Wednesday May 31, 2023

A day on the lake with a glittery bass boat.

According to the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report, largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, collectively known as black bass, are the most popular freshwater sport fish in the United States, outside of the Great Lakes. Equally as popular are the boats used to fish for these sought-after sunfishes (they belong to the sunfish family Centrarchidae). The typical bass boat is 14 – 25 feet long with a flat deck and low profile to the water. These boats can maneuver easily around vegetation and tight spaces where bass like to hang out. They are also relatively light, which, in combination with their low profile, makes them easy to tow. Perhaps the most visually striking characteristic of nearly every bass fishing boat is a glittery paint job. The glitter is actually applied in a clear gel coat sprayed over a base color and can be either polyester, polyethylene, or aluminum, but all have the special property of reflecting light. Depending on whom you ask, you will get different answers for why these boats are besparkled. 

A leading reason for their sparkly paint job is the unique pattern’s ability to attract fish. Underwater, fish see the twinkling light and come to investigate. After all, isn’t that why brightly colored spinnerbaits are so effective at catching fish? The truth is, there are no scientific studies that show using a boat with glitter paint will land you more fish. But, anglers are a superstitious bunch when it comes to what they think will put them on fish, so who are we to say otherwise? Another, more practical explanation for a dazzling paint job is that it helps maintain appearance. Bass like to hang out along riprap banks or around log jams that can leave scratches on the hull, not to mention launching and trailering troubles. Though glitter in the paint serves to conceal scratches compared to boats without glitter paint, some people just like the look of a glistening gel coat. Some may even think that a twinkling paint job makes the boat look faster or more expensive. 

Regardless of whether glitter paint attracts boat-buying anglers, reflects light to intrigue their target species, or hides the occasional minor boating mishap, boat manufacturers have successfully marketed the shimmering bass boat. So much so, that glittery boat manufacturers purchase more glitter than greeting card printers and craft stores! In fact, some manufacturing plants can go through as much as ten 30-gal drums of glitter in a week! Whether or not glittery boats convey any actual advantage, anglers typically prefer not to take any chances (glitter just might make them more successful). 

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