Small, yet effective shade options for your Skiff & Boat
T-Tops and Bimini tops are great, but man can they get in the way of the Prime Directive "Fishing" (really, it's casting) 🤨
I have even worked with Bimini tops in the past that were made to slide and stow "inside" the hull on the deck, and not on the gunnels. OK, that helps, but it still made it a pain to step over much less, pull out another rod. As such the only time it was on the boat was when others were aboard for joy rides and eventually, I just sold it.
So, I observed a slick idea some years back that just about anybody can employ and have some shade for lunch, a quick drink break, or to help get out of the rain. Better yet! It folds back up and stows in a small space and if placed correctly, can be just about totally out of the way when secured and that is the Mantis.
What caught my eye, was how that BT Skiff owner installed his "behind" the seat backrest attached to the Polling Platform, and though you cannot run the boat faster than a few knots with it deployed... It was a slick way to have some quick shade, but not take up much space when not needed/wanted... As such you still have true 360-degree Cast-ability (is that a real word?)
So, here is how he had his installed which I think was a brilliant piece of Engineering and thinking "Outside" of the box, and here is a shot of how it is mounted behind the backrest and looked when deployed.
The beauty of that configuration is the backrest on that Skiff (like most) also folds up and out of the way, so you can still have your rear casting deck to use or access to the rear hatches. 😎
Unfortunately, it now appears that the original Pro-Techt Mantis Umbrella Shade is now out of business, but I have found their Facebook page which does have some other mounting pictures that you can view by clicking Here And I see some components for it still listed on Ebay. So, what is next or could be used as an option or along these same lines?
Well, we also have another one that has a much lower price point (and I suspect not as durable) but looks much easier to mount and as well as to use Bellaon other items called the Sport-Brella Versa-Brella And for you Kayak fans, since it is much lighter would also work well for that application as seen on the video below.
Back to your typical Flats Skiff though, here are some more ideas I have seen and collected over the years that you may be able to use on yours for some temp shade, and several of them appear removable (though onboard storage might be an issue) at the same time.
Then for the Center Console or larger cooler applications that many times can also get stowed in one of the under-gunnel rod racks, is the typical larger outdoor table type of umbrella!
Those are my personal favorites thus far for my needs! 😎
Then for larger Center Console Bay Boats, one you can run with deployed is the Shade Blade!
My only concern is which can be adjusted somewhat by making them go straight down. Is the placement of the running straps (much like a Bimini Top) that extends at an angle away from the unit thus (again) blocking your ability to cast much less, run around the boat as that Big Fish is dragging you all around it!
Always an option pending on your needs and best use case though and if interested in the Shade Blade you can find out more about them by clicking Here
More on the way on this subject, but (Big Picture) you can still have "your" fishing boat with all its designed open deck space... But still, take your sweetheart along and have some targeted shade at the same time! And I suspect, near the cost of a Bimini and much less than any T-Top in many applications. And don't get me wrong, those other options are great and work well in an Offshore Application. But on smaller Boats and Skiffs, you are making 500-plus casts in a day. This or running around the gunnels while a Tarpon is trying to drag you off the Skiff... As we say here in the South "That Dog just don't Hunt" 😉
In the meantime,
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Tight Lines and God Bless!
Dave and the Team