Flats-boat builders have made tremendous strides since the style’s inception in the Florida Keys many decades ago. Today’s models are stronger, lighter, quieter and better suited for stalking fish in skinny water than ever before. The Spyder FX19 Vapor is the latest to make its debut in this specialty segment. Talk about first impressions! Not only does the Vapor perform extremely well, it comes with a price tag that won’t break the bank. Redfish, snook and trout everywhere should be afraid, very afraid.
I joined Wally Bell, president of Sundance Boats, near Brunswick, Georgia, to put the boat through its paces. Spyder is the new division of Sundance that includes the FX19’s hugely popular predecessor, the FX17 Flicker. With two more feet in length, the 19-foot Vapor complements the line nicely while maintaining the same 7-inch draft.
Our test boat, the Pro Flats model, was rigged with a 115 hp Yamaha four-stroke, with a three-blade stainless-steel propeller mounted on the optional Atlas hydraulic jack plate. Because of its narrow beam (6 feet 11 inches) and hull design, the boat requires less power but doesn’t sacrifice performance. With a 25-degree bow entry and 10 degrees of deadrise at the transom, it will handle a chop without pounding. A long planing pad and notched pocket at the transom add to the shallow-water capability.
Despite the flattened stern, however, the Vapor stays hooked up in tight turns, which is an admirable trait when you’re navigating narrow creek channels. The hull is also responsive to the optional Lenco trim tabs, which can balance the load or be adjusted for choppy conditions.
With the lightweight four-stroke Yamaha outboard, the Vapor had a top speed during the test of nearly 50 miles per hour. Optimum fuel economy was reached by throttling back to 3,000 rpm. At that pace, the boat maintained a speed of 22.2 miles per hour while burning only 2.9 gallons of gas per hour, giving it a miles-per-gallon range of 7.66. Earlier factory tests with a Mercury 150L four-stroke produced an eye-watering speed of 62.8 miles per hour. The Vapor can also be rigged with Suzuki four-stroke outboards, and all three engine manufacturers offer digital-gauge upgrades.
The hole-shot capability of the test boat was noteworthy. With the jack plate fully raised, the time to plane was less than five seconds. That’s definitely appreciated when the tide is falling hard and safe water is 100 yards away.
I also made a point of poling the Vapor during the test, using the optional Stiffy 21-foot Hybrid push pole. The boat earned top marks. It glided through the water easily and spun well in turns. Hull slap was negligible. A tall and spacious platform is part of the Pro Flats package. It rises 40 inches above the aft deck, with three steps to the top for quick access and great visibility. The tower legs are hinged so the platform lies forward to allow work on the engine. The bilge-hatch lid is also removable for better access to the pumps. For a smooth look and easier cleaning, all the hatch covers can be ordered fully finished with compression molding.
The Vapor comes pre-wired with heavy-duty 6-gauge AWG wiring for either Minn Kota or MotorGuide trolling motors. A molded pad on the bow was designed to accommodate quick-release mounts. The forward casting deck seems to go on forever and is rimmed by a molded toe rail that not only provides a reference point but also keeps fly lines from blowing overboard. All the decks are finished with Sundance’s aggressive nonskid for sure traction even when wet.
The console on the Vapor is the perfect size, not too big, but big enough for all the necessities. A stainless-steel wheel with a control knob comes with the optional Protech hydraulic steering package (required with the jack plate), and there is ample room to mount a combo GPS/fish-finder unit. Both the Pro Flats- and Redfish-package upgrades include a seven-switch electrical panel, a console rod rack, and cockpit and baitwell lighting, as well as a removable folding backrest. The standard stainless-steel handrail and Plexiglas windshield add to the comfort level.
Serious skinny-water anglers will appreciate the Vapor’s thoughtful design features. All the wells are fully insulated. The aft port and center wells have 70-quart capacities, with high-speed pickups, while the console well holds 28 quarts. The 100-quart insulated fish box in the forward deck will hold a banner day’s worth of fish. All cleats are recessed to eliminate unnecessary obstacles, and the carpeted rod racks underneath the gunwales are recessed so rod handles don’t stick out.
Like all Sundance boats, the Spyder-series boats are made with hand-laid biaxial glass with foam coring. The rugged I-beam stringer system adds strength and rigidity without extra pounds. The hull is backed by a 10-year transferable warranty.
If you’re shopping for a quality flats boat, be sure to put the Vapor on your list. It holds its own against the top brands, without a doubt. And the money saved can be used for another fly rod or two.
Spyder FX19 Vapor
Deadrise: 10 degrees (transom)
Fuel: 31 gals.
Max hp: 150
Weight: 1,020 lbs.
Base price: $30,875 with a Yamaha F115 outboard
Sundance Boats: 912-449-0033 • www.sundanceboats.com