Backcountry Anglers
Boats
Many of us have struggled with the question: what is the perfect backcountry boat? The answer is probably different for each of us, but this page contains some thoughts and experience we have accumulated.

Backcountry Conditions

The special depth and navigation conditions of the backcountry produce the requirements for such a boat. Some are:
Water Depth: From 3 ft to 6 inches (or less!)
Navigation: 1 to 5 miles through waterways that change depth rapidly and may become narrow
Bottom Conditions: From sand to oyster bars and limestone rocks
Wind: From dead calm in July/August to 10-15 knots on normal days after 11:00 AM
Tides: Tides can go out while you are deep in backcountry, leaving you little depth to get out (some of us have camped in our boats overnight!)




Boat Alternatives

Canoe
Pro:
- Inexpensive
- VERY shallow draft
- Easy to drag over oyster and sand bars when you get stuck
- Quiet
- Easy to haul atop truck (might be hard for you to get it up there)
- Does not require a ramp for launching

Con:
- Tipsy when fighting fish
- Hard to navigate in the wind and cast at same time
- Normally limits you to two anglers

Kayak
Pro:
- VERY shallow draft
- Easy to drag over oyster and sand bars when you get stuck
- Easy to paddle with double-ended paddle (can go pretty fast if you are in shape)
- Quiet
- Easy to haul atop truck (might be hard for you to get it up there)
- Many fishing options are now available
- Does not require a ramp for launching

Con:
- Hard to navigate in the wind and cast at same time
- Can cause back problem unless you get a really good seat with high back
- Limited storage for gear
- May be hard for you to cast very far due to low position on the water
- Normally limits you to one or two anglers depending on the design/length

Jon Boat
Pro:
- Usually has very shallow draft (under 7 inches)
- Easy to drag over oyster and sand bars when you get stuck
- Good platform for Go-Devil low-draft motor or low-horsepower motor
- Good storage capacity
- Short enough to maneuver in tight spaces
- Light enough to manhandle on trailer

Con:
- Can be noisy because of hull materials (aluminum)
- Unstable as platform for high-rise polling platform
- Normally limits you to two anglers

Flats Skiff
Pro:
- Good for trolling motor and polling platform applications
- Good storage capacity and wet well capability
- Ample deck space for fly fishing and multiple anglers
- Can have low draft  (8"-12 ") that lets you get into shallow channels and creeks
- Tunnel hull design can reduce draft to under 8" on plane
- Easy to dismount and remount when you have to get out on an oyster bar
- Hull/deck cuts down noise of anglers
- Can be light and easy to trailer if under 17 ft long (Dolphin is example)

Con:
- Not easy to drag off oyster and sand bars when you get stuck
- Can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces
- Will not get into spaces that canoe/kayak/jon boat can get into
- Can be expensive

Models Owned by Contributors to this site: Dolphin, Hewes, Ranger, Maverick, Lowe
Click here for flats skiff recommendations by Backcountry Angler Contributors.

Airboat
Pro:
- Usually has VERY shallow draft when moving
- Easy to drive across grass flats (sometimes too easy)
- Built-in high-rise seating for fish spotting
- Gets you there fast

Con:
- Noisy
- Normally limits you to two anglers
- Low storage capacity
- High profile makes it difficult to sneak under some bridges/structure
- Expensive
- Other anglers will hate you :-)