Not a One-Trick Pony
Man, or woman, does not live by fishing alone. While hard-core anglers are happy with single-purpose bass boats, most people have a wide range of interests, and it gets even wider when the family is involved. So why buy a boat that does only one thing well? The folks at Nitro, builders of some very nice bass boats, understand: Their 290 Sport converts easily from runabout to skiboat to fishing boat.
Nitro Boats sets up the 290 Sport with plenty of gear for all her functions. For fishing, she has raised casting decks fore and aft; port and starboard rod lockers; a livewell aft and a baitwell forward; and a pair of oversized fishing seats that fit into any of 5 seat bases – in runabout mode, these chairs serve as passenger seats. A 70-lb. thrust Minn Kota 24v. PowerDrive trolling motor is standard. A Lowrance Mark-5x fishfinder is flush-mounted at the helm.
As a runabout, or when racing from one fishing hole to another, Nitro's Rapid Planing System hull will coax maximum performance out of whatever power you choose for your 290 Sport. The company says the Rapid Planing System, which incorporates a step at the transom, makes their boats quicker out of the hole, with little bow rise, better handling and faster with less horsepower than conventional hulls. All this will also appeal to skiers, boarders and tubers, who will tow from a removable tournament-style ski pylon.
When it's time to kick back, the 290 Sport's forward casting platform converts to P&S lounge seating by stowing the filler piece and laying down the cushions. The backrests are attached to the consoles. A cockpit table is also standard, and 10 stainless steel drink holders mean a libation will always be close at hand.
How is She Built?
The 290 Sport has a hand-laid fiberglass hull backed up with a foam-filled 'glass stringer system and composite transom. The cockpit sole is molded fiberglass with non-skid, with marine-grade carpet on the casting platforms. She is backed by Nitro's transferable 10-year limited warranty on the hull, interior stringers and transom. The rest of the boat's covered by a limited one-year warranty; the trailer comes with three-year coverage for the galvanized tubing.
Standard power for the 290 Sport is a 150-hp Mercury 150 XL OptiMax two-stroke outboard. The company estimates top speed with this engine in the low-40-mph range, but we cannot confirm that – we haven't tested this boat yet. Optional engines include 200- and 225-hp OptiMax and 200-hp Mercury Verado outboards. Again according to Nitro, the 225-hp OptiMax produces highest top speed, in the low-50-mph range.
Although four-strokes are the rage in OBs now, we'd pick a 200 XL OptiMax two-stroke, expect top speed around 50 mph, based on Nitro estimates, and spend only an extra $3,700 over base price. Fifty mph is plenty fast for a boat this size, and while the four-stroke Verado might be more economical to run, it's also quite a bit more money. Note that Nitro, one of the Tracker boat companies, subscribes to no-haggle pricing, and they publish all prices on their website. Before you walk into the dealership, you know what the boat you want will cost. Save your haggling skills for buying a new pickup to tow it.
Nitro performance bass boats can trace their roots back to 1978 when founder Johnny Morris introduced the first Bass Tracker, a complete fishing package sold for a nationally advertised price. Today, the Tracker Marine Group is one of the world’s most popular boat builders. Bass boats, runabouts, houseboats, and pontoon boats, fiberglass or aluminum, salt or fresh water, if you’re looking for a boat under 35 feet, chances are that there’s a boat in this family to fit your needs.
No matter what power you choose, the Nitro 290 Sport looks like a bargain to us. If you want a boat that can multi-task, we advise checking her out early in the game. We think her combination of function, equipment and price will be hard to beat.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Optional Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|