With the proliferation of high-end skinny-water boats, it almost seems as if the common fisherman has been left behind in the flats boat market. The problem with many more affordable boats is that they are not usually designed for fishing ultrashallow water, let alone fly-fishing. That’s why Smitty’s Marine developed its alternative to what company owners call “sticker-shock skiffs.” Short of a high price, the 16-foot Sightfisher offers just about everything you expect on a true flats boat.
Designed with the help of Bob Hewes, this 16-footer isn’t made from exotic composites, but she will still pole in 6 inches of water. The hull design not only tracks well, which allows for easy poling, but also reduces hull-slap, allowing a stealthy approach to spooky fish. Features include triaxial fiberglass and foam construction with a molded inner liner and nonskid casting platform and gunwales. Standard on this boat are a recirculating livewell, recessed deck cleats and undergunwale storage. Options include poling platform, larger fuel tank and Lenco trim tabs.
Weighing in at just 540 pounds, the Smitty 16 Sightfisher requires an engine of merely 25 to 40 hp for full performance. The low horsepower contributes not only to the low purchase cost and shallow draft, but also to more pocket change at the pump. With the 25-hp package, most anglers would be hard-pressed to burn 6 gallons in a full day of fishing.
As for fishability, the Sightfisher features a beam of 65 inches, which provides more than 60 inches of width on the forward casting deck and 46 inches on the rear casting deck. The boat also has a center console steering station and a self-bailing cockpit. Storage lockers under the forward and rear casting decks allow plenty of room for gear.