The US-made line of Nitro boats are well known in Australian sportfishing circles. Sleek, very streamlined and fast, Nitro are one of several bass boats renowned for their low profile, impressive rooster tail wakes when under way, and their almost pontoon-like stability at rest.
Designed basically as smooth water craft, these low slung performance-oriented rigs were initially designed for the niche US bass fishing competition market, where getting to the chosen hotspot is everything, because 10 minutes extra fishing time can make or break a tournament win. Not surprisingly, the popularity of impoundment and other smooth water fishing competitions in Australia has seen Nitro boats well received here.
It’s a fact of life that Nitro have chalked up a lot of runs with their ‘Z’ series boats, which range from their entry level Z6 (maximum power 115hp), through to the bells-and-whistles Z21 flagship with a 300hp Mercury Verado spinning the prop.
While the Z6 is an entry-level rig, it’s by no means short of desirable features, as I was to find after a morning aboard new owner Shaun Barker’s Z6 in the Jumpinpin area. With a 115hp Mercury Optimax Pro XS on the transom, I expected Shaun’s boat to be quick, but what also pleasantly surprised me was the way the 5.28m Nitro handled some of the chop we encountered during our test morning.
With its 650mm exterior side height, 500mm interior depth, and 12° hull V section aft, the Nitro Z6 is basically a smooth water craft, but once the rig was up and planing we could stretch its legs and have a lot of fun with the Opti’s willing performance and an acceptably smooth ride.
With a length of 5.20m, a beam of 2.29m, and a hull weight of 589kg, the Z6 is both a solidly stable rig at rest plus very beamy — the latter attribute being a big plus when a couple of anglers are standing to work on one of the rig’s casting decks. Linking that work room, plus inherent stability, to the Nitro Z6’s on-board features, attention to detail in finish plus overall high comfort levels are what makes it such a winner. Incidentally, both the massive front casting deck and deck aft of the central seating are covered in hookless carpet to avoid hassles with needle sharp trebles. I wish I had that in my boats!
That’s a tiny glimpse of what the Nitro Z6 is about; let’s take a more in depth look.
Up front, a 54lb Minn Kota sits at the ready for when it’s time to come off the plane and start fishing. Paired alloy side hatches within the front deck are ready for gear storage, such as a spare seat ready to slip into the deck spigot adjacent to the Minn Kota’s foot pedal. An under-floor battery charger was standard fitment to service the electric’s battery. Tie down straps for rigged rods were provided to port on the front casting deck, while the large fore/aft locker with its alloy hatch located centrally within the deck was designed to accommodate several rods up to 2m or more. Both butts and tips are fully protected below the floor.
This locker is also drained, so it could be used for a host of other functions (obviously without rods in situ!), including wet gear storage or even the catch. A 40L icebox was located under the carpeted, drink-holder-equipped step leading from the seating area to the forward casting deck. A handy feature, that.
Seating aft of the Z6’s twin windscreen consoles consisted of 3 well-formed bucket seats, each with storage underneath. Nitro have obviously done some serious work to get this ‘one size fits all’ seating just right, as Sean’s a pretty big bloke. Despite initial concerns, he advised me he was quite comfy at the helm. As someone a little challenged for size, all helm areas seem to suit me fine, but I did appreciate the legroom under the skipper’s console, plus easy reach of the side-mounted engine controls while at the wheel.
The Z6’s dash layout was compact, very tidy, and easily managed, with an array of gauges set each side of the Lowrance Mark-5x Pro sounder, which is a standard fitting. Gauges to port consisted of trim and tacho, while to starboard were speedometer and fuel. Switches were lower and each side of the sports style wheel that is linked to hydraulic steering. A master switch and ignition key lay to port, with others set up for the live well pump, bilge pump and aerator to starboard. Sean’s keen on his fishing, maybe even some competition work, so had a Lowrance HDS-9 fitted to the starboard side of the Nitro’s helm console as an adjunct to the Mark-5x Pro unit.
With storage areas under all 3 central seats, twin side hatches aft were equipped with handy lift-out boxes that were slotted to accommodate tackle trays, while a 121L divider-equipped live well was set up centrally. This area also served as a casting platform for an angler.
Rounding up transom features was a boarding ladder set to port of the engine. A very svelte finish, sparkling gel coat, and attention to detail everywhere characterised the Z6.
With the (maximum power) 115hp Mercury Optimax DFI 2-stroke on the Nitro’s transom and a relatively low hull weight of just 589kg, it would be entirely reasonable to expect sparkling performance, and let me assure you there were no disappointments! With Sean and I aboard and 83L of fuel under the floor, the 12° V hull lifted somewhat under power from the 1.5L 3 cylinder engine, then dropped neatly onto the plane as speed increased.
Easing back, I noted the hull remaining on the plane at 13 knots with 2600rpm on the tacho. At 3000rpm we had 21 knots recorded, 4000rpm was 28 knots, 5000rpm showed 40 knots, and 5600rpm an eye-watering 45 knots. We struck some chop in the main channel near Crusoe Island, but with the Nitro up and humming, the ride was hardly what one could call bumpy. It was good to see the spray flicking off to the side too.
The trick with this sort of hull in less than smooth conditions is to get up on the plane and just go, aiming to keep the hull high and moving swiftly. In smooth water it’s go for broke, which these rigs are very, very good at! Rooster tails are all part of the fun.
I found the Z6 was quite lively in turns without any sideslip or other unwanted traits, and a real pleasure to drive. Trim was important as there could be a little porpoising if trimmed excessively, but as the rig was instantly responsive to trim input, it could be swiftly corrected.
The Nitro Z6’s job description is to get to spots quickly, and once there make fishing as easy as possible. With the thrilling performance, a gentle ride in conditions the craft is designed for, tremendous stability, plus virtually all features a competition or otherwise dedicated angler might desire, the Z6 will fulfil all requirements admirably.
Nitro have earned a reputation as a high performance rig, and the Z6 certainly carries on the tradition. The reviewed craft was carried on a Dunbier skid and roller trailer, which worked perfectly for solo launch and retrieval. Supplied by Karee Marine the rig (minus the Lowrance HDS-9) would come home for $44,500. Karee can be contacted on (07) 3875 1600 or on the net at www.kareemarine.com.au
Length on trailer: 7.1m
Hull construction: Fibreglass
Weight hull: 589kg
Deadrise: 15° at transom
Fuel capacity: 83L
Recommended power: 115hp
Engine fitted: Mercury 115 Pro XS Optimax 2-stroke
Towing: 6 or big 4 cylinder family sedan or wagon
Shaun at the wheel of his Nitro Z6. Note the plush bucket seats, plus the casting deck aft.
With almost half of the Z6 devoted to a forward casting deck, there’s ample room for a couple of anglers to work comfortably.
The Z6’s large under-deck rod locker could also be used for wet storage as it is fully drained.
The Nitro’s multi-purpose side storage compartments up front now come with alloy hatches for longevity.
The Nitro’s 121L live well aft comes with an aerator and pump-out capacity.
Lift-out boxes are a feature of the Nitro’s aft platform; note the slots for tackle trays.
While the Z6 sports a well laid-out skipper’s console and dash area, Shaun has tarted his up somewhat, with the addition of the big Lowrance HDS-9.
The Nitro doing what it does best: travelling fast. Note the manner in which spray is thrown well away from the hull.
Recommended power, the 115hp Mercury Optimax Pro XS, was a good match.
When heading back to the ramp in some chop, it’s just a matter of trimming up a little and going for it!
There’s storage under all 3 of the Nitro’s seats.
Solo launch and retrieval was easy, with the Nitro’s well set-up Dunbier skid and roller trailer.
A look at the Nitro’s transom area shows a shallow V section linked to a sweeping reversed outer chine.
Shaun Barker and Nitro having fun. Look at the rooster tail!Reads: 1442