BOAT TEST: SKEETER FX 21

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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As Kevin Smith discovered, Skeeter’s power-packed FX 21 bass boat isn’t for the faint-hearted.

BOAT TEST: SKEETER FX 21
110kmh (60kts) was achieved at top speed on the Skeeter FX 21 bass boat.

A low-profile boat with a 300hp Evinrude E-TEC on the back? You'd be forgiven for wondering who in their right mind would want such a missile - surely it would only be used to tear around a race circuit. Right?

Wrong. The name Skeeter Boats holds no mystery for avid Aussie tournament anglers dedicated to chasing freshwater species and estuary bream. In the US, where these boats are produced, they're a major part of the pro-bass circuit, with models ranging from small 17-footers through to 21-footers. As the size increases, so do the engines, which is why the FX 21 on test has a mighty 300hp E-TEC on the back.

While such a stonking powerplant may seem excessive, there's plenty of practicality built into a rig like this, all of which is aimed at fishing success. The sleek, low-profile design with huge integrated casting decks provides open and uncluttered space for tossing lures. There are specialised built-in livewell systems to keep precious and potentially winning fish alive in tournaments (you can't take dead fish to a weigh-in these days), while the bulk power gets the pros to the hotspots ahead of their competitors, and within a very short space of time.

Regardless of whether you're a pro or just a serious recreational fisho, these boats - and the FX 21, in particular - have the bling, features, and performance to please even the fussiest of anglers.

I've spent a bit of time testing and fishing from Skeeters over the years, and I have to say I'm a big fan of the company's products. They look great on and off the water, have brilliant layouts, offer incredible white-knuckle performance and feature superb hulls. They're mind-blowing, pure and simple, and this FX 21 is no exception.



SPACIOUS LAYOUT

It's readily apparent that many years of fishing-focussed R&D has gone into the FX 21's design. With its low profile and raised decks, around three-quarters of the boat offers unobstructed fishing, and there is a multitude of dedicated stowage to house every last piece of your tackle arsenal.

The bow is home to a sizeable hookless, carpeted casting deck that runs back to the dual side consoles ("hookless" means you won't spend weeks trying to extricate treble hooks caught in the carpet). The bow casting deck itself is huge and will comfortably accommodate two, or possibly even three at a squeeze.

Lying below the casting deck is a series of flush-mount storage hatches, including an integrated rod locker that takes a quiver of 12 rods, a dedicated tackle
tray locker and plenty of space for your other bits and pieces. All the lockers / hatches are lockable and flush-mounted to the deck.

It's no surprise to find a Minn Kota electric motor at the bow, and a Lowrance HDS-5 with StructureScan is nearby. Having the auxiliary sounder up front enables an angler to monitor what's happening on the bottom as well as out to the sides while fishing and operating the electric.

The dual side consoles offer plenty of protection, and once in the driver's seat you'll find yourself snugly tucked in with your legs extended forward. Rather than having side controls, these boats have a "hot foot"- foot accelerator pedal - and for good reason. Capable of speeds of up to 65kts (120kmh), you definitely need both hands on the wheel. There's also a trim and hydraulic jack plate lever that allow the driver to simultaneously adjust the motor trim and height for maximum performance, while the hydraulic jack plate is also handy when trailering at shallow ramps.

The rest of the driver's console includes a protective screen, smart dash panel with integrated electronics and a Simrad NSE 8 as the main GPS / sounder. Although there's plenty going on around the dash when it comes to gauges and switch panels, it's still very neat and everything's within a short reach of the wheel.

The wind really deflects off the console screens at high speed. When seated correctly you don't get hammered, but if you raise yourself a bit too much in the seat at more than 54kts (100kmh) you'll yourself with one badly blow-dried hairdo.

The stern casting deck also features a number of lockable flush-mount lockers, with gas-assist lifts that provide easy access to the split livewell system, the Lithionics lithium ion batteries and charge system, bilge pumps and yet more stowage space.

The batteries deserve a special mention - they are far from standard. In fact, they're worth about $8000 on their own. The owner of this FX 21 opted for the Lithionics setup because it maintains constant power to the electric motor and electronics, always carries a backup for starting, reduces the weight in the stern by 50kg, and has a particularly fast charge rate. When it comes to tournaments, battery longevity is crucial, and if you're that serious I suppose $8k is a (relatively) small price to pay.

I should also make special mention of the unusual spider-leg-like contraptions mounted to the transom. These are actually electronic power poles that are used as an anchoring system in shallow water. They can extend down to approximately 10ft and with a flick of a remote switch they extend out and down onto the bottom to hold the boat on the hotspot.

Overall, the FX 21's layout works in every sense; with all these gadgets and features there's really no excuse for not catching a fish!



HIGH PERFORMANCE

Performance? Well, it shouldn't take too much imagination to realise what's going to happen with a 300hp E-TEC on the back. Novice boaters should pack some extra undies, but rest assured; if you've got some experience under your belt, you'll know to give a boat like the FX 21 the respect it deserves.

Let's face it; anything capable of speeds in excess of 67kts (125kmh) is something special. The FX 21 is definitely that, but it produces a superbly soft ride, with a secure feeling of total precision even when driven hard. Stability is excellent both at rest and when underway, and in general these hulls are incredibly forgiving.

Thanks to the 300hp E-TEC, the transition from rest to warp speed sees a civil holeshot soon make way for "one hundred and plenty" kilometres per hour in short order. It's impressive, that's for sure. This boat is very, very fast.

There's a certain style to driving these boats, and that comes back to keeping the leg locked in for quicker holeshot, along with using the trim and hydraulic plate to get air around the prop to maximise the revs in the shortest space of time.

As a matter of interest, this boat has achieved 69kts (128kmh) and that was running a 28in Raker II prop. With the potential for speeds like this, I'd advise you get some experience behind the wheel before you go jumping in and stamping the pedal down.

Of course, it's a different story for passengers (although personally I prefer being the one behind the wheel and in control). The FX 21, however, is a safe boat on the water and passengers get a side handle plus what's affectionately known as a "Jesus" handle below the seat. So named for good reason, I'm sure it will get a workout in a boat like this.

I won't harp on about the boat's phenomenal performance and handling, but I will say I experienced full-lock turns at more than 54kts (100kmh) and I got airborne off 1m wakes. I wasn't driving, but I was certainly blown away by how the FX 21 took it all in its stride.



THE WRAP

Although primarily suited to flat waters, the FX 21 is quite capable of handling our estuaries and bays when conditions suit. At $105,000 as tested, the price is a bit of an eye-opener, but then this boat is bristling with some big-buck accessories. In standard form you can get into one for $89,000 with an Evinrude 250hp E-TEC outboard and Easytow trailer. In fact, you can have any brand of outboard fitted, so there are options available to suit a variety of budgets.

It's rare to find a boat I'd describe as "near faultless", but the FX 21 fits the bill. The Skeeter combination of extreme performance, superb layout, accommodating ergonomics and a host of clever features will please the most demanding of pro anglers.



THE PROUD OWNER

Mike Starkey, from Frogleys Offshore in Ballina (NSW), is the owner of this FX 21. Frogleys Offshore is the Australian distributor for fishing tackle brands such as Gamakatsu, Fuji, Atomic, Samurai, Bassday, Megabass, Unitika, Kershaw, Mako and Atomic, to name just a few.

A seasoned tournament fisherman, Mike has had a number of Skeeters over the years, including a ZX 190, iClass 20i and FX 20, and now this FX 21. Mike says the run of models isn't due to them wearing out or breaking, but rather stems from Skeeter Australia's impeccable service and the unparalleled performance and handling of the boats themselves.



PERFORMANCE

2.8kts (5.1kmh) @ 1500rpm = 9.3lt/h

17.0kts (31.5kmh) @ 2450rpm = 30lt/h

28.1kts (52.0kmh) @ 3500rpm = 43lt/h

40.2kts (74.5kmh) @ 4500rpm = 80.5lt/h

49.7kts (92.0kmh) @ 5000rpm = 90lt/h

59.4kts (110kmh) @ 5500rpm = 97.7lt/h



ON THE PLANE...

· Unparalleled performance

· Impeccable finish

· Robust build quality

· Class-leading fishability



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

· Pricing will likely deter anyone other than hardcore fishos



Specifications: Skeeter Boats FX 21



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $105,000

Options fitted: Simrad NSE 8 in dash; Sonic Hub sound system; Lowrance HDS-5 sidescan in bow; Lithionics lithium ion battery system; Minn Kota trolling motor; 10ft Power Pole shallow water anchor system.

Priced from: $89,000



GENERAL

Type: Professional light tackle tournament fishing boat

Material: GRP

Length: 6.3m

Beam: 2.3m

Weight: 1950kg

Deadrise: Variable performance



CAPACITIES

People: 6

Rec. HP: 250

Max. HP: 300

Fuel: 190lt



ENGINE

Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC (E300)

Type: Loop-charged direct-injection two-stroke 90° V6

Weight: 237kg

Displacement: 3441cc

Gear ratio: 1.85:1

Prop: 28in Raker II



MANUFACTURED BY

Skeeter Boats, US

Web: http://www.skeeterboats.com/



SUPPLIED BY

Skeeter Australia

2/21 Peachtree Road

Penrith, NSW 2750

Tel: 0408 621 426

Web: www.skeeterboats.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #289, December 2012.

Find Skeeter boats for sale.

 


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