“My boat weighs just 590 pounds without the motor,” says Lamp. “With a Mercury 90-hp outboard on the transom and a customer in the bow, I draw about 8 to 9 inches of water. With this new Mercury Racing 60R I’ll draw 6 to 8 inches.”
Lamp is a big guy for a flats guide, at 6 feet 5 inches tall and over 200 pounds, and he often puts diving ballast in the bow of his boat to offset his weight in the stern, and keep the boat resting flat in the water.
“The hull of a technical skiff has no rocker,” said Lamp. “It’s designed to lie level in the water at rest, with the bow deep so that it’s easier to control in the wind and also easier to spin quickly so I can get the customer in the best position to make a nice presentation.”
Technical skiffs range in size from 16 feet to 18 feet in length and every element of the design influences its shallow draft. The bottom has little or no deadrise at the transom, the interior is quite Spartan, and most examples are built using the latest in sophisticated, ultra-light/ultra-strong composite materials.
“You’ll never see a trolling motor a technical skiff,” said Lamp. “And I’ve seen owners remove the rub rail to make the boat 20 pounds lighter.”
The shape and attitude of the hull limits the top speed of Lamp’s skiff.
“My boat will run about 41 mph with a 90-hp outboard, and it will run about 41 mph with a 60-hp outboard,” said Lamp. “The 60 is a lot lighter, but the 90 had the torque to get me quickly on plane. A key advantage of the Mercury Racing 60R is its 4.25-inch gearcase and the new Spitfire XP propeller, both of which contribute to strong hole shot.”
Lamp explains that while he may be fishing in less than a foot of water, when it’s time to move he’ll pole to a deeper hole.
“We are all very concerned with preserving the flats and never want to tear up the bottom,” said Lamp. “I want about three feet of water to get the boat on plane, but that deeper hole might only be six to 10 feet long. So we need to plane off almost instantly.”
Stealth is key to approaching fish in very skinny water, and technical flats boats are designed to be very quiet at rest. To minimize the sound of water slapping the hull, chines and strakes are positioned to be either well below the water line or above it when the boat is at rest.
The guide or one angler poles the boat from a platform over the outboard. Motor height on the transom dictates the height of that platform, and until the debut of the Mercury Racing 60R the platform had to clear a 20-inch outboard. By designing the 60R with a 15-inch midsection, Mercury Racing has achieved a number of benefits, according to Lamp.