Skylar Hamilton certainly understands the value of a good fiberglass boat.
He started fishing tournaments in a Ranger when he was 12 years old, and until recently he owned a fiberglass boat
But he feels more comfortable in a boat that’s made of aluminum.
That’s where he’s had his biggest successes as a competitive angler – and it’s why he recently inked a sponsorship deal with Xpress Boats to run one of their aluminum boats in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro and on the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series.
“I fish better out of an aluminum boat,” said Hamilton, a 21-year-old Virginia angler who finished third in this year’s Central Open standings. “I’ve used both fiberglass and aluminum in competitive tournaments with B.A.S.S. – and honestly there have been times when having that choice hurt me. I know there have been tournaments when I would have done better if I hadn’t had a fiberglass boat.”
When Hamilton says he fishes better out of an aluminum boat, he isn’t just talking. He’s got the trophies and check stubs to prove it.
In June, he used an aluminum Bass Pro Shops Tracker Grizzly powered by a 70 horsepower Yamaha to win the Central Open on the Arkansas River. It was his first career victory with B.A.S.S., and it came against a field that included Elite Series veterans like Jason Christie, Keith Poche, Alton Jones and Tommy Biffle.
That was when he decided to sell his fiberglass boat – and he hasn’t looked back.
Hamilton followed his Arkansas River victory with a seventh-place finish on the Red River in late October. By then, he had become known by many as the “aluminum boat kid” – and his small boat was even profiled on Bassmaster.com in a gallery by Craig Lamb and James Overstreet.
The young aspiring pro went on to finish 48th in the final Central Open on the Atchafalaya Basin in October, vaulting him to a third-place finish in the final division standings.
His victory at the Arkansas River earned him a spot in the Classic, which is scheduled for March 24-26 in Houston, Texas. His third-place finish in the division earned him an invitation to the Elite Series.
Once his future was set, he reached out to Xpress – for a variety of reasons.
“For one thing, like I said, I just fish better out of an aluminum boat,” Hamilton said. “I’ll be able to float shallower, and I won’t have as big a presence in the water. I’ll save money pulling my boat across the country. If I want to jump a beaver dam I can. Those boats are tough.”
The aluminum boat Hamilton will run during the 2017 season will be a far cry from the small Tracker Grizzly he used during the 2016 Opens.
He’ll be using the Xpress Xclusive Series X21 high performance model – a 21-foot Cadillac that’s equipped with a Yamaha 250SHO, Power-Poles and all of the bells and whistles you’d find on a typical fiberglass boat. It’ll also sport a fancy, customized wrap just like all of the other Classic and Elite Series competitors.
Hamilton hopes competing in an aluminum boat will be an inspiration to other competitive anglers across the country – especially young anglers who are just getting their start in the sport.
“I had such a big following after winning that event in my aluminum boat – all of these people who became inspired after seeing somebody win out of an aluminum boat, a small aluminum boat with a 70 horsepower,” Hamilton said. “I just wanted to be different.”