Boat Review: BOTE HD | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
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A man holding a fish on the BOTE HD standup paddleborad Photos by Roberto Westbrook

BOTES Gatorshell tech makes the HD strong and fast fishing platform.

There was a time when I wrote off standup paddleboards as inefficient platforms best only for skinny, sheltered waters and quick trips on calm days.

After an afternoon paddling BOTE’s new HD board my opinion has changed. BOTE’s boards are more than just pretty, they’re pretty fast. 

The problem with SUP fishing is most boards trade speed for stability; they are easy to stand and fish, but hard to paddle into a headwind and choppy seas.

BOTE’s line of boards are designed with speed and efficiency at the forefront. While the inlaid wood and deep gloss finish are mesmerizing the real beauty of BOTE’ board lies beneath the waterline. BOTE gave the HD a hybrid hull halfway between a recreational board and a touring board. This all-round design is wide enough to provide confident stability regardless of sea conditions. It’s the touring side of the design that makes the boat handle like a dream. A V-nose entry fades into a slightly keeled hull that ends in a single skeg to keep the board tracking straight even in a quartering or side-to sea. As I paddled faster, I could feel the board planing over the water making it even easier to go the distance.

Once I was on the water paddling, my buddy had a hard time keeping up with me in his kayak. Expecting a short trip, I packed light with a gear bag and a couple of fishing rods. However, the full array of leaning post and cooler wouldn’t take much away from the board’s performance. The HD is pre-rigged with ports that hold the leaning post and tie-downs for other accessories. Bungees in the bow and stern made it easy to rig for a quick trip. Foam deck padding is comfortable to stand and fish on all day. The traction is channeled and siped to manage water and improve traction.

For 2017, BOTE is building boards with a new material and manufacturing process called Gatorshell. The foam core is sandwiched between a ballistic plastic material that is six-times tougher than their hand-laid epoxy construction. This construction method usually leaves a seam between the top and bottom layers of plastic, but somehow BOTE figured out how to join the two sections without interruption. The board is tough and looks clean.

The board may be a little heavier than previous models, but that pays off in a surface that is practically ding and dent-proof. I did encounter some oyster shells that left a few light scratches in the plastic that I was able to buff out at home.

The new material gave me the confidence to take the board into tight places and handle it with reasonable care without worrying about doing serious damage. This was particularly helpful when I hooked a fish. Instead of worrying about striking the board with the jig head or drifting into shallow water, I was able to concentrate on landing my catch and smiling for photos.

Currently, Gatorshell is only available on the HD and in one color pattern. With its expected success, I hope to see other Gatorshell boards in BOTE’s cool palette of colors and designs.

BOTE has changed standup paddleboard fishing with the new HD board. And it has certainly changed my opinion of the sport.

BOTE nose

The sharp entry of the bow, like on a touring board, blends into a recreational board. Speed to get there; stability to fish.

BOTE tiedowns

For a water bottle, tackle box or a weekend’s worth of camping gear, the HD’s tie-downs and bungees can be rigged with a leaning post, cooler and rodholders.

Gatorshell

Gatorshell looks like an epoxy board, but it’s actually foam sandwiched by ballistic plastic that BOTE says is six times tougher.

 

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