A Buyers Guide To Flats Skiffs

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By Owen Plair

As the world of saltwater fly fishing steadily grows, so the does the market for poling skiffs.

There are tons of different flats boat companies out there today and an unreal number of different skiffs to choose from. Each flats boat is designed for a purpose–whether you want to get super shallow, pole deeper for tarpon, or simply have a boat you will only pole on the weekends before picking up the family for a day at the sandbar. Inshore fishing is a lot more affordable and easier than offshore fishing, especially in today’s economy and fuel cost. Be sure that you will use this boat more than 10-12 times of year because it’s often cheaper and always easier to hire a guide than own a skiff.

Steve Seinberg
Steve Seinberg
There are many different types of hulls. Each one is made for a specific kind of fishing, determined by draft and types of water you fish. In short, you want a skiff that will meet your needs in the waters you will be fishing. Write down what your priorities are for your skiff. Things like draft, poling ability, comfort, size, storage, engine, how many people you will have on board, and most importantly price. These are all factors that will help you decide what kind of skiff you will be happy with. Most of all, keep in mind that your wants may not be perfectly met, because no matter how you look at it, there will always be a compromise of one preference to achieve something more important.

DO YOUR RESEARCH:

One great asset when buying a flats boat is the internet. There are endless places to shop and get a feel for the flats boat market. Boat Trader, dealer websites, forums, and even Craigslist. Once you have an idea of the boat you’re interested in, start Googling for forums and articles about that certain boat. Websites like Micro Skiff and Skinny Skiff have good information on different poling skiffs. Another great trick is to look for the skiffs guides are using in your area. These guides make a living on their skiffs, and have plenty of good information from personal use. I always recommend going out with a guide who runs the skiff you’re looking at. Not only get more information about the skiff but actually fish on the boat.

THE TECHNICAL SKIFF:

DSC04420-1200x800The term “Technical” is used a lot in the flats boat industry. Mostly referring to skiffs that are designed for the angler who wants the absolute best performance when poling, fishing, and running. This is the badass side of the skiff market and usually the most expensive because of how they are built and how they perform on the water. People sometimes complain about how expensive these skiffs can be, but there is a reason they cost $35-60K for a brand new 17ft boat. Companies like Maverick Boat Company, Hells Bay Boatworks, East Cape Skiffs, Chittum, Beaver Tail, Dolphin, and other big names put a lot of time in research and development. These technical skiffs are designed and built for fishing the flats just like a Lamborghini is built for going fast. The history behind these skiffs is amazing and it’s truly unbelievable how much technology has been developed over the last 20 years. It all started with a boat to get you and your angler shallower, and closer to the fish in their natural environment.

GLIDE-2015-30-SUZUKI-ICE-BLUE-TILLE-PERRY-MCDOUGALD-EAST-CAPE-SKIFFS-BOAT-IMAGE-GALLERY-CUSTOM-BOAT-BUILDER-FISHING-SKIFF-MANUFACTURER-119fcb36b4-1200x884Size is a key factor for a technical skiff. These are skiffs between 15-18ft and draft between 4-8 inches of water. They are small, lightweight, and made for poling in shallow waters. Anywhere from 6 inches of water for tailing fish or 10ft of water for migrating tarpon. These are not boats to take a bunch of people on and usually have a limit of 2-3 people max. They are often a tad tippy when walking around but again they are designed to have a person on the bow casting, the other sitting on the cooler, and someone on the tower poling. The way these skiffs perform in their desired fisheries is what makes them “Technical” and they are one of the most important tools in saltwater fly fishing.

Lots of other factors come in to play.

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Lowcountry Winter Redfish

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By Owen Plair

What makes the winter fishing for redfish so special?

There are not many fisheries that have a winter time season, due to migratory fish, cold temps, snow, and ice. One of the many great things about the Lowcountry is that it is a year round fishery for Redfish. When the bright green spartina grass starts to fade to brown and the water temperature dips below 65 degrees; you know winter fishing has arrived here on the coast of South Carolina.

One thing that’s special about the winter is the low tide fishery, which is mainly what we are fishing. The fiddlers go down in the winter which takes away the opportunity for tailing fish on the flood tides. During the low tides from mid December until the end of March, fishing can be some of the most visual of the year as large schools of 20-200 Redfish cruise the shallow water mud flats.

In the winter, water clarity is the best it gets all year. Colder water and less rain provides gin clear water on the mud flats, and small creeks. Clear winter skies make it easier to see these large schools as far as 50-100 yards from the boat, as they cruise down the mud flats in 8-10 inches of water. It’s as close to bone fishing that you can get and an absolute blast watching 5 or 6 different fish chase the fly.

Redfish school up in high numbers during the winter time to stay safe from dolphin, which are their number one predator. The dolphin also take advantage of the clear water and large schools during low tide, since there are not as many mullet or other bait fish for them to feed on. The redfish naturally feel more comfortable cruising the flats in numbers, when threatened by feeding dolphin.

Like I mentioned above, there are not a lot of baitfish and shrimp around during the winter months. One good thing about this is that the redfish

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The Bimini Twist

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The Bimini Twist may be the the most mysterious knot in fly fishing.

I love the look you get when you tie one. It’s as though you pulled a rabbit out of your fishing hat. In reality, the Bimini Twist is not a difficult knot. Once you understand it it’s very easy to tie and it can not be beat for strength. It is the best method for attaching you backing to your fly line and a knot every angler should know how to tie. Here’s Capt. Joel Dickey to show you how easy it is.

WATCH THE VIDEO AND LEARN TO TIE THE BIMINI TWIST!

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A Conversation With April Vokey

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Listen to the interview!

April Vokey is one of the most recognized, and sometimes controversial figures in fly-fishing.

Few anglers have been thrust into the limelight in quite the same way as April Vokey. April is the first to admit that she asked for it, but it hasn’t always been an easy ride. She has enjoyed, and often endured, a weird kind of celebrity which may only exist in fly fishing.

She has been a writer, a teacher, a blogger, a social media sensation, a TV personality, an entrepreneur, a passionate conservationist, an advocate for at-risk kids and, above all, an obsessed angler. She is a walking contradiction in many ways and whatever you think you know about her, there is more to the story.

I met April, by chance, on a gravel bar on the Dean River in British Colombia. She would agree with me that that first meeting was odd, and neither of us would have guessed it was the beginning of a friendship, but it was. I was flattered, and a little nervous, when April asked me to record an episode of her “Anchored” podcast. (If you’re not a listener, you should be.) We agreed then that she would return the favor and sit down with me for an in depth interview for the G&G audience.

While April was in town helping with a fundraiser for our local Chattahoochee river, we recorded this interview. Four and a half months pregnant, she is clearly embracing the moment as a turning point and chose to share a lot of personal experiences which she has not discussed publicly in the past. It was an engaged, frank and enlightening conversation.

I HOPE YOU ENJOY GETTING TO KNOW APRIL VOKEY AS MUCH AS I HAVE.

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It’s All in the Heart

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By Louis Cahill

Bill didn’t know anything about fly fishing.

That’s not my judgment; he told me so. In fact, it was the first thing he told me. Standing on the bow of the skiff, staring into a Bahamian flat, looking for a fish he’d only heard of, he was as out of his element as a cat on roller skates. A tire salesman from Wisconsin, he’d walked into the local fly shop and told the guy behind the counter,

“I want to catch a tarpon on a fly. What do I need?”

The shop guy told him you don’t just buy a fly rod and catch a tarpon. He knew about the Gink and Gasoline Bonefish School and said,

“Go on this guy’s trip. He’ll teach you what you need to know to catch a tarpon.”

When Bill told me that story, I thought, hell yes! I’ll fish with this guy any day. I don’t care if he doesn’t know which end of the rod to hold.

The first day Bill and I fished together was not a great day for a beginner. We had some sun but the wind was howling. I’m sure Bill had some thoughts about how much he’d spent on that new eight-weight rod, that must have felt worthless in that wind. When I stepped up and punched my clearing cast into the wind, he moaned,

“Jesus! Right into the wind,” and rested his face in his hands.

I’ve heard folks, mostly folks who know less than Bill about fly fishing say, “It’s all in the wrist.” Of course, it isn’t. It’s no more in the wrist than it is in the rod, the line or the fly. It’s not in a book or a video. It isn’t even in your head. Fly fishing is in your heart, and I didn’t have to spend much time with Bill to see that his was full.

Bill didn’t want to catch a tarpon because it would make him cool, or even because it was a challenge. He didn’t want to do it so he could post the photo on Facebook or brag to his buddies. His buddies wouldn’t even know what a tarpon was. Bill wanted to catch his tarpon for one simple reason. His doctor had told him he was going to die. Soon, and for what ever reason, catching a tarpon on the fly was the one thing he wanted to do first.

When Bill told me that,

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Lowcountry Meets The Louisiana Marsh  

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By Owen Plair

I could see this monster redfish laid up, just waiting for a fly.

As a full-time redfish guide in South Carolina, over the years it has been kind of hard for me to justify spending money to travel and fish the Louisiana marsh for a species I spend over 180 days year targeting. The two things that have always intrigued me about Louisiana are how big the redfish are in these shallow waters, and how insanely aggressive these big fish are. Not to mention the overall numbers of fish and amount of water in this world class fishery. Over the years I have heard countless stories from clients and friends and watched tons of videos about the Louisiana marsh, which have me very eager to experience this big fish destination first hand.

Back in December, I finally made the trip to the bayou in search of a monster redfish on fly. Most of the fly fishing guides in Louisiana are seasonal guides from other states including Florida, Texas, and in my guide’s case, North Carolina. These guides travel to Louisiana every year for the prime fall months when the big bull redfish swim and feed inshore on the cooler shallow water flats. My good friend Capt. Allen Cain is based out of Hopedale, Louisiana. Allen spends 3 to 4 months a year in Louisiana targeting these big fish with anglers from all over the U.S. After several seasons of sending me pictures of 20- and 30-pound redfish on fly, he finally talked me into making the trip.

New Orleans is one of my favorite places to visit and I had spent time there a few years ago for Mardi Gras. Yes, I do remember being in New Orleans in spite of a few fuzzy nights. Nola is an awesome city with tons of great restaurants, bars, history, and culture surrounding the city. The great thing about New Orleans is that it’s just a short drive to Venice and Hopedale, one of the largest redfish estuaries in the entire world. Whether you’re inshore for giant redfish or offshore for tuna, Louisiana hosts some of the best saltwater fishing around. If you like to eat, drink, and fish, this place is a must.

The town of Hopedale is

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Adjusting your rig

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By Dan Fraiser

I’M STANDING ON THE BANK WATCHING THE BOTTOM FALL OUT OF THE STREAM AND A DARK ABYSS FORM WHERE THERE ONCE WAS STREAM BOTTOM.

The currents are right and the undercut bank is textbook. I know there are fish in there like I know putting my head under water would make breathing hard. It’s just obvious. I know that I don’t have enough weight on, that my dropper needs a tandem fly, that my hopper needs to go and be replaced with a strike indicator and that I need to dig the shot out of my pack. I know it, but that seems like so much work and the fish are right there. So I spend 10 minutes working the run without a strike. Casting and mending and trying to work the margins where I might be deep enough. Eventually, I give up and tear down my rig, put on all the right stuff and immediately start catching.

This unwillingness to change set-ups is a real problem for me. I’ll try to make do with what’s on, only to eventually cave and do it right. It feels like re-rigging would take up so much of my fishing time. Forget that mistake. I timed it tonight. To go from a bare tippet to a two fly rig, complete with shot and an indicator took me 2 minutes and 22 seconds… and I’m slow. I waste more time fishing a rig that isn’t right, just because it’s on, than it would cost me to just get it right and start catching. And who knows how many fish I spooked or made shy before I made the change.

Ignoring the time wasted fishing wrong, let’s just think about this. If you

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Tie Connor’s Jerk Minnow

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THIS DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE FLY IS ALL ABOUT THE ACTION.

Connor Jones, from Cohutta Fishing Company, ties this versatile baitfish pattern for bass and trout here in the southeast. It’s a simple fly with a clean profile and it’s easy to tie in a variety of colors.

The secret to the jerk minnow is it’s action. Connor builds a hard, hollow head, from Senyo’s Laser dub and Clear Cure Hydro, which captures air and gives the jerk minnow an erratic darting action, when stripped hard. Big predatory fish can’t resist it

It’s a fly that will produce fish on lakes and rivers. Tie it in the colors and size to match the forage species on your local waters. Strip hard and hang on tight!

Watch the video and learn to tie Connor’s Jerk Minnow

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The Scream Revisited

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By Louis Cahill

There was something going on with Edvard Munch I never really understood, until now.

In art school, we were taught that the dark and often disturbing images created by Munch were born of mental illness and lost love. It wasn’t until decades later that I looked closely enough at the background of his iconic work “The Scream” to realize what was actually happening. I too know the pain of having my ass handed to me on the flats, only to see my buddy hook up with the fish of a lifetime, right at the dock. Who wouldn’t scream?

They might have been right about the mental illness. It’s the only explanation for fly fishing.

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You Can Be In The 10% Of Steelheaders Who Catch 90% Of The Fish

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YOU’VE HEARD THE OLD ADAGE; 10% OF THE FISHERMEN CATCH 90% OF THE FISH.

I had a client ask me just the other day if I believed in that. “Absolutely” was my response. He then asked how many days would he have to spend with me to be in that 10%. I laughed and told him he already was. Simply by going with a guide you are likely in that 10%. But many aren’t fortunate enough to afford fishing with guides. So what is it that makes those 10% catch so many more fish than the other 90%?

In regards to swinging flies for steelhead there are three key things I have noticed that directly equate to success.
Being in the right place at the right time:

Of course fishing the right river, in the right month, and concentrating in the runs that are the best holding water will maximize your odds. Which holding water is best, changes with the seasons and as the river levels and conditions change. Concentrate your efforts in the best spots or section within the run.

Some big runs are great, but fishing them top to bottom could take several hours. Is that the best use of your fishing time? Some spots fish well in the morning, some fish well in the evening and some fish well midday.

In general, steelhead bite best when they are holding and fresh. Bumps in the water level and low light causes them to move and travel. Dropping water levels and bright light causes them to hold. Experience tells you where and when you’ll find them.

For beginners, swing your fly in water that is walking speed and 2-6ft deep with structure. For no apparent reason steelhead like certain runs and holds, and others that look good they don’t seem to like. So fish good looking water, but if it doesn’t yield results after several trips you might want to try elsewhere. Play your odds, don’t waste time fishing where they aren’t likely to be.

Maximizing the time your fly is in the water:

Efficient casting keeps your fly in the water where it could get eaten. When you are struggling with your cast it’s easy to keep recasting over and over because you’re not satisfied with your cast. Or to start the next cast before the swing is completed because you are anxious to correct casting mistakes.

The better your cast, the more time your fly will have to fish. A long cast often doesn’t increase your fly’s fishing time, especially not if

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