Its hard to believe its been a full year now running the new Maverick HPX-S. As I look back on the year and think about all the days on the water as a full time guide, it makes me smile knowing that I’m in the best poling skiff possible for skinny water fishing here in the Lowcountry of Beaufort, SC. With 280 hours on the engine and 13 months of work under her belt, I can probably say that I’ve fished the HPX-S more than anybody in the world. What I’ve realized about this boat is that when it comes to poling and technical sight fishing, but still having the room, and comfort of a bigger skiff, there is absolutely no other skiff on the market that compares to the HPX-S. It brings a new meaning to technical skiff and has changed the flats boat market forever. No skiff is perfect so please read all the way through for the highs and lows about the S.
I switched over to the HPX-S from the 18HPX-V because my business had grown into more fly fishing customers than light tackle customers. So it was time to get a boat that was lighter, poled better, got shallower, but most of all still provided the best experience in comfort for my anglers. The main reason I decided on the HPX-S was because of how well it poled compared to other technical skiffs on the market. When saying that I don’t just mean poling a straight line because theres a lot more in the meaning of “poling” a skiff. The HPX-S not only tracks unbelievably well for a flat bottom hull design but also glides with complete ease, giving you that feather light feel when poling. What I love the most about poling the S is how nimble and responsive it is in situations where I need to get my angler in a better position to present a fly. There are no sponsons on the S which I feel has a huge impact on how well this skiff performs while poling. I’ve talked with numerous guides/friends who don’t own the boat but say the same thing about how awesome this skiff performs on the push pole.
The foot print of this boat is very small which I feel gives you the advantage in skinny water because it’s not only as quite as a hull can be, but pushes almost no water while poling a flat. With this small footprint it allows you to get a lot closer to fish than most skiffs which therefore allows for better fishing, and an easier cast. If you look at the skiff in person on the trailer you can see what I mean by how sharp the S is at the nose of the boat, almost like a knife. The other great thing about this hull design is riding in rough water. It has a fairly large flare to the bow which keeps you dryer than any other 17.8, 6inch draft boat on the market. I’ve had days running in a true 2ft chop with myself and 2 anglers aboard, and got home completely dry. The HPX-S is a little tippy compared to other skiffs but that is a sacrifice you take to stay dry, and have a better poling skiff. In the last 13 months I’ve had around 60-80 days with anglers over the age of 50, some as old as 75, and absolutely no complaints about the boat being tippy from people who need a stable platform to fish. That to me is very important as a guide and proves that the S is a comfortable boat to fish.
The way the HPX-S turns while running will absolutely blow your mind. Its like driving a Ferrari down an old winding mountain road. This boat has absolutely no rear end slide when turning and jumps up on rail at the snap of a finger. Maverick incorporated laminar flow technology from the airplane industry into the hull so that the boat rolls up on its edges when turning rather than staying flat and sliding. When it comes to running technical creeks and other winding water waters, it provides a safe, and responsive ride at high speeds. Pretty amazing how great this boat handles turns being that its essentially a flat bottom boat. I really got a great taste of how well the boat runs through mangroves in the Everglades with Capt. Billy Faulkner last week Tarpon fishing.
One thing Maverick has done great on all other boats is there storage, and easy access. The HPX-S has more storage than I would ever need and absolutely love how you can access the back 3 hatches with out having to move, or ask your angler to move, just so you can grab a fly box etc. The bow storage is also huge with the gas tank pushed back to the bulk head allowing enough room to store my Strip and Feed Research bucket, 3 life jackets, throw cushion, fire extinguisher, and still room for other stuff! The deck of the boat makes you feel like your in a bigger boat and gives you some sort of illusion that your not in a small technical skiff, and thats one thing I love because it makes my anglers feel more comfortable through out the day.
The trailer for the HPX-S is also another great thing about the boat. I went through a few designs and finally came up with the best trailer for this boat with the help of Scott Locke, Billy Faulkner, and Willy Le. With this unique hull design there had to be a unique trailer and the team at Ameratrail did an awesome job building the right trailer. Its dry launches with the touch of a finger, and loads with complete ease. What I like the most about the trailer is how low the boat sits on it which is about waist level, making it easy to clean, load, and access all the hatches with out having to get inside the skiff. Crazy looking bunk design but the design that works for the unique hull design.
Now I’am a very honest person when it comes to things I use professionally. I’m not the kind of person who chooses equipment based on the name, I choose my equipment based on being the best for what I do, because I want the best for my anglers. And after being in a lot of technical skiffs there is no other boat I’d fish professionally for what I do except the Maverick HPX-S. It’s truly one of the best skiffs on the market today and will change your view on a technical poling skiff for ever. With that being said there are a few things that I do not like about the skiff but these are issues that did not keep me from loving the HPX-S.
The number one thing I do not like about the HPX-S is how it can be a little bow heavy when running with trim tabs with myself, and 2 anglers on board. With that extra weight when trying to use trim tabs it can make the boat very touchy and seems to want to grab rail one side or the other. Causing the boat to lean to one side or the other. What I’ve done to correct this issue is only run the boat about 25-30mph when using tabs, trim up the engine to loosin the back end a bit, and take it slow. Very seldom do I have this issue while running but when I do it is very easy to fix. It took me about 2 or 3 times running the boat in that situation to learn how to adjust it when that issue occurs. Happens maybe 2 out of every 10 days I fish and has not been a major issue. The S likes to ride high on the water and I rarely have the need for trim tabs where I fish. Just taking it slow solves the issue and you’ll smile when you see how well this boat runs in serious chop.
The only other issue I have with the HPX-S is how deep the floor is. One good thing about having a deeper floor is more comfort when sitting down because it allows your knees to be where they should, and not bent up to your chest. That is something I really like because it feels like your sitting on the couch when running the boat or watching another angler fish. But the down side to this is that it creates a large step to get onto the bow or stepping off the bow. I havn’t had complaints about this from my older anglers but there are times when I have to help them step down from the bow, or step up from the boat. The other problem with the low floors is that when you go to walk to the front of the boat sometimes you tend to hit the side gunnel with your feet because of how flared out the bow is. Not a major issue and not something that keeps me from loving the boat, but just a small issue to shows that no boat is perfect.
Over all I love the HPX-S and will be running this skiff for a long time until something better is made. Gonna be hard to top how well this skiff poles and runs!! Congratulations to Maverick Boat Company for stepping up the game yet again in the Boating Industry.
How do you think our 30 year history as anglers has affected the products that we produce?
“I think that MBC’s history as anglers is very important. One thing that has always been true about the Maverick brand is that it’s innovative. Maverick changes and Maverick changes for the better. As fishing progresses, and equipment progresses, and guides progress, Maverick progresses as well. Maverick is always changing the game. They are always coming up with something new, something better, something innovative, and I love that.” -Capt. Owen Plair