Mako 19 Pro Skiff Top Drive

Great for shallow water and spotting fish

Mako 19 Pro Skiff
Specs: Length: 19'4" | Beam: 7'9" | Draft: 9" | Fuel: 27 gal. | Weight: 1,900 lb. | Max HP: 115 | Price: $39,995 w/ Mercury 115 hp Pro XS | Test Conditions: Weather: Partly cloudy | Location: Bradenton, Florida | Wind: East 9 knots | Sea State: 1-foot chop | Test Load: Two adults, 25 gallons of fuelCourtesy Mako Boats

Mako Boats recently improved on a great inshore concept, changing the layout of its popular 19 Pro Skiff, and adding a tower and elevated helm that provide an ideal vantage point for running in skinny water and scouting for fish.

Built with shallow-water performance in mind, the Advanced Inverted V (AIV) hull of the 19 Pro Skiff is capable of carrying large loads and integrates design elements that deflect water downward and mitigate spray to keep occupants dry. The inverted V also improves acceleration by reducing drag on the wetted surface. Extending all the way to the transom, the addition of clear water channels allows the engine to be raised vertically, which facilitates jumping up quickly as well as scooting effortlessly across just a few inches of water.

The hull and deck liner are bonded together chemically, and stainless-steel fasteners are then added every 6 inches for maximum strength, before the assembly is filled with expanding foam for structural unification and superior flotation.

Mako 19 Pro Skiff
The powder-coated aluminum tower and elevated helm are perfect for scouting.Courtesy Mako Boats

At rest, the hull becomes an extremely stable fishing platform, with both the forward and aft casting decks wide enough for a pair of anglers to share. A single hatch provides storage up front for the anchor and rode, and the batteries for the Minn Kota Ulterra i-Pilot 80-pound-thrust trolling motor — standard issue on this Mako.

Taking the place of a typical center-console helm, a black powder-coated aluminum tower puts the skipper 50 inches above the deck, where a minimalist station accommodates all the basics, including hydraulic steering, Mercury ­SmartCraft ­multifunction gauge, ­binnacle-mounted motor control, and a panel of waterproof rocker switches, leaving enough room for a combination plotter/fish finder and a VHF radio. A full-width, glove-compartment-type hatch provides access to electrical connectors, as well as storage for valuables and rain gear. A leaning-post-style seat with fold-down footrest enables driving while seated or standing, and a rocket launcher in back holds four rods out of the way, but rigged and ready for action.

Mako 19 Pro Skiff
A 55-quart removable cooler nestled inside the tower frame doubles as a fish box.Courtesy Mako Boats

A fiberglass module at the base of the tower incorporates a forward seat with backrest. Lift the cushion and you gain access to an 18-gallon oval livewell with the interior finished in calming blue, which puts a substantial bait supply just a step away from the forward casting deck. Its dimensions also make it perfect for carrying your catch alive to a tournament weigh-in.

The aft-facing side of the module hides the house battery and leaves some space to stash items you may not need instant access to, like a spare prop and tools. Nestled above it sits a removable 55-quart Orion cooler complete with safety straps to keep it in place.

Mako 19 Pro Skiff
The center hatch in the aft deck hides the largest of two livewells.Courtesy Mako Boats

Halfway between the tower and the rear casting deck, a larger 65-quart cooler — also removable — with a comfy cushion on the lid serves as both a fish box and aft seating for two. Twin compartments in the deck behind it afford dry storage to port and starboard, and a second, larger livewell between them adds another 25 gallons of capacity for your choice of live bait. Meanwhile, storage netting on the aft deck bulkhead keeps dock lines, tackle trays or other essentials within reach.

A Bob’s Machine Shop hydraulic jack plate, standard equipment on this 19-footer, adjusts the height of the Mercury 115 hp Pro XS, the builder’s power of choice, with the touch of a button to navigate extreme shallows and optimize performance according to sea conditions.

Mako 19 Pro Skiff
Aft compartments to port and starboard and netting on the rear bulkhead provide storage.Courtesy Mako Boats

Taking the Top Drive out in Sarasota Bay for a sea trial gave us the chance to do precisely what this boat was designed for: cruise the shallows. Checking the hole shot was the first thing on the agenda, and after several shuttle runs in different directions, the boat averaged 10.5 seconds to go from zero to 30 mph, although the quick-planing hull was usually up much sooner than that. The top speed at wide-open throttle was just over 43 mph, a smidgen less than the original 19 Pro Skiff without a tower. Easing up on the throttle, we determined the Mako remains on plane at just 18 mph, a nice-and-slow cruising speed that is a major asset for learning the topography of a new area or looking for fish.

Mercury 115 hp Pro XS
The Mercury 115 hp Pro XS makes a great match for this fast-planing hull and delivers the fuel efficiency to patrol the flats all day.Courtesy Mercury Marine

A fun, no-nonsense inshore fishing boat, the 19 Pro Skiff Top Drive promises capable skinny-water ­cruising and is a solid choice to fish two to four anglers. Taking into account the affordable price and the fact that Mako includes a galvanized, tandem-axle trailer as part of the package, it also offers a lot of bang for your buck.