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The team at Nitro had four simple goals when developing the new 2012 Z-9: performance, fishability, comfort, and affordability. Our recent test and review reveals how they achieved these goals. It’s important to remember that the Z-9 has been a proven workhorse on the professional bass tournament circuit for years and has been undergoing subtle modifications each year. With most bass boats comprising essentially the same overall design, the important differences boil down to handling, durability, and price.

Key Features

  • Rapid Planing System transom
  • 10" (25.40 cm) adjustable jack plate & rigging tube
  • Fold-down reboarding ladder
  • Two 20-gal. (75.71 L) insulated, aerated Guardian aft livewells with oxygen generators, recirculators, timers & pump-out systems
  • Hydraulic tilt steering with through-deck hose fittings
  • Multifunction gauges with chrome bezels, clock & oil reservoir monitor
  • In-dash Lowrance HDS-7 fishfinder/GPS
  • 2 rod lockers with automatic lights & port organizers
  • Bow bicycle seat & aft folding chair
  • 24V, 82-lb. thrust foot-controlled trolling motor
  • Custom-matched trailer with Galvashield corrosion protection, fiberglass fenders, swing-away tongue & No Touch Vortex hub lubrication system
Length Overall 20' 9''
6.12 m
Beam 8' 6''
2.59 m
Dry Weight 2,100 lbs.
Tested Weight N/A
Draft 16''
- Draft Up N/A
- Draft Down N/A
- Air Draft N/A
Deadrise/Transom 16 deg.
Max Headroom open
Bridge Clearance N/A
Weight Capacity N/A
Person Capacity N/A
Fuel Capacity 68 gal.
Water Capacity none
Length on Trailer N/A
Height on Trailer N/A
Trailer Weight N/A
Total Weight
(Trailer, Boat, & Engine)

Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.

Std. Power 1 x 225-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS
Tested Power 1 x 250-hp Mercury Optimax
Opt. Power 1 x 250-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS
1 x 250-hp Mercury Verado 4-stroke
1 x 300-hp Mercury Verado Pro 4-stroke

Captain's Report by Christopher Hughes --

Nitro Z-9
Christopher Hughes,’s COO putting the Z-9 through a high-speed test run.

Critical Handling Characteristics

Whether you start your ride with a classic hole-shot or more gradual acceleration, the first thing I noticed about the Z-9 was her straight and true tacking. There was no torque pull when power is applied so no need for corrective steering. Once on plane the hull has a good sight in the turns and responds smoothly to even the slightest steering inputs.

A pad

is designed into the aft section of the hull which leads out to the bottom of the transom. Nitro has designed into the hull what they call a 16 degree variable deadrise hull for a smoother, drier ride. They call it the RPS or rapid planing system transom design. But the RPS does more than make the boat scoot.

Nitro Z-9
Nitro Z-9 cockpit offers one of the most comfortable rides available.

Our test confirmed the efficiency of Nitro's design both with our standing-start numbers, WOT speed results, and most important, in the boat's handling at speed. For example, sometimes pads can cause a boat to seem to slip or skip in turns, but the Z-9 did not exhibit any bad habits as we maneuvered the boat at reasonably high speeds.

Chine walking

is another issue common for some bass boats past 50 or 60 mph. In most cases this is driver induced, but in some cases we think it is due more to the hull design. The Z-9 did not chine walk during my test, even at wide open throttle on our 250-hp Mercury Optimax.

Does She Pound?

When we first started testing the Z-9 the water was flat so we had to make figure 8s to kick up some waves. Later in the day the wind kicked up on Table Rock Lake which has quite a fetch. Waves got up to 2' or so and our host opined that most bass fishermen didn't go out in conditions like that which was all we needed to hear to want to do it.

Nitro Z-9
The forward casting deck is full beam and padded. There are five storage compartments.

Some bass boats are full forward to make sure there is good stability for a man standing on the bow. The downside of a full bow is pounding in a chop. In our test conditions the Z-9 did not pound thanks to her V-shaped hull forward and when we went through a wake or a large wave the boat tracked true and was not deflected to one side or the other. Even in the rough stuff in the afternoon when doing "S" turns the boat stayed dry.

Fishy Features

When it comes to fishing amenities built into the boat, the Z-9 has them all. But more importantly, she has them exactly where you need them. To start, Nitro designed-in two 500 GPH (1,892.71 LPH) aerator/fill pumps with timers, two 750 GPH (2,839.06 LPH) re-circulator pumps with timers, and two 20-gal. (75.71 L) insulated aft Guardian livewells. There are oxygenators in each livewell along with standard pump-out systems and dual remote drain controls.

Nitro Z-9
Two livewells are located just behind the cockpit of the Z-9.

The forward casting deck

has numerous compartments including organized rod storage to port, a deep general storage to the center, more rod or general storage to starboard, and a cooler in the step down to the cockpit. Inboard and under each console are two pull out storage drawers. On the aft deck there are five compartments; centered is the livewell, to port and starboard are tackle management compartments, and aft is more storage in a pull-out bin. With the bin removed, there is excellent access to pumps, to the 2 heavy-duty Interstate trolling batteries, a 2-bank (20 amps total) onboard battery charger, and to a 1,600 GPH (6,056.66 LPH) bilge pump.

At the bow

is the obligatory trolling motor, in this case a Minn Kota 24V, 80-lb. thrust, foot controlled type. In our test we took our Z-9 into a tight inlet and the Minn Kota easily maneuvered us with pin-point accuracy. The foot control is sunk into a well just like on far more expensive bass boats. Forward of this is a panel for mounting electronics, and a control panel for navigation lights and livewell.

Nitro Z-9
The forward adjustable pedestal seat mounted in one of the two forward positions.

A comfort factor

is the padding installed on the forward casting deck. It provides a soft feeling sure to reduce the stress of many hours of standing. The seat pad on the forward leaning post is also a comfort area. Unlike some that squish down after a while, the one on the Z-9 has higher-density foam. The post is heavy-duty stainless steel and is threaded to lock in place in one of the two positions provided. It is also fully adjustable up and down.All the bow storage is also fitted with automatic lighting.

Nitro Z-9
The helm of the Nitro Z-9 has all of the basics.

At The Helm

The comfort continues at the helm. During our test we felt the seat was contoured to our backside as it is shaped much like the seat in an expensive sports car. With a full internal spring system and bucket design, we could have driven the Z-9 all week long. The angle and height of the seat aligned well with our reach to the wheel and the position of the Mercury throttle control. Located on starboard are the valve controls for the livewells. The two main gauges, RPM and speed are located high, angled in and have a deep bezel. Even having the LDS-7C Lowrance fishfinder/GPS mounted on the dash did not obscure visibility.

Nitro Z-9
In this image you can see the grab handles and foot step in between the three ultra-comfortable seats.

To port is a passenger seat behind a console that is removable if you want to have only a one-console boat. Nitro has also added convenient step pads between the seats to get from the cockpit to the aft deck.

The port side console

seat has the same shock absorption design and padding, only with a lower back to allow easy access to the aft deck. There is a large, lockable glove box, grab handle and removable tinted windscreen. The seat is the same as the driver's and an additional grab handle and pull-out storage are at deck level. The cockpit also has two medium-size drains and one large 4” drain center for dewatering.

Nitro Z-9
The port side console has a large glove box for storage and a grab handle. The whole console can be easily detached.


The Z-9 is available with 225-hp up to 300-hp outboard power and our test rig was powered by a Mercury 250 OptiMax Pro XS V-6 two-stroke with direct fuel injection. This was mounted via an adjustable jack plate extended 9 inches off the transom. We reached an average top speed of 71.1 mph turning 5700 rpm while burning an average of 23 gph providing an average range of 189 statute miles. At 4000 rpm we recorded an average speed of 41.9 mph while burning only 9.2 gph for an average range of 278 statute miles. Our time to plane was 4.3 seconds with a 0-30 time of 8.6 seconds. I should note that our time from 30 mph to 50 mph was only 3.1 seconds.

Nitro Z-9
The Mercury OptiMax Pro XS 250-hp is a two-stroke.
Nitro Z-9
The re-boarding ladder is located on the port side of the transom.
Nitro Z-9
There is dedicated prop storage in aft deck compartment. (The spare prop is an option.)
Nitro Z-9
The port side rod storage on forward deck.
Nitro Z-9
The recessed foot well and Minn Kota trolling motor.


The overall fit-and-finish of the Z-9 was good and it is clear to me that Tracker Marine is working hard to build boats of quality. For example, all the hull and deck colors are gel coat and there are no tape pin stripes that can rub off as can happen on some of the more expensive bass boats. And, the standard trailer comes with a No-Touch Vortex hub lubrication system.


As a boat-motor-trailer, this rig is package priced at $39,995, you will be hard pressed to find a better combination in this class. If you are wondering what the difference between this bass boat and ones those are far more expensive, the answer is nothing of critical importance, in our opinion. Bass boats are, after all, small boats that usually operate in lakes. The fact is that Nitro is the #2 best-selling bass boat in the country only a just behind #1. It is about 30% ahead of #3. It wasn't always that way as times and boats have changed. If you have not taken a look at Nitro lately, perhaps you should look in on the new Z-9.

Test Result Highlights

  • Top speed for the Nitro Z-9 (2012-) is 71.1 mph (114.4 kph), burning 23.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 87.06 liters per hour (lph).
  • Best cruise for the Nitro Z-9 (2012-) is 41.9 mph (67.4 kph), and the boat gets 4.55 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.93 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 278 miles (447.4 kilometers).
  • Tested power is 1 x 250-hp Mercury Optimax.
  • Time to plane for the Nitro Z-9 (2012-) is 4.3 sec. seconds.
  • Time from 0 to 30 of the Nitro Z-9 (2012-) is 8.6 sec. seconds.

Marine Electronics

Fishfinder Standard
GPS/Chart Standard


Battery Charger/Converter Standard
CD Stereo Optional
Shore Power Standard

Exterior Features

Carpet: Cockpit Standard
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc Standard


Hull Warranty
Limited Lifetime
NMMA Certification Yes


Pricing Range: $39,995.00

Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.

Test Results - Change Measurement Unit

RPM MPH Knots GPH MPG NMPG Stat. Mile NM dBa
580 3.5 3.0 0.4 9.9 8.6 603 525 62
1000 5.5 4.8 0.9 6.5 5.7 396 344 64
1500 6.7 5.8 2.0 3.4 2.9 205 178 71
2000 8.0 6.9 4.7 1.7 1.5 104 90 75
2500 23.6 20.5 4.8 5.0 4.3 304 264 76
3000 32.6 28.3 6.9 4.7 4.1 289 251 87
3500 37.0 32.2 8.5 4.4 3.8 268 233 88
4000 41.9 36.4 9.2 4.6 4.0 278 242 90
4500 47.7 41.4 12.7 3.8 3.3 230 200 91
5000 54.4 47.3 14.4 3.8 3.3 231 201 96
5500 65.7 57.1 20.5 3.2 2.8 196 171 97
5700 71.1 61.8 23.0 3.1 2.7 189 165 97
580 525 970 5.60 1.51 4.19 62
1000 344 637 8.90 3.41 2.75 64
1500 178 330 10.80 7.57 1.42 71
2000 90 167 12.90 17.79 0.72 75
2500 264 489 38.00 18.17 2.11 76
3000 251 465 52.50 26.12 2.01 87
3500 233 431 59.50 32.18 1.86 88
4000 242 447 67.40 34.83 1.93 90
4500 200 370 76.80 48.07 1.59 91
5000 201 372 87.50 54.51 1.60 96
5500 171 315 105.70 77.60 1.36 97
5700 165 304 114.40 87.06 1.32 97

All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.