If you intend to stalk bonefish, redfish, permit, snook, striped bass, tarpon or any other inshore game fish on the flats, salt marshes, or other shallow water areas, flats boats and flats skiffs — designed precisely for that style of saltwater angling — offer the greatest advantages to successfully sneak up on your favorite target species, including the shallow draft necessary to venture onto skinny water.
Naturally most of us start our boat search with trying to find the best flats boat for the money, but maybe your budget is a bit higher than most and you can look beyond the category of an affordable flats boat. If that’s the case, you’ll find plenty of those options here as well. Smaller flats skiffs are included too.
To help you find the one that best suits your specific needs and budget, the Salt Water Sportsman staff has compiled and updated a guide to the best flats boats for sale today, comprising timeless classics and the latest designs from numerous manufacturers. Scroll down to check out our list of top 16- to 19-foot options (in no particular order) for serious shallow water fishing.
The Complete List of Flats Boats
- Maverick 17 HPX-V II
- Yellowfin 17CE
- Hewes Redfisher 18
- Xplor X7
- East Cape EVO
- Floyd Skiff 10 Weight
- Dolphin 17 Superskiff Pro
- Action Craft 1820 ACE Flatsmaster
- Bonefish Bohemian 17
- Dragonfly Emerger
- Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V
- Beavertail 17 Strike
- Ankona Advent
- Islamorada Morada 18
- Hewes Redfisher 16
- East Cape Fury
- Spyder FX17 Flicker
- Hell’s Bay Eldora
- Action Craft 1720 Gen3 FlyFisher
- Sterling 180
- Mitzi 17 Tournament
- Maverick 17 HPX-S
- Hell’s Bay Professional
- Chittum Islamorada 18 Legacy
- Action Craft 19 ACE FlatsMaster
- Bay Craft Bone Skiff 162
- Yellowfin 17 CC
- East Cape Vantage
- Dolphin 18 Back Country Pro
- Beavertail 18 Air
- Egret 167
- Dragonfly Grand Slam 17
- Hell’s Bay Biscayne
- Sterling TR7
- Spyder FX19 Vapor
- Mako 18 LTS
- Skull Island 16
- Egret 189
- Bluewater 180 Pro
- Dragonfly Classic 17
- Hell’s Bay Marquesa
- Action Craft 1600 FlatsPro
Maverick 17 HPX-V II
With its surprising open-water running capability, and quiet and precise poling proficiency, the Maverick 17 HPX-V II has been the bench mark for top-notch technical poling skiffs since its introduction. This skiff is designed for anglers who want top performance in the toughest and most technically challenging poling situations. This next generation of the 17 HPX-V now offers more easy-to-access dry storage, plus a lighter hull, better balanced to match with smaller outboards like a Yamaha F70.
Yellowfin has a new and improved version of its 17 Skiff, the 17 CE (Carbon Elite), features the same simple, but functional and ergonomically designed deck layout as the original 17 Skiff, but with a new hull design and cutting-edge construction techniques and materials. It incorporates a deeper deadrise and sharper entry for long runs across choppy water, new molded-in spray rails, a single step in the boat’s running surface for greater speed and efficiency.
Hewes Redfisher 18
This versatile, mid-sized skiff has been a prime choice of many backcountry anglers for decades. Recently redesigned, the Redfisher 18 now has a dedicated anchor locker, a new console that accommodates flush-mounted electronic displays up to 12 inches, and a clever cushion setup. The boat is now built using vacuum infusion (VARIS) for an even lighter, faster and stronger hull that is well balanced with either a 115 or 150 hp outboard. An optional backrest/step integrated into the poling tower provide added comfort and safety.
Xplor Boatworks’ newest skiff, the X7, combines a functional design topside and a smooth- and dry-running hull with performance pad and 7-degree deadrise at the transom. The X7 features numerous storage and livewell options, and boasts the newest design in integrated spray rails that channel water down and away from the boat while underway.
East Cape EVO
According to the folks at East Cape Skiffs, this flats boat was built to dominate South Florida’s flats fishing scene, much of which centers around the wide-open oceanside shallows of Biscayne Bay and the Keys, where stiff winds and a moderate chop are commonplace. Built to take sizeable waves while still providing a soft, comfortable ride, with its massive built-in spray rails keeping spray to an absolute minimum, the EVO is also fast, extremely maneuverable, and it floats and poles shallow enough to chase tailers pushing up the skinniest of waters. Dry storage is extensive, and the massive round livewell, conveniently located in the middle of the aft deck, enables anglers to carry a substantial supply of baitfish for live-baiting mangrove shorelines or inlets and passes. As with all East Cape Skiff models, every EVO is a custom build, and the layout may include anything from a side console to a tower with elevated helm, to the classic center console with bench-style seating or a removable leaning post.
Floyd Skiff 10 Weight
A collaboration between industry legend Chris Morejohn and Brian Floyd, the 10 Weight from Floyd Skiff Company reflects an original technical poling skiff design that will travers open water with ease and comfort, draft just 7 inches, and pole silently when stalking prey on the flats. It features a center console with seat, 30-gallon livewell, hydraulic steering, electric trim tabs, under-gunwale rod racks, and more.
Dolphin 17 Superskiff Pro
The hull, inner liner and deck are all made completely of composite materials and fused together for maximum strength and durability. The hull shape is a modified version of the high-performance deep-V from the 16-foot Super Skiff Pro, making the 17 a quick and nimble technical poling skiff that slices through a 2-foot chop and still poles in 8 inches of water. The oversize forward deck makes a perfect casting platform, while the in-floor cast-net and dry-storage compartments accommodate enough gear for 4 anglers. Fore- and aft-facing under-gunwale rod racks hold up to 10 rods. And the ergonomically designed helm seat behind the center console folds down to extend the aft deck for additional casting room. In addition, the 17 Superskiff Pro comes loaded with features like hydraulic steering, trim tabs, gas shocks on all hatches, a 32-gallon oval livewell with high-speed pick up and push-pole holders that increase comfort and make the boat a truly versatile fishing platform.
Action Craft 1820 ACE Flatsmaster
Featuring a high-performance, modified deep-V hull design, the midsize Action Craft 1820 ACE FlatsMaster promises a smooth, dry ride. Built with state-of-the-art construction techniques, and boasting Action Craft’s Pocket Drive, it navigates the shallows — powered by either outboard or push pole — extremely well. Anglers looking for a full-featured, high-quality, shallow-draft boat for coastal fishing will appreciate the 1820′s self-draining cockpit, wide gunwales, and long list of standard features, as well as enough room for the family to spend a day on the water.
Bonefish Bohemian 17
Built out of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber, with integrated structural foam coring and three-piece construction bonded together, the Bohemian from Bonefish Boatworks is light and strong. It sports a stepped V-pad hull that allows the skiff to plane quicker, run faster and ride comfortably without the need for trim tabs, while its submerged reverse chines eliminate unwanted spray. Features include a giant forward storage compartment, plus two large ones on the rear deck, 6 under-gunwale rod tubes, and innovative in-floor storage in the cockpit to stash wet items.
The Emerger from Dragonfly Boatworks is designed to be a light skiff for one or two anglers that provides a smooth, comfortable ride, plus access to the skinniest water. Available in either tiller or center-console versions, this 16-foot flats boat features a unique bottom configuration that lets anglers venture easily and stealthily into the whisper zone. It draws just 5 inches, hence the name Emerger.
Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V
Maverick’s top selling skiff, the Mirage 18 HPX-V is a stable, easy-to-pole skiff that tracks well, is quick out of the hole, and responsive and nimble on the turns, and remains pretty dry even in windy weather. The popular model includes walk-around gunwales with rod racks underneath, a taller console to house sizable electronics, vertical rod racks, and a removable cooler that doubles as a forward console seat. Twin compartments provide ample aft storage and bookend a 30-gallon livewell with dual in-flow system and raw-water, high-speed pickup.
Beavertail 17 Strike
Beavertail considers this the Swiss Army Knife of its boat lineup. The builder claims it can take the rough oceanside conditions often encountered when targeting tarpon in Florida during the annual migration, and also run and pole easily on shallow, backcountry flats to stalk tailing redfish and bonefish. Stealth is a major virtue of the Strike, which Beavertail built to enable anglers to pole silently into position and cast to wary game fish with two to three anglers aboard. This third generation Beavertail was designed to deliver tons of storage and a truly dry ride, thanks to the huge flared bow inspired by Carolina sport fishing yachts. With a unique semi-tunnel hull, and rated for up to 90hp, the builder promises this boat will jump up and race across the skinniest flats without leaving you high-and-dry. Rod racks under both gunwales, trim tabs, jack plate with 4-inch setback, custom poling platform, and an 8-gallon crustacean well with clear lid to keep tabs on the bait are among the boat’s many features.
Built combining carbon fiber, Kevlar and vinylester resin, the lightweight Ankona Advent draws just 6 inches with two anglers and gear on board. Engineered with a variable-radius transom to enhance shallow-water performance, the hull incorporates sharp spray rails, inset tabs, and a stern pad for added dead rise and a more comfortable ride in a chop. The large, front casting deck with a molded hatch includes ample dry storage, while the specious aft deck includes two 10-gallon wells with angled hatches allows for easy access while in or out of the boat.
Islamorada Morada 18
With Carbon Innegra and resin-infusion construction, the Morada 18 poling skiff from Islamorada Boatworks offers a lightweight hull designed with 12 degrees of transom deadrise for a soft ride, and a side-hull feature to knock down spray. The outer chine is soft and sits below the waterline to avoid hull slap. The trim tabs are completely recessed to reduce line snags, and a crowned transom makes spinning the boat while poling easier and quieter.
Hewes Redfisher 16
The completely redesigned, vacuum infused (VARIS) Redfisher 16 features Hewes’ famous ride. With outboards from 70 to 115 hp, this boat can cover lots of ground comfortably and safely, even in bigger water. The Redfisher 16 floats in 11 inches of water, can be effortlessly poled or fished with a trolling motor, and it easily fits in the garage. Its wide beam and walkaround gunwales offer an exceptionally stable fishing platform.
East Cape Fury
Much like the Vantage, East Cape’s largest skiff, the Fury sports a considerable bow flare and large spray rails incorporated into the hull to knock down any spray and keep anglers dry. The flare, which gradually lessens toward midship, enables a wide forward deck with sizeable storage despite the skiff’s small footprint. It also floats very shallow for an 18-footer. And lightweight and narrow at the waterline, the Fury glides and spins readily with little effort when poling, and it requires only a 60 hp motor to run in the mid 30s. A large livewell, rod tubes below the gunwales and additional dry storage in back are among the boat’s key features. As with all other East Cape models, all Fury skiffs are custom built, and a variety of configurations, with different consoles, seating, rod racks, poling and casting platforms, and even towers are available.
Spyder FX17 Flicker
Like Spyder’s larger FX model, the 17-foot Flicker is built with biaxial fiberglass, premium resins, pressure-foamed stringer construction, Baltek foam coring and Nida-Core decks for superb strength without added weight. That lighter weight enables the skiff to achieve top performance with a smaller motor, it makes poling easy and rewards flats anglers with a 7-inch draft. The boat features in-deck storage fore and aft, including twin 70-quart outboard compartments and a livewell with high-speed pick up between them. Standard equipment includes under-gunwale racks for 4 rods, vertical racks for 4 rods on the console (2 on each side), 4-switch panel and trolling motor harness. The Redfish and Pro Flats packages offer a number of upgrades, including finished fiberglass hatches, hydraulic steering, hydraulic jack plate, trim tabs, LED cockpit lighting, a poling platform and more.
Hell’s Bay Eldora
The Eldora by Hell’s Bay Boatworks boats offers a durable build with a simple interior layout, spacious front deck, and wide-open cockpit. The patented hull design — derived from over 20 years of on-the-water experience — and advanced composites and Carbon Innegra construction were combined to afford flats anglers extremely shallow draft as well as whisper-quiet, easy-to-pole performance.
Action Craft 1720 Gen3 FlyFisher
The 1720 FlyFisher offers flexibility and versatility for the light-tackle and fly fishing specialist. A radical, racy chine line, the signature of Action Craft’s exclusive Qui-Dry Hull, reduces fish-spooking hull slap when poling in the shallows, and ensures a remarkably dry ride when running in a heavy chop. A narrow console affords plenty of cockpit room, and wide, 13-inch gunwales provide for easy walk-around and loads of rod storage underneath. A bench-style seat with flip-down back rest is standard, and includes dry storage underneath for two trolling motor batteries. The livewell has recessed fittings to ensure bait remains alive and frisky.
Sterling’s 180 flats boat is built with an exclusive HPIF process that provides high-pressure foam core, double-hull construction for outstanding strength and rigidity. The 180 is designed to cruise shallow water at speed, yet is silent when poling. Ultra-wide beam offers exceptional stability. Standard features include a self-bailing cockpit, multiple dry storage lockers, specially-made rod holders, angled to protect reels, and more.
Mitzi 17 Tournament
The top model in Mitzi’s family of skiffs, the 17 Tournament is built around the brand’s successful modified V-hull with a transom pocket and 11 degrees of deadrise at the transom, resulting in a zippy and agile shallow-drafting skiff that is easy pole. It features wide walk-around gunwales, three dry storage compartments (one fore and two aft), rod racks under both gunwales, vertical rack (for three rods) in the console, release well in the aft deck, console baitwell, and poling platform.
Maverick 17 HPX-S
The 17 HPX-S is touted by Maverick Boats as a skiff that floats in less than 6 inches of water, drives like a sports car while keeping its occupants dry and comfortable, and poles with precision and stealth. Its one-of-a-kind VARIS constructed Kevlar hull was designed by one of the most experienced teams in the business, with the latest in CAD-designed naval architecture, and advanced aeronautic technologies, to blend a smooth-running surface with poling performance for fishing in super-shallow water.
Hell’s Bay Professional
Built for maximum versatility in a wide range of conditions and fishing situations, the Professional from Hell’s Bay Boatworks combines shallow draft, a dry and comfortable ride, and cutting-edge design. Developed for guides, tournament professionals, and hardcore enthusiasts, this Carbon Innegra-constructed skiff is one of the leading choices for anglers looking for no-holds-barred, performance in a shallow-water fishing machine.
Chittum Islamorada 18 Legacy
Stealth and shallow draft are the cornerstones of this full size skiff, built on a patented hull that weighs a mere 400 pounds before rigging and incorporates massive built-in spray rails for a super dry ride, a staggered split chine below the waterline for silent poling, and a radius transom (with no sponsons) to prevent rebound waves that may spook fish. The 18 Legacy is offered in two hull forms: the S with 12-degree deadrise and the SS with 2-degree deadrise, both loaded with features like a “floating” center console with 360-degree toe kick and forward seat with a large insulated ice chest, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, two large aft dry storage lockers, aft anchor/dry storage compartment, 14-rod racks under the gunnels with rod tubes fore and aft, 30-gallon baitwell/release well, carbon-fiber poling platform with with SeaDek, LED lighting in all compartments, wells, console and under gunnels, custom stainless steel and aluminum trailer with walk boards, and more.
Action Craft 19 ACE FlatsMaster
The bow deck of the Action Craft’s 19 ACE FlatsMaster features a built-in, removable cooler and storage compartment, plus a round livewell and an anchor locker. The aft deck includes a large, oval livewell and two large storage compartments, one of which can be plumbed to serve as a release well. A full-width dry storage compartment is located below the cushioned bench seat, and features a backrest that folds down flat to extend the aft casting deck.
Bay Craft Bone Skiff 162
Designed for anglers who want ample storage and fishing room in an easy-store, shallow-water boat, Bay Craft’s Bone Skiff measures only 18.6 feet in length on a trailer with a swing-away tongue to fit easily in most garages. The boat’s 6-foot, 7.9-inch beam makes it one of the most stable fishing platforms in the industry, and its features include diamond nonskid throughout, all-composite construction, under-gunwale rod storage, self-bailing cockpit, and more.
Yellowfin 17 CC
The workmanship and attention to detail that go into Yellowfin’s offshore center consoles and bay boats is also evident in the 17 CC, the company’s technical poling skiff model. Weighing just 600 pounds, the boat is light and responsive on the pole and it tracks well. Aggressive pebble-style nonskid finish provides good traction even in wet conditions, and the integrated spray rails keep anglers dry during open-water crossings, so this is the kind of technical poling skiff that makes fishing on rough days easier. The boat features a low-profile side console, a cavernous 35-gallon livewell and under-gunwale storage for up to six fully rigged 9-foot fly rods. The cockpit drain system, a unique design feature, allows the boat to self-bail while underway and remain bone-dry at rest with the simple quick turn of the seacocks.
East Cape Vantage
At just over 19 feet, the Vantage has the length to reach the next wave without stuffing the bow when running in choppy, open water, which the V and the deadrise make quite comfortable. The bow flare and large spray rails smartly incorporated in the hull’s design allow the builder to tout the boat as the driest skiff in existence. Despite the 79-inch beam, relatively narrow for a 19-footer, the hull’s footprint is even smaller, helping the skiff attain high speeds, remain nimble and negotiate rough water with ease. When poling, the Vantage exhibits a smaller boat attitude. It tracks very well and spins readily without much effort. On top, the fore and aft casting decks are massive. A cavernous compartment in the front and two generous ones in the rear afford ample storage, and the deep gutters and thick gaskets ensure the contents stay dry. A huge livewell in the aft deck easily accommodates a pair of tournament winning fish or more than enough live bait to chum with. As is the case with other premium skiffs, every Vantage is custom built in a variety of configurations, with different consoles, seating, rod racks, poling and casting platforms, and even towers available, along with a wealth of options, like a hydraulic jack plate, shallow-water anchoring system and more.
Dolphin 18 Back Country Pro
Tarpon and backcountry guides from Jupiter to Key West have been fishing aboard the 18 Back Country Pro for over twenty years and brag about its stability in open bays and inlets, the way the deep-V hull cuts through a chop, and the 10-inches of water it only requires to float. With a maximum horsepower rating of 150, this boat tops at around 55 mph, so it’s easy to reach hot spots deep in the backcountry in time for the morning bite, and pick up the family to water ski or dive the patch reefs in the afternoon. Extensive standard features include waterproof switches with circuit breakers, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, cockpit lighting under gunnels and inside livewell and aft storage compartment, in-floor cast net compartment, large dry storage compartments fore and aft, 2 oval livewells (39 gallons combined) with high-speed pickup, storage racks with tubes for 10 rods under the gunnels, poling Platform, recessed push-pole holders, and more.
Beavertail 18 Air
The Beavertail Air was designed to handle the big water of open bays, yet still access the shallow flats where trophy fish live. Built with tournament anglers at heart, the Air sports 360 degrees of fishability, loads of dry storage, and offers an optional 25-gallon release well. Constructed with the most advanced coring & carbon kevlar materials, the hull is infused to create a solid, yet lightweight structure able to take on the toughest of conditions and still float skinny. And with a full stepped hull and a maximum power rating of 115 horses, Beavertail says the 18-foot Air will get you to the fishing grounds and back fast, dry and in comfort. Key standard features include a large forward casting deck with anchor locker, forward large dry-storage compartment, 30-gallon insulated livewell, two large aft storage compartments which can be plumbed as release wells, trim tabs, jack plate, center console with insulated cooler under forward jump seat, hydraulic steering, under-gunnel rod racks for rods up to 10 feet long, and custom poling platform.
The smaller sibling to Egret’s signature 189 model is still a sizable platform for inshore anglers to navigate in comfort and fish shallow flats unencumbered. Like the larger 189, this boat reaches considerable speeds and takes on big, open water with gusto. Thanks to the 167′s design, materials and construction, every one that leaves the factory is as light and strong as possible. The hull was design to provide a soft, dry ride, and still float and pole surprisingly skinny. Dry storage at the bow and the rear is both generous and easy to access. Rod lockers along both gunwales include racks that cradle rods pointing fore and aft and prevent tangles. A Ritchie compass, an aluminum poling platform with welded rod holders, trim tabs, hydraulic steering, push-pole holders, cockpit lighting and engine gauges are part of the many standard features.
Dragonfly Grand Slam 17
The combination of classic lines and innovative features really sets the Grand Slam 17 apart. The design incorporates many of yesteryear’s eye-pleasing lines in a skiff built with the latest technology to offer comfort and versatility, performing at the level professional guides and serious flats anglers demand. Whether poling in skinny water or storming across an open bay to the next fishing spot, this Dragonfly is sure to please. The skiff is finely tuned and balanced for easy and quiet poling. There’s ample storage, and a recessed shelf keeps batteries secure and out of the way while affording complete access to the front locker and the trolling motor connections. The Sportfishing Console, a popular option, includes 6 integrated upright rod holders and a slide-out drawer to keep essentials at arms length but out of the elements. Recessed grab handles, oversize cockpit drains plumbed directly to the bilge, a Simpson bracket that makes servicing the bilge pump a cinch, recessed push-pole holders that flip up and retract in unison, and a 22-gallon oval livewell with clear lid and LED underwater lights are among the many other smart appointments available.
Hell’s Bay Biscayne
Designed to provide a comfortable ride while crossing rough water oceanside or across open bays and still pole over shallow flats with ease, the Biscayne may be Hell Bay’s most versatile flats skiff. Its Kevlar hull is designed with a small footprint and a sharp entry to cut through a chop, with spray rails incorporated to ensure the ride is always dry, even in open water. Vacuum-bagged Core-Cell construction throughout make the skiff strong and tough while keeping the weight down. The flat transom allows the poler to spin the skiff quickly and sharply, while a large hatch up front and a pair of smaller shotgun-style hatches in the rear provide access to generous dry storage compartments. All hatches include a slam-latch design, which locks down the hatch as you close it for extra security and peace of mind. Under-gunwale rod racks accommodate seven fly rods, and the top surface of the standard poling platform comes covered in SeaDek for added comfort.
This unique skiff incorporates a non-slap hull design that makes it a stealthy fishing platform, with a tunnel that runs the entire length of the boat, allowing the motor to be set higher and run at high speed in ankle-deep water. The tunnel also acts as a keel during high-speed turns and helps the boat track straight while poling. Like all Sterling models, the TR7 is built using a proprietary, three-piece construction process whereby the outer hull and inner liner are bonded together, injected with foam flotation under high pressure and then chemically bonded together with the cap to form one solid piece. The boat is made entirely of carbon fiber and Kevlar, delivering a hull weight of just over 500 pounds. Standard features include the poling platform, trim tabs, hydraulic jack plate, a 10-gallon baitwell and 25-gallon release well, removable backrest, LED courtesy lights and a custom Ameritrail aluminum trailer.
Spyder FX19 Vapor
With a length of 19 feet and a narrow beam of 6 feet, 11 inches, the FX19 Vapor requires less power to achieve top performance. The long planing pad and transom pocket increase its shallow-water capability. The boat is responsive on the run and takes tight turns as if it were on rails. It also glides and spins easily with the push pole, with hull slap negligible at worst. There’s a 100-quart insulated fish box in the forward deck to ice down the day’s catch and three 70-quart storage compartments, two of them located aft, bookending a release well with high-speed pickup. The Vapor also comes pre-wired for a trolling motor, with a molded pad on the bow to accommodate a quick-release mount, and rod racks — carpeted and recessed — under the gunwales. Finished fiberglass hatches, upgraded vertical console racks for 6 rods, cockpit and baitwell lighting, and a removable folding backrest are included with the Redfish or Pro Flats packages. The latter also includes a poling platform with hinged legs so it lies forward when servicing the motor.
Mako 18 LTS
The 18 LTS is a clean, simple and well-executed boat that excels at many things. The foredeck is accented with a nice toe rail and incorporates a large casting platform with a sizeable dry-storage compartment underneath. There is a place for an optional trolling motor on the foredeck and a large anchor locker forward with a double-sided hatch and a gasket to keep water out. There are three vertical rod holders on each side of the console, and the cushioned forward console seat houses an 18-gallon aerated livewell. The business side of the console has a panel for flush-mounting electronics, a side-mount binnacle control to save dash space, and a gauge cluster that’s easily read in front of the helm. The console seat is a 72-quart cushioned cooler with a flip-flop backrest, so you can sit facing aft when drifting and lean back. Along with a long list of standard features, every 18 LTS comes with a trailer, and Mako also offers a wealth of options to rig out the boat for any situation.
Skull Island 16
Made from 100 percent vinylester resin and a combination of aerospace-grade closed-cell foam, woven fiberglass and Kevlar cloth, and the builder’s proprietary laminate schedule, the Skull Island 16 achieve an impressive strength-to-weight ration. The sharp forward entry with the wide flare of large Carolina-style game boats and integrated spray rails results in smooth, dry runs. A unique transom feature allows the engine to be mounted higher for increased shallow-water performance, while the lightweight, non-slap hull design makes poling truly effortless. The boat spins on a dime, and its 60-inch beam enables anglers to explore narrow creeks inaccessible to larger skiffs. The Skull Island offers spacious, double-gasketed storage compartments fore and aft, a large self-draining cockpit, under-gunwale racks for six 9-foot rods and a variety of cockpit configurations, including center-console and tiller setups. A powder-coated 12-gallon aluminum fuel tank and trim tabs are also standard, with an extensive list of options available.
There’s no doubt this is a premier flats boat. The builder’s quality construction, superb fit and finish and great attention to detail are evident. The hull design provides a soft, dry ride, and surprisingly shallow draft. It’s also capable of considerable speeds and safe, comfortable runs in big, open water. Dry storage fore and aft is extensive and easily accessible. Rod lockers along both gunwales are impressive, designed to prevent tangles while safely cradling rods pointing in both directions. The tinned wiring and electrical connections are clean, well-organized and finished with heat shrink to prevent corrosion. Standard features include a Ritchie compass, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, push-pole holders and a poling platform. An extensive list of options include a casting platform, console vertical rod racks, flush-mount rod holders on the gunwales, on-board battery charger, bow-mount trolling motor and more.
Bluewater 180 Pro
A semi-custom boat designed to bridge the gap between a flats boat and a bay boat. Aided by lifting pads amidships, a unique design feature in the boat’s hull, the Bluewater 180 offers top performance and excellent range. Generous dry storage compartments are fully finished, and deep gutters keep water from seeping in. Walk-around gunnels are complemented with rod racks underneath, and the 30-gallon livewell with rounded corners comes plumbed to circulate water from the bottom up to ensure good flow of raw water and keep live bait nice and frisky. And a wealth of additional fishing features, both standard and optional, meet the demands of even the most hardcore shallow water angler.
Dragonfly Classic 17
The Dragonfly’s sensuous curves evoke memories of classic yacht design, like the mahogany sportfishers of yesteryear. Only this flats skiff is constructed of tough, modern materials in a perfect blend of tradition and the latest technology. The long list of standard features includes safe-tee steering, Lenco trim tabs, plumbed livewell with quick change pump, poling platform, recessed push-pole holders and hand holds, and rod storage below the gunwales.
Hell’s Bay Marquesa
The Marquesa from Hell’s Bay Boatworks is designed to float in only 7 inches, and comfortably handle bigger water and more anglers, with a running pad that increases the hull’s running speed and improves tracking and spinning while poling. The front deck is designed free of snags, with plenty of room for a casting platform and substantial dry storage underneath. In the rear, a large livewell fills the needs of live-bait and release tournament anglers, and twin storage compartments hide under hatches that allow easy access from every direction.
Action Craft 1600 FlatsPro
The 1600 FlatsPro is yet another model from Action Craft to rank among today’s best flats skiffs. While designed for shallow water use, this 16-footer is US Coast Guard-rated to carry up to five people—more than many larger flats boat models, with storage capacity also substantial. Stability is a key feature of top flats boats and, thanks to its 14-degree transom deadrise and 7-foot beam, the 1600 FlatsPro is super stable. Action Craft also offers multiple seating options to increase the comfort level onboard, including a bench-style helm seat with flip-up backrest that folds flats with the aft deck for fishing, and a raised console with leaning-post seating for better visibility when cruising or scouting for fish. Under-gunwale rod racks and spacious fore and aft casting decks, both boasting a livewell topping 20 gallons, are among the many fishing amenities.