2022 Smoker Craft Pro Angler 172 XL

Boat Reviews

Boat Review by: Jon Blaicher

Smoker craft pro angler 172 xl main

Smoker Craft has been building aluminum fishing boats for over 50 years! When it comes to innovative features and versatile layouts, they can be hard to beat. When I initially approached the latest Pro Angler 172 XL, the first thing I noticed were the sharp metallic blue graphics on the silver hull. Sharp! Second was size of the aft casting platform.

This 172 XL has the optional flip-up split bench seat. When flipped down, the aft platform is huge and extends from the middle of the cockpit to the transom on either side of the engine. Covered in the same non-skid easy to clean vinyl as the floor, this raised platform has one compartment to starboard for the engine battery, and an extra-large 25-gallon (95 L) FreshCatch Pro livewell to port. All FreshCatch livewells are aerated and timed, but the Pro model features a recirculating pump to move even more water and oxygen. The bigger ones include a built-in bait bucket and vented divider, which helps protect fish from water sloshing about while underway.

The flip-up bench has a 70/30 split in it, allowing you to deploy a single seat to starboard without covering up the livewell. Flip both sides up and you have three-across seating, or a comfortable bench for chilling out.

You wouldn’t dare put the name “Pro Angler” on a boat without serious rod storage, and with four rod lockers in total the 172 XL has plenty. You can stash up to five rods in each top-loader gunnel box, six in the floor, and another six in the bow. Lockable rod storage is appreciated considering the cost of gear these days and all four lockers are secure, but Smoker Craft takes it one step further. The optional Yarblow Ventilation System protects your gear from corrosion as well, by using pressurized air to help eliminate mold and mildew in the rod lockers, bilge and dry storage compartments. It is available on the Ultima and Pro Angler XL models and is one of the first options I would select.

The bow platform is elevated for both visibility and deep storage with a dry compartment to starboard and a 15-gallon (57 L) FreshCatch (non-Pro) livewell to port. Smoker Craft’s Integrated Gunnel Track System runs from bow to stern, allowing you to make use of accessory rod holders, cradles, trees and downriggers, without having to drill a single hole in your boat. Optional bow cushions can transform this casting platform to a comfy lounge when the family is looking to relax.

There are two versions of the 17-foot Pro Angler XL. The 171 XL is the single console version, while this 172 XL is a bit more upscale with dual consoles and a wrap-around windshield. The helm console has a premium appearance with a shiny black base and metallic silver overlay. The raised instrument cluster includes separate gauges for speed, tach, fuel and battery voltage, and is topped off by an automotive like double-stitched vinyl surround. Lighted rocker switches are located to the right with the Jensen stereo remote to the left of the grippy yet comfortable steering wheel. Plenty of free space has been left on top to mount a fish finder of at least 7-inches. The passenger console includes a large glove box, plus a bonus cubby on top with an easy access plano box. Everything about this boat is focused on fishing.

Powering our test boat was Yamaha’s super-reliable lightweight F115. You could max out the 172 XL with 150 HP, but a 115 will save close to $5,000. That’s a lot of gear and fuel, but does it perform? Even though the XL has a 96” beam, the boat itself only weighs 1,300 pounds. Yamaha’s F115 is also quite light, weighting only 377 pounds. Big reverse chines on Smoker’s HydraLift hull provide -- you guessed it – plenty of lift! They also help keep the bow down, allowing a quick time to plane of only 3.3 seconds with one person on board and a full tank of fuel. The Yamaha will cruise happily around 25 mph between 3500 and 4000 rpm. Top speed is a reasonable 43 mph, which would probably be closer to 50 mph with a 150. But if you are truly chasing speed, you are probably looking at a fibreglass boat.

Straight line performance is one thing but handling is another, and this is where the HydraLift hull really shines. Those big reverse chines plus five keels (you read that right – five!) really dig in when you turn the wheel. This boat is hooked up. Ride comfort is exceptional for a 17-foot aluminum boat for three main reasons:

1. Heavy gauge .100” one-piece bottom for structural integrity

2. Smoker’s integrated aluminum rib system provides strength and rigidity

3. A 17-degree deadrise cuts the waves, softening the ride

We ran the 172 XL in a decent 2-foot chop at 25 miles per hour, and it could easily handle more. Spray rails rolled into the side of the hull help keep the ride dry, and the big windshield will catch any spray coming off the bow in a crosswind.

As a bonus, multiple hull keels help align the bottom with the trailer bunks. Gone are the days of rocking, shoving or relaunching to center this boat on the trailer at the end of the day!

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Length: 17'3" 5.26 m
Beam: 8' 2.44 m
Dry weight: 1,305 lbs 592 kg
Fuel Capacity: 20 US gal 76 L
Base Engine / Drive: Yamaha
Engine HP: Max 150
Fuel Type: Gas
Deadrise: 17
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