What is a microskiff?
A microskiff is a small skiff, namely, lightweight, flat bottomed motorboat. Fishermen in the South use such boats for flats fishing, and in protected bays, estuaries and lakes, as well as on slow moving rivers. The microskiff is said to have evolved from dinghies. Typically, two fishermen man a microskiff.
But “Small and lightweight” means a boat that still requires transportation by trailer, and consequently, its owner must launch and beach it in boat ramps, which is often inconvenient.
Propulsion problems with typical microskiff
These small skiffs are are too wide and heavy to allow for paddling, and they are designed to be propelled with outboard gas engines, which is problematic for several reasons –
Outboard motors can run out of fuel or stall due to technical problems, and any electric trolling motor that may be on board would not be enough for going over long distances and/or in adverse weather conditions, fast currents, etc.
Both outboard motors and electric motors have propellers that require being immersed in water a couple of inches below the surface. This means that the effective draft of a typical microskiff is not very shallow, and it’s often incompatible with fishing in very shallow water, namely “skinny water”.
Draft issues also limit these small skiffs when it comes to available launching and beaching spots, which means that their owners depend on boat ramps, and this fact is known to cause frustration due to much time wasted on waiting and technical maneuvers instead of being available for fishing.
On top of this, propellers don’t perform particularly well in water that’s infested with seaweed and grass. Anglers who fish in such waters know that they are particularly productive fisheries.
The myth of Poling
Small skiff manufacturers like to show pictures of fishermen who propel their microskiff through shallow water with a push pole. While possible, poling isn’t that practical in real world conditions, because it involves long intervals between pushes, and the big effort that’s invested in each push to accelerate is soon wasted when the boat decelerates as the pole is lifted out of the water in preparation for the next push. Accelerating is very wasteful in energy terms, and besides, being relatively wide and heavy makes skiffs lose momentum rapidly, so the person who uses a push pole to propel them gets tired in a short time.
Not many people are capable of poling a microskiff for more than a few minutes, namely for more than a few hundred yards. This is hardly enough for effective fishing.
To add insult to injury, the hulls of these small craft don’t track well, because they are neither very long nor narrow, and they do not feature fins, skegs or tunnels that can contribute to their directional stability. This is why poling a small skiff in a straight line isn’t easy, and it makes you waste a lot of time and efforts trying to maintain the course.
Poling is far less effective than paddling, and it’s wasteful even compared to rowing.
Bottom line –
To fish in very shallow water and vegetation-rich water, you need a boat that does not depend solely on its outboard motor, and one than you can easily, comfortably and effectively paddle, and not just pole.
Wavewalk’s W700 series: The optimal skiff for fishing
A good microskiff is required to enable two fishermen or a solo fisherman to launch it, beach it, drive it, fish from it and paddle it in all water conditions, standing or seated.
This fishing craft must be very stable yet not too wide, so that it can be effective for paddling.
The twin-hull (catamaran) Wavewalk® 700 microskiff works perfectly both as a tandem and solo boat. This means for one angler too, in case a fishing buddy is not available.
The W700’s two narrow catamaran hulls make it track better than other boats of similar size, and this fact also guarantees top performance in terms of poling and paddling with either kayak or canoe paddles.
Weighing about 80 lbs, this optimal small skiff is sufficiently lightweight for transportation without a trailer, and for car-topping by just one person.
The W700 is the only two-person small skiff that offers such advantages, and ironically, this innovative craft is lighter than the typical fishing kayak, and much lighter than the typical tandem fishing kayak.
No trailer, and all types of propulsion in one boat
Wavewalk’s revolutionary W700 microskiff is a portable, car-top boat, which means that it requires no trailer. Even one person can easily car top it. It works well in choppy water and in skinny water, and also in vegetation-rich water. Two big and heavy fishermen can fish standing in it in full comfort. Driving it is easy, comfortable and fun, and it can be outfitted with a powerful outboard motor, and with an electric motor for trolling.
A crew of paddlers can easily and effectively paddle this microskiff either in a kayak mode, using dual-blade paddles, or in a canoe mode, with single blade paddles.
This lightweight craft tracks better than conventional skiffs, so that poling it is easier and more effective than poling other microskiff, including solo skiffs, namely skiffs designed to carry just one person.
The Wavewalk® 700 comes in all-white, which is the traditional color for this class of small fishing boats, and in a number of additional color combinations that are suitable for inland fishing.
It was too windy to fish in the river so I stayed in the lagoon by where my friend lets me keep my Wavewalk kayak on his floating dock. I had been out in the morning about 7:30 AM and caught a small snook about 14 inches – a beautiful fish and since I got him on a small foam rubber “gurgler” fly it was fun to see a fish take that surface fly less than a foot from the mangroves in about eight inches of water. It took a little while reviving him in the water before releasing him before I could go looking for his big brother.
Fished until about noon got a couple of hook ups but nothing came to the boat.
I went back just about 7 PM and staked out at the corner of a nice grass flat in the lagoon next to the mangrove creek that feeds in from the Indian River.
It was low incoming tide one of the best times for the bigger fish to get in close to the flat in about four to five feet of water, they slip up on the grass flat and raid the little mullet fingerlings and grass shrimp and can dash back into the deeper water for cover.
So I fished different flies and different sides of the flat for about an hour… fifteen minutes after sunset I was making my “last cast” for the night and bang a freight train hits my fly about thirty five feet from the kayak I am standing on my platform on top of the center tunnel and all the line starts to shoot out of my striping basket and (for once it is not tangled up) whiz all the line is out of the basket probably 125 feet or so and I am on the reel and it is buzzing. First time I am down to my backing line it is still going out to open water in the lagoon
(not back to the mangroves like sneaky snook usually do). So I let him go
I mean he is too big and hot to horse in with an eight weight and 10 lb
tippet. Three good runs, a couple of tries for the mangroves and 15 minutes later I have him in the boat.
26″ snook WOW the first really nice fish I have ever caught out of the “W” and it was a beauty it took me almost 10 minutes to revive him pushing him through the water next to the boat.
But finally he swam off before I was eaten to death by Florida mosquito’s it was almost dark but I was as high as a tree frog just paddling back to the dock whistling Dixie.
I have caught a few smallish fish in the lagoon but started to think that all the nice ones are in the river.
Oh yeah all you northern woodsman who are wondering why I released a five pound snook instead of eating him, there is a limit here we call “slot” fish, 28″ to 32″ inches if they are in the slot then they are keepers but he was a little shy of the slot. And after one of the best battles I have had on fly since my Trinity river steelhead days, I figured he deserved a second chance anyway.
I love my Wavewalk… when that fish was on I was thinking he went 360 degrees around the boat did three really long runs and in general made 15 minutes feel like about three. I honestly don’t think there is any chance that this old man could have landed that fish in any other kayak but the Wavewalk fishing kayak. I mean I fish with a friend who has five kayaks SOT and Sit in type and he is an athlete, but I have seen how little room to
move and how cramped it is and if your line snags on anything when you have a big fish on a fly (even just for a moment) it is good by fish.
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My W fishing kayak allowed me to get into some Bluegills.
A regular boat would have spooked the fish, that’s if a boat would have been able to get to this spot in the first place.
I was able to sneak up in the shallow, weedy, back water areas to locate the Gills.
I kept a few of the nicer ones for a fresh Gill fry.
Florida is known to be the world’s fishing capital, and together with the Southeast, it’s the biggest market for fishing related products and services. The same is true for kayak fishing.
It was a customer from Florida who bought the first W kayak ever, although he didn’t fish from it.
Florida has more kayak fishing clubs than any other state, or country, and the biggest kayak fishing event worldwide, the Jacksonville Classic kayak tournament, with some 400 participants, takes place in Florida.
This magazine has a special section reserved for kayak fishing in Florida and the Southeast >>
It includes kayak reviews and kayak fishing trips reports from Florida and other southeastern states, such as Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, etc.
This section also features reviews of rigged fishing kayaks, including some used for fly fishing in the flats.