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What is a microskiff? We found several definitions, but typically, a microskiff is a small, lightweight, flat bottomed motorboat used for flats fishing as well as in protected bays, estuaries, lakes and slow moving rivers. The typical microskiff crew consists of two anglers, and sometimes one angler. The microskiff is said to have evolved from dinghies.
Small and lightweight in the case of typical microskiff means a boat that requires transportation by trailer, and therefore must be launched and beached at a boat ramp.
The Microskiff propulsion problem
Microskiff are made to be propelled primarily by outboard motors, and they are too wide and heavy to allow for paddling. This is problematic for a number of reasons –
To begin with, an outboard motor can run out of gas or stall due to a technical problem, and an electric trolling motor that a microskiff may have on board isn’t enough for effective traveling over longer distances.
More importantly, both outboard gas motors and electric trolling motors use propellers that must be completely immersed in water a couple of inches below the surface. The result is that the effective draft of a microskiff is not particularly shallow, and often too high for very shallow water, a.k.a “skinny water”.
This problem also limits the typical microskiff in terms of potential launching and beaching locations, and this means that you must perform these operations at a boat ramp, which is a major source of frustration over a lot of wasted fishing time.
To add insult to injury, propellers don’t do well in the presence of aquatic vegetation, be it seaweed, grass, etc. This is particularly frustrating for anglers who know that such waters are among the best fisheries.
Human powered propulsion – Poling, anyone?
Microskiff manufacturers often show pictures of people who use a long push-pole to propel their microskiff through shallow water. This human powered mode of propulsion is indeed possible, but it’s not very practical –
To begin with, poling involves long intervals between each pole push, so the big effort invested in each push that accelerates the boat goes to waste when the boat decelerates while you are busy lifting the pole and sticking it back into the water. Acceleration is particularly demanding in energy terms, and in other words, the fact that microskiff are wide and heavy makes them lose speed quickly, and thereby drain your energy in a short time.
Few people can push a typical microskiff over a distance of more than several hundred yards, and this is not enough in terms of real-world fishing.
On top of this, the hull of a typical microskiff is not designed for effective tracking – It’s neither very long nor narrow, and it lacks elements such as fins, skegs or tunnels that may improve its directional stability. The result is that poling such a boat in a straight line becomes harder, which means you waste an additional and considerable amount of energy and time because your microskiff zigzags instead of going forward in a straight line.
Poling is far from being on par with more effective means of human powered propulsion such paddling and even rowing.
A better microskiff must allow its crew to go in shallow water and vegetation-rich water in a human-powered propulsion mode other than poling and preferably not rowing, since effective rowing requires good technique that can be acquired only through much practice. This leaves paddling as the human-powered propulsion of choice, and therefore, a truly versatile and functional microskiff is required to offer its crew to use it easily and comfortably as a paddle craft.
The microskiff redefined for optimal performance in real-world fishing
Ideally, a microskiff should allow for either a crew of two fishermen or a solo fisherman to launch, beach, motorize, fish and paddle in any type of water, whether standing up or seated. This means that such a fishing boat should be highly stable yet narrow enough for effective paddling. Only the patented, catamaran-style Wavewalk™ from the new 700 series offers to work as a both a full tandem and solo skiff in the sense that it works perfectly well for one person too, when the second crew member is not present. The fact that the W700 features two long and narrow catamaran-style hulls helps it track better than other craft of similar size, and that helps poling as well as paddling it, with either dual-blade (kayak) paddles or single-blade paddles – canoeing style. The hulls and cockpit opening of the W700 are long enough to allow for dropping extra-long paddles in them.
The optimal microskiff must be lightweight enough to allow for trailer-free transportation, and car-topping by one person, in case no fishing buddy is present. Here too, the only two-person microskiff that offers such advantage is the new Wavewalk™ 700, which weighs just 80 lbs without a motor and accessories. In fact, this weight is lower than the weight of most high-end fishing kayaks out there, including sit-on-top (SOT) and sit-in models, especially tandem fishing kayaks, which are heavier than regular ones in in some cases heavier than jon boats…
A trailer-free microskiff with triple propulsion capability
The redefined microskiff is trailer-free I.E. easy to car top even for one person, suitable for choppy water, skinny water and vegetation-rich water, and it accommodates two full size fishermen who can fish standing in comfort. It can be easily and comfortably driven with a powerful outboard 3.5 HP motor, as well as with electric motors.
One or two people can easily paddle this microskiff either in a kayak-style (with dual-blade paddles) or in the traditional canoeing style, and it lends itself to poling more easily and effectively than any other microskiff does, including solo skiffs, I.E. microskiff for just one person.
Such is the new Wavewalk™ 700, and it comes in various colors including all white, which is the traditional color for this class of small fishing boats.