Discover Types & Styles

Skiff Boats: What Are They and Their Key Features

Skiff boats are small, lightweight vessels commonly used for fishing in shallow waters. Often featuring an open design and lacking complex plumbing or electrical systems, these boats are known for their portability and simplicity. With a size ranging from 17 to 25 feet and weighing around 1,500 pounds, skiff boats offer an ideal choice for those looking to explore waterways with ease and efficiency source.

The term "skiff" can encompass a variety of boats that share similar characteristics, such as having a curved or pointed bow, a flat stern, and often a flat bottom source. These design features enable skiffs to navigate extremely shallow waters, making them perfect for anglers seeking access to hard-to-reach fishing spots. Their relatively low-power motor requirements also contribute to fuel savings compared to larger boats, further enhancing their appeal among boating enthusiasts.

What Are Skiff Boats

Skiff boats are small, lightweight vessels often used for fishing in shallow waters. Typically ranging in size from 17-25 feet and weighing around 1,500 pounds, these boats are designed for simplicity and ease of use. The open-design nature of skiff boats makes them popular choices for fishing enthusiasts and casual boaters alike.

One of the main advantages of skiff boats is their low fuel consumption due to their modest size and weight. They often come equipped with a motor but lack complex plumbing and electrical systems, which contributes to their low maintenance requirements. Skiffs can be easily transported thanks to their portability, making them perfect for a day out on the water.

Skiff boats can be used in both freshwater and saltwater, appealing to boaters who enjoy various environments. They excel in shallow waters but can also be found in rivers, lakes, and bays, providing versatility for different types of water activities.

In terms of construction, skiffs aren't very complex. They typically consist of a hull, powerplant, and a few seats, without many additional features. This simplicity makes skiffs a top choice for budget-conscious boaters who still want to enjoy the pleasures of being out on the water.

Some skiff models, such as the Sundance K16 Skiff, cater specifically to skinny water and nearshore fishing. With additional features like in-hull storage and a center console, these skiffs can be powered by 40 or 50 horsepower engines, offering more functionality than more basic designs.

In summary, skiff boats are a versatile and accessible option for boating enthusiasts, particularly those interested in fishing and spending time in shallow waters. Their simplicity, low maintenance requirements, and budget-friendly nature make them an attractive choice for many boaters.

Types of Skiff Boats

Skiff boats are small, open-design boats that are commonly used for fishing in shallow waters. They are lightweight, portable, and come in various designs to cater to different needs and preferences. In this section, we will explore the four main types of skiff boats: Flat Bottom Skiffs, V-Hull Skiffs, Jon Boats, and Carolina Skiffs.

Flat Bottom Skiffs

Flat Bottom Skiffs are one of the most common types of skiff boats. These boats are typically made of aluminum or fiberglass and are designed for use in shallow waters. Their flat-bottomed design provides excellent stability, making them a popular choice for activities such as fishing and crabbing. These skiffs are easy to maneuver and generally have a shallow draft, which enables them to access areas that other boats cannot.

V-Hull Skiffs

V-Hull Skiffs are another popular design, featuring a V-shaped keel. This design offers improved handling and stability compared to flat-bottom skiffs, especially in rougher waters. V-Hull Skiffs are capable of cutting through waves and ride smoother, making them a preferred choice for those who need a boat that can handle varying water conditions. They are typically constructed from materials like fiberglass or aluminum and are ideal for both recreational and commercial use.

Jon Boats

Jon Boats are a variant of skiff boats that have a square-cut bow. These boats are flat-bottomed, providing excellent stability in shallow waters. Jon Boats are often used for fishing and hunting, as their simple design allows easy customization with accessories such as trolling motors, swivel chairs, and decking. They are primarily made of aluminum or fiberglass and are affordable options for those looking for a reliable skiff boat.

Carolina Skiffs

Carolina Skiffs are versatile skiff boats with a reputation for being highly customizable and durable. They feature a modified V-Hull design, offering a smooth ride while maintaining stability in shallow waters. Carolina Skiffs are often used for recreational activities such as fishing, as well as commercial purposes. These boats are constructed with fiberglass and are known for their low maintenance and durability.

In summary, skiff boats cater to different needs and preferences, with each type offering unique advantages in terms of stability, handling, and application. Whether it's a Flat Bottom Skiff, V-Hull Skiff, Jon Boat, or Carolina Skiff, there is a skiff boat design suitable for every individual's requirements.

Size and Dimensions

Skiff boats are relatively small and versatile watercraft mainly used for activities such as fishing, day cruising, and exploring shallow waters. They are known for their shallow draft, which allows them to navigate in areas with limited depth.

The size and dimensions of a skiff can vary, but most skiffs range from about 16 feet up to 21 feet in length. The beam, or the widest point of the boat, usually falls between 54 inches and 78 inches.

Some common size and dimension aspects of skiff boats include:

  • Length: The length of a skiff can impact its stability, speed, and ease of maneuverability. A shorter skiff, such as a 12-foot model, may be more agile but less stable in choppy waters. In contrast, an 18-foot skiff would likely offer more stability and room for passengers or equipment, but might be more challenging to maneuver in tight spaces.

  • Beam: The beam, or width, of a skiff plays a crucial role in its overall stability. A wider beam can provide more stability when fishing or leaning over the side, while a narrow beam might make for easier navigation in tight waterways. Skiffs with a narrower beam will usually be lighter and faster, but may sacrifice some stability in exchange.

  • Draft: Because skiffs are designed for shallow waters, their draft - the amount of the boat submerged in water - is typically minimal. A shallow draft enables the skiff to navigate in shallow or narrow areas, like near shorelines or sandbars, without getting stuck.

Skiff boats come in a range of sizes and dimensions to suit various needs and preferences. When choosing a skiff, consider the intended use and the typical water conditions you'll be navigating to find the ideal size and beam width for your needs.

Materials and Construction

Fiberglass Skiffs

Fiberglass is a popular material used in the construction of skiffs due to its strength and flexibility. Modern skiffs built using fiberglass are lightweight and resistant to corrosion, providing a balance of durability and performance. The material is created from fine strands of glass fibers, which are combined with resin to create a strong and flexible material that is used as the primary structure for the hull of the skiff 1.

Aluminum Skiffs

Aluminum skiffs are known for their lightweight and low-maintenance properties. These boats are often built using marine-grade aluminum, offering excellent resistance to corrosion caused by saltwater exposure. The advantages of aluminum skiffs include being easy to repair, having lower manufacturing costs, and being more environmentally friendly compared to fiberglass 2.

Wooden Skiffs

Historically, skiffs have been predominantly built from wood - a material that is both affordable and readily available. Wooden skiffs provide a classic aesthetic that many boaters admire, though this comes with several trade-offs: wooden boats require regular maintenance, including sanding, sealing, and painting or varnishing. Additionally, wooden skiffs are more prone to rot and damage compared to their fiberglass and aluminum counterparts. However, with proper care, wooden skiffs can outlast boats made from other materials, providing many years of use 3.

Carbon Fiber and Kevlar Skiffs

In recent years, advancements in materials technology have led to the rise of carbon fiber and Kevlar skiffs. Both materials offer a significant weight reduction compared to fiberglass and increased strength, leading to higher performance and improved handling. Carbon fiber is extremely strong and lightweight, making it ideal for use in racing boats and high-performance skiffs. Kevlar, on the other hand, is known for its ability to withstand impacts and abrasion, providing a more durable option for boaters who frequent shallow waters where collisions with rocks or other obstacles are more common.

While these materials offer enhanced performance and durability, they come with a higher price tag and may require specialized repairs. As such, carbon fiber and Kevlar skiffs are typically reserved for those seeking top-of-the-line performance and are willing to invest in the necessary maintenance 4.

Performance and Handling

Skiff boats are known for their excellent performance in shallow waters. They have a low draft, which allows them to access areas larger boats cannot reach. This characteristic makes skiffs particularly well-suited for navigating through narrow channels and tight spaces, often found in coastal or riverine environments.

The stability of skiff boats is another crucial factor that contributes to their overall performance. Flats skiffs, for example, are designed to offer a stable platform for fishing in shallow waters. Their flat-bottomed design provides increased buoyancy and helps to prevent the boat from rocking while at rest.

In terms of weight, skiff boats tend to be lightweight, which further enhances their handling and maneuverability. A lightweight boat allows for easier transport and handling both on and off the water. This feature is particularly beneficial for those who fish or explore various bodies of water and need to move their watercraft from one location to another.

Skiff boats are also known for their durability. Made from materials such as aluminum, fiberglass or rotomolded plastic, these boats are designed to withstand the wear and tear of frequent use. This durability factor makes them an excellent choice for fishing enthusiasts and those needing a reliable, long-lasting boat.

Lastly, skiff boats are easy to handle, thanks to their lightweight and streamlined design. Even novice boaters can quickly learn how to operate a skiff with minimal difficulty, making them an ideal choice for users of all experience levels. This ease of handling allows skiff boat operators to focus on enjoying their time on the water, whether that be fishing or exploring the intricacies of shallow waters.

Boating Applications


Skiff boats are commonly used for fishing in shallow waters due to their small size and open design. They have a simple layout, often featuring a hull, outboard engine, some seats, and fishing rod holders. Their lightweight construction makes them easy to maneuver through various water conditions, allowing anglers to reach prime fishing locations efficiently.


Though primarily used for fishing, skiff boats can also provide a relaxing experience for day cruising. Their simple design and lack of complex electrical or plumbing systems reduce maintenance requirements, meaning you can focus on enjoying your time on the water. However, skiffs may not be suitable for long-distance cruising or rough water conditions, as their small size and open design make them more susceptible to waves and adverse weather.


In some cases, skiff boats may be used for transportation, particularly in locations with shallow waters or where larger boats are impractical. Their compact size and ease of maneuverability make them well suited for navigating through rivers, lakes, and bays. Keep in mind, though, that skiff boats are not designed for long distances or ocean travel.

Clamming and Crabbing

Skiffs can be used for clamming and crabbing activities, as their shallow draft allows them to access areas with abundant shellfish populations. Their open design provides ample space for sorting and storing catch, and their straightforward maintenance requirements mean you can spend more time focusing on the task at hand.

Day Cruising

Thanks to their low-maintenance design, skiff boats are perfect for casual day cruising on calm waters, whether in freshwater or saltwater environments. However, their suitability for ocean use depends on the specific model and size of the boat. Generally, skiff boats are more appropriate for exploring rivers, lakes, and bays than heading out into open ocean waters.

Popular Skiff Boat Brands

Boston Whaler

Boston Whaler is a well-known name in the skiff boat market, offering a variety of versatile and easy-to-handle boats. The Boston Whaler 130 Super Sport is one example of their impressive line-up. This small skiff is renowned for its capabilities and appointments, making it a popular choice among skiff enthusiasts.


Mako is another reputable skiff boat manufacturer, known for its durable and dependable designs. Their boats are built to tackle a wide range of boating needs with precision and stability. Although not mentioned in the search results, Mako boats are popular for their versatile performance in various water conditions.


Maverick boats are considered high-quality skiffs with an emphasis on shallow water performance. They offer customizable features and designs to suit different angler preferences. While specific Maverick models are not mentioned in the search results, Maverick boats are recognized as a reliable option for skiff enthusiasts.


Sundance is a notable manufacturer of skiff-style boats, offering models with updated features and innovative technology. According to Boat Trader, Sundance is among the top manufacturers of skiffs available on the market, showcasing a range of reliable and durable boats for various purposes.


Spyder is another popular skiff brand mentioned in the Boat Trader search results. While details about specific Spyder models are not provided, the brand is known for its well-designed and functional skiff boats that cater to a variety of boating needs.

Accessories and Features

Skiff boats are small, lightweight vessels perfect for fishing and other water activities. They are designed to navigate shallow waters with ease and offer a wide range of accessories and features. There is something for everyone, from fishing enthusiasts to casual boaters looking for a relaxing day on the water. In this section, we explore the various accessories and features found in Skiff boats.

The heart of any Skiff boat is its outboard motor. These motors are designed to be efficient and maximize fuel economy. Typically, they don't need to be powerful due to the lightweight nature of the boat. Engines can range from small electric ones to more powerful gas-driven models. The choice will depend on the specific needs and expectations of the owner.

Fishing is a major focus of Skiff boats, and owners can find numerous accessories to enhance their experience. Rod holders are a common feature, turning the boat into a mobile fishing station. Additionally, there are options for live wells, rod racks, and storage compartments for tackle and gear. These additions make it simple to keep everything organized and easily accessible during a day of fishing.

Other accessories improve the utility and convenience of the Skiff boat. For instance, owners may choose to install a tow bar for watersports or a stereo system for enhancing the entertainment while on the water. Some models also come equipped with built-in coolers, allowing passengers to keep drinks and snacks cool on hot days.

Below is a summary of some key Skiff Boat accessories:

  • Outboard motor: small electric or gas-driven engines for propulsion
  • Rod holders: secure rods for hands-free fishing
  • Live wells: store live bait and keep catch fresh
  • Utility: tow bar, stereo system, built-in coolers
  • Fishing accessories: rod racks, storage compartments

One unique feature found in some Skiff boats is the tunnel design. This allows the boat to run in extremely shallow waters without risk of damaging the hull, providing an advantage to anglers looking to explore hard-to-reach locations. The tunnel also improves fuel efficiency by allowing the boat to glide more smoothly through the water.

In conclusion, Skiff boats offer a wide range of accessories and features that cater to the diverse demands of boaters. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a casual water enthusiast, there are options to enhance your experience and make the most out of your time on the water.

Pricing and Costs

Skiff boats are versatile and straightforward watercraft that can be used for various activities such as day cruising, freshwater and saltwater fishing, and gunkholing. They can be found in different sizes, shapes, and styles which can affect their prices.

When looking into the pricing and costs of skiff boats, expect to see a range from as low as $10,000 up to $50,000, depending on the features and size of the boat. On average, a good-quality skiff boat can be found for around $20,000. Some popular skiff boat brands on the market include Boston Whaler, Carolina Skiff, Mako, Maverick, and Yellowfin.

Here are some examples of skiff boats with their respective pricing:

  • Tracker 1648 SC: $9,795 (not incl. engine), 16' 1" length, 6' beam, 727 lbs dry weight, 6-gallon fuel capacity, 4 passenger capacity, and 50 hp maximum power
  • Wellcraft 162 Fisherman: Pricing varies depending on features, engine type, and dealer discounts. Contact the manufacturer or your local dealer for accurate pricing.

Carolina Skiff offers nationally advertised pricing for their 2021 model series boats. Starting prices include outboards, and they're consistent across dealerships. To browse their available models, visit the Carolina Skiff website.

Keep in mind, the initial purchase price is just one part of the overall cost of owning a skiff boat. Other costs to consider include:

  • Insurance
  • Registration fees
  • Docking fees
  • Fuel
  • Maintenance and repairs

While skiff boats are generally considered affordable and cost-effective compared to other types of boats, it's essential to factor in these additional expenses. By taking the time to research and compare different models and pricing, you can find an affordable and suitable skiff boat for your needs.

Choosing the Right Skiff Boat

Skiff boats are small, simple, open boats that often range in length from 12 to 25 feet. These versatile watercraft are perfect for various outdoor activities, such as fishing, swimming, and exploring lakes, rivers, and oceans.

When selecting a skiff boat, it is crucial to consider your specific needs and preferences, such as the primary intended use, preferred water type, and local weather conditions. Let's discuss some key factors to take into account while making your choice.

Water Type

Skiff boats can be used in both saltwater and freshwater environments. Before making a purchase, consider the water type you will be frequenting the most, as it may affect the type of boat and its construction materials. Some skiff boats are better suited for freshwater fishing in lakes and rivers, while others are designed for saltwater fishing in the ocean or coastal waters.

Boat Type

There are several types of skiff boats available, each with unique features tailored to specific activities. For instance, flat-bottom rowboats are great for calm waters, flats skiffs for shallow fishing, and commercial fishing skiffs for heavy-duty use.

Weather Conditions

Your local climate and weather conditions can significantly influence the type of skiff boat you should choose. In areas with steady winds or choppy waters, a boat with a higher deadrise (angle of the bottom) will provide better stability and comfort. In calmer weather, a flat-bottom skiff will suffice.

Fishing Features

Fishing enthusiasts should look for skiff boats with desirable fishing features, such as casting decks, livewells for keeping bait alive, and plenty of rod holders. Boats like the Dolphin 17' Super Skiff Pro are known for their superior fishing amenities.

Safety & Experience

Safety and comfort should be a priority when selecting a skiff boat. More experienced boaters may be comfortable with a smaller, more basic boat, while novices might prefer a larger, more comfortable vessel with additional safety features. Ensure that the boat you choose meets your skills and experience level.

Lifestyle & Budget

Lastly, your budget and lifestyle will significantly influence your choice. Skiff boats can vary widely in terms of price and features, so consider what best suits your lifestyle and financial constraints. High-quality models from trusted brands often come with a higher price tag but offer greater durability and performance.

In conclusion, choosing the right skiff boat involves a thorough assessment of your specific needs, preferences, and conditions. By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and select the ideal skiff boat for your adventures.


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