I say just build your own and you'll be happy with it no matter what! No man can put as much time, energy, money, etc. into a boat they built and ever be unhappy with the finished product. Mine is similar to the Microdraft, but has quite a few differences. Floats in a true 4" and will scoot through 5 to 6 inches while on plane. It can be a little rough in a strong, close head chop, but its the driest flats boat I've ever been in.
Click the links in my signature down below and look through the different boats you can build. Take a close look at the OD18 (click this link http://www.bateau.com/proddetail.php...8#.Uhj1UT-IadU). I know a VERY experienced captain in Georgia that built one of these and he rigged it to the hilt. He fishes coastal marshes, skinny flats, and has even made a crossing from S. FL to the Bahama's. He loves it! I've fished with him in Boca Grande Pass and the nearby flats. I'll tell you right now that its a dry, fast, stable, and gas-sipping vessel. If you're looking for an all-around great boat that will do the most, I would highly recommend it. Heck, the guy will even build it for you if you'd like!
I have Frog Spit on the bottom now, it is what the airboat guys use but when I was exiting the creek I was trying to hug the shoreline and it started to slide sideways and that's why I ended up 20 yards too far over from the creek channel tumbleweed Tom was a good sport that day.
Yeah, I haven't had any trouble in tight turns, but I've been taking it easy when turning since putting it on. Tom's a good sport. I'm sure that he has thought that he was going to have to spend the night on my boat a few times this summer frog gigging.
I've been in just about any type of boat you can buy, with the exception of some boats you wouldn't lol, the best I've fished out of in this area is without a doubt a bay boat. Yeah they won't float as shallow as a tunnel, but they'll float just as shallow as a flats boat. The 22' pathfinder I have now we've had in 6-8" of grass and 10" over rocks and still been perfectly fine while fishing and not worried. The problem with the flats boats is they won't run shallow enough to keep you away from the deep water, over here, it's either too shallow or really deep. I run yankeetown year round and there is no middle depth, either you go out the channel and run through the deep water or you run aground. And with the low freeboard you get on a flats boat you'll easily take waves over the sides/front of the boat. Jet tunnels work really well for the shallow stuff, but that's it. Even on a trout drift they can be uncomftorable. As long as you have a set of jack plates on a bay boat you won't have any issues. The bay boat allows you to run through all the nasty chop you would need to and still be safe from all the rocks/bars and safe from the chop. Not to mention the extra storage, fuel capacity, and the ability to take more people for family trips or friends when scallops season starts. I would personally recommend pathfinder, I know they're expensive but they're completely worth it. Another boat I would recommend is an Xpress HB20. I also have on of those and it is fantastic. It's an aluminum boat that's foam filled, it rides like a fiberglass bay boat through chop, but floats like in 6" of water. I don't have jack plates on it yet so I don't know how shallow I can run it. But I know it will be shallow. They are a much more durable, and cheaper bay boat. I also had a 19' sea pro before both of those. That boat was also a really good ride. Didn't go as shallow as the pathfinder or Xpress, but it certainly did the job. But like someone before me said, go out with others on the forum and check out their boats and weigh the pros and cons. Personally for me, there is no better boat than a bay boat. We can take our boat to the keys and fish the Everglades one day and then run offshore and troll for dolphin the next and be completely safe in both of those situations. Just my opinion. Hope it helps!
A local dealer carries Xpress but I wondered about how they'd ride since they looked like they had pretty flat bottoms. I do like the looks of the layouts they've got. A local dealer has a Xpress Jet Bass that I think is killer. Tunnel hull, Yamaha jet, cool redneck camo color. I dig it, but totally not in my budget. My budget is going to be pretty low, but I'll find something cheap that needs a little work and fix it up.
I would recommend the Xpress hyper lift series for sure! This is the one I have. Extremely good on gas, and relatively quick. It's been out in 3' seas, I was wet but I never doubted if I was safe or not. But yeah I understand that budget thing. Good luck with your search! Hope everything works out!
Nothing will beat winter fishIng low tide out of an airboat. You have to have one set up right. They are amazing! Most that talk them down have never learned how to properly run them, there are also a few that have airboats that run them disrespectfully. Just like boats some will always do the wrong thing.
This is what Catfish is talking about, 90% of the time we are Redfishing. We were way back in shallow water in a negative low tide in January with this shot, just ahead of us a man had his skiff stuck and going nowhere. This jet does not like grass but we manage to work around that issue. I would love to get me a East Cape Vantage.
Hey Ponce/Catfish what is the mystery rope on the bow tied to? Or is that the magic rope that guides you to all your hot spots?