Carolina Skiff Review: Key Features and Competing Models

Carolina Skiff boat manufacturers make some of the best-value fiberglass boats on the market. They have carefully chosen solid features and eliminated some of the bells and whistles that are added to competitors' boats as standard but which make them too expensive.

With Carolina Skiff, you can count on boats being affordable with adequate features and a reliable reputation. In this Carolina Skiff review, we look at the design, features, and performance of the Carolina Skiff 198 as well as some of its competitors.

Carolina Skiff has significantly improved how the 198 cuts through the water. Now it is much drier than boats produced years ago. These skiffs are as stable as inshore boats get, and they only require 6 inches of water which puts this in a much different class than bay boats.

Product Summary

The features that come with the Carolina Skiff 198 are a total of 6-10 rod holders - the console has 6 and the post has 4.

Options on the 198 model  include an electronic trolling motor on the bow, a raw water squirter, another live well, and if you want it, a T-top to block some of that sun and rain. You can also install a Bimini top as some anglers are fond of doing.

The maximum outboard power you can attach to this small boat of less than 1700 lb. is 115 horsepower. That will get you out to where you need to be in a hurry on a boat this size. Even with a smaller 90-hp outboard motor, this Carolina Skiff can easily cruise around 20 MPH and can reach 30 MPH on the upper end. Yes, there's some hull slap, but this is typical for flats and inshore boats.

If you plan on using your boat for some water sports like pulling water skiers or banana floats around, you might go up to the maximum 115 horsepower outboard. But probably you're buying a boat like this to save some cash, and adding another 25 hp to your outboard is not the way to do that!

Buying a relatively simple boat is reasonable because you'll save a lot of money. Sure you can get a more expensive package that costs another $20-30K for a big motor and trailer, but the point is, with another boat you might spend nearly double that.

Key Features 

  • Displacement: 1,660 lb.
  • Transom deadrise:10 degrees
  • LOA (length overall): 19’0″
  • Fuel capacity: 20-30 gal
  • Beam: 8’0″ (96")
  • Max HP: 115
  • Max occupants: 10
  • Draft (hull): 0’6″

RELATED: Technical Poling Skiffs For Fishing Shallow Waters

Are Carolina Skiffs Any Good?

Carolina Skiff boats are known for being high-quality built boats that are versatile and great for experienced or beginning anglers fishing the shallow water around a coast. Even if you think a Carolina Skiff boat is not suitable for you, it’s important to try the machine as a test or one someone else's boat to see how it feels to you.

After all, you test drive a car before buying it, don't you?

Sure, you can use the internet to research the specifics about a boat and even see video reviews of the boat, but you're never going to know exactly what it's like to be inside one until you've ridden one yourself.

Carolina Skiff dealers have models ranging from 17, 19, 21, and 23' models in the LS series, aka the "aircraft carrier."

The Deck Design

Every model in the Carolina Skiff line of boats features a wood-free hull built to be the most durable and capable of giving you the best performance possible. Some of their boats offer a hybrid hull that allows you to experience the high-quality features of two different hull designs in one outstanding boat. The DLV models have this new hull.

This legendary boat maker has put the best design elements together in order to create a boat providing what many call the perfect fishing experience. Their forward-thinking in design and basic comfort allows you to take your mind off it and helps you focus on finding fish and putting them in the cooler! 

Most people buy these boats for ocean fishing on the flats and shallows around the coast. Others buy the Carolina Skiff 198 or one of the other models primarily for having fun with family and friends out on the water. The 198 can hold 10 people at a time, and a 90-hp motor has no problem pulling inner tubes, skiers, or other floats.

Whatever you're planning on doing in this boat, you'll have a good time of it. These are built to last and you can't really go wrong buying one.

Excellent Performance

When you start with an excellent boat that delivers superior performance you can feel confident adding a nice Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, or Mercury outboard for reliability, power, and performance. 

Carolina Skiff boats equipped with powerful outboard engines can help you skip across the water smoothly and quickly to reach the best fishing grounds in your area. The manufacturer has employed top-of-the-line technology to help make your driving and handling easier. 

Moreover, the controls on the console are well thought out and easy to use. Every time you take your Carolina Skiff boat out on the water, you can count on it being a very good day!

Better Fishing

Boating is a great way to take it easy, keep your family close by, and have fun for a weekend or longer vacation. Carolina Skiff boats are engineered to be easy to drive and have all the features that anglers of all levels need to have a great time while out on the ocean.

You can bring whatever you like to make your trip more comfortable for you and your passengers. There's plenty of room, especially if you're not maxed out with 10 persons on board. These skiffs come with rod holders, deep wells, coolers, and storage bags, where you can easily store your fishing gear, meal, and beverage supplies as you enjoy catching your favorite fish species.

The Carolina Skiff boats are extremely versatile, you can easily access all sides and cast in any direction. At least until you install that poling platform! They’re one of the few perfect fishing boats made for you and your family!

RELATED: Best Time Of Day To Fish 

Best Value for Money

carolina skiff

Get more bang for your buck with a Carolina Skiff. Enjoy affordable features designed for the things you love to do while you are out there on the water, all while avoiding the expensive features that jack up the price of a nice skiff. Buy a Carolina Skiff if you're cost-conscious and you want to have a boat last a long time with proper care. 

Carolina Skiff boats offer lots of standard features that are basic and yet impressive. For example, they come standard with a full gauge package with grab rails, windshield, a steering wheel made of stainless steel, a quick power disconnect, a tilted helm, an 18-gallon live well, and 6 flush-mount fishing rod holders.

The Carolina Skiff 198 has standard seating for four passengers and includes a big 70-quart volume refrigerator with stainless steel framing. 

More options are available like a padded cockpit with a large and comfortable padded swivel seat and stainless steel Smart Tabs.

Carolina Skiff offers a selection of optional accessories, including a nice Bimini top with or without lights and plenty of storage for life jackets or snacks! Check out the DLX or DLV 198 today and choose the options that you prefer to meet your needs if you have some more money to spend. 

RELATED: How Much Does It Cost To Re-power A Boat?

Are Carolina Skiffs Stable?

If you haven't stood up in a Carolina Skiff before, you're probably wondering if they're stable enough to fish from. Let me reassure you, they are some of the most stable fishing platforms on the water. They are built for low-wave situations and especially the flat, shallow water, where you can find bonefish and other skittish fish that are wary of boats and wade-fishing anglers.

If you want a small, efficient, spacious, and rather minimalist shore fishing boat that is super stable and reliable, you need to test one of these skiffs. If floating in 6 inches of water is important to you as you get back into some skinny water often, you need to test one of these skiffs. You'll probably also need a trolling motor or poling platform on the bow for that kind of fishing, which the 198 readily accepts.

The Carolina Skiff 198 features a flat bottom and splash guards on the bow to keep the people onboard dry at all times. The ride is smooth and keeps people from flying out of the boat, even when going fast (30+ MPH).

With a 96-inch beam and 6-inch draft, the Carolina Skiff 198 floats in extremely shallow water, allowing you to catch some of the most difficult fish to find in the shallow flats of the backcountry. It can handle a powerful outboard and has a strong hull that is extremely easy to plane. The ability to easily plane means your skiff can work well even when using less horsepower and gas.

Carolina Skiff 198s are designed with rigid box beams and a wood-free, non-flexing hull.

The 5-year warranty they offer is enough to make you reconsider if you've already written this boat off. They back their 198 with a 5-year customer warranty covering the hull so you can be sure you're covered if it happens to rust or separate within 5 years.

So, consider the 198 and think hard about that five-year warranty in comparison with any other boat you're considering purchasing.

RELATED: Top Skiff Boat Manufacturers

What Boats Are Similar To Carolina Skiffs?

While Carolina Skiffs are known worldwide as some of the best fiberglass outboard vessels, you may be wondering whether there are other similar or comparable designs on the market. The two most credible alternatives to the Carolina Skiff models include boats by Tracker Boats and Boston Whaler. Our Carolina Skiff review wouldn’t be complete without naming a couple of competing models.

RELATED: Cheap Poling Platform DIY Ideas 

1. Tracker Grizzly 1754 Jon Boat

tracker grizzly jon boat

Tracker Boats is an American boat manufacturer that makes good aluminum Jon Boats. Grizzly 1754 boats are somewhat similar in size and style to the 17-foot Carolina Skiff boats. It is important to note that all Tracker boats are made from high-quality aluminum, while all Carolina Skiffs are made from fiberglass.

So, if you're considering a strong aluminum boat (especially if you frequent places with submerged rocks or other hazards), consider the Grizzly 1754. The price is right around $6,000 USD and it can hold up to 6 persons (5 passengers).

Carolina Skiff boats are more expensive and have a lot more to them. However, the Grizzly Jon boats are similar in size to the JV17 Carolina Skiff and are surprisingly durable and portable. The maximum outboard it can support is a 50-hp motor. It’s important to note that aluminum boats can get very hot in direct sunlight, and there is little space to put items of comfort like padded seats.

Jon boats are very minimalist compared to the Carolina Skiffs, but this might be just what you're looking for.

2. Boston Whaler 170 Montauk

boston whaler

Boston Whaler has been a very well-known manufacturer of quality fishing vessels since 1958. People familiar with their boats know the brand for its high-quality standards, convenient options, sturdy design, and reliable operation.

The Boston Whaler 170 Montauk is a small, 17-foot long family-friendly boat that has all the amenities you'll need to enjoy a very relaxing day on the water. It is also the most expensive boat among the three models we’ve reviewed in this post. Some say they are too expensive, and others can't get enough of their reliability and continue to buy the same brand over the course of their lives.

Because of its robust displacement, larger size, and deeper hull, the 170 Montauk can maneuver rough seas better than a Carolina Skiff JV17 boat. The weight is nearly the same as the Carolina Skiff 198 at 1700 lb. This one can hold 7 passengers.

If you want a larger boat with extra space, plenty of horsepower, and all the amenities you can even think of and expect in a modern boat, consider the Boston Whaler 170 Montauk for your next fishing and recreational boat. The price for 2023 is around $60K but you can buy a year or two older boat for a much more reasonable $34K-45K.


The Carolina Skiff 198 is a simple, straightforward boat that is wonderful for fishing and other recreational uses. It excels over flat water and provides a very stable platform for fishing for long hours. The price is in the middle between much cheaper and less comfortable options like metal Jon boats and Boston Whaler extravagance.

Carolina Skiffs are well built and can last a lifetime, then be handed down to your children as you grow too old to get out on the water (heaven forbid!).

These 17' to 23' fishing boats are comfortable enough for fishing with friends or bringing the family out to a sandy island to grill hamburgers and hotdogs.

Your main decision will be about the cost. How many amenities do you absolutely need and want to pay for, versus what could you possibly do without for a while until the shock of paying for the boat wears off some? Your second decision will be about the size of the boat you need and how many passengers you want to be able to carry.

The rest of your decisions will be much easier and hopefully involve a lot of consideration about where exactly to go with your new boat! What areas can you explore this weekend?

Best of luck my friends, and do let us know how you get on with choosing the right boat after reading our Carolina Skiff review!!

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Brian Hopkins

Brian is an outdoor writer and the youngest member of our team, but he is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to fishing and different techniques for catching different species. He shares valuable information that the younger generation can relate to. When he is not fishing, you can find him hanging with his friends and gaming on his computer.

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