Stratos 201XLE Evolution
By Capt. Rob Smith
The bow fishing deck has a recessed foot control for the trolling motor. I found the trolling motor super simple to launch and recover and with the recessed control, less strain on the ankle when operating it. The bow control panel is prewired to add another Humminbird 767 or other display and angled just right to see it from the bike seat or casting chair. Running rod straps anchor the rods down underway and keep them ready for action. Rods 8’ in length fit in the port and starboard storage lockers while the center locker has room for more as well as tackle organizers like a Plano box system. I had 13 in the center locker and still had room for more. A very clever idea is the twin slots for two small lure boxes in the lid. This means your best and most used lures can be quickly grabbed and put to work without moving any rods.
Lockers have bright LED lights and the lids have locks to keep your gear secure while you relax in a diner for a cup of java in the wee hours of the morning. Stratos takes the strain out of hours of standing and casting with a padded foredeck, which I found really did help. Stratos also finishes the edges of the carpet with a trim piece that should eliminate any fraying. A handy cooler is built into the step locker in the aft center of the bow deck so you can reach the chilly drinks without getting up.
In the cockpit, both you and your buddy will be held snuggly in position on custom designed seats that are well cushioned to absorb the shock of moderately choppy waters. Rather than the straight seat like the center seat is, the buddy and helm seats bend around you a bit giving you additional support and helping keep you solidly in place in hard turns. You can opt for a dual console if you really want to be nice to your fishing companion or save 50 lbs. and have just a single console. Leg room is great, better than most I have tested. The helm on this test model had the Hot Foot, but still had room to stretch out my long legs, making a couple hours of driving much more relaxing.
The dash was outfitted with race inspired Actia gauges. The tachometer on the starboard side also has a digital information readout for performance on the Evinrude Special Edition outboard. The five inch Actia gauges were on either side of the standard GPS/Fish finder with 3” analog gauges below which were partially blocked by the wheel at times. The switches were grouped in a panel to the right of the dash. The bright red switch clearly indicates the correct switch to throw when you want to be sure everything is turned off and save the battery.
The aft casting deck is also decent in size for tournament fishing. Just behind the seats is a divided livewell to keep your winning catch lively until weigh-in. To either side of the livewell are dry boxes to stow additional gear like jackets, life preservers, throwable cushions and more. The rear compartment lid opens to the stern which is good for checking things in the parking lot before launching your boat. I noticed some water had made its way into the compartment, so I recommended Stratos consider adding a gasket system to this lid to help prevent water from reaching the batteries and charger inside.
By the Numbers
The Stratos 201XLE measures 20’9” length overall, with a beam of 96”. With a single console, she tips the scales at 1800 lbs. and with a dual, 1850 lbs. She is capable of carrying up to 1635 lbs. people and gear combined. Fuel capacity is 50 gallons in a single tank. Stratos can rig this model for multiple outboards up to 250-hp as we tested her.
I tested the 201XLE on Bull Shoals Lake near Flippin, Arkansas on a day with some wind-blown chop. The boat/motor combination had some significant torque out of the hole, but cleared up around 3000-3500 rpm where I found I could drive with two or three fingers on the wheel. Tracking at low speed was good and turns were reasonable. Her hole shot was 4 seconds, a little slow for a bass boat, and her time to 30 mph was 7.8 seconds. Her most economical speed was at 36 mph and 3000 rpm for a full tank range of 134 miles. I managed a top speed of over 74 mph when in very smooth waters, but in moderate chop averaged 72.5 mph. Turns were dry and without cavitation in wide turns. In tight turns they remained dry, but I did feel some slip and lost some speed at 40 mph.
Stratos’ goal in the 201XLE Evolution is to provide tournament anglers an affordable rig without giving up performance and fishability. In my opinion, they have accomplished that. This model has room for all your gear, bait and a buddy. It has added comforts like the padded bow casting deck and custom padded seats and it has a very competitive price. All you have to add is the fuel, bait and tackle and a friend if you want to share the fun.