Shallow water fishing is one of the most challenging techniques, but it’s also the most exciting and rewarding style of fishing. This sports fishing technique has been rapidly gaining popularity among anglers as well as the mainstream fishing outlets. However, you’ll need the right technical poling skiffs with tremendous capabilities to make your experience worthwhile. You’ll find a wide range of boat sizes and styles geared toward technical poling, flats fishing, and other sub-niches within the flats fishing genre.
The exact style of boat to choose will heavily depend on the fishing style you are doing and the depth of the waters in which you’ll fish. Every boat has its tradeoffs, so there is no perfect boat that suits everyone. But with a little research, you can find an ideal technical poling skiff that allows you to fish in mere inches of water.
Technical Poling Skiff Vs. Flats Boat
Some people are confused by the differences between a flat boat and a poling skiff. A flats boat is a type of boat that is designed specifically to fish shallow water areas called flats. These boats are extremely light and can float on very little water. On the other hand, technical poling skiffs are smaller, narrower, and lighter than the typical flats boat and are designed to be easily pushed through shallow waters.
Flats boats and poling skiffs look very much alike — at first glance, they are similar, but the two types of boats are different. It is easy to forget that a skiff is actually the same as a flats boat, which was introduced in the 1950s. Backcountry boats, or flats boats, dominated shallow-water boat fishing for decades. But many fishermen preferred boats that were smaller, easier to row and fish with, and that were also more maneuverable and quiet.
When it comes to deciding which technical poling cliff to buy, it can be a callous decision. There are many different types of boats that you can select from, and the decisions you will make will depend on how much you fish, how many people you fish with, the type of water you fish in, and your budget. We will highlight various kinds of technical poling cliffs and flats boats to help you narrow down your choices to a manageable few models.
Our Best Picks for Technical Poling Skiffs
In the 1990s, Maverick unleashed the Mirage One, the first technically advanced poling skiff to hit the market. The Mirage HPX line of poling skiffs features very advanced construction methods, technology, and lightweight construction. The top of a poling skiff and a flat boat is pretty similar. The highly specialized hulls, advanced construction materials, and Spartan-like interiors make a technical poling skiff stand out from the crowd.
Today, many manufacturers make skiffs and flat boats like Beavertail Skiffs, East Cape Skiffs, Skull Island Skiff Works, Sundance Boats, and Yellowfin Yachts. Here are some great technical poling skiffs to consider for your next fishing expedition:
Best Overall: Hell’s Bay Biscayne Technical Poling Skiff
Many types of fishing boats work well in shallow water in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean, and each type of boat has its own benefits. While some boating anglers consider a foot of water shallow, others like to fish in flats with even less water.
Hell’s Bay Biscayne poling skiffs are so small that they can float in very shallow water and still catch fish. Some fishermen prefer to use a boat that moves very quickly. This skiff can float in very shallow water and snag the biggest fish, such as bonefish, more quietly and stealthily.
Here are some outstanding features of the Hell’s Bay Biscayne Technical Poling Skiff:
Typical poling skiffs have only one poling platform at the stern and a casting platform at the bow. Lightweight materials and advanced boat construction techniques have brought about skiffs that float on shallow water and are extremely fast and maneuverable.
The lightweight carbon fiber hulls used in the HPX models are used in conjunction with a technology called vacuum-assisted resin-infused system (VARIS), minimizing weight while maintaining strength. A lightweight skiff may seem simple, but it is made of the most advanced boat building materials and construction techniques.
Using lightweight materials is one way to minimize boat weight; the other way to trim weight is to eliminate a lot of expensive equipment. There are no padded seats, and you won’t find a lot of battery banks, like on a bay boat. It’s amazing how light some skiffs are. For example, a 17-foot 8-inch model from Hell’s Bay will only weigh 625 pounds and only take 412 pounds of fuel.
Minimal Propulsion Needs
Some skiffs come standard with a poling platform and a rudder, but others have a motor. Lightweight, low-powered boats are good for fishing and are ideal for those who don’t want to use as much power as a larger bay boat. Many skiffs run quite fast with a motor that only draws 40 hp, though most anglers prefer to have a motor that goes up to 60 hp. But the smaller the outboard motor, the lighter the boat will be.
It’s hard to say whether a skiff with motorized jack plates is a good idea. Some anglers like jack plates because they allow them to quickly raise the outboard when accelerating. However, adding jack plates to a skiff will make it heavier. It is necessary to create a skiff that will accept a jack plate so that it can be raised to a higher position when needed. If not, the boat may cause the weight to swing back a bit, which could ruin its ability to maneuver in narrow water.
It is as though you are fishing with a fly-by-wire, but you will be navigating the flats using only your own power. No motorized poles or trolling motors are necessary to steer the boat; you just need a pole to turn the boat. So even if you’re not good at poling, you should learn to dance soon.
Small and Streamlined Design
Anglers can use a skiff with a small bow to safely access flats where small fish may be. Technical poling skiffs are designed to be as small as possible. Hell’s Bay Boatworks makes skiffs that are as big as 18 feet and have a beam of 612 feet. This makes the hulls of these skiffs smaller, allowing them to slide more easily through the water when you’re able to moor them.
This is important when mooring the skiff to catch fish all day long. Some of the largest skiffs in the market are 18 to 19 feet in length, but many others are in the 16 to 17-foot range. However, technical poling skiffs are smaller than traditional flats and backcountry boats, and so they are more maneuverable. Moreover, they are less resistant to the strong winds that can cause them difficulty crossing the water. Hell’s Bay’s Mirage HPX skiffs are very close to the water, and because of that, they can easily slide under the wind. You can easily set a fishing pole on a breezy day.
It is tough to prevent water from splashing against the hull of a boat that is very small. But having a smaller profile makes it less visible to fish. Hell’s Bay boats like the Biscayne float quietly in the water for as little as four inches, which is ideal for fishing with wary flats species like bonefish and permit. Hells Bay Boatworks builds skiffs to quietly go on the water to avoid irritating fish.
Fish are very sensitive to sound, even in very skinny water. So skiff builders try to make their boats as quiet as possible, especially when water splashes against the bottom or sides of the boat. You’ll notice that there are a lot of rounded edges on Hell’s Bay Boatworks skiffs. This not only reduces slap on the boat, but it also reduces the pressure that the water creates. Many things can shape water that creates pressure on the boat — like rounded edges on the sides of a manatee versus the sharp edges of a man-made object.
Using chines and strakes can help you get in and out of the boat safely and quitely. Boats designed for poling are very maneuverable, and the Mirage HPX hulls carry more of the bow stem under the hull so that when the wind picks up, the skiff drifts with its bow out into the wind. This allows you to easily steer the boat on a windy day.
A skiff that uses a poling system has a very flat bottom. Hell’s Bay Professional features a design that eliminates deadrise at the transom. Boats with a very low profile will minimize water movement, but they will endure more on a turbulent day if you cross a very rough patch of water.
Best Ultra Skinny Water Flats Boats
Beavertail Skiffs is an industry leader in designing and building the most fabulous shallow water poling skiffs on the market. Every skiff is custom-built to the exact specs of anglers, such as how you fish and the depth of the waters. Besides the Hell’s Bay Biscayne Technical Poling Skiff, here are some great ultra-skinny water poling cliffs:
1. BT Mosquito
Beavertail Skiffs is back with the all-new Mosquito. Beginning with a clean sheet of paper and plenty of input from its guides and owners, the company re-imagined the skiff that can be used for today’s anglers.
2. BT Strike
The BT Strike is the boat that all shallow-water anglers would wish to lay their hands on. It combines the best aspects of every Beavertail that has been built into one boat.
Big Water Flats Boats
Anglers who fish daily on the big water know that not all fishing takes place on at least one foot of water. Being able to get to the fishing grounds quickly & safely on a tournament day can present many challenges. Beavertail is now offering a new line of BIG water flats boats, called Air & Lightning.
1. BT Air Logo
Beavertail’s Air flat boat is the latest addition to their lineup. It’s built to handle big water in open bays, but it’s shallow enough to reach trophy fish! Featuring fishability that allows you to fish almost anywhere, the Air is the perfect fishing platform.
2. BT Elite
BT worked closely with some of the finest professional guides in the industry to develop a skiff that can take anglers to the fishing zone, quietly stalk trophy fish, and ultimately stand the test of time.
3. BT Vengeance
The Vengeance has been designed with a family in mind and also provides excellent shallow water and live bait fishing. It can hold four passengers comfortably and has a large beam (82 inches) and cockpit (35 inches).
4. BT Lightning
This 20′ Beavertail Lightning is truly a game-changer for the high-power, high-speed tournament angler. Lightning delivers up to 300 horsepower and will get you out the door faster and dry than even the toughest conditions.
5. BT Micro
The 16’8 Micro is based on the popular Strike skiff, which is one of the most popular poling skiffs you can find on the market today. It distills the technology into the purest flats fishing boat Beavertail has ever made.
Overall, technical poling skiffs are small flat boats that are narrow and lighter, allowing you to pole them in shallow waters easily. Unfortunately, finding the perfect boat to sail on your next flat trip can be difficult. Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down the best technical poling skiff for your next fishing expedition!