The Revolutionary New Skiff That Could Change How Anglers Fish
Daniel Xu 09.16.14
It may look like it came from outer space—or receives 250 channels in stunning HD quality—but designer Jeff Lizzio says his disc-shaped craft belongs on the water. The Ultraskiff 360 is a six-foot-wide, 110-pound polyethylene saucer personal watercraft for anglers looking for a different experience than what they will find in a more traditional boat. Due to its circular design, the Ultraskiff allows its user to swivel like they’re in the gun turret of a tank, allowing for increased access and comfort.
“The main thing that inspired me to design the Ultraskiff is comfort,” Jeff told OutdoorHub. “It’s the fact that I can be out on the water for hours without back pain, neck pain, that was the trigger for me. I wanted to find a way to sit higher and I wanted my posture to be straight while still having plenty of leg room.”
Jeff designed the Ultraskiff after years of fishing from cramped kayaks and jon boats, which he said contributed to a herniated disc in his lower back. Small watercraft are often prized for their light weight and mobility, but that same characteristic can also work against them when it comes to positioning the craft against wind or the current. Trying to fish at an awkward direction, especially from a kayak, can put a significant amount of pressure on an angler’s neck, shoulders, and back.
“I remember spending a lot of time in kayaks and small jon boats and the boat would spin or turn in the wind or current,” Jeff said. “I would have a rod with live bait out there and then I would have to turn with the current trying to make my chair turn with me.”
With his back problems, the avid angler decided to make a circular skiff with a swiveling chair that alleviated these issues. Everything on the boat was designed to be within three feet of the center and easily accessible while the high seat meant an excellent vantage point. This meant that the Ultraskiff was not only suitable for anglers, but hunters and water sport enthusiasts as well. In June, Jeff released a introductory video of the Ultraskiff on YouTube and was overwhelmed by the response. The video went viral and Jeff found himself inundated with inquisitive emails.
You can see that video below:
“I’m trying to stem the hype right now because I can’t meet the demand and I don’t have the help,” he explained.
Jeff said he is the only employee in a small startup, and that the Ultraskiff is just now coming out of the market-testing phase. Although it is possible to purchase an early version of the boat from him directly, Jeff said that he plans to start taking small orders from dealers this fall or winter. The final commercial version of the Ultraskiff will not be in stores until as late as next spring.
“I don’t want to rush anything, I want people to use the boat and I want to hear what they think,” Jeff said.
The Ultraskiff is not the first disc-shaped craft to be marketed to anglers, but Jeff nonetheless has attracted a following. Many prospective customers questioned the craft’s stability, safety, and performance.
“It’s very stable,” Jeff said confidently.
He recently released a video showcasing the Ultraskiff’s performance while encountering wakes from passing vessels, which you can see below:
For all intents and purposes, Jeff compares the utility of an Ultraskiff to a pond boat.
“This is the same class of boat: a small displacement-type boat that uses a trolling motor. Your range and speed are limited so if you wouldn’t go fishing somewhere in a pond boat, you wouldn’t use an Ultraskiff either. It is the same type of boat but you’re getting a whole bunch of advantages based on the open console, high vantage point, and equal footing.”
The designer mused that some people may have come away with misconceptions after watching the video, which he tried to address. Perhaps contrary to its name, Jeff said that people should not think of the craft as a high-speed “super skiff.”
“It’s a great boat for a nice day out on the lake, but it’s not meant for rough weather or big water.”
It remains to be seen if the Ultraskiff will catch on, but Jeff is fairly optimistic. He says that he is currently taking feedback from those who purchased the early versions of the boat and may be modifying the design slightly before next spring. Since he is still in the process of of working out how the boat will distributed, Jeff adds that the current price of $1,199.99 is not set in stone. Ideally, as the manufacturing process gets refined the skiff will become more affordable.
“The thing is, manufacturing in the United State is expensive on a small scale,” Jeff said. “As I make and assemble larger orders, the more streamlined the process will be and that will translate to lower costs.”
The sales that Jeff has made up to until now will be reinvested in hiring new employees and expanding the company. He reiterated that while his one-man company may be still in its infancy, the Ultraskiff is the result of a lifetime passion for fishing. Jeff has high hopes for his floating invention but he also shared that increasing production, creating lines of distribution, and all the other myriad details that go into retail will not happen overnight.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Jeff said.
You can see more videos of the Ultraskiff in action, as well as a detailed product FAQ, on the official Ultraskiff website here.