I’m blasting past the channel markers at 40-mph when the channel takes a dog-leg to the left, so I whip the wheel around and feel the 1,900 pound, 13-degree deadrise hull carve out a turn so sharp that I’m tempted to use the old “like I’m driving a sports car” cliché. But in fact, it feels more like I’m driving a motorcycle—the handling is that good.
I ease back on the throttle and come to a stop, then firewall it to test time to plane. In four seconds flat the boat’s out of the hole, and in eight seconds more I’m doing 30-mph. If you dream of weaving through the back-country while making high-speed hair-pins, ducking under over-hanging mangrove branches, and dodging gators, then the Hewes Redfisher 18 is going to get you thoroughly amped up.
I ran the 18 with a Yamaha F115, which is 35 horses under the maximum for this rig. But it’s plenty of power—just how fast does one need to go in an 18’ boat? And besides, efficiency with this powerplant is awesome. Cruising along at about 30-mph, you can expect to get between six and seven miles to the gallon.
|Fuel capacity||31 gal.|
Serious shallow-water aficionados are, of course, familiar with the Redfisher 18. It’s been around for years, and has a loyal following. But this year, Hewes made a lot of changes. For starters, they shifted the weight distribution to get a better balance. Then they added stowage space under the helm seat, and changed the console and rigging to allow for flush-mounting your electronics, as well as upgrading to a lighted switch panel. Fishing features like the vertical console rodracks, walk-around gunwales, snag-free casting decks, and stout poling platform, all remain the same.
|Test conditions: calm seas, winds 0-5 knots, 2 POB. Performance figures provided by Yamaha.|
|Power||Single Yamaha F115 four-stroke outboard, swinging a 13.5″ x 19″ three-bladed stainless-steel prop.|
More about that poling platform: I was impressed at how sturdy it felt, then discovered it was bolted down to Phenolic backing plates laminated into the boat. It’s also formed in a two-piece mold, as are the hatches (which are on gas-assist struts and close on compression latches and gaskets, by the way), so all of these pieces are fully finished on both sides, light weight, and thoroughly strong. The rest of the boat is built just as thoughtfully, with foam coring, closed-cell foam filling the voids, and nickel-tinned wiring harnesses.
Down-sides? It’s hard to punch holes in this boat, but it should be noted that it’s a bit beefy and wide for extended poling. Most anglers will probably be happy to mount a trolling motor on the bow, and if they’re real poling purists, a boat like the Maverick Mirage HPX-V II or the Chittum Islamorada 18 is probably more appropriate. On the flip-side, the Redfisher is going to be able to handle waves a bit better than either of these competitors, and it’s roomier as well.
For more information, visit Hewes.