In football, great coaches are often quoted as saying the battle for the grid iron is a, “game of inches”. Well there’s another pastime that could easily adopt that same idiom and that’s shallow water fishing. From Texas to the Southeastern U.S., shallow flats are filled with plenty of fish but to get at them you’ve got to have the right equipment run shallow & silent. As for how shallow, well that’s a matter of opinion but most consider a “good” flats boat (also commonly called a, “technical poling skiff”) to draft between 7″ and 12″ a great choice for skinny water. Regarding decibels, let’s come back to that in a moment.
The Differences in Skinny Water Boats
To understand the true delta between a technical poling skiff and a flats boats you have to look beyond aesthetics. Appearance wise the differences are negligible but at the core, it is really more about weight (or lack thereof) and size more so than other factors. According to Sport Fishing’s Jim Hendricks on the history of flats boat, “some anglers yearned for boats that were lighter, easier to pole, more nimble and even quieter”. Taking the needs to heart, as a flats boats manufacturers we’re consistently working to reduce weight without compromising safety and stability in two models, the FX19 Vapor and FX17 Flicker. (a shameless plug yes – we know!)
Now that you know the difference between a poling skiff and flats boat, let’s circle back to sound. No matter who may tell you otherwise, a large key to successful flats fishing is avoiding detection. To do so, you’ll want a limited or small presentation with very little hull slap. Meaning, fish in the flats are fully aware of what sounds are part of their natural environment. If you’re pushing around a larger flat bottom boat with lots of weight, you’re only one bounce and slap away from sounding a full-blown panic and retreat. The beauty of a poling skiff, the lower weight reducing the noise associated with hull slap which in the end equal less decibels and a stealthy approach.
From the Platform
The advantage of the platform might not be immediately clear to some. In fact, we’ve actually heard poling platforms referred to as the, “big ladder seat thingy”. Cute right? That aside, imaging standing approximately 40 inches over the water into often clear water; congratulations, you’ve just greatly improved your chances of success. Next add in a pair of cheapo polarized sunglasses and viola, you can now see what’s looming about and sight fish. The takeaway, a the platform allows you visually verify those hunches and thereby get the most out of the flats.
Reeling It In
If you’re asking if your can still fish the flats in your Sundance or Sea Born? Absolutely, but if your goal is to get ultra-skinny while remaining silent, a technical is quite possible the best boat for you. Still unsure? We invite you to find a dealer near you and take a test ride on a Spyder. We’re convinced you’ll love it.