In addition to releasing the largest flats boat it's ever built, the Neptune, Hell's Bay Boatworks recently unveiled its smallest skiff on record. With a hull length of just under 13 feet and a weight of 250 pounds, the Skate is a small-water specialty boat that will serve skinny-water fly-anglers well.
How shallow will this little craft go? Even with a full tank of gas and a small outboard mounted on the stern, the Skate will venture into 3½ inches of water, making it the ultimate technical boat for adventurous anglers looking to target game fish where most can't go.
Design and Construction
The Skate may be small of stature, but it's long on quality and attention to detail, typical of any Hell's Bay. This starts in the hull, which features vinylester resins and vacuum-bagged Core-Cell construction throughout the entire structure. Crafted into the hull, under the fore and aft decks, are large storage areas with hatches sealed with rubber gaskets and spring-loaded Moonlite hardware.
The Skate is strictly a tiller boat and is ideally powered with a small outboard ranging from 9.9 to 15 hp. Rigged and wired to American Boat and Yacht Council standards, the skiff comes equipped with a six-gallon aluminum powder-coated gas tank. This may not lend itself to long-distance runs, but then again, the Skate was designed for the shallows and backcountry.
Measuring 12 feet 9 inches in length, the boat has a 3-foot-9-inch beam, and its gunwale edges are protected by heavy-duty rub rails. The package is completed with seat cushions for angler comfort and a custom aluminum trailer equipped with a spare tire - it's a nifty outfit that's just dying to be towed to the nearest boat ramp.
Running and Fishing
Of course, the Skate is decidedly not a boat you'll want to take in rough waters. Nor is it a boat you'll want to load up with all of your beer-drinking college buddies. Instead, it's designed for the skilled angler who knows how to exercise some degree of caution and maneuver around deftly in a technical skiff. Given its small size and narrow beam, the Skate is best fished with no more than two occupants.
But, as all saltwater fly-anglers know, that's all it takes. The Skate comes with Stiffy push-pole holders and an ano-dized poling platform featuring SeaDek coating on top for added traction and stability. Given the carpeted rod racks under the gunwales, up to four assembled fly rods can be safely stowed, and anglers will appreciate Hell's Bay's wide selection of hull colors, not to mention the company's classic nonskid decks.
Simply put, the Skate is a cool little boat. And best of all, its small size translates to a fairly reasonable price tag, a nice option for those working under a tight budget. For $16,000, you get a complete outfit with a trailer - and a skiff that will venture where very few dare.
Draft......3½" (w/ fuel and 15 hp OB)
Weight......250 lbs. (dry)
(w/ 15 hp two-stroke OB)
Hell's Bay Boatworks / Titusville, Florida / 321-383-8223 / www.hellsbayboatworks.com