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“Skiff” is a broad term used to define small boats that typically have a curved or pointed bow and a flat stern. They can be flat-bottomed and are generally used for traversing extremely shallow waters.
Now, if you’ve been following our boating series so far, that definition might sound a bit familiar, and are likely wondering what the difference between a skiff and a Jon boat is.
Well, Jon boats have a very specific definition. They are flat-bottomed vessels with a square-cut bow. Skiffs, on the other hand, have curved or pointed bows and may or may not necessarily be flat-bottomed.
In reality, however, both terms are used interchangeably and generally refer to boats designed to skim over shallow waters. Clear enough? Great!
Let’s get into the 10 best skiffs. We’ve also included a few useful tips to help you pick the best one.
As far as the best skiffs go, it doesn’t get any better than the Dolphin 17’ Super Skiff Pro. Everything from the deck and inner liner to the rock-solid hull is made from very specific composite materials fused for optimal strength and durability.
It has a massive casting platform at the forward deck and comes with ample in-floor storage to hold your fishing gear, casting net, and anything you wouldn’t want to get wet.
The Super Skiff Pro comes with built-in under-gunwale rod racks in the fore and aft that can hold up to 10 fishing rods at any given time. Other fishing features in this skiff include a 32-gallon livewell, push-pole holders, gas-shocks on every hatch, trim tabs, hydraulic steering, and lots more.
● Durable design
● Easy to maintain
● Has lots of fishing-friendly features
Skiffs are generally affordably-priced when compared to other types of boats. But, if you’re looking for something with a little more pizzazz, you might want to check out the Floyd 10 Weight Skiff.
This vessel is a labor of love between industry legends Brian Floyd and Chris Morejohn. Together, they developed a unique hull design that measures 18 ft. with a draft that’s only 7 in. long. This makes it perfect for traversing open waters or silently stalking prey on flats when poling.
It is powered by a Suzuki 90hp engine and has a center console configuration to give you full access to the surrounding water no matter where you are on the boat. Other standard features of the 10 Weight include a 30-gallon livewell, stainless steel hull fittings, latches, hinges, trim tabs, and hydraulic steering.
● Can navigate extremely shallow waters
● Excellent fishability
● Suitable for offshore and inshore fishing
● You may get wet when cruising through choppy waters
For the budget-conscious boater, the Skull Island 16’ Console might be right up your alley. This particular skiff delivers outstanding value for money. It is made from Vinylester resin alongside a combination of Kevlar, hand-laid fiberglass, and core-cell foam. It is then coated with a proprietary laminate. These materials give it the perfect strength-to-weight ratio.
It comes in a variety of customizable cockpit configurations and has spacious aft and fore double-gasket storage compartments. You’ll find plenty of under-gunwale racks that can hold up to six 9-foot long fishing rods.
It also has towing rails, LED lights, GPS, yacht-grade cushions, an insulated cooler that can double-up as a livewell, and several other features designed to enhance the fishability of this skiff.
● Offers great value for money
● Excellent handling
● Has lots of fishing features
● Doesn’t offer any protection against the elements
4. Action Craft 1820 Flatsmaster (Best Skiff for Family)
The Action Craft 1820 Flatsmaster is the ultimate family skiff. This high-performance skiff is built using next-generation construction technology, with the most notable one being the company’s proprietary Pocket Drive. This allows it to efficiently navigate shallow waters, whether it’s being propelled by a push pole or the 150hp outboard engine.
Its modified deep-V hull design also gives it exceptional stability even in rough water, an attribute you’ll appreciate when you have several passengers on board. Standard features of the Flatsmaster include eight rod-tubes, a self-draining cockpit, a modified diamond non-slip finish, and wide gunwales to attach your fishing accessories.
One unique feature that sets this particular skiff apart from others is the fact that it is designed with the whole family in mind. So, it has ample space to tag everyone along for a fun day on the water.
● Ample space
● Exceptionally stable in choppy waters
● Has lots of fishing-friendly features
● Hull slaps against the water surface at high speeds and can, therefore, get a tad bit noisy
If there ever was a skiff built to take on the rough waters of the open ocean, it’s the East Cape Vantage. At a little over 19 ft., this skiff measures just the right length to cruise over one wave to the next without stuffing the bow. This is thanks, in large part, to the V-hull and the deadrise. So, you don’t have to worry about getting wet when navigating choppy waters.
It has massive fore and aft casting decks and generous storage in the front and rear, respectively. The thick gaskets and deep gutters ensure that whatever you stow in there remains dry regardless of how bad the weather conditions get. You’ll also like the huge livewell in the aft deck that’s big enough to store a pair of trophy catches.
● Offers unmatched stability
● You remain dry even when navigating rough waters
● It has plenty of fishing accessories
● Doesn’t offer any protection against the elements
6. Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V (Best Skiff for Bass Fishing)
The Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V is the ultimate bass fishing skiff. It tracks well, is easy to pole, comes in handy when stalking bass, and exhibits remarkable stability on the water. It offers the speed and range of larger crafts without necessarily compromising the length of the draft.
The best thing about it has to be all the fishing features and accessories it comes with. These include spacious fore and aft casting decks, several below-deck storage compartments in the bow and stern, a 13-inch poling tower, and a push pole holder. It also has several rod tubes and wide gunnels designed for walk-around fishing.
You’ll particularly like the 30-gallon livewell that comes with an integrated advanced bubble aeration system – a feature you don’t often find in other skiffs. All in all, the 18 HPX-V was built with the avid angler in mind.
● It’s chock-full of fishing-friendly features
● Highly durable and versatile
The Predator 16 from Beavertail Skiffs is one of the most versatile vessels we’ve come across. It is built for people who are crazy about fishing and hunting in equal measure.
This 16 ft. 6 in. skiff is called a “predator” for a reason. It has the uncanny ability to skim through the marsh at unbelievable speeds when you need to pursue prey, silently creep up on ducks and other waterfowl, or stalk trophy fish on the flats.
Standard features include Hydro-Turf under-gunnel pads, two storage compartments in the aft and one in the fore, heavy-duty rub rails, flared bow for a dry ride, and flush mount receiver points. It is fully customizable and available in a wide range of camo designs.
From the moment you lay eyes on the Yellowfin 17 CC skiff, the first thing that stands out is the excellent workmanship on this craft. The sheer attention to detail is simply unmatched.
When it comes to technical poling skiffs, there’s no other vessel that even comes close to matching the unique construction techniques used in the making of this boat. Its ergonomic layout is designed to cater to the needs of fly fishing anglers. It offers exceptional stability when poling – a feature you’ll appreciate in extremely windy weather.
● Remarkably stable
● Has plenty of below-deck storage
● Can skim through marsh and other shallow waters
The Egret 189 has been affectionately dubbed the “Rolls Royce of flats boats.” And, given all the fantastic features it has and how well it takes on tough water conditions, it makes sense why.
It is made using Kevlar and carbon fiber fabrics, vacuum-bagged with Vinylester resin, and foam-cored, making it one of the most durable and resilient skiffs in the market right now. It is lightweight enough to take on inshore waters with gusto.
Standard features of the 189 include a poling platform with folding step, push pole holders, bow and stern eyes, and hydraulic steering. It also comes with several rod holders, stainless steel trim tabs, and ample below-deck storage for all your fishing gear.
● Designed with inshore anglers in mind
● Lightweight, durable, and resilient
● 10 in. draft may not be ideal for navigating extremely shallow waters
Is there such a thing as the “perfect” flats boat? Well, we don’t know about that, but the Spyder FX17 Flicker comes pretty darn close. This 17 ft. skiff is made of biaxial fiberglass and infused with high-density foam making it exceptionally lightweight. This is ultimately what you want in a flats boat when poling skinny waters. It is also extremely durable.
It comes with a livewell, ample in-deck storage in the fore and aft, and vertical console rod racks. It also has under-gunwale racks that can hold up to four fishing rods, a poling platform, and several other handy fishing features.
All in all, the crowning jewel of this skiff has to be its 7-inch draft. Now, that’s a boat that was built for skimming shallow flats.
● Highly durable
● Exceptionally lightweight
● It has plenty of fishing-friendly features
● You will get wet when cruising in windy conditions
How to Choose the Best Skiffs – Buyer’s Guide
Skiffs are pretty basic boats. But you can still end up buying the wrong one and regret your decision after a few uses. Here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when choosing the best skiffs to avoid this.
Boat size and capacity – Longer, wider boats are more stable and have a larger carrying capacity. You also need to consider the draft length. The shorter it is, the better its ability to skim over skinny waters will be. The sweet spot is anywhere between the 7 to 11 in. mark.
Horsepower – If you’re navigating larger bodies and intend to traverse long ranges, you need a skiff with a high hp. rating.
Storing and transporting your boat – Ensure your current vehicle can tow your skiff, especially if you have to travel up and down steep hills.
Console position – Most skiffs typically come with a center console. These offer 360-degree mobility, which is great for fishing. If you’re looking for a skiff specifically for waterfowl hunting, get one whose controls are positioned towards the back of the boat.
Construction – If you intend to use your skiff on salty waters, ensure that it is made from fiberglass or Kevlar. Aluminum skiffs can’t withstand the corrosive properties of saltwater.
Dealer – Talk to the dealer and find out details like how often you’ll have to service the boat, the duration of the warranty and what it covers, whether the dealer will store the boat for you, as well as if they can deliver it to your preferred location.
Make sure you have all the information you need before you make a decision. That way, you can avoid buying a boat only to then have to sell it a few months down the line when it doesn’t live up to your expectations.
Pick the Best Skiff for Your Needs
There you have it – the best skiffs. Ensure that the skiff you get meets your specific angling or hunting needs. Use the tips we’ve detailed in the buying guide to help you narrow down your options.
Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.