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October 23, 2012

Carolina Skiff 21 Ultra

You Can Run This Full-Featured Center-Console All Day Without Emptying Your Wallet

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: With one step on the wide gunwale of Carolina Skiff’s new 21 Ultra, I was struck by two factors: the boat’s rock-solid stability at rest and the high quality of the interior. Carolina Skiff boats possess a well-earned reputation as stable fishing platforms. While many anglers might still identify the company with its original rolled-edge models, Carolina Skiffs with full liners now populate the company's line-up of boats. Yet, the 21 Ultra takes the Carolina Skiff brand to an even higher level of refinement.

TARGET MARKET: Carolina Skiff targets anglers interested in rugged inshore-fishing boats at competitive prices. Though decked out, the 21 Ultra is still reasonably priced at under $28K (without power), and can run up to 290 miles on a single 52-gallon tank of gas with Suzuki’s new DF140A outboard, featuring lean-burn technology. With a relatively shallow draft, the 21 Ultra serves as a versatile boat for fishing bays and near-shore waters for species such as bluefish, calico bass, redfish, seatrout, snook and striped bass.

FISHIEST FEATURES: A wide deck at the forepeak offers an ideal place to mount an electric trolling motor, and this boat comes standard with appropriate wiring and a trolling-motor plug receptacle. Under the forepeak is a roomy anchor locker. The center console incorporates four vertical rod holders on each side, with four more holders across the helm-seat back. Amazingly, under-gunwale horizontal rod racks store 16 more sticks, and four flush-mount trolling-rod holders lie atop gunwales. A 20-gallon livewell is concealed below the aft deck, and my test boat featured a second, optional 12-gallon livewell under the seat forward of the console.

THE LAYOUT: An elevated, bow casting deck (with voluminous dry storage below) serves as a platform from which to cast net or run the trolling motor while stalking fish. An expansive, aft casting deck easily accommodates a pair of anglers, and twin flip-up jump seats in the forward portion of the aft deck allow both anglers to step down and rest their backs while running to a new spot. The compact motorwell maximizes deck space in the stern. However, the relatively small console does not offer a lot of room for marine electronics, and I could not find a compass.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: While the cathedral-like hull on the 21 Ultra creates a solid fishing platform, this also results in a rugged ride in big seas. We experienced a few hard landings and modest spray while running in three- to four-foot waves on a blustery day in the Atlantic Ocean off Key Largo, Florida. Once back on calmer water, the 21 Ultra felt more comfortable than any other boat of its size. Carolina Skiff is one of the most popular boat brands of all time, owing largely to the company’s value proposition — a solid, durable boat at a good price. The upscale 21 Ultra carries this tradition forward at a time when many anglers will appreciate it the most.



LOA: 21 ft.

BEAM: 8 ft. 1 in.

DRAFT: 9 in.


WEIGHT: 2,500 lb. (hull only)

FUEL: 52 gal.

MAX. POWER: 150 hp OB

MSRP: $27,707 (without power)



TYPE: Inline-4


MAX. RPM: 6,200

HP/LB RATIO: 0.354

GEAR RATIO: 2.59:1

WEIGHT: 395.7 lb.




TOP SPEED: 43.1 mph

TIME TO PLANE: 8.5 sec.

0-30 MPH TIME: 11.3 sec.

BEST MPG: 5.6 @ 23.9 mph (3,500 rpm)

MAXIMUM RANGE: 291 miles