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I'm new to skiffs. I've fished from sponson skiffs (Vantage) and non-sponson skiffs (several), but not enough to understand what you guys mean when you talk about the sponson "trade-off"? I've been reading a bunch of these forums trying to learn what performance characteristics I need to look for in a skiff for my area (South Central Louisiana), and I often see apparently knowledgeable folks say that there is a trade-off when you add sponsons to a skiff-- but it's always mentioned in passing and without explanation, as if it were something everyone understands already. Would anyone care to enlighten the ignorant? Thanks.
 

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2005 Gordon Waterman 18'
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Sponsons help tuck the engine under the platform, move engine weight forward a bit, can act similar to a tunnel but not anywhere as efficient. They can have chop slop noise and can make the boat hard to spin or pole in reverse. Non sponson boats spin better, have less noise but you can hit the cowling poling and the engine weight is at the very rear of the boat so balancing the boat is more critical. There are both good and bad sponson and non sponson boats.
 

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Use the search feature on this board - lots of posts about them.

I've owned with and without, but each boat have specific reasons why it had or did not have them.

Sponsons were added to the original skiffs to give more floatation to carry the larger 4 strokes appearing on the market. 4 strokes have gotten much lighter, but the overall benefit is the same - displacement and reducing stern squat.

Slap isn't a bid negative in my book - that can happen with non-sponson boats too.

Sponson to help the boat track much better while on pole and cross wind. But take a little more effort to turn.

Non sponsons can get skatey in cross wind, but also are very easy to turn.

I'd own either depending on the size of boat, engine and what I am trying to do.
 

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1999 HB Guide
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I have owned both, first skiff had no sponsons, second did. Based on my comparison of the skiffs I owned, here are my thoughts on spoons ( I don't like them).

Pros:
Small storage compartments (that will inevitably get water in them)
Helps with engine displacement (I guess?) so go ahead and hang that 90hp
Maybe I can jump on plane skinner due to less squatting...maybe

Cons:
Lots of loud splashy splashy going on if waves are coming from the stern.
Harder to spin on the pole
Wayyyyy harder to maneuver at slow speeds, especially in reverse. Navigating docks and boat ramps takes a lot more forethought. Like trying navigate a taco bell drive through with an F250, you gotta get lined up.
Difficult to get the bow up in following seas. This was the biggest difference for me, and really turned me off to sponsons. Trying to go fast and not stuff the nose...sponsons make life difficult here.
Less room for transducers, cav plates, and other fun things sticking out from the stern.

I still have my sponson skiff and I love it and plan to keep it forever....but it would be an 11/10 with a flat stern IMO
 

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I've heard that a sponson boat has less "squat" on holeshot because there's displacement / buoyancy at the stern around the motor. My 17.8 has sponsons. I don't mind them at all.
 

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I put somme on the skiff I'm building, I wanted a little longer hull, more storage and I really liked the look. Originally I was only after some bait wells like on the old 17 Makos, Aquasports and some SeaCrafts. some had holes drilled around the waterline that let water in and out to keep some bait alive. Its old school and not very efficient by todays standards but in the 1970's that's what they had and it worked. I have not drilled any holes and don't know if I will.
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Owned both and prefer non-sponson mainly for more bow control in the waters I fish.

Sponsons are a great if you don’t have tabs since they push the bow down.
 

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2020 Chittum Mangrove
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I put somme on the skiff I'm building, I wanted a little longer hull, more storage and I really liked the look. Originally I was only after some bait wells like on the old 17 Makos, Aquasports and some SeaCrafts. some had holes drilled around the waterline that let water in and out to keep some bait alive. Its old school and not very efficient by todays standards but in the 1970's that's what they had and it worked. I have not drilled any holes and don't know if I will.
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One of my friends had an aluminum that he put sponsors on like that Sea Craft. He was a metal worker so he welded them on. Worked great.
 

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Ran a B2 for 9 years. No problem running the bow high at cruising speeds. I did find the faster you went (WOT) the boat did tend to ride pretty flat .
 

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Zephyr Cove is on FIRE!
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It seems obvious....immovable planing surfaces behind the transom...which is what the engine rotates on. Which will mean something pushing back on your attempts to rotate the hull up in the bow. I'm sure you all know this.
I’ve run a lot of boats and if anything these skiffs (most skiffs) generally have a tendency to porpoise. The only hulls I’ve run that want to ride bow down without tabs are Chittums (none of them have sponsons or keyslots) and I think it’s because of how light the hulls are.
 
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