Saltwater fishing boats come in many flavors, but when it comes to bay boats the vast majority are built on fiberglass hulls—not so, with the Ranger RP 190. This boat is built from aluminum, which gives it a number of advantages over its fiberglass brethren: it’s significantly lighter so it’s easier to tow and requires less power; it doesn’t need regular waxing to protect the gel coat; and if you hit something solid it’ll dent instead of shattering. There is, of course, more to the story. Every boat-building material has its pluses and minuses, and you can read Aluminum Fishing Boats: Light, Economical, and Seaworthy to get the full scoop. Meanwhile, let’s jump aboard the Ranger RP 190 and take it for a spin.
If you’re wondering why we didn’t include any shots in the video of ripping across the water at high speeds, it’s because we weren’t able to keep the camera steady enough. Hey—this is an 18’8” long, 1,150 pound boat, and we were filming in the Patapsco River, which is thoroughly waked-up by a ton of boat traffic once you leave the slow speed zone. No boat of this size and nature is going to be completely steady underfoot when running along at high speeds through a bunch of boat wakes. And we do mean “high”. With a Yamaha 115 SHO outboard on the transom, we broke 45 MPH at wide-open throttle and cruised at a zippy 32 MPH at 4500 RPM. Remember, the aluminum hull’s lighter weight makes for more speed with less power, and as a point of reference, an average fiberglass bay boat of this size would be expected to top out right around 40 MPH and cruise in the upper 20’s.
More about ripping across the water’s surface: what we couldn’t show you on film is that the RP 190 is comfortable in a one-foot chop, and handles two-foot boat wakes with no problem as long as you ease back on the throttles a bit. The bow has some V to it but the bottom is fairly flat aft so the boat does feel like it slides a bit in sharp turns, though it benefits from 1.5” strakes and never feels squirrely or worrisome. An advantage this design delivers is increased stability, and the boat does better than most of its size when waves hit on the beam. The ride’s surprisingly quiet, too, thanks to the fact that Ranger blows foam into all the belowdecks voids.
The topsides design is all about fishing, fishing, and more fishing. Here you can see the influence of Ranger’s bass boat heritage, with touches like pedestal mounts for seats fore and aft, which many bay boat builders eschew. They may look a bit out of place to some anglers, but trust me, your comfort level shoots through the roof with these things aboard. Another bassy touch is the oversized aerated livewell. Most boats in the class will have a well half the size. The design sacrifice, however, is the fact that in order to get this much capacity it had to be located under the leaning post. To access it you have to pull a pin, and flip the post forward.
That well is flanked by a pair of flip-up jump seats, which have linered compartments underneath. That’s a smart move on a little boat like this, where stowage is always at a premium. Another nice perk: the pair of rodboxes built into the bowdeck are locking, so you won’t have to worry about the security of your gear when you pull the boat after a long day of fishing and park for a meal.
One thing we mentioned at the close of the video which we should explore in more detail is the boat’s pricing. The Ranger RP 190 is going to give you sticker-shock—reverse sticker-shock, that is. In base form with a 25 HP outboard and an aluminum trailer, the advertised MSRP is an eye-opening $17,395. Competent bay boats with a motor and trailer that list for under $20,000 are few and far between, to say the least. Twenty five horses is, of course, pretty puny for a boat of this size. It’ll get you on plane with a light load, but not a whole lot more. A 75 horse powerplant, which will be plenty of juice for most folks, takes the price up just over the $20,000 mark. And getting that butt-kicking Yamaha 115 SHO makes it closer to $25K.
Don’t look at the RP 190 if you plan to take a dozen friends fishing. This isn’t a boat to consider if you want to run fast through big seas and rough inlets. And if you’re trying to impress the neighbors, this probably isn’t going to be the top pick. But if you’re looking for a competent little fishing machine with peppy performance and a price tag that’s eminently affordable, the Ranger RP 190 is a boat you need to check out.
Other Choices: A slightly smaller, even less expensive, but less featured option (with a very small side console instead of the Ranger’s full-sized center console) would be the PolarKraft Sportsman 1754. Some anglers will also want to consider aluminum multispecies boats, like the Tracker Targa or the Princecraft Xperience 188.
See Ranger RP 190 listings.
For more information, visit Ranger.
|Test conditions: 10 – 15 knot winds, slight chop, two POB. Performance figures provided by Yamaha.
|Single Yamaha 115 SHO outboard, swinging a 13.5” x 16” three-bladed aluminum propeller.