Is Microskiff The Smallest Of Skiffs?

So what is a microskiff? – A microskiff is a fishing skiff that’s less than 16 ft long.

What makes a fishing skiff a microskiff?

A legacy microskiff website is self-described as Dedicated To The Smallest Of Skiffs, and that’s fine, since micro is a word-forming element that means small in size or extent, and skiff means small fishing boat, so by definition, microskiff means the smallest of small fishing boats.
So far so good, but that website frequently reviews skiffs that are 22 ft long, and even bigger ones, which raises the question is a 22 ft skiff really small?
Arguably, word definitions and product classifications should be accurate in order to be descriptive and thus useful, and boats this size are not small, considering the fact that many anglers fish out of boats that are less than half this length. Indeed, some very small two-person boats for fishing flat water are just 10 ft long, and they are real fishing boats for flat water, not motorized kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards that have somehow found their way into the microskiff class.
Additionally, most skiffs are smaller than 22 ft, typically in the 16′ to 18′ range, if we are to judge by the content of most articles entitled “Best Fishing Skiffs of The Year”, “Fishing Skiffs Review” etc.

Going back to the question is a 22 ft long fishing boat a microskiff, it seems like it would be both more sensible, professional and fair to classify boats of such size as skiffs. Yes, a good-size fishing skiff is a description that best fits a 22 ft long skiff, while classifying it as a microskiff is inaccurate and potentially confusing, and the same is true about other skiffs that are 20 ft long, or in this range.

If most people, amateur and professional, think and talk about boats that are 16 ft long as skiffs and not as microskiffs, then arguably they are skiffs, and not microskiffs, and the term microskiff should be applied more carefully and restrictively, to skiffs that are indeed the smallest in this boat category, namely smaller than 16 ft, in an effort to avoid classifications that are non-descriptive and therefore unproductive.
This 16 ft figure is somehow arbitrary, of course, and the smaller number we choose the more accurate our microskiff classification would be, but we must not restrict the microskiff class of boats to a number of boats and boat models that’s too small, because that too would be counterproductive.

In sum, we think that skiffs that are 16 ft or longer are just that, namely skiffs, and not microskiffs, and for a skiff to be included in the category of The Smallest Of Skiffs, namely microskiffs, it should in fact be small, and not of medium size, or large size, because words matter.

So what is a microskiff? –

A microskiff is a fishing skiff that’s less than 16 ft long.

Note that the microskiff class in itself is broad enough to include the sub-category of cartop microskiff, or portable microskiff, namely a microskiff that’s lightweight enough to be transported attached to a car’s roof rack.
The Wavewalk S4 is a cartop microskiff.

Trailer-Free Boat

Not everyone lives in a rural or a suburban area, where properties typically feature big yards and plenty of room for parking a boat trailer.  And not many people own a dock or a slot in a marina, or can afford to rent one for their boat.
Besides, docking in a marina works if you travel and fish in an area that’s well served by that marina, but it’s counterproductive when you prefer to do a bit of traveling, and fish in different locations at different times. In other words, docking in a marina can be a problem in itself, on top of being expensive.

When most anglers and boaters think “Boat”, the second thought that comes to their mind is “Trailer”, because a boat needs to be transported, and most boats require a trailer for transportation. That is of course, unless you’re willing to compromise and fish out of a kayak, a notion which most sensible and/or experienced anglers would reject, and rightfully so, as fishing from a kayak is neither easy nor fun, to say the least, and in many cases, fishing kayaks are so big and heavy that transporting one without a trailer is not possible.

Why are boat trailers problematic?

As hinted in the opening paragraph of this article, a boat trailer requires a place to park it, and this place can be pretty big, but not necessarily available.
Parking your boat trailer on your driveway can mean that you would have to park your car on the street, or another member of your household would be forced to do so, and that could be a problem.

A boat trailer requires registration and maintenance, which means spending money and time that you don’t like to spend.

But these are the small inconveniences of transporting a boat on a trailer, and the big inconvenience is the absolute need to launch at designated boat ramps. This is because boat ramps can be few and far between, and they tend to be crowded in areas and on days and that are particularly good for fishing, simply because more people want to launch there and then, and consequently, the same people want to take their boats out in the same locations and at the same time. This high demand inevitably leads to scarcity, and to long queues on the way to the boat ramp, at the boat ramp itself, in the parking lot, etc.
It’s impossible to overestimate the frustration and sometimes outright despair that anglers experience in these situations, as they see their precious leisure time being wasted waiting in endless lines.

Which brings us to a third type of solution –

Portable boats – the trailer free boats

Portable boats are discussed in a number of articles on this website, including Portable Microskiff , Seaworthy portable microskiff , Portable boats , and others. We recommend reading them, as well as reviews that some S4 microskiff owners have contributed.
To summarize these articles, there are boats out there that are portable, namely that can be transported without a trailer. These are either folding boats or inflatable boats, and the bottom line with these trailer-free boats is that they are not very comfortable, and more importantly, they require precious time to assemble and/or inflate and deflate. In other words, they don’t necessarily save you much of the  precious time you’d rather spend fishing, and besides, inflatable boats have other problems that are outside the scope of this article on boat transportation.
And then, there is the Wavewalk S4 cartop microksiff, which is a trailer-free boat that requires neither inflating nor assembly, and is lightweight and durable enough for you to carry from your vehicle to the water and back, without a problem.
On top of this, the S4 is very comfortable, extremely stable, and seaworthy, and it works remarkably well both in the ocean and in shallow water.
The S4 microskiff is rotationally molded from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which means that it’s maintenance free, and you can leave it outside in your yard or on your driveway rain or shine, or snow.
However, the best thing about the S4 in the context of boat ramps, launching and beaching, is that you can launch it anywhere, and this is not an empty phrase crafted for marketing purpose, it’s reality, as you can see for yourself in this video –

So you can launch and beach the S4 microkiff without a trailer, and you can do it in places where a trailer would be totally impractical.
It’s called Freedom.

S4 microskiff in the rain

By Dave Gray


Here’s a pic of my S4 under a tarp, using a “tent pole” structure I made from pvc pipes.
I put 50g fishing weights on the grommets and bungee front & back. Lots of submerged tarp, but it does the trick.
My S4 lives in the ocean… so I’m having to constantly clean algae and barnacles.

After I got my S4, I was just going slowly in circles in the bay, and then I really got to take her out and open it up.
Love the S4!! And island hopping with it.

I think it’s performing as well as it should with the Yamaha 6hp 20″ long shaft motor.

How hard is kayak fishing?

Fishing kayaks have become a permanent feature of ponds, lakes, rivers, and estuaries, typically in the southern parts of this country, and although kayak fishing stopped growing as a sport years ago, it is practiced by thousands of anglers, of which many believe that the fact that fishing from a kayak isn’t easy to say the least, makes them an elite group of anglers.
There also are many anglers who are looking to start fishing from a kayak, and they are considering both advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
This article is for them –

So how hard is it to fish from a kayak, really?

The answer depends on who’s asking –
If you’re young and in good physical shape, and you fish flat, protected water, and you don’t have to paddle or pedal long distances to get to your favorite fishing ground (and back from it…), it could make sense for you to try kayak fishing, and see if you’re capable of adapting to this very demanding and often unrewarding sport.
But if you’re middle aged or older, and/or not in good shape, kayak fishing is likely to prove to be too hard for you, for multiple reasons, most of them are related to safety, and to kayaks’ poor ergonomics –

Safety first

Most boating accidents in the US happen to people in small vessels, and kayaks (and canoes) are the smallest vessels out there.
On top of this basic statistical fact, most kayaks are human powered, and not equipped even with an auxiliary motor, such as a trolling motor. This means that in real-world terms, these kayaks are seriously under-powered, and their users can easily drift away in unwanted directions, or be prevented from finding their way back to where they started their fishing trip due to fatigue, coupled with unfavorable wind and/or currents and/or waves.

Kayaks are notoriously unstable

Except for the W700 catamaran kayak-skiff, even the biggest and widest fishing kayaks on the market are not stable enough to guarantee that the anglers who stand on them would be able to keep standing if something unexpectedly destabilizes them. It can be a motorboat’s wake hitting the kayak, a big fish they hooked who’s swimming in the wrong direction, a sudden gust of wind, drifting towards the branches of a tree that’s growing on the bank, hitting a submerged object, or simply losing stability due to a person’s miscalculated movement. Being stable standing up on these inherently unstable vessels is hard, no matter what, and “Stuff Happens” is the rule, not the exception.

Kayaks are notoriously uncomfortable

But if you don’t stand up on your kayak, you’re sitting down on its deck in the L Posture, which is notoriously uncomfortable, and sooner or later leads to back pain and leg numbness. And as much as you love fishing, it’s hard to enjoy it if your legs are numb and your back hurts. Sitting in the L posture is so prone to generating back pain, that it led to the coining of the popular expression “Yak Back”, which means backache.
Yak Back seems to be the primary reason why most people who try kayak fishing end up quitting it. You can settle for a limited range of travel and limited choices in terms of fishing grounds, and you can accept the fact that you can’t fish standing up, but fishing while being in pain is too hard, and it defeats the purpose of having fun. And by the way, back pain is the number one source of disability for American adults.

Practical considerations

On top of the above mentioned considerations, kayak fishing is exceptionally hard compared to fishing from skiffs and boats due to the combination of sub-optimal fishing posture and the small area of the deck that the angler can reach.
Landing a fish in the deck space between one’s legs is not easy, and not exactly where you’d prefer to deal with a fish, especially if it’s big and powerful.
Reaching for fishing gear stored in various parts of the kayak’s deck is hard, and sometimes even impossible, which is most inconvenient.
The same is true for motorizing SOT kayaks, since in most cases their motor is stern mounted, and the back tip of a conventional kayak (not in the W700) is several feet behind the driver’s seat, which is too far.

Bottom line

If you’re attracted by the low cost, portability, low maintenance, and shallow water capabilities of fishing kayaks, but you’re deterred by the fact that fishing from a kayak is too hard and unsafe, you may want to take a look at the Wavewalk 700 catamaran kayak (W700), which offers all these advantages that other kayaks offer, without any of the hardships and inconveniences that come with them.
And if you’re attracted by the W700 kayak-skiff idea, and you’d like to take it even further in terms of performance, seaworthiness and comfort, you’re looking at the S4 cartop microskiff (seen in the picture above).

How To Trim Your Microskiff For Optimal Speed

The Key To Optimal Speed

The above diagram of the parts of a portable outboard motor will serve to explain the steps we recommend, and those that we deem “advanced”, namely optional, as their contribution to speed improvements is not guaranteed.

The Problem To Overcome

Typically, a small boat weighs more at its stern than at its bow. This is because its motor is mounted at its stern, and the driver sits next to it.
The combined weight of the motor and driver  pushes the stern downward, and consequently, the bow upward. The faster the boat goes, the lower the stern and the higher the bow will be, because of the wave that the boat’s hull generates while it moves in the water.

The problem with this tilted position of the boat is that it tends to generate more resistance from the water than if the boat is level, with its bow and stern at the same height from the surface of the water. The result of this increased resistance is a decrease in the boat’s speed.
Therefore, the challenge of the small boat’s owner is to get their boat to a position that’s more level, namely horizontal, while it goes in the water at full throttle.

Basic Steps –

Before Trimming

Outfit The Motor With The Highest Pitch Propeller –
The higher the propeller’s pitch, the faster it can drive the boat.
One of the reasons why we recommend the Tohatsu and Mercury portable outboards is because they can be outfitted with the highest pitch propellers for their size. For example, the 6 HP outboard that these two companies offer comes with an 8″ pitch propeller, which is fine for a boat that’s as lightweight as the S4, and it can take a 9″ pitch propeller.

For optimal performance of the propeller, Outboard Motor Manufacturers recommend to have the Anti Ventilation Plate (see above diagram) between 1″ and 2″ below the surface. Higher than this would loss of power due to ventilation, namely air mixing with the water in which the propeller rotates, and lower would cause more drag.

1. Adjust The Motor’s Trim Angle

This is done by inserting the horizontal metal pin called “Thrust Rod” in the lowest pair of holes in the Stern Bracket, namely the pair of holes that’s closest to the boat’s transom. This will force the propeller forward, and the bow downward when the boat is moving.

Trim Angle Adjsutment
Don’t worry, you’ll understand everything once you look at a motor in real life
2. Drive The boat From Its Middle Instead Of From Its Stern

A typical 6 HP outboard motor weighs around 60 lbs, and there is no way to attach it elsewhere but to the transom. In comparison, a typical driver can weigh from double this weight to six times as much, that is from 120 lb to 360 lbs.
This means that by moving the driver from the stern area forward, towards the middle of the boat, we will considerably reduce the downward pressure on the stern. This can be achieved by outfitting the motor with a U-jointed Tiller Extension. This accessory is a long tube that features a joint (articulation), and it allows the driver to sit or stand at a distance from the motor, and drive while still facing forward.
U-jointed tiller extensions are sold online, and they are not expensive.

3. Place a Horizontal Dowel In The Motor’s Stern Bracket

See diagram of the outboard motor’s parts at the top of this page: The 3/4″ or 1″ diameter wooden dowel is represented by a red dot. It is placed inside the rounded corner of the Stern Bracket, and it is held in place by the pressure of the clamp screws on this bracket.
Such dowel forces the motor into an even more aggressive trim angle than the Thrust Rod alone allows for.
This can yield positive results on flat water, but driving in choppy water and waves with the bow pointing too low can cause the boat to slam into incoming waves, and dive in front of following waves, instead of going over them.
Bottom line: Think twice before using such a dowel.

4. Outfit The Propeller Shaft With a Hydrofoil

A hydrofoil generates upward thrust on the motor, and thus forces the stern upward and the bow downward. It works, typically. The problem is that being fully submerged at all times, a hydrofoil is an element that’s not very efficient, since it generates drag whenever the boat is moving, especially at higher speeds.
In our view, if you trim the motor aggressively and you drive it from its middle instead of from its stern (see steps 1 – 3), there would be little to gain in speed terms from outfitting the motor with a hydrofoil. It could work, but you’d better lower your expectations.

5. Add Weight To The Bow

This may work, but only if the driver is very lightweight, and the fact that they drive from the middle of the boat doesn’t do much in terms of alleviating the stern and pushing the bow downward. Generally speaking, adding weight to the bow is not a good idea, because the hull of a heavier boat displaces more water, and therefore generates more resistance when it moves through it, and more resistance means less speed.



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