One of the fastest growing segments of the boating market these days is the “Technical Poling Skiff “and for a number of reasons. The poling skiff market was formerly driven by guides and a smaller “Cult Following” of anglers, especially fly fisherman. These days largely in part due to the recent surge in popularity of paddle sports, lots of folks are finding themselves ready to step up from Kayaks and SUP’s into a real boat with the attributes of their paddle craft that offers more range and comfort. A true technical skiff will allow you to pole into inches (single digits) of water quietly, much like a Kayak would, but also expands your range over many miles of water and will get you there faster. One significant obstacle when taking the leap from paddle to power in this genre is cost.
While there are many small “skiffs” to be had for a reasonable price, it seems the true “Technical Skiff” these days carries with it an astronomical price tag in many cases. Elite light tackle and fly/sight fishing enthusiasts seem perfectly happy to wait in line to pay more than what some paid for their first home, all for a super light bare bones tiller skiff. Clearly, there is a wide gap between a $1500 Kayak and a $65000 skiff. This fact alone has made taking the leap little more than a daydream for many folks. Enter the Salt Marsh Heron 16. The Heron is a very sexy offering for the angler who wants to make that leap, but not re-mortgage their home for it. This little 16-footer is a Kevlar/Carbon poling skiff that is lightweight, quiet, easy poling, turning, and tracking and dry running to boot. This boat will do anything some boats costing much more will do, believe me. While most technical skiffs are kept to a minimum in the deck features department (mostly to cut weight) the Heron also offers something I really like in a skiff, a Live Well that holds nearly 30-Gallons. Of course the added weight of a full well is significant if you need to get into single digit depth, but there are some days when you just need to sling bait or live chum and having that option is a plus. The deck layout is fairly standard issue for all poling skiffs with storage under the forward and rear casting decks and room for a single angler on the bow with a second, poling from a roomy and stable platform in the back. They are offered with either a tiller engine (up to 40-HP) or remote steered console options (up to 50-HP). The model we tested was dressed up smartly with SeaDek trim and LED cockpit accent lighting. The Heron handled 20-MPH wind in the Indian River Lagoon and the associated chop with ease and the sharp entry forward along with their forward spray rail design really kept the spray to a bare minimum. The Heron 16 is offered in various levels of finish and demonstrates that you can still have a high quality skiff that performs like a champ at a price point that will have lots of people trading in their paddles.
Length – 16’
Beam – 5’10”
Draft – 7”
Weight – 340lbs
Max HP – 40-HP Tiller/ 50-HP Remote Steer
Base MSRP w/ Tohatsu power-$14,435.00