Boat Selection Help Needed! Carolina Skiff vs Key West vs Robalo vs ??
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Thread: Boat Selection Help Needed! Carolina Skiff vs Key West vs Robalo vs ??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Default Boat Selection Help Needed! Carolina Skiff vs Key West vs Robalo vs ??

    Hello! Would love to get everyone's input! I am looking to purchase a boat and could use a little advice. We will be using this boat for 75% lake/bass fishing and 25% (couple times a year) ICW cruising and fishing. I have three kids (8, 6, and 2) and I plan to have the family along a lot of the time. I plan to do about 75% fishing and 25% family cruising. So I would like something that I can get a pedestal seat in with a trolling motor, but also can seat at least 5 somewhat comfortably. We rented a Carolina Skiff 238 DLV this past year for two days down in Southport and cruised the ICW and enjoyed it. I was disappointed though with how rough it was with pretty minimal chop. We had to slow quite a bit just when boats went by. And if we didn't, we would get sprayed pretty good. But on the plus side, it was very roomy. I was looking at the CS 19 Ultra Elite...I heard they did a redesign on the hull to give it a little better ride. But then I started looking at Key West and Robalo and wow what beautiful boats! Looks like the fit and finish is better but you trade some space for it. So my top three boats right now are the CS 19 ultra elite, the Key West 189FS and the Robalo R180. If I could find a used Key West 203FS or a Robalo 206 Cayman, that would be in the running as well. I'm worried about the KW and the Robalo, that they will look out of place and be too big on some of the smaller lakes around me (Oak Hollow Lake, Lake James...). Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Any other boats you can recommend that would be good for lake bass fishing and the occasional intercostal fishing trip? Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Anyone? Ok so I think I have narrowed it down to a carolina skiff ultra 19, tidewater baymax 1910, and a ranger rb190. Anyone have any experience with these boats? Thanks again!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Raleigh
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    I had a Carolina skiff 1765 dlx and last year upgraded to the ranger RB190. I actually love this boat. Its lighter than the smaller skiff and also handles the chop pretty good. Since you state you have small children get the fisherman's package that has the orca cooler that you can use as a seat besides the jump seats. Its definitely a lot smoother ride than a Carolina Skiff.

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  6. #4
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    May 2018
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    Oh wow, that's good to hear. Do you take it in the ICW or where do you mostly boat? When we go down to the icw on vacation, we usually go around southport and holden where the current and chop can get pretty strong. Was just worried about not having much size off the water with such a small boat. Thanks for your help!!

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Raleigh
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    256

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    I have had mine in new river in Jacksonville and the Pamlico Sound and the lower Neuse River. If you are in the ICW you will be fine. I have been out in some decent chop in the sound and got a little wet but the boat handled it pretty well you just have to slow down.

  8. #6
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    May 2018
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    Ugg...just when I thought I had ruled out the ranger...haha. Anyone have one that also has kids? Curious how secure and stable it feels. There's just not a ton of info on them. There's two practically new ones for sale on craigslist near me which has me a little concerned. Thanks again!

  9. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Hey I dealt with a similar decision a couple years ago. First, I think the CS and Key Wests are a perfect match for NC due to the versatility - I haven't seen too many Robalos so I can't make a comparison to that although they might be fine. Bass boats are awesome but with coastal waters so close I wanted something that would do well in both fresh and salt - not only with the corrosion issue but the rougher waters at the coast. It is true the CS can be a rough ride, but they are very roomy for a family, they are extremely stable, and they really do get in skinny water better than the V-bottoms. A V-bottom can rock quite a bit whereas the skiffs do not. This was definitely a consideration since my wife gets seasick easily.

    We have a 198 DLV (with 90 hp 4-stroke), and I take it to Randleman and Jordan for bass fishing all the time - that is what we do the most during the year. In addition to fishing we also have used it for tubing at Jordan. It has also been to Mackintosh. This year I am planning on checking out High Rock and Shearon Harris for the first time. This boat is a lot bigger and heavier than what I had before (16 ft aluminum) so that took some getting used to, and at first I felt a little odd at the lake boat ramps but not anymore. I think you mentioned the 238 - that is a lot bigger than the 198. I honestly don't know if a 238 is too much boat for these lakes, but certainly not at Jordan. Last fall I saw a huge boat at Randleman, he was motoring up and down the lake all afternoon providing boat wakes the whole time, lol. The 238 is much smaller than that thing was. I think you could manage it, you just might feel like it looks funny out there, but who cares!? I really like bass fishing out of the 198, the front and back decks have plenty of room, and they sit up higher than a bass boat's decks. My friend marveled at how nice it was to flip baits from the higher deck. I believe there are only a few down-sides to these boats for bass fishing. The CS doesn't have the storage lockers/space of a bass boat. They are not near as fast as a standard bass boat/motor pairing so if you fish a lot of tournaments (I don't) then that could be a problem. The main one for me is that the higher gunnels seem to catch the wind like a sail and I am still adjusting to dealing with that using the trolling motor. My Minn-Kota came with a hand remote control and if the wind is blowing a lot the hand control interferes with fishing. For bass fishing I will be getting a pedal control sooner or later. My experience fishing the marshes at the coast is sort of similar.

    This boat has also been all over Beaufort/Morehead/Cape Lookout, as well as up both the ICW and the South River to the lower Neuse by Oriental. It can get through the back route from Harkers Island to Cape Lookout with barely a concern about the shallows. I haven't gone outside the sound a lot yet but it was just fine going to the Cape Lookout rock jetty. Again, it can be a rougher ride, but the way we use it, the other benefits far outweigh the rough rides. My last trip over there - in one day we went through Taylor Creek, went around Radio Island to the turning basin and fished at the Port Wall for a while, and also caught mullet with a cast net there. Then we made the trip from the Port Wall past the Haystacks all the way up the ICW to the Neuse to fish for old drum. Then that evening came back down under the new bridge and back down Taylor creek. I am not sure of the miles roundtrip but it was a decent distance and it was all on less than a tank of gas.

    That gives you a picture of what that boat is great for, and honestly it might be the best purchase we ever made as a family. Maybe other people could use a bass boat for some of what I have mentioned above, but the CS really is awesome for both worlds. The only other type of boat I would consider is one of those nice Alumnacrafts or G3. Those look like super aluminum boats for both fresh and inshore salt - I am not sure if guys take them to outside to the bigger waters. If we lived in a place like Arkansas then a bass boat is perfect, but around here the hybrid type of boat like a CS is really a great fit if you are interested in more than just freshwater.

    I hope that helps!
    Jay

  10. #8
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    Mar 2018
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    Stem
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    I personally have a 19ft Outcast skiff. Does great on the lakes up here and also does well in the ICW. When it gets choppy, a skiff is going to pound. No real way around it. I enjoy my skiff because of the space but would love to get a 22 foot bay boat because I do like to go to near shore reefs and jig for flounder as well and troll for Spanish. I can do all of that on my skiff its a pretty flat day but don't want to be out there when it gets choppy. I would tell you that if you have three kids and plan on keeping the boat, get the biggest you can because they will grow. Four people fishing on my boat is a crowd.

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    east bend
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    With you wanting something to accommodate 5 people I would suggest something 22 feet or longer. I recently had a Bay Rider 22' skiff. Great boat, built like a tank and lots of room.....but would beat you up in a chop. I sold it and got a Parker 23SE and love it. It won't go quite as shallow as the skiff but the ride is so much better and drier it's unbelievable. Perfect for what we do at the coast. Higher sides are safer for the passengers if it gets a little rough while you're out and plenty of room to sit. There isn't a perfect boat for everything but I have no intention of selling my Parker ! Unless you plan on staying in skinny water all the time I wouldn't hesitate to get a v hull boat, I fish in 3' or less a lot in mine. Get a good trolling motor and have at it.

  12. #10
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    Jan 2006
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    To echo what others have said I would buy something based on what you will use it for the most. Most skiff/bay style boats are not going to have much freeboard which probably is not a good thing if you have young children on board.

    If you don't want to get pounded in a chop you need to get something with at least a moderate deadrise and V shape.

    DW Fletcher has a good suggestion with a 23 parker. I also wouldn't hesitate to get an 18 parker. I believe an 18 parker is the most versatile all around boat for NC. Plenty of guys put trolling motors on them and I am sure you could have something fabricated in the front deck (with newer models) to accommodate a removal pedestal seat.

    In the summer in NC you are almost always going to have a slight/moderate chop during the day. You won't regret having that weight and V when that stuff pops up.

    I know two people with 18 Parkers and it is amazing what they can take. We crossed Pamlico Sound one time from Maw Point to Cedar Island and back when the NE wind picked up on us. It wasn't a fun ride back but we felt safe the whole time.
    "What we do in life, echoes in eternity." - Gladiator

  13. #11
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    Mar 2017
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    Bath—Belhaven area
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    I had a CS 198 DLV—and enjoyed it—for 6 years. Paired it with a 90 hp 4stroke Yamaha and a 72# thrust Minn Kota trolling motor. Used it primarily in the creeks off of the Pamlico River, and on the river itself. Occassionally put in around the Morehead City and Atlantic Beach area. Very roomy. But beat us to death in any kind of a chop. The other boat I seriously considered was the Key West. In the end, the decision was based on draft, as my access canal is quite shallow and I had already had troubles getting in and out with another V hull.

    Just to make things more difficult for you, at least take a look at the 19 foot Maycraft. I am strictly kayak fishing now, but if I were to go back to power, and draft was not an issue, it would be on my short list along with the Key West.

    Remember this——every boat is a compromise. The only way to have the right boat all the time is to own three boats!
    sporkd2 likes this.

    Kayak Angler, Red X Angler, and a Full Time Angler (as of 2/1/18!!!)Retirement!

  14. #12
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    Dec 2008
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    As said above, if you are planning to have 5 people on aboard I would go with a larger boat. I've never felt like my boat was too big once I was on the water. It is hard to beat the room you get in a skiff. I have owned a Carolina Skiff and while it a was a great fishing boat the quality was just not there. You can greatly improve the ride of a skiff with length and trim tabs. I now own a 23' skiff with tabs and while it does not compare to a V hull it does ride much better than the shorter skiff I previously owned without tabs. I fished out of a 23' Key West Bay Reef recently and I really like the fit/finish of the key west boats. May Craft was mentioned above also and they are great boats as well. The May Craft Boats are built with wood but if properly taken care of should last you a long time with no problems.

  15. #13
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    May 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris52 View Post
    I had a CS 198 DLV—and enjoyed it—for 6 years. Paired it with a 90 hp 4stroke Yamaha and a 72# thrust Minn Kota trolling motor. Used it primarily in the creeks off of the Pamlico River, and on the river itself. Occassionally put in around the Morehead City and Atlantic Beach area. Very roomy. But beat us to death in any kind of a chop. The other boat I seriously considered was the Key West. In the end, the decision was based on draft, as my access canal is quite shallow and I had already had troubles getting in and out with another V hull.

    Just to make things more difficult for you, at least take a look at the 19 foot Maycraft. I am strictly kayak fishing now, but if I were to go back to power, and draft was not an issue, it would be on my short list along with the Key West.

    Remember this——every boat is a compromise. The only way to have the right boat all the time is to own three boats!
    Thank you! That's a lot of help. I think I am down to the CS 19 Ultra and the Robalo 206S. I like the others that some have mentioned (Parker, Maycraft...) but I want something where the front deck isn't too high off the water (for bass fishing). The carolina skiff is probably as high up as I would like to go. The Robalo doesn't have as much room in it as the skiff, but it will handle chop alot better. The skiff would be alot more stable. Both are around $35-40k new. Tough decision. Any other thoughts?

  16. #14
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    Mar 2009
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    Holly Springs & Oriental, NC
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    A center console like a Sea Hunt BX 20/22 BR or a Bulls Bay 2200 are also something to at least look at. They are well suited for bass fishing, do great inshore and can handle the occasional offshore trip in nice weather. Boat shows are going on now, best to look and price them out.
    ecunupe likes this.

    2015 Pathfinder 2200 TE, Yamaha VF200 SHO, Carolina Blue
    Jackson Coosa FD, Native Ultimate 14.5, CCA Member

  17. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    I think we can say with certainty that the Elite series rides better than the DLV or any other CS skiff model. But, it's still basically a skiff and it will not ride as well as the bay boats with their deeper v hulls. And, bay boats will not ride as well in the rough stuff as a true center console.

    At some point, it might be helpful if you accept these basic facts and actually ride in some of the boats you're interested in so you can form your own opinions. With the information you've gained here and on the Carolina Skiff Owners forum, you should be well equipped to move on to the hands on stage.

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