it right. At least Astroglass was trying.
Another feature that I noticed was the 33-gallon insulated rear livewell. That was a big deal as front livewells pounded the heck out of your fish and if they weren’t dead by weigh-in, they had serious traumatic brain injuries. You’ll notice the well in the front the call a bait well. It was most likely used as a cooler.
Baretta, Conway, AR – Baretta started advertising back around 1976 and by 1978 their ads still hadn’t progressed much – and in all honesty, they took a dive. In their 1976 ad they just had a picture of the cap of the boat and then in ’77 they stepped it up a bit and placed a color ad with some dimensions in the magazines. But for 1978, Baretta decided to not only go back to black and white, they decided to use their Fish-n-Ski model, which frankly doesn’t resemble a bass boat all that well. No trolling motor, no visible depthfinder, nothing fishing related at all. Top that off with no dimensions and you don’t have much to go on. I know if I was shopping for a bass boat, I’d have thumbed right over this ad without even thinking.
Bass Cat, Mountain Home, AR – Bass Cat started their advertising campaign back in 1974 when three of the top anglers of the day won their respective AOYs or championships out of their boats. Four years later they were still placing ads. Although Bass Cat had moved away from Bassmaster Magazine, they pumped the other rags of the day such as American Bass Fisherman and Lunker Hole. The ad you see here was used in their 1977 ad campaign and offers three models. I just wish I could see what the dimensions and specifications of the boats were. You’ll also notice they too have a Fish-n-Ski model.
Bass Hawk, Olive Hill, KY – The first Bass Hawk ad I saw in the magazines was from the 1977 ad year. In 1978 they doubled their ads and placed two in the various bass fishing magazines. The 1977 ad also featured a young Paul Elias (from Michigan) and since then I actually had a chance to talk with Paul about that. Seems he moved north for a couple of years for work.
In the first ad Bass Hawk is showing off their new 17-foot 3-inch v-hull rated for a 150-horse motor. The ad shows a couple of pictures of some of the storage and also a couple shots of how the boat floats in the water. It’s a nice display being that many boats during this time sat low in the rear.
The second ad introduces the Bass Hawk team, which consisted of Corbin Dyer, Paul Elias, Ron Shearer, Glen Crawford and Dick Busby. In this ad they’re touting their 17-foot tunnel hull as in the previous year, except this year the ad is in color and adds a lot to its impact. I mean, look how sturdy that boat looks in the water with five guys in it. The boat was rated for a 115-horse motor. I would have liked to have driven this craft.
Champion, Mountain Home, AR – Here’s a blast from the not-so-recent past – Champion. This is the first time I’ve seen Champion in the early boat ads and it’s sad to not see them anymore. Champion Boats was started in 1975 by John Storie. Like everyone else during that time, he was making tri-hulled bass boats and wanted to move into the performance v-hull arena.
Rumor has it that in order to do so, he purchased a Skeeter Wrangler, took what he liked from that boat, added what he wanted for his boat, and the next thing you know, he had a 16-foot 8-inch hull that would scream.
At first glance you saw a Skeeter but the more you looked at it, it wasn’t. So much on that boat was changed, and pretty much all for the better.
My second real bass boat was a 1983 202 with a 200 horse Merc on it and that boat was fun to fish out of. I wish I could say more about this ad but they just didn’t give me much to go on. I guess the mystery was all Storie needed.
Charger, Richland, MO – In 1977 Charger placed four different ads in a number of magazines. That must not have paid off very well for them as they only ran one ad in 1978 – and it was the same as one of the ads they ran in 1977. From the ad all you can tell is that it’s a 170Z, which I assume was a 17-foot boat and was probably rated for a 115, as shown in the ad. Again, like the Champion ad above, there isn’t much to go on.
Craft Master, Eden Prairie, MN – Here’s a cool little boat ad from Craft Master advertising their bass boat kit. Evidently you could call up Craft Master and order a blank hull and put it together yourself with their components. As in many of the ads already covered, they really didn’t leave the prospective buyer with much to go on. In 1977 they’d used the same ad in nearly all non-Bassmaster magazines.
Delta Pro, Sharpsville, IN – Delta Pro must have been too busy building boats and breaking records to design a new ad for 1978. This same ad appeared in both 1976 and 1977 – touting their 15-foot boat, 17-foot boat and their world record bass boat speed. Even though they lacked a new ad, they did hit the mark by placing boat specifications in the ad.
Dura Craft – In 1977 Dura Craft placed three ads in the bass magazines and they upped that in 1978 by placing four different ads. Their work with B.A.S.S. and the Bass Champs event must have brought them some good press.
Although Dura Craft didn’t place any specifications in their ads, they did show a number of different models. A neat aspect of the third ad features Bo Dowden at his marine dealership in Natchitoches, LA. That’s one heck of a line of boats ole’ Bo had at his shop.
Well, that concludes this part of Old Bass Boats – 1978. Next time we’ll be back with the boats from Dyna Trak to MonArk. If you’d like to see Part 1 of this series, click here. Otherwise, we hope to see you soon.