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Review: Wingmaster Sandpiper 150 microskiff

The Wingmaster Sandpiper 150 is a microskiff built out of Lakeland Florida.  Larry Nolan the owner,  has been building boats for over 15 years.  As you can imagine he has built and help, design, and test many very popular boats that are around today.

Larry contacted me to use the first skiff in his Wingmaster line up.    Most boat manufacturers as you might guess, hate it when you say something negative about their boat but Larry wanted constructive criticism.  He wanted any and all input good or bad.

As I write this review January 2015 I have used the skiff on and off now for almost three months. I did not just run the boat in circles for 15 minutes an write a boat review.  I have fished Florida everglades , Louisiana marshes and Texas waters. Caught snook, trout, tarpon and giant bull reds. I’ve ran it skinny enough to run aground(and a couple of oyster bars) in deep waters for bull reds, in slick calm and in choppy conditions.  I’ve ran it solo, with 2 people and overloaded it with even 3 people on board.  Used the trolling motor and poled the skiff in calm and windy conditions. I feel like I know the skiff pretty well.

What I am trying to say is I will be very straight forward about this review. No eloquent words, no beating around the bush talking about history of skiffs, who what when and where etc.  This will be straight forward break down of my likes and dislikes.

Wingmaster Sandpiper 150

Wingmaster Sandpiper 150

 

 

First let me say you are reading a perspective from a person that likes to fish inshore from a microskiffs. I have own several of them in my time.

Microskiffs is not a do it all boat. If you are looking to fish offshore and run rough waters click away now. This is not a boat for you. You are wasting your time.

If you like to fish skinny, fish alone at times, fish with one other person, have decent balance and want ease of maintenance a microskiff in my opinion, is the way to go. You get to fish waters that kayakers fish but get the range and comfort only limited few have access to.

Being a kayak fisherman I’ve always looked at Google map and wonder; If I could only get there in my kayak I bet that creek my big boats can’t get in is full of fish. Of course it was just too much of hassle to use a mother ship but too long to paddle there. With a boat like the Sandpiper I could get there in comfort and fish those remote creeks.  Let me tell you, I was right about not all, but many of those remote creeks.

sand-piper-150

As to not fill these pages with meaningless babble I will break them  down into sections so we can get to the point much faster.

Looks/Fit and finish:

If you are familiar with may of the early microskiffs the fit and fish has been very lacking.  These days they are very sharp looking and the Sandpiper is no exception. The Sandpiper especially with the aluminum trailer that it comes with is a very nice looking boat. Nothing to be embarrassed about at the ramp. It truly looks like you are towing a small legit skiff. When I was towing it to Texas and back I must have gotten stopped 6 times with people wanting to check out the boat. Pretty much at every gas station you can immediately tell who was the fisherman there.

Stability:

Stability is always a tricky question to answer. If you have never been in a small boat you will think it is “tippy”.  However if you have ridden in a small boats before you will be pleasantly surprise how stable it is.  Is it for polling for tarpon on the beach with 3 foot swells in 8 feet of water? Absolutely not.  Poling the flats in 3′ or less of water sight fishing? No problem.  On the front deck putting a 35qt yeti cooler is stable and works perfect for a casting deck.  The only time I had a stumble on the boat is when I tried to use a small 17 qt cooler as  a casting deck.

Hull Slap:

If you look at the front of the Sandpiper you can see the chine that works a secondary stability.  I find hull slap an issue on two occasions. When I’m idling into waves it lifts the bow up creating air space making slapping noise as the water hits it.  The other is when I lean too much left or right when I’m fishing again creating air space and allowing water to slap.

That being said, I have fished on the bow, going into head waves as well as quartering waves the boat is super quiet.  In Tampa, where on a normal skiff it is tough to even get close our highly pressured redfish I am able to get within 15′ of of them.

Conclusion: The boat is super quiet as long as the bow is down.  It will create noise if all your weight is in the back of the boat lifting the bow too high. The boat balanced with two people or if you are fishing alone and fishing the front, it is very quiet.

Performance:

I have ran the boat with a 15 Tohatsu 4 stroke as well as a 20hp. Both are the same weight so obviously I like the faster option. Getting on plane is not an issue even with 3 people(yes over loaded).

The skiff will run in about a foot of water.  This is not a tunnel so it will not run in 6″ of water. It does however float in 6″ of water.

Anything over 1′ you will get wet.  There is no way around the laws of physics  unfortunately. These are small boats when it’s choppy and windy, to avoid spray you are just gonna need a bigger boat.

That being said, compared to other boats its size, the ride quality is good.

Speaking of water, if water does get in, this is one of the few microskiff  I have been in that has a partial false floor. The partial false floor keeps the cockpit flat and drains the water to the back and your gear stays out of the water.

Porpoising was a none issue once the motor was positioned right.

Standing and running with a tiller extension I did feel like I needed more room so I ask them to move the console up a few inches on the next build.

Gas millage you can expect 6 to 10 mpg depending on load and if you run full throttle or not. I rarely use more than one gallon per fishing trip.

Turning:

The boat turns great, no sliding. I did a lot of zigging and zagging in the everglades mangrove tunnels.

I do find I need to remove the tiller extension to get the best performance on tight turns.

Speed:

These speed test are real world loads. Fishing gear, a cooler and me weighing around 200lbs.

15 hp I was able to get 23  to 25 mph

20 hp I was able to get 26 to 28 mph

overload test: 3 people on a 20hp I was able to get 22 mph

Draft:

If you get out of the boat you can float in about 4″ but for practicality 6″ is a honest estimate.

Poling:

Like most microskiff poling is very easy due to their lightweight nature.  This is pretty simple with one person in front and me poling.  The boat tracked very straight does not drift or bow steer (sticky bow).  I’ve poled into the wind and into quartering seas and the boat is quiet. The times I did constantly hear noise was when poling down wind. I stopped and waves hits the transom creating noise.

Towing/Loading:

The trailer looks great and carries the boat real well. It comes with 2 pvc poles with built in reflectors for easy launch ad loading.  It was custom made just for this skiff and is fully aluminum.

It is not low enough to dry launch. The wheels will have to be about a little more than halfway in to launch.  You also need to pull the motor up or the skeg will drag on you.

Storage:

There is 3 locations for storage. The bow/under the deck house a gas tank and there is enough room for a couple life jackets. It has a small lip to keep water out in case it gets in.

In the console there is enough room for a large battery and a charger.

Under the rear deck though it does get wet back there.

4 molded rod holders. All 4 are long enough to fit fly rods no problem.

Overall Value:

The skiff sells for about $8.000.00 for boat, motor and trailer.

It is an all Carbon Kevlar build with nicely above average fit and finish.

If  you are looking for something that just to get on the water and looking to spend as little as possible this is not the boat for you.(the value is not there for you)

This is a boat for someone that wants looks, performance and a quality build not found in many microskiff.  A  person that don’t mind spending a  little more to get what they want.

The pricing is quite fair considering the build quality and components involved.

For those looking for this type of microskiff the Wingmaster Sandpiper 150  is definitely worth a look.

 

 

 http://www.wingmasterboats.com

Sandpiper 150 specs

Specs:
Length: 14’8″
Beam: 52″
Draft: 6″
Dry Weight: 300 lbs
Occupancy: 2 people or 500 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3gal removable gas tank
Transom Height: 20″
Max Horsepower: 20HP
Max Engine Weight: 115lbs

Standard Features:
5 Year Limited Hull Structural Warranty
Custom Carbon Kevlar Hull
All White Hull, Deck Gelcoat(options available)
Custom Full Deck Non-Skid
Vinyl Rub Rail
Vacuumed infused solid core
Stainless Pull Up Cleat
Custom console and grab rail
LED navigation lights
Horizontal Rod Holders
15hp Manual Start
Custom full aluminum trailer

Taking the Wingmaster out for a couple hours. It’s January and it feels like spring time.

One of the cool thing about  a small boat is the ability to go fishing and not worry about dealing with the hassle of a large vessel.  I  mean loading it, gas, launching, and the worst part , cleaning it.

Since we did the Breathe like Fish apparel shoot on Saturday I had to deal with all media Sunday. This leaves little time to actually get to fish.

The sun was out the tides was good so I figure I would try to get out for a couple hours.  I am still using the Sandpiper 150 by Wingmaster. This 14′ 8″ boat  is easy to deal with and if I use a gallon of gas that day it was a long run. The boat gets 8 to 10 miles to the gallon.

With a larger boats I have to worry about where I could launch and where I could fish. This small boat I can float and fish almost anywhere there is a body of water. Launching on a dirt ramp on low tide? no problem.

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Now to the fishing.

As you might know 2014 was the warmest year since we started keeping track of weather in 1878.  If you are on the other side of the climate change stuff the fish seem to believe this as well.

I must report that if you fish Tampa bay, the snook are not in their winter areas.   I saw lots of snook in the spring area and were very active.

 

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I actually want it to be cold so the fish are more concentrated. For the big trout to show up where I live it also needs to be cold and that has not been the case.

 

Snooks are abundant however.  I caught a few small snooks and even saw a tarpon rolled. We are in the middle of January it should be a few degrees colder.

 

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Usually I do well on jigs this time of year but right now the suspending mirrordine has been working great as well as the jerk baits.

Mirrordine

Mirrordine

 

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I only manage to be out there for about 2 hours but the bite was good. No big fish but I did see plenty around.

 

Get ready for an early spring guys.. the fishing should be good real soon.

 

If you want to know how to use the mirrordine.

Flamingo Trip

Over the holiday break a few buddies and I took a trip to flamingo to try and catch  up with some “tailers”. With the warm weather and calm seas we knew it was going be a great trip. It was a warm 82’ during the day and a cool 67’ at night. The mosquitoes were only bad at dusk and dawn, I never once applied bug spray.

Flamingo 2014 (16 of 18)

 

Flamingo 2014 (3 of 18)

As for the fishing….it couldn’t have been better. We had constant action all day. Even if we weren’t catching fish, we were in pursuit of fish and watching tails pop up and fall over in the distance. It was so slick we could see a tailing fish from over 100yrds away and that is being modest. Its only $15 to get in the park and about that much to camp every night.

Flamingo 2014 (12 of 18)

Flamingo 2014 (8 of 18)

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Flamingo 2014 (15 of 18)

The park is equipped with running water and restroom facilities for the “not-so-die-hard” camper. You can also opt to stay on a Chicke’e (a dock on the water) if want a true everglades experience. If you are looking for a great trip as a family or just with friends I recommend you take a look at Flamingo in Everglades National Park.

Flamingo 2014 (1 of 18)

*PS you may want to pick up a map because it can be a little tricky to navigate.

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Take care, Sawyer

How to use apps to figure out where to go fishing

In this short clip I use a free app called Fishin Mobile to figure out where to fish.

This app is free in IOS and Android. It has everything in one location.

First thing I look at is weather. Mainly I look if it’s raining or not then look at cloud cover. Then I look at the wind direction and speed. This let me determine location. I then look at the tides to figure out the timing of when to be there. I rarely use Solunar but it is on this app as well and some times they work great!

apple version

Android version

Weather, radar, tides, solunar, moon phases, maps, logging, gps, google map.

How To: Rigging the Mustad Ultrapoint Grip-Pin for weedless fishing. Get under those mangroves where the fish are.

Mustad Grip-pin, weedless jerk shad hooks.
12.23.2014

So as of late I have been using the Mustad Ultra Point Grip-pin worm hooks to fish jerk shad near mangroves. This allows me to not get snagged while I try to get under the mangroves where the fish are.

Mustad Grip-pin

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It dawned on me that some people, like me might not have heard of it and how well it performed. I decided to do a short rigging video of how to use them.

Mustad Hooks A Million 2015

Mustad is running a year long contest where you can win 25,000.00 or 1 Million dollars.

The rules are simple.

All you have to do is catch a state or world record using while using a Mustad Hook or Line of any of the species listed.

Best of all Registration is totally free and opens up January 1st 2015.

http://www.hook-a-million.com/mustad15/hookamillion/promo

Mustad Hooks A Million

I bet there is fish back there, exploring with the Sandpiper 150. Panic Shrimp by Savage Gear and Rules #74 rod

I don’t know about most fisherman but I waste a lot of time looking at google map when I look for places to fish. Much of the map show ponds and small canals in places with out aerial maps you would never know it existed.

I often wonder if there were fish back there. Much of the places are too far for a kayak to travel to. A boat would get you there but it would be too large to get through the tunnels.

Now that I have the Wingmaster Sandpiper 150 to use many of these places are very accessible. One I get there it’s narrow enough and draft skinny enough to explore.

Today I suppose to fish the powerplant to look for cobia but my buddy was hung over from a Christmas party.This gave me the opportunity to do some exploring instead. I also wanted test a couple new items. A new Rules #74 rod by Dan James Rod and a Savage Gear Panic Shrimp I had just picked up from Tampa Fishing Outfitters.

 

SavageGear Panic Shrimp

SavageGear Panic Shrimp

I had the Rule #74 rod rigged with a 2500 Ballistic and 15lb braid. I tied on 20lb leader with the Panic Shrimp. The action on these are awesome. The sink rate is nice and slow and legs and antennae wiggles as it sinks. I saw the at Icast and was impressed indeed.

I put the cooler on the bow to get better visibility and put the trolling motor on low and let the breeze push me at bit.  The 2nd fish I saw, wham!, he smokes it… about a 24″ red.    So far so good I’ld say.

I noticed the hook got dislodged so I moved it back.    The rubber legs , body and and antennae was totally in tact. It is a more durable body than the regular plastics. It should be because two of these shrimp retails for $8.00.

After some photos and release I looked for more. The wind died down and rest of the fish I saw were very very very spooky.  That was it for the redfish but I noticed every time I tried to cast with authority the hook would slide off again making for an erratic action.

Conclusion: Great action, seem to have no problem fooling fish, cast ok (does tend to helicopter), body is tough but hook issue might be a problem.

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SavageGear Panic Shrimp with redfish

 

Panic Shrimp

SavageGear Panic Shrimp

 

 

The Rules #74 synthetic cork rod grip was comfortable. I have tried the carbon ones, it tends to hurt my hands after long periods of casting(jigging) and slips badly when my hands is wet.

To me the action was medium fast, and the bend of the rod was a medium to medium light.  At 7′  I find it fairly lightweight  and the microwave guide seem to lessen the vibration making long days of casting more comfortable.  Dan James Rod uses HMX blanks and the model I had was white. It does come with a hook keeper.

The rod will retail for just under $200.00. The rod is inline in quality and price as most rods I’ve used by many of the companies using the Microwave guides.  This rod for me should be great for jig fishing up 1/4 oz jig heads.

 

With the bite dead decided to do some exploring places I could never get to. It’s either too far for a kayak or too narrow for boat. The Sandpiper 150 can fish where kayak fish and almost just as narrow. This was a perfect compromise exploration skiff.

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After beating down bushes and dozens of spiders I manage to get a couple of small snooks in the back country. Nothing earth shattering but it beats casting to redfish that run away from you when you breathe. :)

 

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