Now that I have eight fishing trips with the Solo Skiff under my belt it’s time to do a review. These are all “hands on” observations from fishing trips in Florida Bay and the Western Everglades. These areas are remote and safety is a top concern. You don’t see a lot of other boaters, mobile phone connections are dicey at best and if you get in trouble you’re on your own.
One of the best features of the Solo Skiff is that it can’t be swamped. I have taken boat wakes and waves over the bow in my Solo and the water just disappears off the stern in a matter of seconds. You might get wet but swamping a Solo Skiff is a non issue. Not having to worry about a boat full of water or using a bilge pump frees my mind and I find myself exploring new places to fish without thinking twice. Also because the boat is roto molded plastic there’s no fear of getting close to oyster beds or shore line. The Solo Skiff is built stiff. You really have to see and touch one to get a sense of the solid construction.
Another great feature of the Solo Skiff is the split tail and forward transom. This design puts my small outboard right at my fingertips. I can steer the boat from a central position without the need for a tiller extension. I lift, lower, start and refuel the engine without having to scoot to the back of the boat. To me all this convenience makes my days on the water a lot more enjoyable. If you’ve ever tried to tend the motor on a flat back canoe or paddle craft where it’s an ordeal to turn around you’ll really appreciate this design.
That’s not the only benefit of the split tail design. I can get up on plane quickly. I’m running a three and a half horse power Tohatsu and I’m on plane at half throttle. I am no lightweight either. My Solo Skiff runs at about ten mph at three quarter throttle. At full throttle the speed is basically the same so there’s no real need for me to go wide open. This gives me about a six mile range on a third of a gallon of gas. I get to motor almost anywhere I like and then stand up, paddle or pole and sight fish in extremely skinny water. My Solo Skiff floats in dirt and costs pennies to run.
I do a lot of paddling with my Solo. Either standing or sitting. For me standing up in a Solo Skiff is easy. I’m six foot two and I hardly give any thought to standing up and scoping out fish.
I have found that a nine foot kayak paddle works best for me. I can use it while standing and then when I’m sitting. If you tilt the motor up and paddle you’ll find the Solo tracks, turns and moves perfectly for in close fishing. You can use the Solo just like a kayak when you’re cruising for fish. Not only that but you also have the ability to get to your gear and cooler without any effort at all. In that regard it’s far better than a kayak. You can just as easily turn around and fish off the back. How many times have you been kayak fishing and heard a a bait bust or fish pop directly behind you and by the time you turned your kayak… I think you know what I mean.
The more fishing I do in the Solo the more I appreciate the straight forward design of the deck. It’s wide open with no snag points to grab your line. The rod tubes allow me to keep two rigs in easy reach. There’s no struggling or reaching around to pick up your poles. I keep two seven and a half foot inshore rods with spinning reels in the tubes and it’s like having six guns holstered on your sides. Landing fish in the Solo Skiff is simple. Most of the time I can just grab the leader and slide the fish over the gunnel. Using a Lip Grip or a net is a breeze because you can move around in the Solo. If you’re keeping fish the built in cooler is right there and easy to open. If you want to take a picture of your catch there is plenty of room on the boat to get a great trophy shot without holding the fish on your lap.
Paddle fishing or drifting a shore line with the Solo Skiff is just like using a kayak or canoe except that you can stand up and sight fish at any time. The boat is dead silent. There’s no hull slap. I’ve had Snook and Tarpon swim right up to the boat while I’m standing up watching them. The other great thing about standing on such a stable platform is that it gives you an advantage when side arm casting under branches. The design of the Solo has helped increase my casting accuracy and saved me from paddling into the jungle to retrieve lures.
When I want to stay in one spot and let the fish come to me I use an eight foot stake out pole. This is a great way to sit on an ambush point. You can stand up and get a three sixty view of the entire area. I think it gives you a big advantage over the limited view that you get in a canoe or kayak. The more you can see the better your chances. And of course if the fish aren’t biting you can also stretch out on the Solo Skiff and take a nap.
I really enjoy sit down paddling the Solo Skiff. It paddles much better this way than I thought it would. The Solo is a motor boat that you can paddle. It’s not a paddle craft that you can motor. There’s a big difference. Of all the small craft that I’ve owned the Solo Skiff hits the sweet spot for motoring and paddling. In my opinion, right now for convenience, price, motoring and paddling the Roto Molded Solo Skiff is THE State Of The Art.
There’s one last thing about the Solo Skiff that I should mention. The first time that I cranked that little motor, turned the throttle and took off into the blue I was grinning from ear to ear. The Solo Skiff is an absolute blast to run. The fun factor is a hard thing to describe but this little boat can take you places. Maybe to some places that you haven’t visited in a while.