Ok, so you are in the market and considering buying a flats boat…..now what?
Buying a flats boat can be a confusing dilemma giving the choice of what’s out there today, boats come in all shapes and sizes all claiming to offer everything you need. The main things you should concern yourself with though are the key points, but my main piece of advice to you is this.
Ask yourself : What will I be doing 90 % of the time?
To answer that, ask yourself – How many people do I like to fish with one? two?
Where do I usually fish ? Shallow water flats and creeks? Deep holes? Jetties? etc…
This will start to drastically reduce the options as far as your choice in types of flats boat.
Now do you prefer a quiet skiff? A quiet skiff is one that has a hull designed so that as your poling in any direction the sound of the water does not ‘bang; against the hull creating sound waves (that yes fish CAN sense)
What do you do most of the time Fly fish? Bait fish? Throw plugs and jigs?
The closer you want to get to fish in shallow water the quieter and shallower the draft needs to be…just how shallow do you need? a true 6-7 inch draft is fine…..that will get you about anywhere you can expect redfish and bonefish to be given an average water temperature…. It should also be noted that this shallow draft allows you to get into areas that may be deeper but have shallow sand bars that need to be traversed in order to get there.
Now we can look at ride…… Ride is a big topic. To keep a long subject simple, ride is related to a hulls shape. The deeper the hulls vee or deadrise the smoother it takes the bumps (chop). The dilemma here is that in order to obtain a smoother ride (which we all like ) we loose draft (which a lot of us don’t like). So as you can see its a compromise, which takes us back to question # 1. What will you be doing most of the time? Poling across shallow flats? If so, go for the draft, and quiet type hulls…. Are you fishing the jetties most of the time? If so, get a hull that will allow you to run bigger water more comfortably…
Now look at the basic features of the hull, You need areas to store coast guard required items (life vests, throw cushions signaling device (whistle-horn) and a fire extinguisher. Now we need a place to keep a little gear like a rain coat etc…. Throw in a tackle bag, and we are fishing. Do you fly fish? Look for rod tubes that handle fly rods to 9’ on both side of skiff. Do you have a place to store spinning rods? Again take a look. Just ask yourself basic questions that pertain to what YOU like to do……and you will help yourself make the right choice.
Price. Price is a factor for a lot of us. What are you getting for your money? Is the hull built from all composites? This is good, a hull without wooden parts can’t rot. Wood rots, just add moisture and oxygen…its that simple…..Does the boat have solid flotation? Does the company build the skiff with good quality adhesives? How do they bond the stringers in the hull? These and many others are questions you may want to ask. There are a good many companies that have had problems with quality construction, so take a look at how the boat is put together, just because it looks good, does NOT mean its put together good. Does the hull meet most of your 90% requirements at a price you want to pay?
If the skiff meets these requirements………take a look at it. Does it do it for a price you want to pay? If not, keep shopping…..If the flats boat does not have a feature you want, can you get by (the 90% rule) or modify something to work?
Take my writing here as you will. I only want to open your eyes with a few questions you should ask yourself to make buying a skiff something you will be glad you did.
One last time…
Ask yourself : What will I be doing 90% of the time?
Then buy a skiff that will do it !!
Tight Lines !!
~Tom Mitzlaff, Jacksonville, FL.
Buying A Flats Boat