Sabine Skiff Review – “THE” Skiff For Northern Gulf Angler

Today I had the pleasure of demoing the Sabine Skiff Versatile and Micro. Let me tell you that Sabine Skiffs exceeded all my already high performance expectations. Houstonians, Sabine Skiffs will be at the Houston Fishing Show from February 28th to March 4th, so check them out. I was lucky enough to wet test the yet-to-be-unveiled Micro which is a sweet little skiff, and will be introduced to the public at the Houston Fishing Show. Go check it out. Now to proceed with the review.

To give a little backstory, Sabine Skiffs, owned by fellow fly flinger, Brian Little, is based out of La Porte, Texas. Prior to starting Sabine Skiffs, Brian had been building one-off skiffs to suit the needs of a Texas Coast fly fisherman for quite some time. So when he decided to create Sabine Skiffs he knew exactly what needed to be done to create a high quality Texas poling skiff.

The Texas Coast requires a very unique skiff build in order to withstand the elements (i.e., extremely shallow water, windy conditions, hyper-saline water, and OYSTERS). After demoing both Sabine Skiff models (Versatile and Micro) that Brian and his team have created, I can say that these boats are THE poling skiffs for the Northern Gulf fly fisherman. Duck hunters…this is the boat for you, too! Here is a little overview:

TOUGH!

First off, these babies are made from solid-grade aluminum in order to combat the dreadful-hull-killing oysters that litter the Northern Gulf. These skiffs are freaking tough!

GETTIN’ SKINNY!

Any Texas angler knows that to be a successful boat in Texas, they have to get skinny! That’s why the Texas Flats Skiff (TFS) reigns king. But you can’t effectively fly fish from a behemoth TFS, and you for sure can’t pole them well. They are simply too big and bulky to allow technical fishing from the boat. That leaves a bit of an equipment void for Texas fly fisherman, as their needed to be a boat that bridged the gap between extreme shallow water performance, durability (oysters), and technical capabilities that fly anglers require of their skiffs. I feel that Brian has done just that. The Versatile and Micro can get just as skinny as TFS, and still be light and mobile enough to have high poling performance, which I’ll get to later. We were running 31-32 mph in 6-7″ of water, and had no problem poling in the same depths. Getting back on plane was as simple as spinning the prob. These boats are so light, and don’t require huge horsepower to run, so there is little stern squat when trying to get back on plane in the super skinny. Duck hunter’s delight!

POLES WELL!

Staying on the topic of poling, I found the poling performance, and stability for that matter, to be really good. The length to width ratio of both skiffs (Versatile is 17’6 with a 78″ beam, and the Micro the same length with a 60″ beam) makes these boat track really well. I am fairly new to poling, and felt as though I had no real problems getting the boat to do what I wanted, even in the stiff winds that we experienced.

QUIET!

Now I had the same thought that you’re having right now…”aluminum seems like it would be loud for a poling skiff”. That’s the first thing I wanted to know about the build, but I was definitely proven wrong. Brian has designed his skiffs to totally eliminate hull slap and the annoying wave reverberation that usually plagues aluminum boats. I was impressed with how quiet the Sabine Skiffs poled.

HANDLES CHOP!

Demo day was not a day that one would consider prime fly fishing weather, but it was really a good day to test the open-water capabilities of the Versatile and Micro. I’d say they performed really well. Any skiff style boat is going to get a little wet, but Brian has his skiffs dialed in with trim tabs to help mitigate spray. Once we go the trims adjusted appropriately, we were scooting across the choppy bay with little problem. Although Brian’s skiffs are flat bottom boat, his incorporation of a sharp bow entry allows them to punch through waves with ease. Obviously, no skiff is going to stay as dry as deep V hull, but I felt as though the Versatile and Micro performed on par with other poling skiffs that I have tested.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Brian has created a unique poling skiff that satisfies the needs of the Northern Gulf fly fisherman. When choosing your next skiff, Sabine Skiffs need to make your shortlist. Brian treats his customers really well. I mean, how many skiff company owners have personally come to the demo and offered to fish with you for several hours during said demo? I’ve never had it happen before. Sweet little boats!