The Maverick Mirage line have certainly made their mark in the world of technical poling skiffs. Even with all the advancements in technology, it is hard to image how you could improve an already proven skiff design. But alas, as times are changing, so are demands of anglers. Even old reliable could use a facelift from time to time. The Mirage 17 HPX has gone through it’s evolution, each time raising the bar; Mirage, Mirage II, Mirage HP, Mirage HPX-V, and this year; Maverick introduces the Mirage HPX-V2.
I had the opportunity to take a couple of weeks testing the new Maverick 17 Mirage HPX-V2 hull #1 earlier this last winter. I ran the skiff through it’s paces stalking snook in the shallow back bays in the Everglades, gliding over the expansive grass flats of Florida Bay stalking tailing and floating redfish, and sneaking up on weary bonefish on the wind blown flats of Biscayne Bay. Again, the new Mirage proves to be an extremely versatile poling skiff. Like with others in the Mirage line, this new Mirage was exceptionally quiet… in fact, it may even be the quietest mirage ever produced. The ride quality exceeds what you would expect from the previous Mirages. Once you lay the hammer down on the throttle and get it trimmed just right, the little Mirage finds itself on the running pad softly gliding over the chop crest to crest, rather then riding through each crease in the water. The V selectively breaks only what chop it needs to, in order to keep you dry and comfortable. This particular new skiff was lighter, faster, drier, and rode slightly softer then previous 17 Mirages, which were already soft riding dry skiffs to begin with. Construction was solid and we felt absolutely safe and planted while crossing big waters. Speeds with the Yamaha F70 were in the upper 30s to low 40s depending on load with a Powertech NRS16 3 blade propeller. I personally desired more power then the F70 as I found the F70 to be a bit of a slouch when the skiff was loaded heavy. Yet still, the F70 powered 17 Mirage was able to push into the upper 30s with a heavy load. Running a fairly light fishing load, I documented speeds up to 42.4mph. With the light motor, poling draft is somewhere in the 7″ to 8″ range. Poling dynamics were extremely impressive. With a slightly lightened hull, the new Mirage spins on a dime and pushes with ease, gliding along nicely when you give it a push. Being able to maneuver quickly is a big plus when fishing tarpon in the backcountry.
One can only speculate on what the reasons are for the bar raising performance. Perhaps doing away with all holes and cheese graters which may have in the previous generation potentially created drag towards the back of the hull. Perhaps it is the difference in weight distribution. Or perhaps it is the larger spray rails.
Here are some of the physical changes I was able to note:
Front deck space was extended about a foot, moving the front bulkhead of the skiff a foot aft. Larger deck space was nice when fishing 2 anglers on the bow and also made it nice to kick up your feet when sitting on a Yeti cooler forward of the center console.
Bigger and longer spray rails made for an extra dry ride.
Front deck space in front of forward hatch is still large enough to accommodate a large Pro-Trim sized casting platform. (bonefish size may vary).
Like the 18 Mirage HPX-V; the Rear hatch configuration has completely changed, featuring storage on the sides and a center livewell. Rear bulkhead as been brought forward slightly improving balance on the pole and being able to fit a full cushion atop a clear deck in front of the hatches. There is no more need to lift the cushion up to access storage. Like with the 18 HPX, the cushion folds down flush under the rear bulkhead. On a personal note, if I had one, I would do away with the removable cushion and opt for a permanently mounted cushion like the custom one I had on my previous skiff.
Rod gunnels are finished throughout now, giving the option to easily install OEM Maverick carpet or optional custom seadeck. The old foam injected rod holders have gone the way of the do-do bird as more durable plastic injected rod holders are being used in today’s Mirages. The LED lighting also provides for very impressive cockpit lighting. Switch panel (not pictured) is also lighted.
Wiring in the console has been cleaned up, making for a very clean look and ease of troubleshooting. The old raw fiberglass inside the bilge and console have now been coated with awlgrip for easier cleaning and aesthetically providing for a smoother more finished look.
The single center livewell replaces role of both the side crustacean well and side release well found on previous generation 17 HPX-Vs. As time goes on, the need for a release well during bonefish tournaments as well as other Keys tournaments is becoming obsolete. More and more tournaments today are favoring measure and release for scoring, thus eliminating additional stress from weighing in your tournament catch. The mainstream redfish tournaments still Impliment the same catch and weight in methods, but with most of those anglers using artificial lures anyways, the center livewell can be large enough to accomodate a pair of tournament sized redfish. The center livewell also makes for better balance and is much more ergonomic. Whether fishing crabs and shrimp or a well full of mullet or whitebait, this livewell setup was generally preferred over the previous set up by most anglers I’ve spoken to.
Deeper gasketed gutters throughout makes for drier compartments. Drainage has also been improved to flow faster.
Larger and deeper storage underneath the front deck. Whether storing a small cooler or downsized casting bucket, the increase in storage depth is a big plus. Fuel cell is now mounted behind the front storage right up against the bulkhead.
Deeper gutters on the rear hatches as well with smaller diameter and lighter aluminum frame poling platform.
Rear hatches are sized to be able to store the popular average size Simms or Patagonia tackle bags with room to spare.
Options are limitless as any good idea can be implemented by Maverick to build you your dream skiff.
To partially quote myself in the past; “The last time I was this impressed …” Well you know how the rest of that goes. The next chapter is around the corner… stay tuned.