They say if you’re not the lead dog your view never changes, and on many bass boats, the co-angler’s view is similar. With el capitán standing proudly on the bow working the trolling motor and plunking his baits in every likely bass hole, the economy-class angler on the stern casting platform is relegated to working pockets that have just been picked over. But with the new Nitro 21 TRX, which features a wider forward deck, there’s room for two anglers in first class.
When Triton set out to improve its top-of the-line 21HP tournament bass boat, designers listened to anglers who said, “We want more.” In addition to the beam being carried farther forward for an extra 5 inches of forward walkabout space, it also translated into more storage — something anglers can never have enough of. As far as raw storage space up front, it went from 300 quarts to 352 quarts. The center rod locker has room for 10 9-foot rods with room left over for Plano 3700 tackle boxes on the sides. But wait, there’s more. The port-side box has room for an additional 14 rods. To starboard, a huge locker has free-form space for items like bulky tackle boxes, fenders and life jackets. Even the centerline cooler, just in front of the step-down, has gone from 28 quarts to 50 quarts, and there’s a shelf to hold your sandwiches above the ice to prevent the heartbreak of soggy bread.You want to use the biggest display screens in the bassing world? Not a problem for the 21 TRX, which has room to flush-mount a 12-inch screen not only in the front panel but at the helm right in front of the driver’s face. The recessed foot-pedal control for the standard MotorGuide TR82 trolling motor has more room around it, so your heel is free and clear, and there is some stainless steel bling with a bow tool holder and cupholder. In the step-down, there is another tool rack and two more cupholders as well as a bass measuring ruler you can draw like a sword. The front deck on our test boat is thickly padded to reduce leg fatigue from sunup-to-sundown fishing sessions, but the extra padding is an option.
Since founder Earl Bentz used to race bass boats, it’s no surprise the 21 TRX goes faster than crab legs at a buffet. Our test boat is powered by a Mercury 250 Pro XS OptiMax, which is right in the sweet spot for this boat. I’m not sure if the extra width in the bow shifted the weight forward, but the 21 TRX had very little bowrise as I stomped on the Hot Foot throttle and it got on plane in just 3.2 seconds, which will come in handy when fishing shallow lakes if you want to avoid leaving a skeg mark on the lake bottom. No one can accuse the direct-injected two-stroke Mercury of lacking guts, and it pushed the Triton to 30 mph in 7.1 seconds. We had ideal conditions for a top-speed run on Lake Lanier, the huge impoundment north of Atlanta. There was just enough chop to air out the hull a little for reduced drag. In the cool morning air, the 21 TRX reached an eye-watering speed of 77.8 mph.In addition to Mercury, you can get the 21 TRX with Yamaha, Suzuki or Evinrude power. And if 250 hp isn’t enough, you can option your way up to 300 hp, with either the Mercury 300XS OptiMax or the supercharged 300L Pro Verado, but both come with some disadvantages. The 300XS OptiMax can be found in the racing section on Mercury’s website and requires 91 octane fuel, rather than the 87 octane regular the 250 burns; plus, you lose a year off the three-year warranty. The 300L Verado weighs 130 pounds more, which could affect the holeshot, and it prefers 92 octane fuel.
Speed without control is about as scary as it gets with bass boats, especially for those of us who don’t operate at warp speed day in and day out like bass pros. For part-timers, the 21 TRX will inspire the confidence to go for it. On pad, the ride is very stable with little of the side-to-side wander that can graduate to chine-walking if it goes unchecked. Trim it up with the hand control stalk until the steering gets a little stiff, then trim it down a little until the steering gets easy, and you are usually dialed in. At more moderate speeds with the trim down a little, you can crank the TRX 21 in a hard turn without blowing it out, which is a handy trick when cruising down a twisting creek. Just watch out for someone coming the other way, so you don’t have to verify how strong Triton’s Zero-Flex one-piece stringer system is when you head for the shoreline to escape.
Whether you are a touring pro trying to win a Bassmaster Classic or a weekend warrior trying to best your buddies on your home lake, the Triton 21 TRX is as serious as you are. Obviously, its intended purpose is for catching bass, but it can handle multispecies duties in style. There are two side-by-side livewells set into the rear deck that have three pumps apiece for recirculation, aeration and pumping the wells dry. Although both livewells are deep, fairly long and have an amazing 44.5-gallon capacity, there’s no divider you can pull out for storing really long fish like pike or musky, if you’re taking a bass break.
Although there’s plenty of room for three anglers, the standard seating arrangement is really designed for two. The captain and copilot buckets have inner-springs to ease the pain in the rear caused by extreme conditions. There’s even an option for a second console that only takes minutes to install or remove if you need the extra space. But if there are three anglers, the one in the middle doesn’t get a seat, just a perch on the step-up to the rear deck. Bring a stadium cushion if you are the odd man out. Fortunately, there is an option for a center seat insert.
An extensive option list means you can customize the 21 TRX to make it your dream boat. But Triton doesn’t play the every-feature-is-an-option game. Standard features that are usually options include the Hot Foot throttle, a bike seat with a power pole, SeaStar hydraulic steering, a stainless steel prop, pull-up cleats and standard Lowrance HDS-7 GPS/fishfinders, just to name a few. It even comes with a custom dual-axle trailer that gives you front and rear diamond-plate steps, a Fulton F2 double-wheeled jack and an F2 winch. It even comes with built-in LED nav lights, so no having to install a pole after hours. If the 21 TRX isn’t just a bassin’ office, you can up the fun factor with a stereo and a ski tow.