Fish Catching Travel guy fishes out of a Mako 18LTS. Here are his thoughts on the boat from a year or so ago:
Speaking of boat stuff I got this very interesting and complicated question from Gary. I really had to think about it for a while and what should have been a short answer ended up being a dissertation.
I’m considering buying a mako 18lts, what do you think about yours? I’m downsizing from my JH performance since I quit guiding. Thanks
I have had this one for some 8 years now, it was one of the first rigged in Texas. I love some aspects, and some not so much. Keep in mind that when I bought this there were several considerations besides fishing salt. Most importantly I fish lots and lots of fresh water and it is a great little bass boat. Weight and size was a serious consideration considering it is 30 hour tow to the Keys, 10 hours to south Louisiana, 12 hours to north Arkansas, not to mention tows to places like Amistad and Falcon. (And I am considering a late fall muskie trip to Canada this year. Since the 4Runner is a V6, I am a lifetime Toyota man and have towed with 4Runners for 30 years, that is always a consideration. Being a “smaller” boat it really is a great 2 man boat if you are casting, 3 man if they are good fishermen and careful, and it runs fine with 4 in it, though that is a load. And with the 90 Optimax (I chose the Opti because I had a couple of 4 strokes that came apart and this thing after hundreds of hours has equal compression and runs like a top.) and the big gas tank it has a huge range. As an example I van just about fish 3 days say on a trip and not have to visit the gas pump. Love that! And it trolls like a dream, great for me 3 days every spring. Now it come with a 115hp which I am sure speeds it up a bunch.
I can tell you that if you are downsizing from the JH Performance you will notice a big difference. When it is super rough on the bay the LTS has it’s limitations. There are days when that long run is just a little to much for the boat (Or me.) and you can take a pounding, been there done that. It does not have the “solid” feel of your JH or a Majek, again a compromise with a lighter boat. And another thing, it is not near as shallow a runner as they say it is. It is not a real tunnel and consequently will not run as shallow as a lot of the other boats I haved fish in, which depending on your style would be a big difference if you are used to really running shallow. When I fish out of my buddy Chris’s Dargel we go places the LTS just can not go. Now we did not get a jack plate, and I know it would help some, how much is the question. But my days of just jamming like a mad man are over, so running really shallow is not a consideration since I spend most of my time now on the bay shoreline wading. To give you a practical example there are lots of days and tides where running into Pringle ain’t happening while other folks make it. Mine runs just fine at 4500 rpm at 26 mph, top end with the 90hp is probably 38 mph with me wide open, at best. Right after we bought it the saleswoman actually called while we were fishing and had a couple of guys in the room considering one and she said: “You get 50mph don’t you?” At which point we had to hurt the sales pitch as high 30’s with a light load is the size of it. But since speed is not a real issue with me that part is fine.
There are a few complaints, some which they have fixed on the boat, some that came with buying from Bass Pro. I got this one at the Katy store and I would not let them rig a canoe. Completely incompetent rigging, the whole experience with them sucked in that respect, but at least it was their first and many of the issues we had have been addressed on the new boats. And the lay out, it is a tough boat to do simple things like change trolling motor batteries or do other work under the console. It is way to cramped, stuff is crammed in there, and nothing, and I mean nothing is all that simple to work on. So take a good look under the console before you buy and think, “What would I have to do to fix “X”? With most of the rigging below the floor that is not particularly helpful either. The only thing I have to say about the live well, is they should have dropped the live. I built a live bait tank if that tells you anything. And do not even think that the storage is anywhere close to “dry.” Stuff gets wet all the time in any of the boxes, as I type this all the life jackets and other stuff out of the boxes are hanging on the fence drying.
I am actually picking up a new McClain trailer today to replace the factory one. The factory one was poorly designed, though lots of the “problems” with the design of the boat and trailer have been fixed over the years. One advantage of the factory trailer is it is low profile, if you can get the trailer anywhere near the water you can get the boat off. But since I am not buying a new trailer from them it should tell you something. But again in their defense, the trailer had a hard life, it has been thousands and thousands of miles on the worst roads, bad ramps, you name it, and I always made it home.
Enough of the “bad” stuff, I can have a new boat if I want one and seriously considering doing so, but I am happy to keep the LTS, it suits my needs just fine. So first a new trailer, then new trolling motor, and finally upholstery and it will be good to go. It has fished literally hundreds of times and I readily admit I am hard on stuff but it still has some good years left. So would I recommend it to you, that is a tricky question, not knowing what you do and what you want to do. Of course price is a consideration, but with that comes a little “less” boat. They have to get the savings somewhere. So I guess the final answer to your question is – I can have any boat I want and I am sticking with the LTS. And thinking about it, as long as I fish salt and fresh water, from big water to creeks, if I was looking at buying a new boat it would be first on the list until proven otherwise. The multi use thing is important to my style of fishing.
Since you had a JH the one piece of advice I would give you is absolutely find a way to take a ride in one before you even think about plucking down the bucks, you will see/feel the difference. But I bet with the 115hp it hauls butt. If you are ever in the Victoria area drop me a note and I would be happy to give you a ride, lake or bay. So if it seems I am wishy-washy about you buying one, it is tough to give that kind of recommendation. In the end it is a great multi use boat, including taking the kids tubing, and the upfront costs are not as high as some of this type of boats have become. It has served me well and it says a lot that I didn’t sell it when stuff started breaking and wearing out. So good luck in your search and we would love to hear what you finally decide.