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Trying to work through the question of technical poling skiff vs mid-size flats boat (ex. BT Micro vs Hewes Redfisher) for applications of FL Keys and Glades.

Have dug around quite a bit and found some interesting info on how much of the backcountry and keys are actually accessible with certain boats. A general question (know it depends on tides/winds/etc), but how much of the backcountry and keys are actually fishable with a boat drafting ~ 10-12"? Much of the hype with "this boat will float in areas only accessible by kayaks", but not much on if it's actually necessary and how limiting a boat with a 10-12" draft would be. Are there really that many more accessible areas for a technical poling skiff vs other larger flats boats in the Florida Bay and Glades?
 

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For me it would depend on how you intend to use the boat. I have run both a poling skiff (6 inch draft) and a top of the size range flats boat (13 inch draft). For the keys I much prefer the poling skiff for backcountry access, although the larger flats boat gave me more offshore access. I did take my flats boat to the hump on occasion or off to troll. If you run the outside bars in the glades the larger flats boat will help to save you from pounding. Fishing other areas and crossing large open bays the flats boat was hard to beat.

To specifically answer you question, most for the areas in the keys and glades are accessible in the deeper spots or channel edges. I do prefer the poling skiff for those areas as it really does provide better access. Countless times I would pole the flats boat and “bottom out” especially in the keys. With the larger flats boat there were always areas I could not access or fish due to draft. I currently don’t have that issue with the poling skiff. Hope my ramblings help.
 

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As already noted - it's what you want to do when you're fishing shallow that dictates the boat you need... Want to stalk and cast at tailing bonefish or redfish... then you need a technical poling skiff -or at least something with a shallow six inch draft (and that's with two people and your gear on board...). Skinny water poling skiffs aren't much fun on bad weather days (and that's what it will be more than 50% of the time..). One other drawback is that on a technical poling skiff, three persons total will be your limit - and two total will be a lot better... That means that you'll forever be limited on family aboard unless your kids are small (and they certainly won't stay that way..). One last minor point is that the shallower you find your fish - the spookier they'll be and that means the angler - and the guy on the pushpole will need some skills.... Stalking and succeeding, sight fishing up really shallow, can be a frustrating game - and finding a fishing partner willing to do their share of the time on the push pole... More than one friendship has ended over such things...

Want to run miles and miles into the backcountry to fish - then you're going to place the emphasis less on how shallow you can fish - and a bit more on how the boat performs in 10 to 20 mile an hour winds on a choppy day and whether you actually have the fuel capacity for a 70 mile round trip (run safely with at least 1/3 of your fuel in reserve - at a minimum...).

For folks struggling with that decision my best advice is to actually spend time on the water with as many different boats as possible. If you can, join a fishing club that does everything (bluewater, inshore, backcountry, sight-fishing) and try to fish with as many different members as possible (that's how I learned, myself...). An alternative is to book guides - both for the Keys and for the backcountry of the Everglades and learn the advantages of different kinds of boats in different conditions.... Of course that's not what most actually do... They buy the skiff of their dreams then sell it a few years later when they've learned its limitations ... Yes, there are guys that never stop doing this - with a different boat every few years - forever... Most simply could never afford to learn that way...

Good luck on whatever you choose - and remember when you're changing a tire in darkness (and in the rain or other bad conditions) on your boat's trailer... "Aren't boats fun?"
 

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i heard ray van horn say on a youtube video that "the perfect boat... is three boats" and he was just talking about the everglades.

everything is a trade off, but for the keys and the glades you will be running a lot of open water and the keys especially has reliably horrible weather almost all the time (wind!!!).

i dont know those two boats personally, but i have a pathfinder 17t and i am told its very similar to the redfisher - and mine floats in almost nothing and if i get stuck in mud i can push it out in my boots without getting my ankles wet. that BT micro must levitate to be significantly skinnier. im very new to this
 

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This is the main reason I have 2 boats a gladesman for deep in the backcountry of the glades and an action craft for running the beaches. There is no one perfect boat but many boats that do a lot very good. It's not that my flatsboat couldn't run the backcountry and vise versa. Plus the flatsboat is my wife's favorite boat so that's not going anywhere.
 

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i dont know those two boats personally, but i have a pathfinder 17t and i am told its very similar to the redfisher - and mine floats in almost nothing and if i get stuck in mud i can push it out in my boots without getting my ankles wet. that BT micro must levitate to be significantly skinnier. im very new to this

To clarify that 17T Pathfinder is nothing like a Redfisher. The 17T was similar to a Hewes Tailfisher. I ran a Hewes for many years, and most of he Redfishers are a V Hull. I have wisened up and no longer have a MBG product, however depending on the model of Redfisher you will be between an 8” and 13” draft. That BT Micro will put you around 4”-5”. I currently have a different model BT and will stick with them. Their customer service is unmatched. That is not to say that Hewes does not make a good boat, I loved mine, however it is a major manufacturer and you will be treated accordingly. I agree with Capt. LeMay, make friends and go for a ride on as many different boats as possible, figure out what you want and then find it. You will be much happier.
 

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Trying to work through the question of technical poling skiff vs mid-size flats boat (ex. BT Micro vs Hewes Redfisher) for applications of FL Keys and Glades.

Have dug around quite a bit and found some interesting info on how much of the backcountry and keys are actually accessible with certain boats. A general question (know it depends on tides/winds/etc), but how much of the backcountry and keys are actually fishable with a boat drafting ~ 10-12"? Much of the hype with "this boat will float in areas only accessible by kayaks", but not much on if it's actually necessary and how limiting a boat with a 10-12" draft would be. Are there really that many more accessible areas for a technical poling skiff vs other larger flats boats in the Florida Bay and Glades?
First ask yourself what you’re going to need 80% of the time:

Where would you be running from mostly (key largo, islamorada, trailering to Flamingo)?
Where would you be fishing mostly (backcountry, the bights, running the cape, ocean side for tarpon, etc...)?
Are you planning on polling mostly or using a TM mostly?

I’ve fished the upper keys and Flamingo for over 30 years in everything from a kayak, a Gheenoe, Jon boat, skiff... all the way to a 24’ bay boat with a tower! Every single one of those boats is a comprise (I know, that’s a horrible answer and doesn’t help much!). But, being honest with your needs/budget/intended use isn’t the easiest thing to figure out. I agree with the posts above to hire a few guides and ride on a few boats and see what works. Also, don’t worry about picking the one perfect skiff... it doesn’t exist! Enjoy the process and roll with the evolution of your fishing.
 

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I owned a BT Micro and did a camping trip to the Everglades backcountry. The boat did fine with normal fishing gear, but loaded with camping gear in 30+ knot winds was not a relaxing experience. I've also fished Flamingo/Keys in my previous Dolphin SuperSkiff, ActionCraft 1720, Bayshore 20 and Silver King 16. All were more comfortable in a chop/open water and did well on bonefish, permit and tailing reds. My current Beavertail Mosquito is capable of handing chop/open water as well as pole in about 6 inches of water. Haven't fished it yet down south, but confident it could handle all I asked of it.
 

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BT vengeance is another option that has good range, decent in big water, and floats in 7-8” with a 90. They are reasonably priced and BT is great to work with.
 
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