Flats skiffs are the most important thing for an inshore fly angler, even more than even their fly or fly rod. Of course, the angler and their individual skills are the most important thing, but as far as tools go, the boat is the most important one. The skiffs here are in no particular order, they are all great in their own rights, but if you’re considering getting one, I would check out these five.
I have fished out of an Ankona Copperhead as well as a Salt Marsh Kevlar, there are three main takeaways about these boats.
- They get skinny
- They’re tough
- They’re quiet
I have experienced the performance and toughness of these shallow water boats from Waccasassa to Card Sound, and I can say that they are great skiffs that won’t break the bank and will have you stealthily sneaking up on tailing bones, redfish or whatever your quarry may be.
These smooth-riding flats skiffs get skinny, are quiet and are excellent performers. From taking on serious chop to getting to a quiet basin where redfish are belly crawling, you’ll be comfortable and silent as you stalk your prey.
Hand-built by the legendary Harry Spear, these are some of the highest-performing boats out there. They are incredibly light, which allows them to run extremely skinny. As I said, Harry hand-builds these himself, so before you can buy one, he’ll want to talk to you and learn more – this is not a production line boat and he can say “no”. If he does build you one, prepare for a ridiculously high-performing boat (however, don’t expect it to be the most comfortable).
There’s a reason that these skiffs come with a price tag nearing six figures, they’re incredible. Quiet, smooth, fast and shallow – they give you pretty much everything that you want or need. I’ve stalked bonefish on the flats of Key West and ran deep into the Everglades snook fishing aboard these amazing fishing machines, and I can honestly say that they’re ridiculous performers.
Used by some of the best flats anglers in the world and co-founded by the legendary Flip Pallot these are not skiffs that I have first-hand knowledge of. However, some of the best guides around fish Hell’s Bay including Captain Benny Blanco, Captain C.A. Richardson and the legendary Chico Fernandez. They’re excellent shallow-running, quiet skiffs that are purpose-built to help you catch the gamefish that you so desire.
Every flats skiff has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before making your purchase. Your boat matters, and if you want to give yourself the best chance of bringing a fish to hand, you need a skiff that will get you to them and give you a platform for getting your offering where it needs to be. Go on sea trials, ask how shallow they draft, ask about weight and ride and hull slap, there is a lot to consider when buying a flats skiff.
Whichever one of these you choose, take good care of it and follow proper on-water etiquette. Maybe I’ll see you out there.
Until next time, tight lines.