Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for kayak fishing or has the means to buy a bass boat or small center console. Enter Sea Eagle and their mean, green fishing machine officially known as the “New” 285fpb Frameless Pontoon Boat. This ultra-portable boat weighs just 42 pounds, fits in a car trunk and can be ready to fish in just five minutes.
“We wanted to bridge the gap with something that anglers could easily carry and transport, but it had to be stable and rugged enough to allow for serious fishing and to take the beating anglers dish out in the course of a day,” explained Cecil Hoge, president and owner of Panther Martin Lures and Sea Eagle Boats, in a recent interview. To be certain, the 285fpb succeeds on all counts.
Building on the success of their popular 285fpb, introduced back in 2009, Sea Eagle has gone to an outdoors-ready hunter green color, added a pair of rodholders, raised the oar locks and changed their seat to a new quick release removable pedestal style that is smartly positioned for easy 360-degree fishing and full access to the surprisingly roomy cockpit. Positioned well above the water line, anglers now get a better view of their target areas and can fish in comfort with outstretched legs or stand on the wooden floor board to cast and retrieve without feeling particularly constrained.
While you could simply row or paddle this one-person vessel to your secret honey hole, most anglers would probably prefer to purchase the optional motor mount that accepts an electric trolling motor or 3-horsepower gas powered engine to increase range and simply make it easy and relaxing to get to the fish and back. Sea Eagle’s new 285fpb is available in three configurations: a Pro Package for $849 without motor; a Motor Package for $989 which includes a Minn Kota Endura 30 Motor; and an Ultimate Package for $2,899 that features a Torqeedo 1—3S German-built power source that can match any electric trolling motor on the market for power and thrust. All three configurations come with two Scotty Baitcaster rodholders, a foot pump, oar set, boat carry bag, clip-on stow pouch, side/stern bag, plus a basic repair kit.
Just how tough is this inflatable pontoon boat, you ask? The answer is “exceedingly.” Seemingly unsinkable, the new 285fpb features 16-inch diameter, 1000 Denier reinforced float tubes. In layman’s terms, the hull material is thick, non-porous and pretty much indestructible. In fact, the company claims to have tested it with hammer strikes – using the claw end of the hammer. That means you’ll be able to get in tight to those overhanging trees, venture deep into the stump fields where big bass like to hang out, and bounce your bow off the dock every now and then without worry. Since this vessel draws only a few inches of water, you’ll also be able to get away from the crowds to work up close and personal in skinny coves and on shallow flats where bigger boats with deeper draft can never venture.
Fully inflated, a process that takes about five minutes, the new 285fpb measures nine feet in length and can power along at a relaxing 5 to 7 mph using a 3-horsepower gas engine, or at 3 to 4 mph under electric power. All Sea Eagle inflatables, by the way, come with a risk free 180-day trial period and are backed from bow to stern against manufacturer’s defects by a full three-year warranty.
Considering its light weight, easy transport, durability and stability, Sea Eagle’s New 285fpb Frameless Pontoon Boat is likely to fill the bill for local anglers looking for a comfortable, stable and logical alternative to ‘yaks, jon boats and small bass boats. Consider this vessel a true contender if you favor casting on local freshwaters, tidal creeks or protected near-shore flats.