In the US, a fishing skiff is an open, flat-decked motorboat.
A skiff’s hull can feature a flat bottom for better initial stability on flat water, or a shallow-V shaped bottom that delivers the higher secondary stability required for fishing in the ocean. A skiff can also have a tunnel hull, or a full fledged catamaran hull.
Typically, fishing skiffs are powered by outboard gas motors.
Some skiffs feature a casting deck at their bow, and/or a poling platform at their rear, which also serves for sighting fish. Bigger skiffs sometimes feature a center console.
Skiffs are steered either with a steering wheel or from their stern, with the motor’s tiller.
Skiffs are often outfitted with a bow mounted electric motor, for trolling.
A skiff can be poled, but due to its size it cannot be paddled effectively.
Skiffs are transported by trailer.
A microskiff is a small skiff, typically under 16 ft long, according to the common microskiff definition »
Microskiffs can feature all hull types that are characteristic of full size skiffs.
Most microskiffs are powered by a single outboard motor, and due to their smaller size, many of them do not feature a poling platform or a center console.
A microskiff can be poled, but it’s too wide and heavy for effective paddling, and like bigger skiffs, they can also be outfitted with electric trolling motors.
Microskiffs are not portable, and they need to be transported by trailer.
A cartop microskiff is a portable microskiff that’s lightweight enough for one person to upload on a car’s roof rack, and transport it without using a trailer.
Thanks to its small weight and size, a cartop microskiff can be carried by one person from their vehicle to the water and back from it, either directly, by dragging it on the ground, or by pulling it on a lightweight cart.
A cartop microskiff is powered by a single portable outboard motor up to 6 HP.
A cartop microskiff is both stable enough for poling and narrow enough for paddling, and like bigger microskiffs, it can be outfitted with an electric trolling motor, typically mounted at the bow.
A cartop micrsokiff can feature a flat, paddleboard style hull, a square stern canoe hull, or in case of the Wavewalk S4, a catamaran hull.
Due to their small size, cartop microskiffs have a limited carrying capacity, and most of them are rated for carrying one person. However, some microskiffs can carry more than one person onboard, and the S4 is rated for carrying up to three adults.
A kayak-skiff is a kayak that’s stable enough for fishing and effective driving with a small gas outboard motor up to 3 HP.
A kayak-skiff is similar to a cartop microskiff, and the main difference between these two classes of portable boats is that Microskiffs are classified as boats, while kayak-skiffs are classified as kayaks. This difference in classification is due to the fact that unlike cartop microskiffs, kayak-skiffs are designed primarily for paddling, and the motors they are rated for are not sufficiently powerful to classify them as boats.
Kayak skiffs feature either a square stern SOT kayak hull, or, in case of the Wavewalk W720, a catamaran hull.
Kayak skiffs have a very limited load capacity, and they can carry onboard two adults at best.
Although kayak-skiffs are not classified as boats, a kayak-skiff is a motorized vessel, and as such, it must be registered with state authorities.
A motor kayak is a kayak outfitted with an electric motor, typically up to 1 KW (1,000 Watts, namely 1.3 HP).
Motor kayaks are typically used for fishing flat, protected water, and their weak and quiet electric motors are most suitable for trolling.
The main difference between a kayak-skiff and a motor kayak is that kayak-skiffs are designed for both paddling and effective driving with a motor, while a motor kayak is typically just a regular paddle or pedal driven craft outfitted with an auxiliary, weak electric motor that serves for assisted paddling, trolling, and short range touring.
Some motor kayaks are large tandem kayaks that can carry a tandem crew, although not comfortably.
Like kayak-skiffs, a motor kayak is classified as a motorized vessel, and therefore it must be registered with state authorities.
Note that Boat, Multi-Hull Boat, Kayak and Canoe are official terms that the US Coast Guard and state authorities use to classify and register vessels, while Skiff, Microskiff, and Cartop Microskiff are commercial terms.