Let’s take a closer look at the Blacktip 18 Flats in this Florida Sportsman boat review. Newly formed Blacktip Boatworks debuts their first offering for 2021 with the all new Blacktip 18 Flats model. This 18 footer was conceived out of the desire to provide the solid comfortable ride of a larger Bay Style boat and all of their positive attributes- while also featuring the shallow water capabilities of a traditional poling skiff. The balance between the two styles of boat has to be carefully considered in order to execute this combination effectively. When choosing design aspects- for ride performance and shallow draft to work together- the bottom design and deadrise have to be balanced properly.
The Blacktip 18 sports a 12-degree deadrise bottom which provides enough angle to lay a confused bay chop or large boat wake down comfortably. The deadrise transition from the entry to the transom still flattens out enough for this boat to be poled with ease in single digit depths.
For fishability features in line with a traditional poling skiff, this model comes with a poling tower, a roomy forward and aft casting deck perfect for sight fishing and extra wide gunwales for easy walking. The sunken cockpit and center console layout features a wide enough seat across the helm area for three to sit across. A fourth rider can be seated on the included Frigid Rigid forward cooler seat. Plenty of dry storage is available beneath the foredeck, due in large part to the fact that the fuel tank- unlike many flats boat designs, is under the deck rather than in the forward compartment.
The space required for a 47-gallon tank is considerable- and removing this from the forward compartment makes a huge difference. These large capacity tanks are coal tar epoxied and glassed in with foam under the console and built to last a generation.
Additional dry storage is available aft beneath a pair of outboard corner located long compartments that lift rearward to allow easy access while the boat is on the trailer. At the center deck aft is a 30-gallon live well as well as a separate compartment to access your bilge. A clever touch on the Blacktip 18 gunwales are a pair of pancake hatches that open to reveal a recessed compartment to lay fly reels into with corresponding rod tubes leading forward to store your long rods securely. At the helm, you’ll find a console face large enough to accommodate an oversized 16” Simrad unit that is still remarkably easy to see across while running.
The Blacktip 18 in trying to split the difference between stability and comfort while still offering the flats skiff experience does a remarkable job of pulling the mixture off. On the pole we were able to get quietly into real bonefish depths and rather effortlessly for a 1500-pound boat.
Where the boat really shined in my opinion was running in some very choppy waters with crazy confusing boat wakes crossing at every angle. In this regard the boat really performed like a much larger boat.
Blacktip Boatworks 18 Flats
Max HP: 175
Fuel: (up to) 47 gallons
Base MSRP: $39,900 (63,000 as shown)