In today’s post Old Bass Boats – 1979 Part 2, we continue on with the model year 1979 and look at the ads put out by the manufacturers of the day. In part one of this series, we looked at the companies Astroglass to Hydra-Sports. Today we pick up with Maiden Craft/ProCraft and will go all the way through VIP.
As we mentioned in part one, advertising in 1979 was down dramatically from 1978 with only 24 manufacturers placing ads in the bass magazines we searched compared to 36 the year before. The other interesting fact was where the manufacturers decided to spend their money with respect to these magazines. In the past, most ads were placed in Bassmaster Magazine but the other magazines like The Lunker Hole, American Angler, American Bass Fisherman, and National Bassman had their fair share of the ads. This year, though, saw a big shift to magazines that appeared to be strongest with respect to readership as well as financially.
Financially speaking, American Bass Fisherman went under in 1978 and was bought out by National Bass. American Angler was on its deathbed and the Bass Casters Association, publishers of The Lunker Hole, was on their last breaths. Because of this, we saw 15 manufacturers advertise with Bassmaster, 11 advertise with National Bassman, four companies advertise with The Lunker Hole, and two companies advertise with American Angler.
Before we get down some other tangent, though, let’s get on with the boat companies themselves.
Maiden Craft / ProCraft, Murphreesboro, TN – By 1979, Maiden Craft had been making bass boats for roughly 4 years. Their reputation amongst bass anglers was rising and they were becoming one of the standard bass boat companies in the industry. What I noticed for 1979, though, was they ran two of the same ads they ran in 1978, and nothing else.
Their ads were placed in every issue of Bassmaster as well as a couple issues of The Lunker Hole and didn’t provide much with respect specifications other than pictures of various models they offered. This, more than likely, was a sign of the hard economic times.
Mascot Boats, Arlington, TX – Mascot Boat was another of the personal watercraft companies that decided to advertise their product in 1979. Mascot produced a Bass Buggy-type one-man boat that could accommodate a small outboard as well as an electric trolling motor.
For the angler who just wanted to get out and fish, this was a great option that wouldn’t break the bank at all. Fit for small farm ponds or even coves on bigger lakes, the 8-foot by 4-foot platform was stable while sitting or standing. I’ve fished a lot out of the two-man version of this boat and was surprised at its stability.
MonArk, Monticello, AR – MonArk was another of the tried and true bass boats of the late 1970s and their advertising continued through the rough patch of the late 1970s. MonArk only placed two different ads in Bassmaster but used those two ads in each issue of 1979, both being two-page ads.
In the first ad, which was half color, MonArk was touting two of their new models, the McFast 150 and McFast SF. The McFast 150 was said to be a 17-foot boat capable of a 150-horse motor. It also sported an 83 1/2-inch beam and came standard with a 31-gallon fuel tank.
The McFast SF, on the other hand, was only rated for a 115-horse motor, which leads me to believe it was shorter. There is no mention of this boat’s beam, but it did come with an 18-gallon fuel tank. Both the 150 and SF were of the Fish and Ski configuration that was popular back in the day.
The second ad featured another new MonArk bass boat called the V-172. This was a true v-hull boat, something MonArk had never offered before 1979. One of the guys in the bass club I belonged to at this time owned one of these boats and for the time, it was pretty fast. Rigged with a 150-horse motor, it would consistently hit the low 60s.
The V-172 had a ton of room for a boat of this time period and handled the rough water pretty well too. In fact it was this boat that convinced us to buy the smaller version, the V-16, of this model when it was released in 1980/81.
Omni, Lecompte, LA – 1979 was Omni Boat’s third year advertising their wares in the bass magazines and finally, this year they decided to show an actual image of their boat. In prior years, all they showed was a rendering with some talk about a world-record limit being taken out of their boat.
This time they got the image right, but still, there isn’t any specifications on the boat itself. There isn’t even a motor hanging off the back to give you an idea what it was rated for. The image shown features a fish and ski model but from the angle, you can’t make out much of the floor plan at all. If anyone out there has any information on the company and the boats they made, please drop a comment below.
Polar Kraft, Olive Branch, MS – Polar Kraft was a fairly big aluminum boat manufacturers back in the day and they’d been advertising in the bass magazines for nearly four years. The ad they placed in 1979 ran in every issue of Bassmaster and was a retread of an ad they’d run in 1978.
The ad featured Bassmaster touring pro Roger Moore of Missouri. Moore was a big deal in the 1970s qualifying for four BASS Master Classics. He also fished the other circuits like American Angler, Project Sports INC, National Bass, and American Bass Fisherman. So, to have him pimping Polar Kraft meant something.
Unfortunately, the ad doesn’t give much with respect to specifications or how many models the company made.
Ranger Boats, Flippin, AR – This is where you see who the most dominant bass boat manufacturer of the time was. In 1979, amidst the economic downturn, Ranger continued their onslaught of ads as they’d always done. This year, Ranger placed five ads in all the magazines except for The Lunker Hole. Of these five ads, two were two-page spreads that were placed in each issue of Bassmaster Magazine, the most expensive magazine to advertise in. There was also a really good Ranger Boat review printed in National Bassman talking about the new 168V.
Ranger had another ad touting the new 198V, a 17-foot, 10-inch hull rated for a 175-horse motor. Other models offered that year were the 188V, 178V and 185V I/O. Nothing is given in the way of specs but looking at both of the two-page ads, all interested parties probably had a dealer within an hour or two.
Sea Nymph, Syracuse, IN – Sea Nymph had been a major player in the aluminum boat market for years. In 1979 they ran one ad featuring their 16-foot Fishing Machines in Bassmaster as well as National Bassman.
The 16-foot Fishing Machine came in two models, one with elevated casting decks fore and aft and the other with a slightly elevated front casting deck. These boats were built off a v-hull and provided a really nice fishing platform for the angler who couldn’t afford to get into a glass boat. Storage was ample and they provided livewells and a typical rod locker of the day.
Skeeter, Kilgore, TX – Up to this point, Skeeter had been known for their blazing fast Skeeter Wranger, a 16-foot boat capable of handling a 150-horse motor. But in 1979, the Kilgore company would rattle the cages of bass fishing again, this time with the introduction of the Starfire 175. The Starfire was rated for a 175-horsepower motor and out of the box would run in the high 60s and with some prop tweaking could flirt with that 70 mph mark.
But the Starfire 175 was more than just fast. It was the first boat I remember that would hold a 7 1/2-foot Flippin’ Stik that hadn’t been collapsed, and didn’t have one but two rod lockers. In front of the console was a huge dry storage box and the rear deck also contained dry storage as well as enough room in the bilge to house three batteries and a spare prop.
Another one of Skeeter’s selling points was they had the pro’s pro staff. Listen to these names. Bill Dance, Tommy Martin, Dave Gliebe, Ricky Green, Larry Nixon, Elroy Krueger, Harold Allen, Paul Chamblee, Jack Wade, J. B. Warren, Loyd McEntire, Doug Odom, B. J. Wood, Phil Greene, and Jack Hains. All these names were at the top of the list of any Bassmaster event held at the time.
From their ad campaign, Skeeter was confident the economy wasn’t going to bring them down. They placed four ads in 1979, sometimes multiple ads in one issue. And, one of those ads was a two-pager.
On a side note, I’d forgotten that Bill Dance was sponsored by Skeeter. I need to go back and figure out how long he stayed with the company. By this time, I think Bill had been sponsored by nearly every bass boat company around. I’ll have to ask him how many boat companies he’s been with over his career.
Terry, Delhi, LA – Terry Bass Boats wasn’t about to be outdone by Ranger, having placed five different ads in Bassmaster and The Lunker Hole over the course of 1979. This year would mark the year that Terry would fully commit to the metric system, providing all their glass models with numbers that reflected their length in either meters or centimeters.
Terry featured their 6.2m, 5.3m, 5.2 mp/hp, 4.7m, 4.7 mp/hp, 460cm, and 450cm models in the first ad shown. They also had a 430cm and 420cm models not shown. Between their glass boats and their aluminum hulls, they offered a dozen bass boats that would fit any budget.
I’m not sure when Terry got its start, but I wouldn’t doubt if they were the second bass boat company behind Skeeter. Hailing out of Louisiana, original home of Skeeter, there are a lot of pictures of Grits Gresham riding in a Terry throughout the 1960s.
Tidecraft, Minden, LA – Here’s another Louisiana bass boat company, Tidecraft. We recently published a piece on the 1979 Tidecraft Boat catalog that I recommend you check out if you haven’t already. It’s full of great images of the boats and will answer some of the deficiencies of the ads we’re posting today.
Tidecraft had an interesting way of cutting some ad costs in 1979. In the first ad, you’re hard pressed to determine if it’s a Mister Twister ad or a Tidecraft boat ad. That’s because it appears to be both. I guess that’s one way of getting around the economic times. Mister Twister and Tidecraft were both based out of Minden, LA and it appears they supported each other. The ad stated that if you went by a Tidecraft dealer, you’d receive a hand-picked Snak Pak of Mister Twister worms.
The second ad, placed in the National Bassman, is a more traditional boat ad showing a pretty good image of the layout of one of their models. The ad states they have four models ranging from 15 foot to 18 foot in length and rated for motors from 90- to 150-horsepower. It’s a decent ad comparatively speaking, for the time.
Venture, Winchester, TN and Greenville, MS – Venture placed two different ads in nearly every issue of Bassmaster Magazine for the year. What had always been a complaint of mine in the past was their lack of information regarding the boats. This year was no different, except they did mention in the second ad that they had more than a dozen models being built out of their two plants.
I wish there was more to say but without any data on the boats, it’s hard to talk about them.
VIP, Vivian, LA – VIP started advertising their bass boats in 1978 with one ad. In 1979, the ad hadn’t changed and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The boat pictured in the ad appears to be a 17-foot model with an I/O. It has a rod locker, some dry storage, and enough room on the deck to accommodate an UMCO Possum Belly tackle box. That’s about all I can make out from the ad.
In the 1978 description of this ad I stated I have at least one 1970s vintage catalog from VIP. I’m going to have to write a piece on this catalog so we can all find more out about the company.
That does it for the old Bass Boat ads of 1979. If you missed Part One of the series, please click here. In the final part of this series, we’ll be diving into the Championship Boats each organization was selling. See you then.