Pelican Flats 17 Skiff Review


A few months ago I had spoken with Pelican about taking a look at their offerings and possibly reviewing some of them at the same time. You guys have seen the first part of that in the Pelican Ambush review that was posted on here a couple of weeks ago. Lucky for me, I was able to hang out with the guys at Pelican for more than just a few hours, and take a ride on not just the Ambush- but also the Pelican Flats 17.

The Pelican Flats 17 is the main offering from Pelican as far as a fully finished skiff goes (there is also a Fly 17 model) and does not fall short. The Flats 17 was designed to be a flats fishing machine and capable of getting the angler where they needed to go. The hull has many great features; from a sharp entry ‘V’ to plenty of storage space. I was pleasantly surprised about the Flats 17 from the moment I saw it pull up to the lot.

Here’s what Pelican says on their website about the Flats 17:

The Pelican Flats 17 is our top of the line Flats hunting machine.  This technical polling skiff has a fit and finish second to none.  Every inch of this boat was designed for the discriminating angler to fish along side the mass production flats boats at a much more attractive price.  The original hull design offers a classic look with unmatched handling and performance characteristics.  It draws only 6” of water with two fisherman and gear and can travel at speeds of over 50 mph when powered with a 90 hp motor.  The vessel is the epitome of beauty and functionality.

Super Neat Features and Finish

SkinnySkiff-Pelican-Skiffs-17-Review-1The Pelican Flats 17 included some really neat features I sure wouldn’t have thought of without seeing them. The front casting platform is attached firmly to the front deck, but what you don’t see right away is how it’s fastened. Once you lift up the hatch, you can see four toggle bolts (Image shown right). These will allow you to screw and unscrew the casting platform without any tools.

Something you can’t miss on the Flats 17 are the little finishes that make it such a nice skiff (Seen in the gallery below). The two-toned cushions, metal work details, and carbon fiber hatches all come together to make a well rounded skiff. Even details like stainless steel rod holders can be added to the customer’s desire.

Speaking of a feature-packed skiff- The Flats 17 has tons of hatches! Some may like hatches, and some may not; but it’s always good to have an extra storage space on the boat for those camping trips or outings to the sand bar. Of course these skiffs can be customized for the person who will be ordering them, but our demo model had ample room to store, cool, or keep alive just about anything.


The Expected and Not-so-Expected Performance

We launched from a protected and calm cove in a chilly 8-10MPH wind that morning. The cove had given up a false promise of somewhat flat water which quickly went out the window. Upon reaching the nearby ICW we were greeted with a nice chop and turbulent current from Tampa Bay. The Flats 17 was able to jump up on plane with three people on the skiff without breaking a sweat in a matter of seconds. Man do these skiffs fly!

With all do respect to the ETEC 90 and its awesome power, the Flats 17 handled the oncoming chop with ease and complimented the power of the ETEC 90 outboard quite well.

What I didn’t expect, was how it handled a few of the waves we were hit with. Not completely a fault of the Flats 17, but more of a design drawback of the sharp entry; and not a huge issue either. I experienced some wave entry push to the side when we hit some of the chop at an angle. I have seen this a few times on other skiffs from an Ankona ShadowCast to a old Native skiff, it just seemed to be more noticeable on this hull for some reason. Aside from that, the hull was high and dry the whole time from the cove to the bay and back again.

Poling performance, this skiff has it. After the bay crossing we stopped on a nearby flat. When we got there to snap a few photos and see how the skiff poled we realized one thing: It was still the low tide on an incoming high tide which wouldn’t start for a good few hours. After stopping at the flat and poling around for awhile, I noticed something. We were surrounded by kayaks and wade fishermen. Of course, there are plenty of skiffs which can pole in 6″ of water, and plenty of manufacturers saying their skiff can draft this and pole that. The Pelican Flats 17 didn’t just talk, it performed. I was able to push the Flats 17 with three people back off the flat and into a few feet of water with ease; and with a smile on my face.


All in all…

…the Pelican Flats 17 performed very well. It ran, it handled, and it poled. It has some neat features and it’s all packed into a clean looking hull that can be customized to one’s desire. I only found a minor issue with the bow entry on a few of the waves, but that wouldn’t stop me from purchasing one of these skiffs in the future.

Visit the Pelican website for the full specs on the Flats 17 or give them a call at 813.735.4226 for more info!


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