Last Friday we posted Old Bass Boats – 1976 Part 1 starting with Arrow Glass and ending with Glastron. As promised then, today we’re finishing up the ‘76 year with H (Holiday) through X (X-Calibur) – two boats I’ve never heard of by the way. As you probably noticed from Part 1, the boats of this year class were shifting drastically to high-performance machines constructed with lifting pads and even space-age materials like Kevlar. On top of that, more and more creature comforts and much-needed instrumentation was becoming standard on all brands. These years, 1975 through 1977, were the genesis of the boats we fish out of today.
So, without wasting any more time, here they are.
Holiday – When I saw this ad I thought it was for a marine dealer – not a boat manufacturer. Again, Holiday Boats is another one foreign to me. From this ad it appears they only offered one baot from the Yellville, AR plant. At 15-feet long it had a 70-inch beam and weighed in at 760 pounds. Rated for an 85-horse motor, the boat probably moved pretty well – at least that’s one of their big selling points. Still at only 15-feet in length, I would argue with them over its rough-water ability.
Hydra Sports –This was Hydra Sports’ third consecutive year in the bass boat market and it could probably be looked at as one of their biggest. In 1975 they featured only two ads in the press that I could find but in ’76, they debuted five different ads, along with a three-page spread. To top that off, 1976 was the year they joined forces with DuPont to make the first Kevlar-hulled bass boats and benefitted from that with DuPont running two different ads featuring their boats too. In all you couldn’t turn a page in the major bass magazines without seeing a Hydra Sport ad.
Although they talked about a number of their boat models in the ads, they mostly concentrated on their use of Kevlar and what it brought to the market. In the three-page ad, though, they placed more attention on who was fishing their boats. Billy Westmorland, Bill Dance, Glin Wells and Bobby Murray were their stars. Between that lineup and the Bullet-proof material, how could you go wrong?
Mackie – Here’s an evolution for you. In 1975 the Mackie Boat ad displayed a bass boat not much different than the tub boats of the prior years. This 1976 ad, though, was nothing about tubs – it was all about a current pad boat and high performance. But the Mackie boat offered something new, from what I can tell. They designed a rounded transom. This design, used by nearly all bass boat manufacturers today, offered more transom strength and decreased weight.
Their new 18-foot model was rated for a 150-horse motor and was also built out of Kevlar. Although the ad came out of a mid-’76 Bassmaster, the boat was a ’77 model. I guess with Hydra Sports coming out with their Kevlar hulled boats, Mackie decided to build their next year’s model at the beginning of ’76. I’ve heard that back then there was virtually no rules on when a company could make and advertise new model-year boats.
MFG – Okay Jojo, here’s your boat. I’m not sure when MFG came into the market but this ad suggests they’d been in it a while. In this ad they reveal three new models to their lineup. Covering the 14- to 17-foot market, they could accommodate the entry-level angler along with the guy who wanted to be a pro.
Unfortunately they didn’t offer much more than that in their ad. It would be nice to see hull stats and other specs and features. Maybe Jojo can fill us in on some of the details.
MonArk – In years past MonArk had had as many as five different ads in magazines. In 1976, though, they only went with one that I could find and it was a pretty sad ad at that. What they concentrated on with that ad was the fact that three of five national tournaments were won in their boat – pretty impressive even if it was in black and white.
In this ad they were also introducing their new McFast 5 – a new 15-footer for ’76. In typical MonArk fashion, they gave some good specs on the outfit. What I found kind of crazy about the ad was the addition of the float plane. If they were trying to make it look fast, I think there are better ways of doing it. For all I know, the float plane was getting ready to land and was only flying at 25 mph.
Polar Craft – It had been a couple of years since Polar Craft had placed an ad in a national bas magazine and in typical fashion, they placed another “want for more” ad in 1976. Although they give all the specifications of their BF-44, the black and white advertisement could use a lot of make-up. A bare-bones stick steer aluminum boat that probably was a cool little ride would have a hard time competing against the likes of Fisher Marine.
Raider – Another one for the list of “I’ve never seen this before.” Raider claimed to be one of the newest bass boat manufacturers out there and were trying to use that to their advantage. Based out of Charleston, MO, Raider offered 5 models including outboard and I/Os. They show two of their models in the ad, one for a 16’-4” boat and another that was 17 feet. Due to the fact that this was the only ad placed that I could find, I’m hoping we see more in 1977 to uncover the questions I have.
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.
Ranger also revealed their 20-foot model the 205. The biggest boat on the market at the time, this placed the Flippin, AR company in a territory that would pave the way for more companies to build bigger and bigger. I don’t know if you ever had a chance to ride in one of those early 20-footers or not. If you did, and had recently come from the standard 16-foot boats of the day, it seemed as if you were on an aircraft carrier. You didn’t have to worry about casting but you did need a megaphone to talk to your partner.
Roughneck – Another Smackover, AR company, Roughneck’s ad department needed to take some lesson 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. Wish I could say more about them but again, this is another boat company I have no clue about. Can someone fill us in?
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.
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.
Stryker – I thought Stryker was an 80s rock band? I guess they made boats before they grew their hair out. Seriously, this is another one of those companies that alluded me over the years. The boat, though, looks like it’d run with the pack – unfortunately there isn’t much about it other than it’s a high-performance boat that’s stable.
Terry – I found a Terry ad in every magazine I went through doing this piece. Most of them were the variant with yellow boat but I was happy to see they added a couple more. Just 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, one of the best bass boats of the time went away a few years later due to company buy outs and decreased quality fromcost cutting materials.
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 gave 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.
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.
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, the ads for the Classic boats were for the 1975 Classic boats – not the 1976 boats. Makes me wonder if B.A.S.S. was still trying to sell all of the ’75 models before advertising the ‘76 models? Looking back this must have been the case because the 1975 magazines only had the 1974 Classic boats in them.
So far we’ve posted bass boats from 1970 through 1976 and a smattering of older models when pictures have been available. If you want to revisit the past with respect to boats of these years, just use the category list on the right sidebar and click on Old Boats n Stuff or type in Old Bass Boats in the search tool.