The best for fishing
The Bōte Rackham AeroBōte makes fishing from a SUP, which is otherwise designated for the most nimble and deft-footed, easy enough for just about anyone.
Fishing from a stand-up paddle board (or SUP) can be highly productive: You're stealthier, you don't draw nearly as much water as you would in a skiff or even most kayaks, which means you're able to work your way into skinnier water, and you're kept high and dry, as opposed to wading.
But then, it can also be something of a challenge: Wind and swell are often keeping your balance in check, anchoring or sitting still is a chore that either requires a lot of paddling or an actual anchor and something to fix it to, and then there's all your gear, which, at any moment, could end up in the drink.
I've always been cautious when heading out fishing on a SUP. I only bring one fishing rod, a small box of flies, a knife that I keep strapped to me, and maybe I'll bring a water bottle, but only if there's mesh or bungee netting to hold it in place. Otherwise, Keeping tabs on both a water bottle and a fly rod or balancing them while trying to paddle gets beyond cumbersome.
There are DIY/jury-rigging solutions to all of this. A pair of bungee cords linked together can make a strap or two, but you have to wrap them around the underside of the board, which creates drag and costs you speed. It's also not the sturdiest thing in the world. You could drill holes into your board, too, but that takes a degree of expertise (and a time commitment) that many of us don't have. It can also get messy and ugly.
But Bōte's Rackham AeroBōte is different.
First of all, at a lengthy 12 feet and 4 inches, this SUP really is bordering on a boat, and it's nearly as stable as one. The only way I fell off was by trying to navigate around the lean post, which was a stupid thing to do, frankly.
Accessorizing the Rackham ends only with your imagination. There are D-rings, bungees, and Velcro galore. Conveniently placed handles make portages and dragging it up the beach a breeze, while an airplane-ready storage bag cinches the whole thing down so you can take it just about anywhere.
The non-slip deck is a no-brainer, but I must add that it feels notably pleasant under bare feet, and the optional lean post makes for a surprisingly comfortable full day on the water. The Rackham is also cooler- or bucket-ready, so you can take a seat, too. I opted to leave mine on the beach for no good reason at all, other than that I thought I'd want the open deck space. In the end, there was plenty, and it would have not only been nice to have a seat but a place to stash and keep a few drinks and snacks chilled.
The lean post is also a nice addition to have underway. It stores fishing rods, and, again, helps you take a little load off while you're paddling or poling along.
The Rackham comes with an adjustable three-piece paddle, which is lightweight and quickly stores in a paddle sheath near the bow for getting your hands free quickly, which I loved when spotting a fish. I don't know how many times I've bent down or turned around to drop my paddle only to spook the fish I was stalking with the loud clank of it hitting the rails of a kayak or the deck of a SUP. This feature should not go overlooked.
Nor should the push pole, which boaters in shallow water use to push along in lieu of a paddle. The brand calls it a "Sandspear" (though keep in mind that it's not included). I'd never thought that a push pole would make all that much sense with a paddleboard, but cruising the sand and grass flats made it pretty clear that I could cover twice as much water with far more stealth than with a paddle, which makes a good deal more noise. You can also add on a little sheath for the push pole, which you can use to anchor in the shallows.
So much of the above rings up a cringe-worthy price tag, I know. But keep in mind that boats are still far more expensive, and if you want a functional, portable, and comfortable fishing SUP, it's going to cost you one way or another, especially if you're not building it yourself. The advantage here is that it's still the fraction of a flats boat, and you can kit it out as you go along, when and where your budget allows. Stripped down, it's still a fun and fishable board, and you'll enjoy the little improvements you make along the way all that much more.
Sure, a full-sized skiff can accommodate more than one person, and the Rackham AeroBōte isn't cheap, but if you like to fish, and you live anywhere near a good, calm fishing hole, fresh or salt, there's nothing better for your adventuring. And, if you want to step it up a bit further, Bōte also offers the Rover Aero Classic, a stouter, micro-skiff-stand-up-paddle-board hybrid that's outboard-engine-ready.
If I ever end up with my beach- or marsh-front dream house, the Rackham, if not the Rover Aero Classic will be my very first purchase. And, if I manage to scrape up some extra dough beforehand, it might just save me a small fortune on charter and rental boat fees every time I fly somewhere to fish.
There aren't many (if any) solid reviews of the Rackham AeroBōte around the world wide web, but you can watch people catching big fish (a kingfish, or king mackerel, outside the surf), bigger fish (a tarpon), and even very big fish (a five- or six-foot blacktip shark) atop similar models on YouTube. You can read my full review here. — Owen Burke
Pros: Stable, maneuverable, and the most customizable, comfortable fishing SUP I've ever tried; comes in camo for hunting
Cons: Expensive; paddle, push pole, lean post, and all other accessories sold separately; not exactly fit for surfing