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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey there- Would love some advice as I look to purchase my first poling skiff on a budget. I am looking hard at a new 18' Shadowcast with a 30hp Tohat tiller. Keeping it simple. Can anyone provide any personal experience/insight on pros/cons, things that they would watch out for or do differently? I'm planning on a center mini-console/grab bar, 12 gallon tank, wiring it for a trolling motor (even though I plan to pole), and getting rod holders + cup holder in the poling platform. Full disclosure, I realize this site is full of my Florida brothers who drool over Hells Bay. Fully get it, trust me. I just don't have $30k to drop on a 20 year old skiff. So please keep the feedback on point with regard to a Shadowcast for a guy like me on a budget. If you have any other suggestions for a different skiff in the $20k range please advise. Understand that all poling skiffs can be tippy, but I need something that isn't too terribly tippy. There are so many companies out there making great skiffs.

Appreciate any guidance!
 

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I’d look at lodge Copperhead, Heron or native over the shadowcast. Anything narrower than 60” is going to be pretty tippy.
 
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I agree with @Str8-Six, Shadowcast is a great skiff but a little small/narrow for most folks as an all around skiff. It is more of a true purpose built skiff that does it’s job pretty well! The Copperhead or one of the little larger Ankonas will still be a great poling skiff that can serve many purposes.
 

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Look at the Heron for sure. I believe the 16 Lodge can still be had for around $9000 for a tiller version. add $1800 for a aluminum trailer and $5k? for a 30 Tohatsu. Lightly rigged I think you’d still get upper 20’s even with a 30, but with the 30 it would be on the edge of being under powered. Another $1500 for poling platform, stand up console/grab bar, misc items and you’d still be under $20k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Appreciate the feedback very much. I’m trying to keep it simple and stick w a tiller.

Spend most of my time fly fishing and poling skinny. I will take a look at the Salt Marsh lineup

Look at the Heron for sure. I believe the 16 Lodge can still be had for around $9000 for a tiller version. add $1800 for a aluminum trailer and $5k? for a 30 Tohatsu. Lightly rigged I think you’d still get upper 20’s even with a 30, but with the 30 it would be on the edge of being under powered. Another $1500 for poling platform, stand up console/grab bar, misc items and you’d still be under $20k.
 

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I run the ankona / salt marsh owners forum.... come check us out... further I have posted my salt marsh low country for sale..... its the mothership of the heron 16.... its in the for sale section....
 

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Hi - I have a Shadowcast 18 that i recently converted to remote steer tohatsu 30 from a tilller suzuki 25 due to an arm injury (not from the boat). I like the remote better but the tiller was fine. I like the skiff because it is simple, gets me into real skinny areas and rides nice since it is so long. Also, they make a new side console for the skiff that is really nice and is in a position where you can still sit in the middle of the skiff. Its a good 2 person skiff - plenty of room for 2.
 

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2021 Hell’s Bay Marquesa being built, 2013 Hell’s Bay Marquesa sold, 2017 Ankona Shadowcast 18
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My 18 Shadowcast is an excellent skiff it has been all over Florida from Homasassa to Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor to Everglades to Islamorada to Big Pine. Very tippy skiff that is not a do-all but it will take on the chop if you stand up and lean on the polling platform to get the nose up. I took it to the reef in 15mph wind and have run it across Tampa Bay in a good chop. Definitely get the 12 gallon tank (it’s actually only a 10 gallon) and I’ve run it empty so I take a 2 gallon portable tank for a back up. Tiller is the only way to go with Carbon Marine longest extension working nicely. I would not get the center console it will get in your way and takes up space and adds weight. I use an Engle cooler for seating and Tupperware container for dry storage. You don’t need tabs. I have electric package with lights and bilge pump. Trailer modes are: 8 “ roller for dry launch, upgraded Fulton winch and 13” not 12” tires for highway travel. Great simple skiff and I can definitely recommend the Tohatsu 30 propped right by Ankona. I do think the polling platform is higher than you need for clearance it gets tippy way up there. I have rear hatch not necessary though because rear area is not designed not to be dry storage as deck drains to rear. No issues with boat since January 2017. I think you will like it it has been the most fun boat to run and my Marquesa stays home if I’m not after Tarpon or with guests. Ankona is a great company!
 

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Another option would be the advent, it’s a 68in beam and I think would be a better option than the Shadowcast. I think the tiller/console debate is just a personal preference, I switched from a tiller to a console and probably wouldn’t go back, the added comfort for long trips is nice plus I don’t have as much weight forward and it’s more comfortable for the passenger also. Being that I strictly fly fish I don’t see the added weight as that much of a difference either so weigh out your options.
Your location will also play a role, if your crossing open water your going to want the extra freeboard that the shadowcast just doesn’t have compared to their other skiffs. The heron16 and advent are both 7inch boats with a normal load and fuel. Mine is powered with a 40hp Honda and I’m very happy with it, tohatsu might be the way to go but with a 50hp due to weight and the added power. Trim tabs are a must on every skiff especially for only a few hundred dollars extra.
 

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I have a Shadowcast 18 with a 30 tohotsu tiller. It's been a great boat for what it is. I fish North Florida in some very rocky and oysters waters. I also duck hunt out of this boat. The tunnel in this skiff is huge and allows you to run in very shallow water. I usually fish creeks and shallow flats for trout and redfish. It is tippy but poles effortlessly. It is a 2 man skiff. I have fished 3, but it is a little crowded.
This is not a big water boat. If you need something to cross deep open bays, I would go this a Heron. If your just fishing creeks and running shallow rock waters, I would go with the Shadowcast.
If you go with a Shadowcast you definitely need a Shaw Wing with a Jack Foreman cupped prop. Otherwise, you will blow out In the turns. This made a world of difference in the performance of this boat. My boat runs around 25 WOT with 2 people and normal gear.
If I had to do anything differently, I would have a front deck hatch. I keep my batteries and a portable 7 gallon tank up there. It can be a pain to get the batteries and tank out. I put 2 7 gallon tanks up there for Everglades trips. This boats runs better with more weight to the bow.

The only thing I don't like about this boat is that it can have some hull slap at times. The chine in the bow is above the waterline. If there is not enough weight in the bow, a light ripple will create some slap. Also if your stern is facing the wind and chop, the tunnel will create some slap.
 

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Not sure where you are in Texas, but if you are in SE area, Beaumont I know there is at least one Heron 16 you could probably look at. If so, I'm sure the people at Saltmarsh could put you in touch with the guy. All I have to add is the people I know of that have them, love them, and everyone speaks well of the crew that makes them happen, good luck.
 

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Another option would be the advent, it’s a 68in beam and I think would be a better option than the Shadowcast. I think the tiller/console debate is just a personal preference, I switched from a tiller to a console and probably wouldn’t go back, the added comfort for long trips is nice plus I don’t have as much weight forward and it’s more comfortable for the passenger also. Being that I strictly fly fish I don’t see the added weight as that much of a difference either so weigh out your options.
Your location will also play a role, if your crossing open water your going to want the extra freeboard that the shadowcast just doesn’t have compared to their other skiffs. The heron16 and advent are both 7inch boats with a normal load and fuel. Mine is powered with a 40hp Honda and I’m very happy with it, tohatsu might be the way to go but with a 50hp due to weight and the added power. Trim tabs are a must on every skiff especially for only a few hundred dollars extra.
Nice boat @Lagoonnewb !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My 18 Shadowcast is an excellent skiff it has been all over Florida from Homasassa to Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor to Everglades to Islamorada to Big Pine. Very tippy skiff that is not a do-all but it will take on the chop if you stand up and lean on the polling platform to get the nose up. I took it to the reef in 15mph wind and have run it across Tampa Bay in a good chop. Definitely get the 12 gallon tank (it’s actually only a 10 gallon) and I’ve run it empty so I take a 2 gallon portable tank for a back up. Tiller is the only way to go with Carbon Marine longest extension working nicely. I would not get the center console it will get in your way and takes up space and adds weight. I use an Engle cooler for seating and Tupperware container for dry storage. You don’t need tabs. I have electric package with lights and bilge pump. Trailer modes are: 8 “ roller for dry launch, upgraded Fulton winch and 13” not 12” tires for highway travel. Great simple skiff and I can definitely recommend the Tohatsu 30 propped right by Ankona. I do think the polling platform is higher than you need for clearance it gets tippy way up there. I have rear hatch not necessary though because rear area is not designed not to be dry storage as deck drains to rear. No issues with boat since January 2017. I think you will like it it has been the most fun boat to run and my Marquesa stays home if I’m not after Tarpon or with guests. Ankona is a great company!
Thank you this is a great response, appreciate the insights.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have a Shadowcast 18 with a 30 tohotsu tiller. It's been a great boat for what it is. I fish North Florida in some very rocky and oysters waters. I also duck hunt out of this boat. The tunnel in this skiff is huge and allows you to run in very shallow water. I usually fish creeks and shallow flats for trout and redfish. It is tippy but poles effortlessly. It is a 2 man skiff. I have fished 3, but it is a little crowded.
This is not a big water boat. If you need something to cross deep open bays, I would go this a Heron. If your just fishing creeks and running shallow rock waters, I would go with the Shadowcast.
If you go with a Shadowcast you definitely need a Shaw Wing with a Jack Foreman cupped prop. Otherwise, you will blow out In the turns. This made a world of difference in the performance of this boat. My boat runs around 25 WOT with 2 people and normal gear.
If I had to do anything differently, I would have a front deck hatch. I keep my batteries and a portable 7 gallon tank up there. It can be a pain to get the batteries and tank out. I put 2 7 gallon tanks up there for Everglades trips. This boats runs better with more weight to the bow.

The only thing I don't like about this boat is that it can have some hull slap at times. The chine in the bow is above the waterline. If there is not enough weight in the bow, a light ripple will create some slap. Also if your stern is facing the wind and chop, the tunnel will create some slap.
Thanks for all the details here- appreciate the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My 18 Shadowcast is an excellent skiff it has been all over Florida from Homasassa to Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor to Everglades to Islamorada to Big Pine. Very tippy skiff that is not a do-all but it will take on the chop if you stand up and lean on the polling platform to get the nose up. I took it to the reef in 15mph wind and have run it across Tampa Bay in a good chop. Definitely get the 12 gallon tank (it’s actually only a 10 gallon) and I’ve run it empty so I take a 2 gallon portable tank for a back up. Tiller is the only way to go with Carbon Marine longest extension working nicely. I would not get the center console it will get in your way and takes up space and adds weight. I use an Engle cooler for seating and Tupperware container for dry storage. You don’t need tabs. I have electric package with lights and bilge pump. Trailer modes are: 8 “ roller for dry launch, upgraded Fulton winch and 13” not 12” tires for highway travel. Great simple skiff and I can definitely recommend the Tohatsu 30 propped right by Ankona. I do think the polling platform is higher than you need for clearance it gets tippy way up there. I have rear hatch not necessary though because rear area is not designed not to be dry storage as deck drains to rear. No issues with boat since January 2017. I think you will like it it has been the most fun boat to run and my Marquesa stays home if I’m not after Tarpon or with guests. Ankona is a great company!
Super helpful thank you!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
My 18 Shadowcast is an excellent skiff it has been all over Florida from Homasassa to Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor to Everglades to Islamorada to Big Pine. Very tippy skiff that is not a do-all but it will take on the chop if you stand up and lean on the polling platform to get the nose up. I took it to the reef in 15mph wind and have run it across Tampa Bay in a good chop. Definitely get the 12 gallon tank (it’s actually only a 10 gallon) and I’ve run it empty so I take a 2 gallon portable tank for a back up. Tiller is the only way to go with Carbon Marine longest extension working nicely. I would not get the center console it will get in your way and takes up space and adds weight. I use an Engle cooler for seating and Tupperware container for dry storage. You don’t need tabs. I have electric package with lights and bilge pump. Trailer modes are: 8 “ roller for dry launch, upgraded Fulton winch and 13” not 12” tires for highway travel. Great simple skiff and I can definitely recommend the Tohatsu 30 propped right by Ankona. I do think the polling platform is higher than you need for clearance it gets tippy way up there. I have rear hatch not necessary though because rear area is not designed not to be dry storage as deck drains to rear. No issues with boat since January 2017. I think you will like it it has been the most fun boat to run and my Marquesa stays home if I’m not after Tarpon or with guests. Ankona is a great company!
Super helpful thank you!!!
 

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I had a Shadowcast 16 and really liked it. Super simple, light, and inexpensive to operate. I primarily fished solo but was ok with two. It can surprisingly take a chop and floats very shallow. It is a little tippy. It easily fits in a garage and you can tow it with a bicycle. I’m sure you can find one for 10k or less and that’s hard to beat. I rode on a Advent and a Salt Marsh Heron 16. No comparison but of course those skiffs cost much more. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you. Yes, lots of people suggesting the heron but I really need an 18’. I appreciate your feedback on the shadow cast.
 
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