Today in Old Bass Boats – 1978 Part 3, we’re looking at the bass boats of 1978 from Dyna Trak to MonArk. Through the course of researching the bass boats of 1978 we scoured over 50 bass fishing magazines from the time period and came up with 34 manufacturers that advertised that year. Some companies only placed one ad in one magazine while others placed multiple ads in multiple magazines. If there was an ad placed that year, you’re likely to find it here.
This is our eighth edition of Old Boats and one thing that bothers us is we know we’re missing some of the companies. Problem is if they didn’t place ads in magazines, it’s difficult to look back at them. If you or anyone you know has any information on boats from the past that we’ve missed, please drop us a line in the comment section below.
The saddest thing to me about this part of this article series is that none of these manufacturers are in business any longer or aren’t making bass boats. MonArk, Hydra-Sports, and Fisher Marine, three of the biggest bass boat manufacturers in the day both went of of business years ago. Glastron, while still making boats, hasn’t made a bass boat for at least 20 years. Each time I go through these old boat companies, it takes me back to my early days of bass fishing and the many trips in a large number of these boats.
So much for reminiscing, let’s get on to more old bass boats.
Dyna Trak (Ebbtide), White Bluff, TN – In 1977 Ebbtide placed ads in numerous magazines showing off their standard Ebbtide goods and introduced their new concept boat, the Dyan Trak. The Dyna Trak model was their Total Performance bass boat and was new for the 1977 year. By 1978, though, I couldn’t find a standard Ebbtide ad but found the Dyna Trak ad in numerous different magazines.
The ad was disappointing in that it didn’t describe anything about the boat(s) under that name – only going into a long-drawn-out rant about how long they’d been making bass boats and what their definition of total performance was. Dyna Trak lasted for a few years so I’m hoping that in a later edition of this column we can find an ad that actually talks about the boats in depth.
Eldocraft, Smackover, AR – The Eldocraft ad shown here has a couple of cool pieces of information within it. First off, the top portion of the ad is introducing their new 180V Cliff Harris Limited Edition bass boat – the same boat used for the American Angler boat shown in Part 1 of this column.
The second interesting part of this ad has to do with the words “Roughneck by Eldocraft.” Back in the 1976 edition of the column we highlighted both Roughneck and Eldocraft, both companies from Smackover, TN. Well, evidently Smackover was only big enough for one boat company and Eldocraft won the bout and walked away with Roughneck. The ad states that Eldocraft purchased Roughneck in early 1978 and it must have been really early as this ad came from a May/June issue.
FishMaster, LaGrange, GA – Here’s a bass boat company that I’ve never heard of and have no idea how long it was in business. FishMaster was manufactured by RSB Fiberglass Forms Inc. and doesn’t come up as in business at this time. I like the name of the model in the ad, the Pro Bass Missile (I wonder what John Crews would think of this today) but I’m not too impressed with the ad.
It’s obvious the boat’s pretty fast by the angle of the hull and the position of the motor. Problem is it’d be better to see what the specifications for the boat are. Seems just about every boat company had the same problem – or maybe it was by design. In any event, the 18-foot boat was rated for a 175-h.p. outboard or could be fitted with a 260-h.p. inboard.
Fisher Marine, West Point, MS – In typical Fisher Marine fashion, they swamped the market with their ads in 1978 – not only placing ads in numerous magazines but they had seven different ads that showed off their boat selection for 1978 (including a look into 1979).
As had been the case for a couple of years, Fisher Marine was wise to hire both John Powell and Bill Dance to pimp their goods, and I’m sure this had a pretty big effect on their bottom line – in the black way. So prevalent were they on the water in California and the greater west I can’t imagine them not being as popular everywhere else.
It’s obvious the gas crunch and recession was on, as their ads really push how inexpensive their boats were along with being economical on gas. Couple that with them saying Bill Dance actually used their Water Strider III at the 1978 Alabama Invitational and you can see the boats flying out of West Point, MS. What has always confused me, though, is why Ray Scott or the other organizations didn’t use a Fisher Marine boat for one of their specialty events. If they did, I’m sure you’ll let me know about it.
Gator, Haughton, LA – Here’s another one I hadn’t heard about before doing this piece – Gator Boats of Louisiana. Their selling point was their dual-hull construction and foam core. The concept supposedly made the hull very difficult to sink due to two fiberglass hulls and the foam between the two. Great concept, in theory will work, but we all know how bad water intrusion is in regular wood, imagine what it would be like in foam.
Taking a closer look at the boats, you’ll notice how far forward the driver and passenger are in the boat. Way different than any boat of the time – any time. I wonder how this weight-forward setup did when it comes to performance. I know what it did to deck space and the ability to store rods on the deck. Oh, and check out those swivel seats in the cockpit!
What I do like about the ads is that they fully list all their model specifications, from hull weight to how much storage they have. Other companies should have paid attention to this newcomer in the bass boat industry. In all, Gator advertised three models including the new Slingshot, a 16-foot hull rated for a 140-horse motor. Obviously the Slingshot was to compete with the Skeeter Wrangler.
Glastron, Austin, TX – Over the years Glastron had become one of the most recognized and respected boat companies in the industry. And, when they got Rick Clunn to back them, they even had more credibility. Normally you could count on two to three Glastron ads in the past, in 1977 it jumped to five different ads, but in 1978 it dropped to one ad and was only placed in Bassmaster Magazine. To top that off, it was an ad used in 1977 – the one with Rick Clunn.
Hurst, Orlando, FL – This was the third and last year for Hurst – and the 1977 ad should have given it away. I’m not sure why the company went under (it is the boating industry) as they produced some great boats for the day.
Hydra-Sports, Nashville, TN – In 1977 Joe Reeves and company went crazy with Hydra-Sport ads. So, after going through about a dozen 1978 magazines without seeing one of their ads I started to wonder. Then I came upon the first ad on the left. What got me about the ad was it was a “congratulations” to Ray Scott and gang on their first ten years as B.A.S.S. In fact, the only way you know it was a Hydra-Sport ad is from the logo in the lower right. Pretty classy I might say.
Where Hydra-Sport had advertised in numerous bass magazines in the past, in 1978 all their advertising dollars went to Bassmaster Magazine. I guess they saw the ROI from B.A.S.S. and with organizations such a National Bass and others defaulting, why not.
Icon Boat Works, New Strawn, KS – 1977 was the first year Icon Boat Works placed an ad in a mainstream bass fishing magazine – and it was pretty unimpressive. But in 1978, they stepped their unimpressive ad campaign up a notch. When we reported on ICON in the Old Bass Boats – 1977, they hailed from Forsyth, MO. Here we see they’ve moved to New Strawn, KS. This may account for the poor ad as they may have had their hands full with the move. Still, if it were me, I would have run either the year priors’ ad or done something completely different that what they provided.
Take a hard look at the ad, specifically the four boat images, not including the jet-drive boat. Each one of these boats appears to be sitting on the ground. The funny thing about the ad is they state they have a 40,000 square-foot facility that incorporates Every Modern Method in Quality Boat Manufacturing. Evidently, they didn’t feel they needed to store their finished products in any sort of modern manner, instead choosing the boneyard (maybe bonehead) method.
I know a lot of boat manufacturers will place finished boats outside to make room in their facility. The boats are generally stored on trailers or elevated, padded frames made out of four-by-fours to keep the boat off the ground. But this form of storage is beyond the head-scratching kind. The final comical thing about the ad is the sentence at the bottom of the page. “You Inspection is Invited!” I believe it doesn’t take much of a trained inspector to realize this isn’t a boat for me.
The Kit Boat Company (CraftMaster Boats), Eden Prairie, MN – Here’s an ad that looks a bit familiar but it was different enough for me to misplace. The top of the ad says, “The Kit Boat Company.” I thought it was another kit boat company aside from Craftmaster Boats. Then as I was writing this part of Old bass Boats – 1978, I realized that it was Craftmaster Boats. So, for completeness, I’m including it here because it is a different as than that shown in Part 2 of this series.
If you compare this ad to the one shown a couple days ago, you’ll see this ad has an actual picture of their boat, not a drawing. Unfortunately, that’s about all it has. Not mention if they have more than one model, no mention of length of horsepower rating, nothing. Just a picture of a boat and an address to send $1.00 to get a brochure and details. I’d love to hear from any readers if they bought one or knew someone who bought one and what the result was.
MonArk, Monticello, AR – Like Fisher Marine, Ranger, and Hydra-Sport, MonArk was big on advertising and this year wasn’t any different. MonArk placed three different ads in magazines – two of them two-page ads. Mostly MonArk was featuring their new McFast 150 and McFast SF.
The 150 was a fish-n-ski model that could handle a 150-horse motor. The SF was the sportfishing model made from the same hull. I had a chance to ride and fish in an SF and it was a pretty decent boat to fish from – although it was a bit bulky. But talk about a good boat to be in when it got rough. These boats had freeboard. They could be wet but with all that glass around you, you did feel like to were protected from being swamped.
MonArk was also in the business of making aluminum boats and their ads always featured some of their tin models and this year they didn’t disappoint.