If you’re one of those people who feel that a skiff is a skiff, then you haven’t seen Release Boat’s new Classic 16. The likely first response will be a double take, and it’s worth it. This little skiff can be summed up in one word – character. OK, maybe two – character and functionality. It’s loaded with both.
The designers at Release decided they wanted to add a skiff to their line of backcountry boats, so they took a mold off an old Bahamian conch boat, lap strakes and all, and worked with that design as the base.
You know that car commercial that says, ”everything you need, nothing you don’t”? Well, that’s the Classic 16. While short on frills, this boat offers a solid hull that weighs about 350 pounds, poles and tracks well and will honestly float (with two guys, gear and a tank of gas) in less than 6 inches of water. Top it off with the optional poling platform, side-mounted steering console, a trailer and an engine, and it’ll cost you less than $11 grand out the door. The basic tiller-steered version is even less.
The simple, solid-fiberglass hull features a small rear platform at the transom, which forms the bench seat but is also large enough to double as a rear casting deck. The forward casting deck is actually a raised portion of the sole of the skiff. Sitting well below the forward gunwale it offers excellent room to maneuver and cast and keeps the fly line well out of the wind. The wide beam and the simple hull design keep the boat stable even when people are moving around.
Underneath the forward casting area sits the built-in, 15-gallon aluminum fuel tank and a storage locker big enough for all your boating essentials, as well as some fishing gear. Because of the deeper-V entry and the forward placement of the fuel tank, the Classic 16 runs and poles well even under slightly choppy conditions and remains stable.