Western Outdoors (May 2009)
There are so many variables that come into choosing a boat that's perfect for fishing with light tackle, almost as many as there are definitions for just exactly what light tackle is. But now the fine folks at Mako have stepped forward to define the perfect light tackle vessel with the new MAKO 18 LTS.
LTS Stands for Light Tackle Skiff and right away you can see that this is a bay boat that leans heavily on both a design that could work as a flat boat and the ability to build a hull that can handle rough water and run fast.
That means the MAKO18 LTS Inshore is at home in the skinniest of water, with a house of integrated design features that get you in and out of the tightest water with ease.
First and foremost of these is the patent-pending Rapid Planing System, which is a rear vented running surface with lateral and longitudinal steps. The simplest way to express what results is the MAKO 18 LTS is practically on plan ALL THE TIME.
You see the boat's center of gravity is placed farther forward and at rest the 18 LTS has a level static float plan. The standard configuration is to run a 20-inch shaft engine off the 25-inch transom.
There is practically no bow rise when the boat comes onto plane when the throttle gets pushed forward the MAKO 18 LTS can take off from a dead stop i water just a foot or so deeper than its 11 inch draft. The specs say 24 inches with the standard fixed engine height.
And get this, it only takes 13 mph of speed to get theMAKO 18 LTS Inshore up on a true plane. Even better, the skiff will do 30 mph with three adults aboard and just a 50 hp outboard on the back. Opt for more power with the 90 hp engine that is the max hp recommended, or go for fuel economy that has tested as high as 10 mpg with a smaller motor on the back.
How does that design apply to the West Coast? I guess it all gets back to the definition of light tackle fishing and the way that's practiced out here.
Bay boats have become all the rage among the fly fishing set that has realized you don't have to be waste deep in the water to fish a fly. When fishing the big still water lakes and reservoirs, being able to fish deep in the flats adjacent to where the creeks and rivers enter puts you right where the fish live much of the year.
There are also a lot of fly fishermen who have taken to the salt and the tidal flats in places in the bays. While those opportunities are limited north of the boarder, down Baja way the San Quintin and Mag Bay complexes are ripe for exploration by boat that can get in and out of tricky situations. (And the boat itself only weighs a tad over a thousand pounds.)
Closer to home, nobody gets into skinnier water than the calico bass fisherman who works the coast and islands for the bulls that live in the boilers and kelp. Again, many fly fishermen have discovered how much action there is to be found in these environs.
The best part is the MAKO 18 LTS is not a flat bottom skiff guaranteed to bruise you when the weather comes. Instead the unique hull also draws on Mako's plentiful offshore experience and offers some decent vee with 20 degrees of dead rise that carries well back towards the transom. And it doesn't hurt to have the stability of a 91-inch beam.
Which brings up the other design features that result in the perfect light tackle fishing platform - super clean fishing platform. The bow of the MAKO 18 LTS is expansive and offers as much or more fishing area as many boats much longer in class. The stern casting area is more than adequate for a single angler. (Or you could set it up like a true flats fly fishing boat with the optional poling platform. I'm still waiting to see somebody do that at Crowley - poling the shallow weed beds, eyes on the prize, client(s) in the bow, poised and ready.)
As noted, the surface is CLEAN. There's little to nothing to snag on. There are six rod holders in the center console, which has a removable windscreen, and stainless cleats and eyes aft and stern.
There is storage for four more rods up front and in total theMAKO 18 LTS has four watertight storage compartment to keep that pricey light tackle clean and dry.
Here's the best part. The MAKO 18 LTS Inshore is package priced at $16,495 and comes with a 50 hp ELPTO Mercury two-stroke outboard and a custom, single-axle aluminum trailer with fold-away tongue and swivel wheel, EZ lube hubs, carpeted bunks; vinyl-coated coiled safety cables and heavy-duty winch with safety strap.