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By design, stepped-hull fishing boats should run faster and with better fuel-efficiency than standard V-hull boats — hence their warm welcome from offshore-tournament anglers. However, in the initial years of stepped-hull production, poorly designed steps raised red flags for handling and lower-speed performance. For a better perspective on today’s models and the benefits and challenges of steps, I asked six -well-known boatbuilders to explain their outlook on design and function. I focused on larger vessels, although some companies now make bay boats with steps. I asked them three questions: 1) What are the virtues or highlights of a stepped-hull design? 2) What are the trade-offs? 3) What makes your stepped-hull design unique and perform optimally? When shopping for a stepped-hull boat, sea-trial several and make sure all your questions are answered. (Boats are listed in alphabetical order by manufacturer name.)
(This material was published in the Fishing Machines column, May 2014.)
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