Sea Pro 1996 Skiff Review | Sport Fishing Magazine

Sea Pro 1996 Skiff Review

Sea Pro 1996 Skiff

Unsurpassed stability, bare-bones functionality and affordability will appeal to both first-time buyers and backcountry anglers, neither of which have anything to prove to anyone. Make no mistake, this is a workboat, whether your work is fishing or taking the family for a nature cruise.

Performance

I am truly glad to see someone take one of the oldest hull designs known to man and update and improve it. Admittedly, you can't do much to a flat-bottom hull. On certain points of wind and sea, it does generate some spray. But look at the beveled plane just above the chine. It's not there for aesthetics; it's there to help carve your turns. Problems during turns have been the biggest shortcoming for this type of boat in the past. Flat-bottomed, skiffs slide sideways rounding a corner. Occasionally the chine catches a wave as the boat slides, moving passengers involuntarily toward the outboard side. Sea Pro has totally eliminated this problem by putting a 45-degree angle just above the chine. This bevel allows the Sea Pro skiff to bank into turns the same way V-bottoms do. Turns can now be executed tightly, controllably and safely, with no worry about slide whatsoever.

Speaking of steering, standard equipment includes a stainless-steel steering wheel and Teleflex no-feedback steering. Were it my boat, I'd forgo the no-feedback and install hydraulic steering, as I found the engine torque in the steering somewhat tiring.

The Mercury 90-hp four-stroke on the transom moved us along at a top speed of 38 mph at 6,000 rpm. It took just about four seconds to plane, and we ran from a dead stop to 30 mph in just over nine seconds. But performance isn't what this boat is about.

Fishing

No matter what kind of shallow-water or bay fishing you choose, this skiff will get you there and then make you feel like you're fishing from a dock. The vast expanse of foredeck, with no cleats or bow light to snag your fly line, features an equally large space beneath for dry storage. Certainly Sea Pro provides bow cleats, but they're placed about a third of the way aft on each side, guarded by the low-profile grab rail. Another large deck aft hides a pair of 15-gallon, aerated round livewells (one optional/the other standard).

As you might expect, mounting rod holders in the gunwales of a rolled-edge skiff is difficult. Sea Pro resolves this problem by installing them across the back of the aft casting deck, as well as along the sides of the console. You could do as some anglers have and glue horizontal rod holders to the gunwales with epoxy.

You won't find a hull form more stable than a flat bottom. What you sacrifice in ride smoothness you certainly gain by being able to walk and fish your way around this boat, or even have numerous NFL linemen stand on one side or all on the bow or stern and not notice the boat leaning. This stability makes it ideal for children. There's really nothing to trip them up.

Design and Construction

Each Sea Pro 1996 features a hand-laid fiberglass hull with full nonskid. Cleaning can be accomplished in about five minutes. Lest you worry, the boat also receives full foam flotation, a high-density composite transom (there's no wood anywhere in the boat) and a solid, foam-filled structure belowdecks that provides both strength and additional flotation - all unusual features in a rolled-edge skiff. The liner (also unusual) allows Sea Pro to provide scuppers, making for a self-bailing cockpit. 

Other features not normally found in such skiffs include a 35-gallon integral fuel tank, plug-in bow light, and wiring harness and plug for a bow-mounted trolling motor. All these features, when combined with the quality ingredients Sea Pro uses, allow the company to offer each owner a five-year, transferable hull warranty. In other words, not only will your dealer take care of any boat problems for you, the person you sell the boat to when you trade up to one of Sea Pro's larger boats will also appreciate it.

Specifications

LOA 19 ft.
BEAM 8 ft.
MAX HP 115-hp OB
DEADRISE 0 deg.
HULL DRAFT 6 in.
FUEL 31 gal.
WEIGHT 1,726 lb.
MSRP $24,178 (as tested) 

Sea Pro Boats
Newberry, South Carolina
803-321-5777
www.seaproboats.com

MERCURY 90-hp Four-stroke
TYPE In-line 4
DISPL. 97.4 cid
MAX RPM 6,000
HP/LB RATIO .23
FUEL SYSTEM EFI
GEAR RATIO 2.07:1
WEIGHT 386 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT 20 amp
MSRP $8,228

Notable Standard Equipment

  • Insulated cooler seat w/reversible seat back
  • Recessed aluminum bow rails
  • Bow storage
  • Self-bailing cockpit
  • Livewell
  • Deluxe liner

Impressions
This boat represents a quantum improvement in handling for a flat-bottom skiff.

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