My understanding is the pathfinder 17t is the same hull as the tailfisher with a little different tunnel structure and cap. the Tailfisher weighs a few hundred more pounds that the Pathfinder and therefor drafts a little more than the 17t but it is also finished a litlle nicer. Yes the 15t is a shorter version of the 17t
The tailfisher has a nicer deckcap, modified tunnel and refinements to the hull that make it a little bit better than the 17T. It also has a better livewell as compared to the 17T's crustation well and better fit and finish. For this extra refinement you get a heavier boat with a higher sticker and slightly worse peformance.
The 15T and 17T are basically similar but there is less storage on the 15T and no livewell.
The origional "T's" were meant to be a basic no frills skiff that will run shallow and fish well. I can run in 5.5" and pole (depending on load and number of anglers) about 7.5" to about 9.5". NOTE Just because you can run shallow doesn't mean you should. Please protect or fragile ecosystem and don't burn the grass beds. Also don't try to stop in water as shallow as you can run... u get stuck!
I have the 17T. The hull is a 2000 17T with a center console. I have a 1998 Yamaha 60 2 stroke. I twist 5700 RPM @ 37.2MPH (GPS) WOT with 2 people, 3/4 tank, 17 gallons max tank size, and gear (light load)... so I'm right there with RPM. The boat has fine hole shot for me, but I use my tabs and trim. I cruise 23-25 at 3500-3800 RPM or 27-29 at 4500-4800 RPM. The prop is a 3 blade stainless steel Turbo brand of prop Y13 1/4 x 15 (http://www.turbo-props.com/), 13-1/4 is the diameter in inches (which is correct for the Yamaha 60 2-stroke), and 15 is the pitch in inches. Many 17and 15T’s will have a 4 blade prop. This is good, but my prop seams to work great. I spoke to a very well respected prop expert, gave him all my performance numbers and running characteristics and said not to change the prop. The only suggestion he made was that the prop I have is a bowlifting prop as compared to a stern lifting prop, but it didn’t seam to affect the skiff adversely aside from squat when first popping up.
I run the boat in 2 modes, light and fat. Light is no trolling motor, no anchor, no cast nets, no group 31 deep cycle battery (mounted in the center console to distribute the weight) empty bait well, the bare necessities to fish and be legal. Fat is all decked out with full tackle and all the accessories. I do this for two reasons first and foremost draft. If I know I want to get stupid skinny I lighten up as much as possible. Second I like to unclutter from time to time.
The boat “light” will draft at rest with two people between 7.5”-8.5” measured “heavy” 8.5” to 9.5”. A lot of that depends on the size of those aboard. The running draft is about 5.5” measured. What do I mean by measured? For the poling draft I poled to a hard sand shoal... Poled till I could not pole anymore and I measured the depth. If I could push the boat across the sand surface the that didn’t count. What counted was when the skiff came to a stop. Running draft... While running one day I crossed a shallow hard sand shoal. I looked back not believing I actually got a cross it. (I thought there was more water) I stopped on the deep side. Got out and measured where I didn’t see a skeg mark in the hard sand. It was 5.5” Would I run that shallow all day? HECK NO! But That is the running depth. I have jumped short, say less than 20-30’ in length, sand bars as shallow as 4 or so inches... I put the tabs all the way down, the motor trimmed up and lots of throttle. It’s not advisable nor acceptable if the shallow is part of a natural grass flat. But hard sand I’ll jump.
If you want to give me some specs on the specific skiff I can tell you things that you might want to look out for. Pictures would help too. There were a couple years where the 17T had stringer issues. I think 97-98 or so. From what Skip at M/H/P said the problems showed up early and were fixed. But that’s not to say it couldn’t show up later. If you can get the hull id send it to Skip. He can get more info to you. There was also some problems with water intrusion. It came from two places. If the skiff has an added keel which will be black with screw holes as compared to one like mine which is molded into the hull, they have a tendency to leak. It’s a simple fix with 5200 and new screws. Also the where the deck joins the hull under the rub rail has a slight tendency to leak too. Again simple fix with 5200.
Now what DON’T I like about the 17T.
In rough weather the ride sucks. There is no easy to put this. There are tricks that you can do to help the ride, but it will not ride as nice as an Egret or Lakes and Bay etc. It will ride better than a jon boat or carolina skiff. These machines were made for one thing and that’s running stupid skinny in protected water ways.
The livewells are a recirc style not fresh water draw. Plus they really are not livewells, but small baitwells. They are good for coruscations, and hearty baits like mullet. I would not try to put more than a dozen or so pilchards in there... They would south fast!
There are two drains in the deck to make the cockpit self bailing... Great right? Well they only work when on plane or if no one is in the boat. They sit right at the water line. I have on many occasions forgot to plug them and ended up with several inches of water in the cockpit that I have to drain out.
The front deck is huge. It’s 6’4” long. Lots of room for anglers... The hatch is large... So one would anticipate the front storage to be good... Well... Not really. Due to the design of the skiff with the tunnel the only place to put the tank is right in that from area. It leaves some room on the sides, but I wish there was more.
The poling tower is very tall, this is GREAT for sighting fish, but when putting the skiff in the garage HOLY COW it’s close to the garage door frame... I have about 3/8” of an inch clearance.
I hope this can give you some help in you search. I try to help with whatever knowledge I have. It’s not much but I hope it helps!