Wakeboarding jump in the air is shown in this file photo.

Can You Wakeboard Behind A Bass Boat?

If you’ve asked the question, “Can you wakeboard behind a bass boat?”, then you aren’t alone. I, too, requested the very same thing. You see, I love to bass fish, and I also love to snowboard. I’ve gone wakeboarding a few times and loved it, but never got into it enough to consider the nuances of what boat one might need to use. So, I decided to do a deep dive, no pun intended.

Main image courtesy of White River Marine Group™. NITRO® Z19 Sport 2020 model shown.

Bass boats can be slick. Especially some of the professional tournament grade boats like the ones you might get from NITRO®.

Photo courtesy of White River Marine Group™ NITRO® Z19 bass boat model shown.

And they aren’t cheap. Not to say they’re ridiculous in price, but they are definitely on the higher price point for length and size of boat. But, they make bass fishing incredible.  

When you spend the kind of money you do to get a decent bass boat, you’re going to want to know what else you can do with the beast. I mean, trying to convince your significant other of the value or even the validity of a purchase like a decent bass boat can be a challenge unto itself. But, if the ship were versatile enough to be used for other purposes, then there might just be hope to convince someone in your life that the boat is worth the expense. And if you’re anything like me, then you want a beautiful bass boat.

A woman prepares the tow rope
Image courtesy of White River Marine Group™. NITRO® ZV19 Sport Boat model shown.

But, can you wakeboard behind one?

Technically, yes. With a few minor modifications such as adding a tow bar to the boat. Bass boats are designed for fishing and don’t typically come with a tow bar, so you’ll likely need to purchase and install that separately. You’ll have to beware of the rear prop as bass boats have outboard motors. Also, due to the hull design, bass boats don’t create a deep wake, so really and truthfully, bass boats would only be right to learn the basics of wakeboarding. Once you are ready to learn jumps and tricks, you’ll need a ship with a more in-depth hull design.

Wakeboard Basics

Wakeboarding is a super fun way to spend any length of time out on the water. The excitement and exhilaration are something that is enjoyed by many. There are a few different things you need before you can get started, though.

First and foremost, you need a boat (but you know that already), a wakeboard, and a tow rope. And don’t forget a decent body of water. But, there are some other things you also need. You will also require safety gear such as a right, form-fitting life vest, or life jacket. You may also need a ballast for the boat. Adding weight to the ship changes the wake, and with this sport, it’s all about the wake.

It’s not just about making a big wake for your boarders to jump and play with, no it’s the quality of the wake that defines the extra enjoyment of the wakeboarder. You want a nice clean and uniform wake. If you are adding ballast to your boat to achieve this, then you want to make sure you disperse it evenly about the vessel.

Take a look at what happens to this guy in his bass boat when he goes way to fast (in an unbalanced boat) and hits a wave. I do not recommend attempting anything this foolish.

Unbalanced boat plus too much speed plus bad driving equals…

Boat Weight Dispersion And Why It Matters

So, as I mentioned, it’s more than just pulling someone behind a boat. Sure, that’s fun, and all but the idea is not water skiing that we’re talking about here, it’s wakeboarding. The entire concept of wakeboarding is to ride and do tricks using the wake left by the towing boat. And that wake is changed by how the boat sits in the water.

Bass Boat Hull Design

The way that a boat hull is shaped and subsequently weighed down in the water will determine the shape of the wake the boat leaves behind. Bass boats can often go quite fast. The hull is designed for maximum stability when standing on the deck fishing in calm waters. The design of bass boats is what I like to think of as a shallow and wide hull. They sit on top of the water like a vast and sturdy raft. That’s how you can stand on the deck and cast your rod or fight and reel in fish without worry of rocking the boat.

The advantage of the bass boats hull design is apparent when you’re standing on the deck casting away. And you’ll notice this same advantage turns into a disadvantage the more experience you get with wakeboarding. But, can you wakeboard behind a bass boat?

As mentioned, bass boat design is for stability on stable waters. The intent is to be durable for casting and fishing while standing on the bow deck of the boat. Due to the shallow hull design, bass boats do not generate a deep wake. Therefore, wakeboarding is limited to beginner skill levels as there simply isn’t a more massive wake to do bigger tricks. But, that isn’t to say you can’t pull someone behind a bass boat and still have a lot of fun. 

Bass Boat Wakeboarding

Here’s a video I found of someone wakeboarding behind a bass boat. It is possible, but there are a couple of things I noticed (aside from needing to mute the sound). First, it sounds like the boat might be struggling a touch, but it looks possible to pull it off. Second, like the pontoon boat, there isn’t enough of a wake to be effective. It is much better of a wake than that in the pontoon boat video you’ll see below as well for comparison.

Can you wakeboard behind a bass boat? Actual footage of wakeboarding behind a bass boat. Notice the small wake.

Wakeboarding Frequently Asked Questions

(relating to the question ‘Can you wakeboard behind a bass boat?’)

How Much HP (Horsepower) Do You Need To Pull A Wakeboard?

This question is one of those loaded questions. It comes down to physics. A person’s weight and the size and type of wakeboard have a lot to do with it too. Well, mostly the person’s weight. Some sources say for water skiing; you need a boat with a minimum of 150 Hp motor. But, what if you had a 150 Hp motor on a large 30’ boat?  

The type of boat has as much to do with it as does the weight of the rider. For example, I read on a pontoon boat forum that this guy had one of those smaller family pontoon boats, and he was towing a tube behind it with a 70 Hp outboard motor. But, I doubt you’d go very fast, and I’m not sure that would even be close to adequate for a wakeboard session.

So, you see, there exist variables that don’t let us make a generalization about horsepower required. It depends on the boat more than anything.

How Fast Do You Need To Go To Wakeboard?

The speeds required to wakeboard depend upon your skill level. If you go too slow, you won’t get enough pull to stay comfortably on top of the surface. Too fast, and it is dangerous to fall at speed. Here’s a basic idea of typical rates for each level of ability:

  1. Beginner wakeboarders, whether young or old, typically start to learn to wakeboard between 10 and 14 miles per hour or 16 to 22 kilometers per hour.
  2. Intermediate wakeboarders usually ride between 14 to 20 miles per hour or 22 to 32 kilometers per hour.
  3. Advanced wakeboarders typically ride between 20 and 26 miles per hour or 32 to 42 kilometers per hour.

How Long A Rope Do You Need To Wakeboard?

  1. Beginner wakeboarders should use a rope of a length of 65 feet or 20 meters.
  2. Intermediate wakeboarders typically use a rope 65 to 75 feet or 20 to 23 meters.
  3. Advanced wakeboarders typically use a rope of length 75 to 85 feet or 23 to 26 meters.

Can You Wakeboard Behind Any Boat?

No, you cannot wakeboard behind any boat. The boat must be able to tow you to a speed where you lift above the water. Luckily this isn’t all that fast. However, you need to remember that being pulled is like acting like a big heavy brake for the boat. It takes more than the ship to be able to get itself to speed; it must do so with you behind it acting like a big wakeboard brake.

Take a look at this video. The following is a video I found of someone wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat. Notice it is possible, but note that the wake SUCKS. I mean, geez, that looks like it would be good to teach a new person how to wakeboard, but there is almost zero opportunity to do tricks as there is no wake, not really anyway. Wakeboarding requires a wake so really, pontoon boats are out. But can you wakeboard behind a bass boat?

Pontoon Boat Wakeboarding

Can you call it wakeboarding if there is almost no wake?

Can You Use A Bass Boat For Water Skiing?

Yes. As long as the motor is strong enough to get to speeds that you find comfortable. Again, it depends on the size of the engine. To get any kind of wake you’ll need to add weight, otherwise known as ballast, to the boat. However, bass boats are shallow hull boats as mentioned, so the wake will be minimal and ‘sloppy’. However, for beginners, it would work just fine as long as it can get fast enough to make it fun for you.

What Is The Cheapest Wakeboard Boat?

So, we’ve asked ‘Can you wakeboard behind a bass boat?’, right? But, what is the cheapest boat you can use for wakeboarding? Any older used boat will do for wakeboarding as long as it meets the following criteria: 

  1. Has a big enough motor to be able to get the wakeboarder up to an appropriate speed.
  2. It provides an appropriate wake.

I looked on a few buy and sell websites and found I could get an older boat with a motor in working condition for around $3000, trailer included. This type of purchase would be a more former ‘fixer-upper,’ so to speak. I really couldn’t find anything cheaper that would work. That seems to be the minimum price on the market for something semi-acceptable. I found three boats within $500 of this price range that would work, but all three would need modifications as none had an existing tow bar of any kind.

A family prepares to start some towing water sports with a Tahoe 2150 CC runabout boat in this file photo.
Photo courtesy of White River Marine Group™ TAHOE® 2150 CC model shown.
Some wakeboarders get ready to start riding behind their Tahoe 2150 CC runabout in this file photo.
This photo is courtesy of the White River Marine Group™ TAHOE® 2150 CC model shown.
Photo courtesy of White River Marine Group™ TAHOE® 2150 CC model shown.

What Is The Best Wakeboard Boat?

There are all kinds of boats to use for wakeboarding. The best one comes down to preference. Wakeboarding is a pretty great watersport, so naturally, there are boat manufacturers that cater to this crowd with models exclusively designed for wakeboarding. However, the best one is the one you like the most.  

My personal favorite is in terms of being designed explicitly for watersports is made by Malibu. I don’t have any good pictures to show you at the moment, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. This boat is a specific boat designed for watersports, but not the best all-around boat if you want to fish and do other things.

What Is The Best All-Around Boat (That You Can Wakeboard With)?

The best all-around boat that you can wakeboard with and has the versatility for a variety of other activities are, in my opinion, made by TAHOE®. I like the TAHOE® 2150 CC model. Here are a couple of pictures, courtesy of White River Marine Group™.

What I like about the TAHOE® is the sleek, clean look. The center console adds the perfect balance to the boat. Although this is not a bass boat, fishing is not an issue in this boat. Big enough to take the family out on the water, this boat is a fantastic overall boat that I not only recommend, but that I’ve had the pleasure of riding in myself. The fit and finish are lovely, and the boat handles quite well.  

The TAHOE® is one of my all-time favorite runabouts. What a great little boat. And just so you know, I am in no way paid to write about their runabouts. Seriously, I just like them.

Have you done any sort of towing or watersports behind a bass boat? Let me know your experience in the comments below.


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