The Maverick 18 HPX: A True Technical Poling Skiff
Ever since the very first flats skiffs were built, eclectic guides and anglers have struggled to find the perfect, all-around vessel to fulfill their vast needs. Back when money was less of an issue, many had two or even three boats to cover all bases. And let’s face it, if you live in Florida, or any other state with an inland and/or coastwise fishery, you want to fish all year and changing approaches and even species is mandatory to stay current and in the best action.
You needed the ultra shallow draft hull for reds and bones in only inches of water, the medium skiff for a wide range of daily uses including fly and bait tarpon, mudding bones and permit and the “barge” for additional people and bigger water. Compromises generally had very defined (and performance costly) boundaries.
Consider the Mirage 18 HPX. Tournaments past and present require you to catch certain species on specific tackle. Conditions during a 3 or 5 day event can change so frequently. You cannot return to the dock and climb into another skiff to make the adjustment. The 18 was obviously designed with multi-dimensional fishing in mind. It is recognized for innovation and design, fitting so many boats into one, thus providing the biggest bang for buck in today’s economy.
I must rely on my 18 to do many things well over the course of a calendar year. We might be throwing flies at tailing reds in Flamingo, running markers or crab pots for tripletail, live baiting giant tarpon in the dark, patch reef chumming in Hawk’s Channel, or super stealthfully stalking the largest, smartest bonefish in the world in Islamorada.
The storage helps make this boat so very adaptable. My 18 has the three (sometimes 4) oversized Coastguard required life vests, throw cushion, anchor and chain, extinguisher, tackle drawers, large landing net, 3 castnets, commercial raingear with boots and other personal items. But, you’ll never see any of it when you store your gear or manpurse. Again, weather changes and we must bend or break with conditions. It is essential to have enough varied equipment on board to be ready for anything.
Any 15 or 16 foot vessel can be just slightly horse powered with weight shaved off and termed a “technical poling skiff”. But you still gotta get there. These skim boards with outboards are not going to arrive comfortably. Additional food and tackle can make it suddenly cramped, then downright crowded if another angler is added.
The 18 HPX certainly is a technical poling skiff! It poles along silently as the blade of a sharp knife, tracking true, not blowing off course constantly like a light chunk of styrofoam and still able to reach reds and bones in much less than one foot of water. You can focus even tighter on your goals by hanging a 90, 115 or 150 4-stroke, with variable gas tank capacities to customize draft, speed and overall performance.
It is usually not until the Fall season that it becomes once again apparent of the long list of tasks this boat can perform. There’s no other venue like the Redbone Series (and Superfly Series) to showcase the versatility of the 18 HPX. Over the course of 6 tournaments, 3 zipcodes and 3 months we must catch redfish, bonefish, tarpon and permit on bait, artificial and fly. Years ago, we used a different boat nearly every day during each of these events. Now the 18 HPX efficiently performs all duties required.