Skeeter 22i (2011-)
Skeeter is famous for fishing boats, and the slick 22i is certainly that – a full-blown bassboat with amenities to satisfy any angler – but here at BoatTEST.com, we think it's more: With its sexy styling, blazing speed and ample deck space, the 21' 8" (6.6 m) Skeeter 22i should be a fun boat even for folks who never wet a line – people like wives, girlfriends and kids. Bolt the maximum recommended horsepower to the 22i's transom and the Skeeter will scoot across the lake fast enough to satisfy almost any speed freak. Stock her iceboxes with food and her live wells with drinks and you can carry enough for an all-day picnic for the whole family. Lay out a couple of beach towels and her foredeck becomes a sun pad for the ladies, leaving enough room aft of the console for Dad and Junior to flip lures. Her 50 gallons (189 L) of gas will last all day if you don't lean too hard or too long on the throttle; when it's time to head home, load her onto the trailier (one comes with the 22i) and haul her back home.
A glassy lake, a crisp morning and a big outboard – what more do you need in life? The Skeeter 22i comes with a Minn-Kota trolling motor, a fish chair and a bike seat (neither one is set up in this picture), and all the bells and whistles fanatic fishermen need. When the weather isn't so cooperative, the Skeeter's 20-deg deadrise V-hull and wide reverse chines will keep the ride relatively smooth and dry.
Older Than Most of Us
The folks at Skeeter claim the company's founder, Holmes Thurmond, built the world's first bass boat, back in 1948. We think that depends on what you mean by "bass boat," but nevertheless Skeeter has been a leader in the fishing-boat area for a heck of a long time. The company built its first fiberglass bass boat in 1961, its first V-bottom in 1975; both are also industry firsts, says Skeeter. The builder also claims the first full-length rod box, the first bass boat rated for 150-hp, the first built with "space age" composite construction – you get the picture. We don't know if all these claims are true, but we do know that Skeeter has been building first-class fishing boats since before most of us were born, and Skeeters are as numerous at any fishing tournament as the pesky insects for which they were named.
Twin consoles provide wind protection for skipper and partner, but the passenger console is an option. We think it's worthwhile, especially for family boating: Mom won't like all that wind in her face, and neither would we. A 28-qt. (26.5 l) in-deck cooler is standard.
Not Just Pretty Topsides
Skeeter's i-Class is top of the line, and the 22i won the Trailer Boats magazine Excellence in Design award in 2009. It's the longest of the three i-Series boats; the others in the class are the 21i and 20i. All three boats come with lots of standard features, but also enough options that each buyer can fine-tune his boat until it's just right. What's not optional is Skeeter's extra-rugged construction. The Skeeter 22i, like the other i-Series boats, is built with Skeeter's proven composite construction, including their one-piece composite cockpit sole: Built of PVC foam sandwiched between fiberglass skins, and sitting on two full-length composite stringers, it makes the Skeeter both strong and stiff. With 300 horses bolted to her stern, the 22i better be both.
Thickly padded sport seats with headrests are standard for pilot and companion; there's a cooler between them. The fold-down center seat is an option. Both the aft and foredecks are supported by an aluminum grid; the cockpit sole is composite under the carpet. Skeeter uses first-class construction techniques in all the i-Series boats.
There's aluminum in them that Skeeters, too. The deck is built around an aluminum grid system that not only adds strength, but also ensures that all locker lids close securely, and continue to do so after years of use. The 22i's transom is PVC-cored composite, not plywood, and reinforced with an aluminum plate and knee to transfer the thrust of the motor to the stringers. Skeeter calls this the Aluminum Torque Transfer System, and it's similar to thrust-transfer systems found on custom bass boats. Skeeter says you can suspend the boat by its engine bolts without damaging the hull.
This in-floor cooler can be rigged for a spare prop holder, but you'll have to keep your drinks elsewhere. The helm is fitted with custom gauges, including water pressure and trim, and a Humminbird fishfinder. If you don't think the Skeeter 22i is a performance boat posing as a bass boat, maybe the foot throttle and pro trim will convince you; both are standard. The outboard rides on a jackplate, too
Designed for Speed and Safety
It's easy to overlook the importance of hull design in a small fishing boat like the Skeeter 22i – but this is really a high-performance boat that carries rods and lures. We haven't tested the 22i, so can't comment on speed – but if you've been around boats for a while, you know that a boat weighing less than 2,000 lbs. is going to be pretty fast with a 300-hp outboard. And speed makes handling even more crucial. The Skeeter running bottom combines a V-hull with a center pad, lifting strakes and two set of reverse chines to keep the boat stable, produce secure handling and help prevent chine walking. Aft, sponsons add lift for quick hole shots and stability at rest.
A Minn Kota Max101F 36-volt trolling motor is standard, but others are available. The Humminbird fishfinder is standard here, too. Both it and the one at the helm have water temp and GPS displays. A bunch of optional fishfinders are available, including several from Lowrance. (Although we see nothing wrong with Humminbird.)
The lockable rod box lid has gas-assist lifts, as do most other locker lids on the 22i. There's a removable in-deck stowage box that lets you stow valuable stuff off the boat, or carry gear from home and load it aboard easily.
It's a fast, versatile speedster that offers many opportunities for sunning, picnicking or just mooching around on the water, maybe nosing into shallow water for swimming or simply hanging out. (There is a retractable boarding ladder.) If we wanted to blow off steam, we'd crank up the outboard and let 'er rip. Oh, and we'd go fishing now and then, too.
We think if you're in the market for a bassboat, the Skeeter 22i is definitely one to check out. And maybe even if you're not thinking fishing, too. Even your wife might like it.
For pricing, contact your Skeeter dealer.
On days we weren't fishing, we'd use these livewells as coolers for our drinks – nothing chills like recirculating lake water. An oxygenator is optional, not necessary for the refreshments but fish will live longer with it. Note there is no motor well, making more deck space for fishing. Skeeter's transom design keeps water off, even when the throttle is cut rapidly.