Maverick Mirage HPX

Twenty-five years ago, Maverick was among a handful of builders creating boats that could fish the flats of the Florida Keys. Today, Maverick and its sister company, Hewes, dominate the flats and have pioneered a broader market. Their designs are suited for a variety of light-tackle fishing styles.

Maverick's latest creation, the Mirage HPX, proves the company has not forgotten its roots. As was the case with traditional flats skiffs, the HPX is a simple, no-nonsense design focused on fishing and short on gingerbread. Her builder, however, has taken advantage of modern materials that were unavailable at the dawn of the sport.

The HPX is feather-light for her size, weighing just 425 pounds (without motor). Light weight, for anglers passionate about chasing bonefish, means accessibility in skinny waters where the elusive "silver ghost" forages. The HPX is available with a standard V-hull or a tunnel hull.

The engine is mounted 8 1/2 inches above the running surface on the tunnel hull version. The V-hull has a stepped bottom, and the engine is mounted 4 inches above the running surface. The tunnel hull HPX, fitted with a 70 hp Yamaha, will run in less water than the average bonefish needs to swim. The V-hull HPX, fitted with a 90 hp Yamaha, can run at 53 mph. With the motor trimmed up and two average-size adults aboard, the V-hull HPX can be poled across a flat in less than 8 inches of water.

Silence is golden when it comes to fishing the flats. The HPX's hull design was sculpted with an eye toward reducing noisy, reflective surfaces. On the flat, water slapping on a hull will startle a fish. At hull speed, instead of pushing water, the fish-like shape of the HPX's water plane allows water to pass undisturbed around her hull.

To achieve light weight and strength, Maverick builds the HPX with Kevlar/carbon reinforcement, vinylester resin and ArmorCote fade-free gelcoat. Foam coring is vacuum-bagged in the hull and deck laminate. The transom and stringers are cored fiberglass, as well, and no wood is used in construction. Maverick weighs every structural component to ensure consistent performance.

The HPX has a 20-gallon flow-through live well, stowage for 16 fishing rods and a fiberglass/aluminum poling tower. Her decks are designed for casting, and all hardware is flush-mounted, including a unique auto fold-down push pole holder. Gasketed, guttered lock-down dry stowage is fore and aft. You'll also find a built-in aluminum tank, Teleflex no-feedback steering, a bilge pump and recessed trim tabs.

The HPX has not only caught the eye of fishermen exploring U.S. waters, she is becoming the hood ornament of choice on an increasing number of sportfishermen prowling foreign fishing grounds in search of marlin and sailfish. Thanks to the HPX's light weight and size, she fits neatly on the bow of most convertible designs longer than 55 feet.

With a 90 hp Yamaha, the V-hull model is about $30,000. Maverick's line ranges from 17 to 21 feet.

Maverick Boats, (772) 465-0631; www.maverickboats.com_._