It’s been well over a decade since legendary flats-boat brand Hewes offered a 21-footer. It’s likely that many shallow-water anglers, faced with a growing family, made the jump to a bay boat instead of a larger flats boat. The popularity of bay models continues its upward trend, but Hewes is now banking on the desire of flats-fishing aficionados to enjoy the benefits of a bigger boat without completely abandoning their roots, introducing a new, redesigned Redfisher 21.
The clean lines, uncluttered layout, and spacious casting decks flush with the wide walk-around gunwales bring into focus the primary aim of the boat’s design: retain the simplicity of a flats skiff while offering fishing room for three or four, more storage for gear and live bait, and increased comfort running to and from the fishing grounds.
With its greater length and beam, the latest Hewes also proves a more stable platform when fishing bumpy inlets or passes, beaches and open-water shoals, and even nearshore wrecks and patch reefs. Plus the hull is designed to tame a moderate chop, afford a dry, comfortable ride, and cover a lot of ground fast.
Available rod and gear stowage exceeds average inshore requirements. Console racks keep six rods upright, ready for action, while undergunwale racks—with rod tubes to protect the tips—cradle four to port and four more to starboard. The deep anchor locker at the bow accommodates a couple of fenders or buoys, along with the anchor and plenty of rode. A full-beam, foredeck compartment offers storage for tackle bags, life vests and rain gear. The aft deck houses four storage compartments: one large and one small hiding under the split bench seat, and twin boxes that bookend the big livewell in the center. As an option, the port box can be plumbed to serve as a huge release well.
The center console places the helmsman on the centerline, leaving room to the left and right for two crew, while a removable 35-gallon cooler with cushion sits one more forward of the console. The dash offers mounting space for a 12-inch multifunction display, engine-monitoring display, trim-tab switches, waterproof switch panel and more. A compass atop the console provides insurance in the event of MFD malfunction, and a hatch below the steering wheel provides storage for valuables, and access to the starting battery and electronics connections.
Eager to put the biggest Redfisher through its paces, we hopped aboard our test boat powered by a Yamaha F250 SHO in Fort Pierce, Florida. Its hole shot was impressive, and so was the overall acceleration. It planed in under 4 seconds, sprinted to 30 mph in 6.1 seconds, and topped out well over 60 mph. According to Yamaha performance data, the boat will do 63.3 with an F300. Those who don’t think that’s fast enough may opt for 50 more horses.
That speed, plus the 50-gallon fuel capacity—which translates into greater range—and the standard 44-gallon livewell and optional 40-gallon release well are bound to make inshore tournament anglers salivate. The boat’s agility and responsiveness, highly desired for navigating meandering backcountry creeks and marsh bayous, stamp additional exclamation points to the performance evaluation.
Bennett electric trim tabs and a T-H Marine Atlas jack plate, both standard-issue, help the boat jump on plane in skinny water, and improve both the ride and performance. At speed, the forward half of the running surface rises clear of the water, increasing performance and fuel efficiency while cushioning impact with waves. Another benefit of the running attitude is splash begins aft of the console, making it nearly impossible for spray to reach the skipper and crew.
The list of available options is long and includes a trolling motor, Power-Pole shallow-water anchor, push pole and brackets, bow casting platform, poling platform or 42-inch tower, recirculating livewell system and more.
All things considered, the 21-footer confirms what the folks at Hewes have demonstrated for years: They know how to build boats to suit the demands of die-hard inshore anglers, and incorporate the latest materials and construction, like VARIS (vacuum-assisted resin infusion system), for improved strength, lighter weight, and more years of service.
If you plan to fish the shallows with more anglers or gear than a typical flats skiff allows, and also want to fish inlets and passes for tarpon, bull reds and snook, and venture oceanside for cobia, king mackerel or reef fish now and then, take a close look at the Redfisher 21.
Length: 21′6″ | Beam: 8′6″ | Draft: 14″ | Fuel: 50 gal. | Weight: 2,850 lb. | Max HP: 350 | Price: $66,202 w/ Yamaha F250 SHO | Hewes Boats: hewesboats.com
Weather: Sunny, 76 degrees | Location: Fort Pierce, Florida | Wind: Southwest 12 mph | Sea State: 1- to 2-foot chop | Test Load: Two adults, 30 gallons of fuel