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I posted yesterday about looking into an aluminum Jon boat as an upgrade to my kayak, (looking hard at a G3 1548), but a buddy’s wisdom has me also considering springing for a fiberglass skiff.

Currently, I am looking hard at the Native SUV 14. I am beginning to look at all the features you can have with it, and I am wondering how important the following are:

Pole platform? What advantage will having one vs not having one run me? I don’t see myself using it that much, and the savings can go towards other things on the boat.

Bilge pump? I can see this being a yes as if the boat takes water I’m not stuck bailing with a bucket.

Electric vs pull start motor? I kinda swing both ways on this. Pull start is cheaper and saves having to have a battery, BUT an electric start can always be pull started in an emergency and I wouldn’t be pulling a cord a bunch of times a day.

I already know I do not thing I will need a center console, just a grab bar and a seat in front. I think having a live well would be nice, but a cooler with ice could do the same?

Any input and advice is greatly appreciated. I am on a budget of around $10K or so (as long as the CFO wife agrees) and want to make sure I get the necessities vs the “extras”.
 

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Even if you don’t pole, the platform gives the guy in the back a much better shot at fish then if he were on the back deck, if you’re working a shoreline with a trolling motor.

Electric start is a luxury item. I’m sort of a skinny guy and I’ve ran pull start outboards for years. Pull starting a 30hp 4 stroke with one arm isn’t an issue after some practice.

It sounds like all these items can easily be added after the boat is bought. So a bare bones hull doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
 

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A poling platform is nice to have but it's also something a welder could add later most platforms unless custom made obstructs the tiller handle if you have an extension on it. A cooler attached to the back deck or casting platform will work almost as well. I would drop the extra coin on electric start just me personally nothing wrong with a pull start though. As for battery weight I start a 25 merc 2 stroke and I use a lawnmower battery to crank it and run my trim tabs and bilge pump which I would add for sure.
 

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Having just recently sold my native14 I can say the polling platform if you want to do any really shallow water fishing is a must. I had electric start on my motor as well but it’s just a convienience and not 100% necessary. You should absolutely have a bilge pump no matter what size skiff you end up getting, it’s cheap insurance. Having a motor with power trim and tilt is a must on the native, you can always add it later by getting a cmc or bobs trim and tilt unit which is what I did. Not only will it increase your top end speed but it makes the boat handle much better especially in a chop. Trim tabs on this particular boat are not necessary if you want you can buy the naticus tabs which is what I had on mine, they make a difference when running solo but not needed if you have 2 people on board. Making sure your wife has a comfortable seat especially with a tiller is a must, my girl was not happy with the tiller and always having to sit on the cooler in front of the tiller console lol. I would get the tiller console with insulated cooler if I were you. In the end you are trying to get the best options while still having a simple tiller skiff
 

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As I recall, you're looking for something to fish the Nature Coast. In the past ten or so years, the number of times I've actually seen someone poling from a platform here I can count on the fingers of one hand. If you're looking at a G3 1548 with a 25 hp tiller, you don't need trim tabs, and with no tunnel, there's really no need for a jack plate, and once you get the motor set, tilt/trim is expendable. 25 horse doesn't need electric start.

Do NOT consider a bilge pump as a safety item on a 15' skiff. It's a convenience, nothing more. Casual water can always be removed by pulling the drain plugs and running on plane for awhile or by use of a bucket. No bilge pump (on a small skiff) is going to be able to deal with serious swamping and high wind/wave conditions. Best to rely on positive floatation and life jackets.

Things I would want: 12v trolling motor, some kind of anchor pin, a good live/release well, a nice cooler, a handheld VHF, a chart plotter. Also, don't scrimp on the trailer. My choice would be an aluminum torsion axle, wide enough so the boat can ride between the fenders, not over them. The lower the boat is on the trailer, the easier it is to launch and the better it tows. Get good tires and a good spare.
 

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Things I would want: 12v trolling motor, some kind of anchor pin, a good live/release well, a nice cooler, a handheld VHF, a chart plotter. Also, don't scrimp on the trailer. My choice would be an aluminum torsion axle, wide enough so the boat can ride between the fenders, not over them. The lower the boat is on the trailer, the easier it is to launch and the better it tows. Get good tires and a good spare.
Definitely get a good trailer and a nice VHF, two things that will make your life a hell of a lot easier going forward if you are ever to have issues
 

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When someone is wanting to outfit a skiff or choose what kind of skiff they want, I tell them to follow my 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is simple and the best way to explain it is with the decisions I made on my Cayenne I had a couple years back. I NEEDED a skiff that was going to be able to perform in winter time redfish-on-fly applications 80% of the time. Therefore when outfitting the skiff, I did so with those NEEDS in the forefront of my mind. I WANTED a skiff that would also be able to perform off the beaches for tarpon on fly in the summer time. Based on the NEEDS that I had already lined up for the skiff, I discovered that those NEEDS for the 80% of my fishing activity would also satisfy the WANTS of the other 20% of my fishing activity. Set up the skiff to satisfy your fishing needs the majority (80%) of the time. The rest of that time, you'll figure out little tricks and tweaks on the skiff to make that 20% possible and enjoyable.
 

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Absolutely follow the 80/20 rule. My father in law has been running boats here in the Tampa area for well over 40 years and he gave me two pieces of sage advice...1) buy the boat that does what you need 80% of the time (NOT the boat that does the other 20%) and 2) never approach a dock faster than you are willing to hit it. Its been good advice so far.

Beyond that...I think tabs are critical on smaller boats that are less forgiving in sloppy conditions or that feel weight distribution more than larger boats. My skiff for example, needs an tiny bit of tab to port because I stand off center to run my tiller. My 215# is felt when I'm up on plane and 2/3 of my hull is out of the water. Just being able to make that little adjustment flattens things out...
 

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Absolutely follow the 80/20 rule. My father in law has been running boats here in the Tampa area for well over 40 years and he gave me two pieces of sage advice...1) buy the boat that does what you need 80% of the time (NOT the boat that does the other 20%) Its been good advice so far.
I gave you this advice liar.
 

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Pole platform? What advantage will having one vs not having one run me? I don’t see myself using it that much, and the savings can go towards other things on the boat.

Bilge pump? I can see this being a yes as if the boat takes water I’m not stuck bailing with a bucket.

Electric vs pull start motor? I kinda swing both ways on this. Pull start is cheaper and saves having to have a battery, BUT an electric start can always be pull started in an emergency and I wouldn’t be pulling a cord a bunch of times a day.
Poling Platform: IMO this is a necessity unless you simply don't plan to fish shallow areas (under 2' or so). Also I believe it is great for resale because you won't have a lot of buyers looking to purchase a poling skiff with no poling platform.

I have a bilge pump with float switch and manual switch. Not a necessity but great to have, I recommend it.

I would get electric start with power tilt and trim, and usually it will have pull start as a backup. Pulling is fine when it starts on pull one or two, but even as a young guy the last thing I want to do at the ramp at 6AM is yank on my outboard for 10 minutes.

Personally I would skip the livewell, but of course if you fish live bait a lot you may want it. Only problem is a full livewell in a boat this small is going to add a lot of weight, and IMO these boats aren't great for sitting around soaking bait anyway.

I believe an aluminum Jon boat and a small poling skiff are for completely different purposes. If you mostly fish bait or lures in 4'+ of water, get the jon or a wide flat bottom skiff like a carolina skiff (I wouldn't want an aluminum boat in florida unless you plan to fry eggs on the bench seat). If you fish true shallows, especially fly fishing then a poling skiff is more appropriate.
 

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I run a boat about the same size 14'8".

I have the ability to run a TM but haven't in about 1-2 months. Poling platform is a need for shallow water. Quality Push pole holders is a must ( I have stiffy on mine)

No electric start (it doesn't hurt when you are tuning carbs or timing though.) Tiller.

Small battery for nav lights and trim tabs.

I keep 1 buoy for tying off and life jackets.
 

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Skip the poling platform unless you know you are going to use it frequently. We fish shallow water almost exclusively and hardly ever use ours. A good cooler you can stand on does double duty as a platform, storage, etc.

Electric tilt is a near must have in our area. It may not be in yours. I would want it just to make my life easier. Once you put on that, the jump in cost to an electric start motor is minimal.

Bilge pumps are relatively cheap and worth it IMO. If nothing else they let you know when you have a problem.
 

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Do NOT consider a bilge pump as a safety item on a 15' skiff. It's a convenience, nothing more. Casual water can always be removed by pulling the drain plugs and running on plane for awhile or by use of a bucket. No bilge pump (on a small skiff) is going to be able to deal with serious swamping and high wind/wave conditions. Best to rely on positive floatation and life jackets.
Isn't this exactly what a bilge pump is designed to do? I don't understand your reasoning on a 15' skiff. Could save you from swamping/sinking your skiff. If a bilge pump can handle offshore boats, it can certainly pump out a rogue wave over the bow in a skiff or after crossing a nasty bay to get into protected waters. Sometimes you can't access the drain plugs very easily.

 

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Lowcountry Degen
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Isn't this exactly what a bilge pump is designed to do? I don't understand your reasoning on a 15' skiff. Could save you from swamping/sinking your skiff. If a bilge pump can handle offshore boats, it can certainly pump out a rogue wave over the bow in a skiff or after crossing a nasty bay to get into protected waters. Sometimes you can't access the drain plugs very easily.

I think he's saying don't rely on it exclusively. On a skiff that small things can happen much more quickly than a bilge pump can handle. Better to rely on flotation chambers to do the heavy lifting, and life jackets for personal safety.

I absolutely agree with not having a bilge pump as my primary means of staying afloat, but I would still have a bilge pump for things like heavy rains, or those waves that are just big enough to spill over the bow.
 

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Consider how much and how quickly water can get into an open skiff when waves crash over as in the video shown. The only thing that will keep the skiff afloat is positive floatation. Water can come in at the rate of hundreds of gallons per second. There's no skiff mountable bilge pump that can come remotely close to handling that. If massive amounts of water screw up your electrical system, your bilge pump won't even work. Buckets and sponges, and hope the motor will start, assuming the waves have quit. If the waves continue, just hope the boat doesn't break up. I have personally seen a boat come apart in heavy (hurricane aftermath) waves. A puny 12 volt bilge pump is no match for Mother Nature.

Now, opposed to an open skiff or jon boat, most larger craft operate on the "plastic bottle" principle. They're sealed up and watertight and the most big waves will do is wash over (and possibly remove all topside fittings, antennas, lights etc.) A Coast Guard Response Boat can actually take a complete roll over. On these craft, a bilge pump is a true safety device and handy to remove all the water that comes in thru leaks and if allowed to accumulate could pose a danger.
 

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Had a tiller steer boat with no console ,battery, bilge pump, TM, etc. That lasted about 18 months.

Now?

Console and steering wheel - check
Battery - check
Bilge pump- check
TM - check
Graph/ GPS- check
Livewell- check
Power- check
convenience - check
Confort- check
 
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