poling skiff

there have a been a couple post lately about proper poling boats. I’m in the market for a new project skiff to get into the skinnies. Ive never poled a boat, intentionally, so i dont have much experience. So before i go buy a boat that is useless for poling, what type/size of boat should i be looking for? i like the carolina skiff j16 for the basic, open-ness it provides, but have read that they arent good for poling. should i stick to fiberglass or consider aluminum? flat bottom or v hull? any insight is appreciated, thanks.

There are a lot of variables to consider, but the first is to go with a v-bottom boat. I fished the heck out of my Carolina Skiff J-16 and it got really shallow but the flat bottom doesn’t give any grip when poling so it just slides around. I poled it plenty but it was difficult to get it to track. Aluminum or fiberglass is fine but consider how you would mount the poling platform. Aluminum boats (especially jon boats) often don’t have many areas to mount the platform while fiberglass boats tend to have more flat deck space.

thanks for the info, thats exactly the kind of input i was looking for.

Proline 201WA
Aloha 24ft pontoon (LooneyToon)
Old Town stern with 7.5 johnson

V hull = requirement for poling and not cussing as the bow slips everywhere in the wind with a flat skiff configuration, not to mention the hull slap that will spook everything. V hull = fiberglass boat in most all applications in the poling realm under 21 ft. Make sure the weight distribution keeps the bow down when you have bubba on the platform after a night at golden corral.

Look at a Bomb Island technical poling boat. I have been impressed with the on I have.

Sea Hunt 27 “Saltwater Gospel”
Bomb Island 16 “Hookin’ Heels”

V hull isn’t a requirement for poling at all. Some deadrise does help, my skiff has a 3 degree deadrise but it has poling strakes to help keep the boat straight. Anything over 18’ isn’t going to be fun to pole all the time and honestly you really want to be under 90 hp. I think if you’re looking at a carolina skiff price than maybe take a look at Mitzi or Ankona if you’re looking new, If you want used look for an East Cape, Hells Bay, Beavertail, and Maverick. These are all boats that are meant to fished in extremely shallow water and pole well.

East Cape EVOx

Thanks for the input Todd

Proline 201WA
Aloha 24ft pontoon (LooneyToon)
Old Town stern with 7.5 johnson

Or check out that Bentz Craft posted recently. I love that thing. Not in the market though

1966 13’ Boston Whaler w/ Merc 25 4 stroke “Flatty”
www.eyestrikefishing.com #predatorsstriketheeye

yeah i saw that, but out of my price range.

Proline 201WA
Aloha 24ft pontoon (LooneyToon)
Old Town stern with 7.5 johnson

Bentz does a lot of stuff good, poling isn’t one of them.
Aluminum jon boats actually tend to pole well, due to all the strakes on the bottom, however, they are much noisier, and are usually very weight sensitive and don’t respond well to one guy alone in the back. a guy in the back and a guy on the bow is fine.
a Carolina skiff with running strakes added to the bottom would probably make a much better boat, as they slide even when not poling.


I would take a look at the Alumacraft 1648 MV NCS. I got mine about a month ago and have really liked it so far. It’s lightweight, pretty inexpensive. Also, it has many of the comforts found in a fiberglass skiff such as a flat floor( no ribs to trip on) open floor plan, and large front deck. I put a 9.9 on it will go 19 with 2 people and gear. If you wanted to put a poling platform on it, I’m sure you could get one of the local guys to weld one.

17’ Mako
16’ Alumacraft

It depends what you want and how dedicated of a poling skiff your looking to get, there is always a compromise. The lower to the water the less wind you have to fight. A mod v with a tunnel hull is pretty good. A pull start tiller will save a lot of weight if you go below 16. In my opinion the shape of Carolina skiff make it harder to pole than narrow hulls, especially the deeper bathtub style models. I’ve polled a 16 ft Carolina skiff not a j16 and it was a pain and it was barely windy. The new 14ft polling and micro skiffs have a very similar hull to the old 14ft malibu which would be a cheap project. The smaller the boat the easier it is to maneuver. I’ve had a 17ft a 14ft and a 10ft boat and been on a bunch of others. When it comes to small water the 10ft is on another, but it will only run in like 10 inches of water pole in 6 to 8. The cheaper and smaller boat gave me less to worry about. I’ve ran it through marsh ditches where the sides of my boat are on mud and on to mud humps where I know I’m gonna get stuck without worry. I know worse case scenario I can always get unstuck becuase it is small enough to toss a around. I’m pretty sure it’s under 300lbs motor and light load. The best part of flat fishing reds is sight fishing, you can see their backs out the water, that’s shallow. It really sucks when you can see them but not reach them because your pushing mud. Boats that have sharp square edges on the bottom catch more, if you try to push it left or right over mud it digs in and mounds up mud and its hard to get off. Boats that have the angled sides on the bottom slide over mud much easier.

Lots of good info here. Microskiff.com is another good site to research poling skiffs.

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” - C.S. Lewis

Why is Hewes not mentioned? Isn’t this one of the best shallow water boats?

Because original poster was looking for a project boat to modify into a poling skiff.

and no, a hewes is a good flats boat, but they are very heavy and I sure wouldn’t want to pole one all day.

East Cape EVOx

an old Hewes would make a great project boat if you can find one. They pole just fine. Keep an eye out for old Dolphins, BCs etc. too.

Watch the Maverick, Florida Fishing, THT etc forums, too Also Florida based Craigs list pages. Be patient. Be ready to jump when the right one comes along. I found an old Maverick that I restored, in Baltimore. Selling it was the worst boat decision I ever made…

I’d say keep an eye out on microskiff.com as well. I spend more time there than here but you can find a lot of skiffs as well as a lot of good info on poling skiffs.

East Cape EVOx