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Nitro Z21 (2016-)

1 x 250-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS

Brief Summary

The Nitro Z21 is designed to deliver bass anglers fast to remote hotspots, even on bumpy days, thanks to an improved hull design and shock-absorbing seats. Fishing features abound, including a magnetic lure rack on the underside of one hatch where fishing lures can be accessed as needed. The port rod box holds 10 rods in an organizer that protects tips and prevents tangles. A Minn Kota Maxxum 24-volt trolling motor with 80 pounds of thrust and a 42” shaft comes standard.

Key Features

  • Improved hull design with Rapid Planing System
  • 45 sq. ft. front deck with new storage layout for maximum fishability
  • Bow navigation lights integrated into the gunnels
  • Better-insulated cooler under bow deck step with dry storage sandwich tray
  • Minn Kota Maxxum 24V, 80-lb. thrust, 42" shaft, foot-control trolling motor with bigger recess for foot pedal
  • Port rod organizer holds 10 rods with room for more below
  • Drainage channels in bow deck to keep compartments dry
  • Console features multi-function gauges, backlit control pad and mounting area for optional 12'' fishfinder
  • Wider, slide-adjusting tournament-style suspension seats with removable third seat and integral net holder
  • Tandem-axle trailer with color-matched fiberglass fenders

Test Results

600 3.6 3.1 0.4 8.88 7.72 439 382 82
1000 5.2 4.5 0.85 6.12 5.32 303 263 76
1500 6.9 6 1.8 3.83 3.33 190 165 82
2000 7.7 6.7 3.8 2.03 1.76 100 87 84
2500 12.7 11 5.85 2.16 1.88 107 93 86
3000 27.5 23.9 6.3 4.37 3.8 216 188 87
3500 29.1 25.3 7.7 3.78 3.29 187 163 106
4000 39.9 34.7 9 4.43 3.85 219 191 107
4500 48.7 42.3 12.5 3.89 3.38 193 168 106
5000 55.3 48 13.95 3.96 3.44 196 170 112
5500 65.6 57 17.3 3.79 3.3 188 163 115
6000 71.1 61.8 22.8 3.12 2.71 154 134 115


Length Overall 21' 2'' / 6.45 m
Beam 95''
2.41 m
Dry Weight 2,655 lbs.
1,204 kg
Tested Weight 3,243 lbs.
1,471 kg
Draft 16''
0.41 m
Deadrise/Transom 16-deg.
Max Headroom open
Bridge Clearance N/A
Fuel Capacity 55 gal.
208 L
Water Capacity N/A
Total Weight 3,243 lbs.
1,471 kg


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Acceleration Times & Conditions

Time to Plane 3.5 sec.
0 to 30 8.6 sec.
Ratio 1.75:1
Props 24 Fury 3-blade
Load 2 persons, 1/2 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear
Climate 55 deg., 61 humid.; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: chop

Engine Options

Tested Engine 1 x 250-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS
Std. Power 1 x 225-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS with Torque Master
Opt. Power 1 x 250-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS with Torque Master
1 x 300-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS with Torque Master
1 x 250-hp Mercury Verado Pro FourStroke
1 x 300-hp Mercury Verado Pro FourStroke

Captain's Report

Nitro Z21 running shot

At 21’2” (6.45 m) LOA, the Z21 is the biggest high-performance bass boat in the Nitro fleet.


The Nitro Z21 is the manufacturer’s most advanced bass boat yet. At 21’2” (6.45 m), she is the biggest model in the Z Series fleet and was designed with input from Nitro’s Elite tournament anglers. The hull is a totally new design that utilizes the Rapid Planing System and has a lower profile than other boats in the Z series. The sleeker look minimizes weight and reduces wind resistance and that results in more speed from the same horsepower.
From an angling standpoint, the forward casting deck has 45 sq. ft. (4.18 sq. m) of open area and there’s space for an optional 12” fishfinder on the bow panel and at the helm. For guys who fish in all weather conditions, the deck has advanced drainage. The heavy-duty cooler has improved insulation and Nitro installs it in the bow step to keep the decks clear. At the helm, there are new shock-absorbing seats, digital bow and console controls and a cell-phone holder under the dash.
When it comes to storage, the Z21 has space for dozens of fishing rods and a plethora of gear with lockers designed for Plano 3700 Series tackle trays and convenience-oriented features, such as the magnetic lure holders underside of one storage hatch. For security, the lids have stainless-steel locks and latches.
Finally, she comes on a tandem-axle trailer that can be equipped with nicer rims than some tow vehicles and at a package weight of 4,050 lbs. (1,837 kg), the Z21 can be towed by mid-sized trucks or SUVs.

Nitro Z21 floor plan

A key feature of the Z21 is the forward casting area that has 45 sq. ft. (4.18 sq. m) of open area.

Nitro Z21 storage layout

In addition to the open casting area, the Z21 is loaded with storage and check out the access to the batteries and pumps in the stern.

Distinguishing Features

Rapid Planing System.

The Z21’s running surface is stepped at the transom and has a flat pad to improve holeshot and keep the stern from dropping under acceleration. The manufacturer says this design also lets the boat run at competitive speeds with less power and it prevents water from backwashing over the stern when the boat comes off plane quickly.

Bow Casting Area.

The forward casting deck is 45 sq. ft. (4.18 sq. m) and it’s padded underneath the carpet so anglers can stand on it for hours.

Clever Storage Details.

The underside of one locker hatch is magnetic so anglers can simply click their metal lures to it for quick access. The port fishing rod organizer holds 10 rods plus more below.

Cool Coolers.

The insulated cooler has a snap-in sandwich tray so lunch will stay cool and dry instead of getting soaked when the ice melts.


Bass Pro Shops, the dealer network for Nitro, sponsors the Stewart-Haas Racing team at NASCAR. Nitro engineers worked with designers from the auto racing team to design shock-absorbing seats for the Z21.

Custom Trailer.

The tandem-axle trailer is color-matched to the boat and is powder coated, not painted. It has fiberglass fenders, submersible LED lights and angled backup lights for those early morning pre-tournament launches. It also has a swing-away tongue for garage storage.

Five Motor Choices.

Buyers can choose from a total of five Mercury outboard motors, either the 2-stroke 225-, 250- or 300-hp OptiMax Pro XS with a Torque Master lower unit or a 250-hp or 300-hp Verado Pro FourStroke outboard.

National Pricing Plan.

Nitro and its parent company, Tracker, use a National Price program. Retail price starts at $44,995 with the 225-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS motor and trailer.

Nitro Z21 trailer

The Z21 comes standard with a tandem-axle trailer that includes fiberglass fenders with steps front and rear that make it easier to get aboard when the boat is on land.

Nitro Z21 swing away tongue

The trailer’s swing-away tongue saves storage space and the front step and handle on the front of the trailer facilitate boarding from the bow.

Features Inspection

The Foredeck

There’s an easy way to give fishermen more space to fish -- build a bigger boat -- so that’s what Nitro did. The fishing area forward of the consoles looks as big as some larger bass boats and there seems to be storage everywhere. A Minn Kota Maxxum 24-volt trolling motor with 80 lbs. of thrust and a 42” shaft comes standard. There’s even space in the bow for a 12” fishfinder screen.

Nitro Z21 forward casting deck

The 45 sq. ft. (4.18 sq. m) forward casting deck looks huge and it has bungees where rods can be secured during a quick sprint to the next hot spot.

Nitro Z21 accessory switches

Switches for accessories that an angler would want to control while fishing are in a touch panel at the bow.

Nitro Z21 removable fishing chair

There are two holes for the removable fishing chair to accommodate anglers with short or long legs.

Lots of Lockers.

One of the most amazing attributes of a bass boat is its ability to carry so much gear at such a high speed. And all the gear needs to be stored somewhere. Port and starboard rod lockers can accommodate 8’ rods. In the center are two smaller lockers aft with a huge compartment forward. All the locker hatches open on gas struts. Beneath the step, the insulated cooler has the aforementioned sandwich tray so lunch won’t get soggy.

Nitro Z21 rubber grips

The rubber grips in the passenger side rod rack holds rods in place and softens the shocks from a ride in rough water.

Nitro Z21 fishing lines

An optional line spooler under the starboard rod locker keeps lines handy for easy access.

Nitro Z21 bow storage

Bow storage compartments are big enough for tackle boxes and lifejackets, and they are lighted for low light conditions.

Nitro Z21 center locker

The mammoth forward center locker has lots of space and the magnetized lure rack on the underside is a smart idea.

Nitro Z21 insulated cooler

On each side of the insulated cooler are cup holders and tool racks that can hold quickly reached for items like pliers.

Seating Options.

The center seat is removable so that there is easy passage to the bow or stern casting areas during a tournament. Ahead of the co-pilot is a glove box in the angled footrest. There’s a cup holder forward, and, just as important given how fast this boat runs, a grab handle in below the port gunwale.

Nitro Z21 helm seats

The seats are below deck level which will give passengers a more secure feeling when running at high speed. The seats were inspired by NASCAR designs.

Nitro Z21 rubber pad

The soft rubber pad on the Z21’s inwale protects the boat’s gelcoat from getting scratched and protects rods and reels.

Nitro Z21 removable port console

The optional removable port console would be a worthwhile purchase for anglers who go out in all kinds of weather.

Nitro Z21 net rack storage

The net rack behind the seats provides dedicated storage for a cumbersome but important piece of equipment.

The Helm

Nitro includes a Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP fishfinder with GPS as standard equipment. The dash is equipped with a combined speedometer/fuel gauge, a tachometer with a built-in trim indicator and water pressure and oil-level meters. The hydraulic helm has a tilt wheel and the windscreen is removable. To the right of the wheel, a soft-touch panel has all the accessory switches in close reach. Beneath the dash, Nitro installed a cell-phone holder that will grip most smartphones and keep them out of the element.

Nitro Z21 helm

Having the fishfinder, tachometer/trim gauge and speedometer/fuel gauge on the upper panel lets the driver check the instruments or boat position with a quick glance instead of having to look down while driving.

Nitro Z21 turn signal

The optional turn signal-style trim control highlighted by the arrow is a worthwhile upgrade for drivers who plan to spend a lot of time at high speed because the driver can keep both hands on the wheel.

The Stern

Immediately aft of the seating area in the center of the aft deck are two insulated 19-gallon (72 L) Guardian livewells with digital timers and aerators in each unit. They also feature timed recirculation, oxygenators and pump-out capability. Two large outboard lockers can accept tackle trays and beneath aft center hatches are removable tubs that provide great access to the batteries and pumps. New on the Z21, a battery switch allows the owner to completely shut off power to keep accessories from running down the batteries during storage. The switch also features an emergency start position to allow jump starting from the trolling batteries in the event of a dead cranking battery. In the aft port corner, a folding swim ladder clips in place.

Nitro Z21 livewells

The new Nitro Z21 has improved the insulation for the livewells to keep the water cooler, which is better for the health of the fish. A ruler fits in a slot between the wells.

Nitro Z21 tackle trays

In addition to a pull-out tub for tackle trays, the portside locker in the stern has a spare propeller mount.

Nitro Z21 removable tubs

Removable tubs in the stern provide access to the batteries and pumps.

Nitro Z21 battery switch

The battery switch lets owners use the trolling motor battery to jump the primary cranking battery if it runs down.

Nitro Z21 fold down ladder

The fold-down stainless steel ladder and grabrail on the port side of the transom provide re-boarding access.

Performance and Handling

We tested the Nitro Z21 with a 250-hp Mercury 250 L OptiMax Pro XS with a Torque Master gearcase and the boat hit a top speed at 6000 rpm of 71.1 mph (114.4 kph). Best cruise was found to be at 4000 rpm and 39.9 mph. That reduced the fuel burn to 9.0 gph and increased the range to 219 statute miles, while still keeping a 10% fuel reserve. The Rapid Planing System lived up to its billing with the boat leaping on plane in 3.1 seconds and running to 20 mph in 6 seconds and to 30 mph in 8.6 seconds.

Nitro Z21 running shot

Powered by a 250-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS, we reached a top speed at 6000 rpm of 71.1 mph during our test runs.

Bow rise was minimal

and the boat busted through chop with ease. Nitro worked on improving maneuverability with the Z21’s new bottom and the boat worked through turns nimbly and predictably. The Hot Foot throttle and turn-signal style trim switch on the steering column put the driver in commanding control, allowing him to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

Power Options and Price

As mentioned above, the boat comes standard with a 2-stroke 225-hp Mercury 225 L OptiMax Pro XS outboard with a Torque Master gearcase and a stainless steel propeller for $44,995. If the boat has a 2-stroke outboard, Nitro installs the remote oil reservoir and includes a fill in the deck. Following are the base prices with optional power:

• Mercury 250 L OptiMax Pro XS with Torque Master gearcase: $47,995

• Mercury 300 L OptiMax Pro XS with Torque Master gearcase: $54,995

• Mercury 250 L Verado Pro FourStroke: $51,995

• Mercury 300 L Verado Pro FourStroke: $53,995

Nitro Z21 running shot

With a draft of 16” (.41 m), the Z21 can run in some skinny water and the Rapid Planing System hull design keeps the stern from squatting on take-off.

Nitro Z21

Experienced drivers will be able to get in this boat and run it right to top speed.


Nitro builds the Z21 with a foam-filled fiberglass stringer and transverse support system, and also a fiberglass-encapsulated transom. The hull and deck are bonded chemically and fastened with stainless steel hardware, and the joint is capped with a heavy duty rubrail with a rubber insert.

Options to Consider

• Fishfinder upgrade at helm and bow (price depends on model)

• Second dash fishfinder/GPS (price depends on model)

• Two oxygen generators for livewells with shutoff switch ($75)

• CoolGuard livewell cooling system ($525)

• KeelGuard (Black or White) ($250)

• Hot Foot throttle for non-Verados ($125)

• Hot Foot throttle for Verado motors ($400)

• Trim control on steering wheel ($75)

• Trolling motor upgrade (price depends on model)

• Battery charger upgrade (price depends on model)

• Shallow-water anchor system (price depends on model)

Nitro Z21 fishing

The design team focused on creating a foredeck casting area that can accommodate two anglers comfortably.


The Nitro Z21 is a serious fishing boat at an attractive price for what buyers get. The boat comes standard with features including a tandem-axle trailer, fishfinder/GPS and a trolling motor with foot control. Some competitive boats would charge extra for some of this standard equipment.
The large foredeck casting area will appeal to hardcore anglers as will the storage. This boat seems to have a locker for everything. Nitro has also improved the insulation for the coolers and livewells and paid attention to the little details, such as a cell phone holder with charger and racks for pliers and other tools.
All and all, we think Nitro has done a good job of making this bass boat be just as functional as how cool she looks.
The choice of five available outboard motors should satisfy a broad range of needs for speed and as mentioned above, the boat/trailer combination weighs about 4,050 lbs. (1,837 kg), which makes the package attractive for towing.

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