The new 21-foot Redfisher from Hewes is sure to be an instant favorite among anglers who like to get places fast. Tournament fishermen will appreciate the boat's speed and agility, but it will also appeal to the average guy who needs to cover a lot of water. Better still, the boat's 48-gallon fuel capacity provides peace of mind for the trip home.
We tested the 21 with a 200-hp Yamaha HPDI outboard, and the performance was nothing short of exhilarating. The boat leaps on plane in a very short distance with minimal bow rise, and you had better grab a rail when pushing the throttle forward. Fortunately, there are plenty of rails handy. Throttle response is instantaneous, and in no time you're cruising at a brisk 44 mph at 4000 rpm. At that speed, the Yamaha isn't even breaking a sweat.
When you push the throttle all the way forward, the boat really takes off. A hydraulic jackplate comes as standard equipment, and those who know the nuances of jackplate operation claim the boat will reach 63 mph with the HPDI. I'm no jackplate expert, so I was only able to get a mere 60 mph out of the boat at 5400 rpm. Not fast enough? You can bolt on a 225 Yamaha if you like and reach speeds of 72 mph, according to the factory. Sixty was plenty for me.
The best part is that the boat always feels solid and secure, even at high speeds. It cuts through small chop with ease, and a 50 mph cruise can easily be maintained. Imagine the places you could fish that you previously considered too far away to get to in a day. The Redfisher 21 opens up lots of new possibilities.
Hewes, now a subsidiary of the Maverick Boat Company, has always built practical fishing skiffs-not surprising, since the company was one of the original production flats-skiff builders. Those many years of evolutionary experience have made the 21 into what could arguably be called the ultimate live-bait skiff. It comes standard with two live wells, a 20-gallon well beneath the forward casting deck, and a 40-gallon well with a 1,150 gph pump under the aft deck. Two 40-gallon boxes outboard of the main live well serve as release wells, and can also be plumbed as additional live wells for those who require a really large amount of bait.
The forward casting deck also contains a large storage box with a lid that raises on gas rams, aft of the live well, and an anchor locker forward with a molded-in hanger for a Danforth-style hook. Well-thought-out features like a pop-up bow cleat and rubber gasketing around the live well make the bow that much easier to fish.
The cockpit is self-bailing and comes standard with twin locking rod boxes with tubes to protect your rod tips. The rod boxes are even lit for night fishing. The compact console has a windshield and handrail, and room for mounting a minimal amount of electronics. The forward seat opens to reveal access to the batteries, plus there's some additional storage room.
A snap-on cushion sits atop a large, transverse storage box at the forward end of the aft casting deck. This space can hold a lot of loose gear. The live well and the two release wells sit aft of that box. There's also a hatch just forward of the engine that provides good access to all of the inner-hull pumps and through-hulls.
Hewes skiffs are built with Klegecell foam coring, including the transom, and there's no wood anywhere in the boat. The hull has full foam flotation with non-absorbing, closed-cell urethane foam, and comes loaded with standard features. These include hydraulic steering, a lighted switch panel, electric Lenco trim tabs, the jackplate, and a wide selection of hull colors. It's a fast, well-designed, good-looking package that will make those far-away fishing spots seem considerably closer.
Maverick Boat Co., Ft. Pierce, FL; (888) SHALLOW; www.hewes.com.