The Towee Calusa invented the term "crossover skiff" ten years ago and is still the only credible boat with a claim to that title. It is a unique design that can move effortlessly from poling skiff to jet sled and perform equally as well at both. Jets are a hot topic around here and we help clients and potential clients work through the jet or not to jet question almost every day.
The decision to buy a jet outboard can be daunting, especially fo the first time buyer. Internet forums are full of exaggerations, brags and even some outright lies about what a jet can or cannot do. It really has a lot more to do with the owners expectations and intended uses than it does with what everyone else on the river is running - especially when you're talking about a Towee. Let's take a closer look.
Outboard jets are the all around champions when you're getting into water less than 8 inches or with potential to encounter that unexpected rock. With many designs, you can run in mere inches of water - for a little ways at least. Let's do keep in mind here that despite the "my jonboat jet will run in wet grass" claims on the forums that the laws of physics are still in force. An outboard jet is a simple pump that propels the boat by sucking water up and shooting it out. The more clean, un aerated water the pump receives, the better it performs. Keep in mind that the intake is pointed down and somewhat angled forward so you really cant run in less than about six inches of water for any length of time without the jet loosing serious power on most boats. The real gain you get with the jet is the ability to run super shallow without worrying about that one rock that might just jump up and ding your prop. Or worse.
The down side of jets is that, once you get into about 8 inches of water, they start to loose out to the prop. They're 33% less powerful, heavier per hp and much more expensive. Jets don't steer well at low speeds and reverse is more of a concept than a reliable mode of propulsion. Jets are very prone to clogging from floating vegetation or shells and can make a day in the marsh a miserable experience if you don't really watch where you are going.
On the other hand, props are lighter, less expensive, more powerful and much more versatile. So, the first question is, how much of my time am I going to spend exclusively in super shallow rocky rivers? If that answer is 100% then you probably want to look at a jet - maybe. The flared design of the Towee hull does a couple of things that set it apart. When paired with a jet, it feeds the jet a steady supply of clean, un aerated water and created a "pillow" of water at the base of the transom - this is why a Towee jet runs much shallower than a tunnel hull (that's a whole other blog post). Clean water without bubbles (like from a flat bottomed hull) means maximum power. This same effect also allows the skiff to get up on plane much quicker with a prop motor and since the bottom of the boat is actually 3' forward of the bottom of the transom, the Towee can run in 6 inches of water with a standard prop. This is why it is not uncommon to see rivers where almost everyone runs jets - except the Towee. A Towee prop will usually run shallower with a prop than many of our competitors with a jet - this is why you see guides like Towee Pro Chris Willen running everywhere the jet sleds go on the rivers that he fishes - with a prop. There is a learning curve to learning to run a prop motor in "combat conditions" but it can be a very attractive and versatile choice.
Many of our clients have skiffs with both prop and jet outboards but most of us have to decide between one or the other. In the end, we try to work through all the possible scenarios with each client, provide all of the accumulated knowledge of ourselves, our advisory staff and our guides and help them come to the right decision. Over the past ten years, we've helped clients get it right the first time, most every time.
Now's a great time to give us a call to discuss your new skiff whether it's a jet, prop or even a mud motor. Our owner works with each client individually to spec out the skiff that will become a trusted companion on all the waters you explore for years to come.