[Click through the images above to see uncommon vessels used for fly fishing.]
When we hear the words “fly-fishing boat,” most of us picture a wide-open skiff that floats in about 6 inches of water and has a poling platform on the back and a large casting deck up front. That is, of course, an ideal. However, there are a variety of nontraditional crafts out there that many anglers use to ply skinny water. Some are regional concepts, some are taken from our freshwater brethren, and others are simply classic designs that you may not have thought about using as fly-fishing platforms, but all hold possibilities for the saltwater fly-fisherman.
**Dargel Skooter 136 Sport
**Dargel Boat Works has been making scooter-style boats since 1958, and public demand for the Skooter 13 prompted it to reintroduce this mud skiff. The company spent several years developing the 136 Sport, incorporating the features that made the original so popular, and then modernized it. This new version floats in 5 inches of water, but it runs shallower and even over mudflats, which is why it has the uniquely Texan flush-deck design. The flat-bottom hull allows the boat to skim like a sled through ultra-skinny water.
The Skooter 136 comes standard with a center console and a raised transom that allows you to mount the engine so that the prop and skag sit flush with the bottom of the hull. This ensures that the boat can actually run in water shallower than it draws at rest.
**While kayaks geared toward fishermen are nothing new, Heritage Kayaks’ latest creation, the Redfish, has an innovative design that incorporates the best features of a variety of other models. It’s noticeably shorter than traditional kayaks and also has a wider profile at the rear of the boat, making it the company’s most stable kayak to date and an ideal one for fly-fishermen.
Each kayak is rotomolded out of polyethylene into a single seamless hull and deck unit for maximum strength and impact resistance. It offers a bow storage hatch and a stern tank well that can hold all your fishing gear, including bulky items like bait buckets and coolers. Standard equipment for the Redfish includes two recessed rod holders, a paddle leash, a padded backrest and four additional cockpit drain plugs.
This unique boat offers an innovative hull powered by a 6-hp Honda four-stroke engine coupled to a jet propulsion system. The patented design results in a removable engine unit that requires less than one minute to assemble without tools. It’s simple to operate and cheap to run, and the lightweight hull can be transported on top of your vehicle, which eliminates the need for a trailer.
The Mokai’s low center of gravity makes it remarkably stable – you can even stand up and cast from it – yet it floats in less than 4 inches of water and is easy to pole or paddle. The durable hull is made from rotomolded polyethylene and is based on a classic monococque design. It has a large storage area for gear and comes standard with a weather cover, an engine storage/carry bag, a paddle, a survival pack and a fire extinguisher.
**Outcast Power Drifter
**You probably don’t associate pontoon boats with salt water, but they work as well in a salt marsh or lagoon as they do on a river. Outcast added a lightweight aluminum frame to its Power Drifter, which now includes an anchor system, a motor mount and an inflatable floor that makes it easy to store and transport.
One of the unique features of the Power Drifter is that part of the floor – which is rigid enough for anglers to stand on when fishing or poling the boat – opens to accommodate a small outboard motor. The 15-inch-diameter inflatable pontoons are constructed of thermal-welded 1200 Denier PVC, which makes them all but punctureproof. Its lightweight design means you can take it almost anywhere. And because it’s inflatable, it really will float in a puddle.
Everglades Canoe Company **Gladesmen 18
**The Everglades Canoe Company chose the name Gladesmen as a tribute to the early-20th-century settlers who lived in south Florida’s famed swamp. This skiff is a thoroughly modern version of the boats those pioneers used to travel throughout the area’s vast shallow waters. It offers the versatility of a canoe while retaining the features of a true poling skiff.
The Gladesmen 18 is built with a vacuum-infused hull and deck, which has vacuum-bagged bulkheads, a hatch and platform caps. Rolled gunwales augment the hull for strength and provide a handle for lifting. The boat has an aluminum poling platform, and although you can pole or even paddle it effectively, it readily accommodates an outboard up to 15 hp on its heavy-duty transom. The Gladesmen 18 has a huge forward casting deck, a lockable rear storage compartment and a variety of other features usually found only on larger, more expensive skiffs.