Turning out Black Point Channel on south Biscayne Bay, our Yellowfin 17 was greeted by a blustery January day complete with the standard “fresh” 15-knot winter breeze.
While not the kind of day most anglers would want to test a new flats boat, in my mind, these made perfect conditions for seeing just exactly what a shallow-water skiff can do.
Sure, most boats fish well on nice days. But kick up the wind, and add a little chop and a judicious amount of spray, and you’ll get a better idea of what a boat will do.
I liked what I found.
Running and Fishing
Wylie Nagler’s Yellowfin Yachts has earned a reputation for building some of the most elegant, functional light-tackle center consoles on the market. With his larger boats dominating a number of blue-water tournaments, including the ever-competitive Southern Kingfish Association tour, Nagler decided to turn his focus to the world of shallow-water angling.
The result is one of the most functional technical poling skiffs on the market.
Our test boat was rigged with a 90-hp Yamaha two-stroke engine and four-blade stainless prop. One of the most popular among south Florida’s flats-fishing elite, this powerplant provided ample power for the Yellowfin out of the hole.
At 5,200 rpms, the boat had a top end of 39.7 mph, burning 5.5 gph while carrying a half-tank of fuel, two anglers and a full complement of fly tackle and paraphernalia. Throttling back to 4,500 rpms, we cruised at 32 mph, burning about 4 gph.
This skiff is very light and responsive on the pole, able to track well into the wind while not requiring too much correction. It is the kind of technical poling skiff that makes fishing on rough days easier. Integrated spray rails make sure that open-water crossings stay dry.
Design and Construction
The Yellowfin 17 weighs in at just under 625 pounds thanks to composite construction featuring 100 percent vinylester resin, corecell and triaxial fiberglass cloth. Nagler’s finish work is some of the best in the business, a carry-over from his larger boats. Take a look at the underside of the hatches – finished with gelcoat – and you’ll get an idea of the company’s commitment to quality.
One of my favorite aspects of this boat is the nonskid surface. The aggressive pebble-style finish provides good traction even under wet circumstances – yet it is gentle enough so as not to wrench skin from the flesh when kneeling in the cockpit releasing a fish.
Nagler has also taken the hardware to a new level, using Gemlux flushmounted cleats, as well as LED sharkeye bow and stern lights.
The boat features a low-profile side console and under-gunwale storage for up to six fully rigged 9-foot fly rods.
Another unique design feature is a cockpit drain system, which allows the boat to self-bail while underway, yet remain bone-dry at rest with the simple quick turn of the seacocks.
True to the heritage of his larger center consoles, Nagler’s boats are turnkey propositions; standard equipment at the base price includes a single-axle aluminum trailer, a cavernous 35-gallon livewell, hydraulic steering, Gemlux hardware, a hydraulic jack plate and a poling platform.
All you need to add is the water and the fish.
LOA…… 17 ft. 4 in.
**BEAM…… **6 ft. 4 in.
**DRAFT…… **5 1/2 in.
**WEIGHT…… **625 lb. (w/o power)
**FUEL…… **18 gal.
**MAX HP…… **115-hp OB
**MSRP…… $32,000 (w/ 60-hp 4-stroke) **
**Yellowfin Yachts / Sarasota, Florida / 941-753-7828 / **www.yellowfinyachts.com