What more could an angler ask for? Good looking flies, a two-handed rod and a few shooting heads – and they all happen to be sitting in the tray of a bad-ass jet sled, and that sled happens to be floating on the most ridiculous steelhead river on the planet.
We saw a really cool boat at IFTD yesterday. It’s a unique concept by a company called Diablo Paddlesports. The boat is a ‘Hybrid SUP-Yak’ called the Adios.
What the heck is a Hybrid SUP-Yak? It’s a cross between a stand-up paddleboard and a sit-on-top kayak that’s purpose-built for fishing. OK, so what does that mean? Well, you can sit on it and paddle it like a kayak to get to where you want to fish, then stand up on it and paddle it like a paddleboard, then grab your rod and make a cast when you want to fish. Right on.
In our humble opinion, these are the cool things about the Adios.
- It’s reported to be really stable – anyone can hop on, stand up and paddle.
- It comes with a unique convertible paddle that goes from double-blade kayak mode to stand up paddle mode easily.
- It’s got a super clean design, with very little to catch fly lines.
- It weighs 69 pounds so it’s easy to get to and from the water.
- Loaded down with 300 pounds, it drafts all of 2.75 inches.
Lake fishing, river fishing, light inshore fishing…it’s all in play. Hmmm, maybe on those days on South Andros when the guests are all out fishing, we could slide one into Deep Creek…
More on Gear
First-time anglers at Alaska West could very well look at our guide boats on arrival day and think to themselves “I thought this place was supposed to be a top-tier operation.” Our boats are not the most comfortable, fastest, most tricked-out, or pretttiest boats at the boat show. There are certainly big, beautiful boats out there that make our boats look like go carts – the same way a Mustang looks compared to a Cadillac.
We could drive big bad-ass fast boats – with growling prop drives and heavy-gauge diamond plate aluminum painted with shark’s teeth. Speed envy? Yeah we have that – we’d love to go faster! But size envy? Nope – This is one of those times that smaller really is so much better – really.
We drive 18-foot riveted aluminum flat-bottomed hulls called ‘john boats’. They’re modeled 1852 – 18 feet long and 52 inches of beam. We’ve got a mix of Lowe and Grumman hulls – honestly in this configuration the name is about as important as your brand of butter.
We push them with 40HP outboards with a jet pump at the working end. We cut out the seat thwarts to lighten the boat and to allow more room to move around. We lay a sheet of marine plywood down as a deck. To that deck we bolt two pedestal seats. This gives us as light a boat as we can come up with and still use as an effective fishing platform.
We like smaller, lighter boats because:
- We fish skinny water side channels on the Kanektok and we fish the Arolik. Our boats draw less than a foot of water on step (OK, a lot less than that but we’ll call it a foot for our mechanic’s sake). We fish a lot of water the bigger boats have to hike to – which simply means we get to more fish.
- We boondog for the big-boy bows (rowing the boat down the river, fishing as we drift). Coasting with the current is easy – going slower than the current is not easy. Heavy boats can’t be controlled to do what we do.
- Our boats are light enough and draw little enough that our anchors will hold if we opt to ‘sit on the hook’ and fish from the boat. We have bow and stern anchors on each boat, which allows us to set the boat up for safe and easy casting, no matter which current or which wind.
- Light boats are easier to set up, work on and put away. This might not be something that you think about as an angler, but trust us on this one – if you’re fishing a really remote part of the world, you want your boat to be easy to work on. Well-maintained boats are good.
More on Our Program at Alaska West
These days, pretty much any modern skiff you see on the flats is going to have a poling platform on its stern. Why is that?
- The extra height of the platform gives your guide (or if you’re really lucky, your Significant Other) better visibility, a 360 degree view and less glare at short and long distances. If you’ve never done it, climb up onto a boat’s poling platform some day when you’re out on the flats – it’s amazing how much better you can see. Hot tip: bring your camera!
- This is a little less obvious, but from up on the platform, the person with the pole in their hands has a much easier time preventing impact between the push pole and anglers, fly rods and/or boat decks.
- The leverage gained from standing up high makes it a lot less tiring to pole from a platform.
- On places like South Andros where there’s often fish-holding structure up in the mangroves, the 3′ elevation gain may give you the angle to look beyond the mangroves and see backwater lakes and ponds where bones may be lurking.
Poling platforms are used in conjunction with push poles that typically range in length from 16′ to 22′. Although there are still some places where nothing more than a stick acts as a push pole, at Andros South and other places with modern equipment, the push pole is generally made out of glass or carbon fiber, and has a pointed end for hard-bottomed flats and a forked end for soft-bottomed flats.
True, you can find vintage photos of boats being poled on the flats with no platforms (even backwards!), but the poling platform is one modern convenience that we wouldn’t do without.
More on Poling for Bonefish
South Andros is an environment that presents quite a few challenges for a flats skiff.
- We fish some really skinny water, so boats need to run shallow.
- The fishery is immense, so we need to cover some ground.
- Our season is long, we’re very busy, and it’s a remote, rural environment – durability and maintainability are key.
We run 15′ – 17′ flats skiffs made by Dolphin, Mitzi and Rahming Marine. They’re powered by 55 – 60 hp Mercury outboards with tiller steer. They strike a great balance between running in shallow water and providing a good ride to the flats.
They’ve got poling platforms and padded and molded Todd captain’s chairs for anglers. These features are mission-critical for a great angling experience.
They don’t have bilge pumps, GPS, stereos or electrical systems at all. These are ‘nice-to-haves’ and they break in an environment like this.
They’re not the Ferraris of the flats fishing world, but we don’t need them to be. They just get the job done in a brutal environment for a couple thousand angler-days a year.
More on Our Program at Andros South
We’ve been running a really successful offshore fishing program at Andros South for the past few years, and we’re pleased to announce that the offshore fun just got upgraded. Our captain is now running a 30′ Prowler catamaran with twin Suzuki 300s. This new boat makes for some really comfy days out there. Its’s loaded with more electronics than we can use and the tunes are great! It’s got lots of walk-around space, is incredibly stable, and has tons of storage to keep the deck clean for fishing.
Why do we like fishing offshore on South Andros? Because we catch fish like this one.
Not a bad way to add even more variety to a week of playing with bonefish!
This is a great new wireless system that replaces a lanyard connection to the kill switch on our motors. If for any reason the guide exits the boat while running, the motor is automatically killed without the need for clipping into a lanyard before each run. The guide wears a small wireless transmitter that sends a kill signal to the receiver if it enters the water.
It’s a small upgrade, but combined with lifejackets on our guides and guests, satellite phones in every boat and ongoing maintenance, it all adds up to an experience that’s not only fun, but also as safe as possible.