Florida is surrounded by water. Our state offers over 1,300 miles of coastline, not to mention the miles of rivers and many freshwater lakes. These ‘skinny water’ locations beg for a boat able to get right next to the mangroves or close to the shallow shores to catch those shore dwelling species.
Skiff boats make for the ultimate skinny water machine. The flat bottom hulls allow you to sneak right up to those hard to reach fishing spots or cruise down our local rivers.
What makes up a Skiff?
A skiff, also known as a flats boat, is a lightweight boat with a distinct hull, often described as having a flat bottom, a pointed bow, and a square stern. The skiff is known for its simplicity. It does have an outboard motor but no complex electrical or plumbing systems. It is usually quite small, averaging 17-25 feet in length, and completely open. Most skiffs can comfortably accommodate 4 people and their fishing rods. Skiffs are most often used for inshore fresh and saltwater fishing, crabbing and clamming, because of their ability to traverse “skinny” or shallow waters that cannot be accessed by other types of boats.
For the sake of clarification, it is important to note that although the names are often used interchangeably, Jon boats and skiffs have slight differences, of which the main attribute is the pointed bow of the skiff as opposed to being square-cut. You may also hear people refer to them as center console boats, which may be accurate as some center consoles are categorized as skiffs, but not all skiffs are center consoles.
The Advantages of a Skiff
Just because a skiff is simple, does not mean there are not any unique advantages. In fact, the simplicity of a skiff is one of its most popular characteristics; it equates to ease, low maintenance and affordability. For starters, skiffs are small and lightweight, making for incredible fuel economy and easy transportation. Not to mention, they do not require much in the way of storage space, potentially negating the costs associated with storage facilities or marinas.
They are easy to clean and maintain, simply requiring a motor check and a little bit of cleaning after usage. The lack of a complex electrical and plumping system eliminates worry surrounding things like plumbing maintenance and motor rust. Unless you opt for a pre-outfitted model, there are not many accessories, parts, or materials to be concerned with either, keeping overall costs low for this boat. You certainly have the option to customize your skiff though, either at time of purchase or on your own afterwards.
Although this vessel is simple, it is versatile. Take your skiff out for a fishing, clamming or crabbing trip; take a cruise on a beautiful day; explore salt and freshwaters. Skiffs are designed to access those shallow waters that most other boats cannot reach. This is directly related to the bottom of the boat which simply floats on the water, allowing it to hover in very skinny waters. Because of the flatness of the bottom, there is no deadrise, which keeps your boat steady. Most skiffs also have foam in the hull that aides in floatation and makes them almost impossible to sink.
While simplicity has great advantages, by definition, it also has limitations. For one, the size of these boats may become cumbersome on days when you want to bring more than 3 people. The size of the boat can also influence how much gear you can have onboard and which waters you can test; large bodies of water might not be suitable for such a small boat.
Another aspect that could be seen as a disadvantage is the layout of the boat. As most models have no cover, there will not be any shield against the sun or harsh weather conditions. This makes weather confirmation an essential task each time you want to go out.
Where to Use Your Skiff?
These simplistic flats boats are suitable for usage in saltwater and freshwater. They are mostly used in protected and shallow coastal waters like bays, passes and inlets; but can also be used in streams or rivers. Depending on the size and type of boat, some people also prefer larger bodies of water. If the skiffs are larger, they might even be taken out on the ocean, but again, it depends a lot on the type of boat.
Try taking your Hewes or Maverick skiff out on Caloosahatchee River, in Sarasota Bay or the North Fort Myers Mangroves.
Skiffs are Made for Fishing
Fishing is possible even in the shallowest of waters, and that can happen with the help of a technical poling skiff. Flats boats are almost always used for the purpose of fishing, but a technical poling skiff is slightly smaller and has a lower profile. Skiffs are also lightweight, which keeps them from drawing a lot of water. These boats rely on their quiet hull to remain stealthy so as not to scare the fish. Base model Skiffs don’t generally come with too many accessories and low HP motors. To maintain the stealth that the low profile offers, anglers typically rely on human power via a push pole or a trolling motor. If you go the push poll route you may want to invest in a poling platform for the stern.
Popular Fish to Catch Off a Skiff
Many Freshwater fish and inshore saltwater fish make great table fare or give off a great fight! A few examples of smaller fish that can be easily caught off a small boat like a skiff: Bass, Bluegill, Carp, Catfish, Crappie, Tilapia, Shad, or Bowfin. There are also a few types of fish that might require more skill to catch, such as Tarpon, Bonefish, or Permit. The most popular fish to target off a skiff are typically Sea Trout and Redfish
Ingman Marine is a Certified Skiff Dealer
If a skiff sounds like the perfect fishing machine for you, then you are in luck. Ingman Marine are certified dealers of 2 of the top skiff manufacturers on the market: Hewes and Maverick. We also periodically take in pre-owned skiffs from manufacturers like Carolina Skiff, Ranger, Mako, and Polar.
If you would like to customize your Skiff to fit your needs, you can build each model on the manufacturer’s website and have it shipped directly to your nearest Ingman Marine dealership. Or better yet, let us do it for you! Contact one of our qualified salespeople to get you on the water.
Our Skiff Boats
Take a look at some of our new and used skiffs. Our certified manufacturers, Hewes and Maverick make trusted flats boats, perfect for any skinny water fishing you have planned!
New 2022 Maverick 17 HPX-V Skiff with Yamaha Outboard. Available for Order.
New 2022 Maverick 18 HPX-V Skiff power boat with a Yamaha Outboard. Available for Order.
New 2022 18' Hewes Redfisher 18 Center Console Skiff powered by a Yamaha Outboard. Available
New 2022 Maverick 17 HPX-S Skiff with a Yamaha Outboard. Available for Order.
Becoming a boat owner is an important step for many people, and it can leave room for many doubts and questions. Just keep in mind that this decision will depend entirely on you and your lifestyle. If you are looking for something simple that will not cost you a fortune and still do the job, then a skiff might be what you need. Get a simple or fully customized boat, meant for avid angling or day cruising. No matter your preference, you can take comfort in knowing your skiff will be reliable and long-lasting.