In the world of shallow-water boats, one brand has been a dominant player for more than 60 years. When it comes to flats and backcountry boats, the Hewes name is perhaps the most recognizable. The skiffs were the brainchild of Bob Hewes, who began developing them in the 1950s. Maverick Boat Co. acquired the brand in 1989, and it has been nurtured and continually updated to incorporate the latest in design, materials and construction techniques, including the VARIS resin-infusion process.
The latest Hewes, the Redfisher 21, builds upon one of its most revered models, the Redfisher 16, but this is not an update to a classic; it’s a totally new design. The Redfisher 21 measures 21 feet, 6 inches, and at first glance, it looks like a very large flats boat, but this is a well-rounded, long-range backcountry boat with the capability of fishing more inshore and nearshore waters thanks to its size and hull design.
With its 8-foot, 6-inch beam, the Redfisher 21 is a rock-solid fishing platform, even as anglers move around the deck. There’s plenty of casting space thanks to an expansive, open layout, a Hewes trademark. The forward and aft casting platforms each can accommodate two anglers, and sight-casting is a breeze in any direction. A 40-gallon live well is standard, and a second live well/release well is optional
“Light-tackle guides love this model,” says marketing manager Charlie Johnson. “The ability to walk the gunwales from bow to stern to help clients fighting fish is a big plus. With its range, longer runs to remote fishing spots are possible, and it can handle loads of live bait and lots of gear.”
The Redfisher 21 weighs approximately 2,850 pounds with a 250-hp engine, yet it draws just 14 inches. It can handle up to 350 horses, but according to Hewes, most customers opt for a Yamaha F300 or VMax 250 outboard. Both engine options provide brisk hole-shot acceleration, a top end of more than 60 mph and a cruising speed in the mid-30s, while getting 4-plus mpg. A 50-gallon fuel tank gives the boat a range of 160 miles, with a 20 percent safety margin.
With the popularity of bay boats, I wondered why Hewes opted to build such a large flats boat. “Getting around the decks of the Redfisher 21 is easier than a typical bay boat because of the wide-open layout,” Johnson says. “A lot of anglers and guides prefer that. The freeboard is lower, reducing the hull profile, so the boat isn’t as easily affected by the wind when fishing — a real bonus when using a trolling motor on breezy days.”
The console is large enough for a flush-mounted 12-inch MFD, engine gauge, switch panel, breakers, radio and more. The helm seat provides plenty of room for the operator and two passengers, and can be ordered with a backrest. There are stowage compartments forward, aft and beneath the bench. A 35-quart cooler with optional cushion package creates a seat forward of the console.
Each side of the console has three vertical rod holders, and under-gunwale holders accommodate 9-foot fly rods. The boat can be ordered with a 36-volt, 120-pound-thrust trolling motor and a shallow-water anchor that mounts to the standard jackplate.
The Redfisher 21 will carry on the Hewes’ legacy well into the coming decades. It is a refinement of the Hewes boats that opened the flats to anglers and is sure to spawn a new generation of fans.
WEIGHT: 2,850 pounds
FUEL: 50 gallons
MAX POWER: 350 hp
PRICE: $84,348 (Yamaha F250)