Mark Castlow and Jimbo Meader are just a couple of friends angling for a unique spot in the standup paddleboard lineup. Having pooled their extensive experience in flats boat, kayak and surfboard design, the partners at Dragonfly Boatworks in Vero Beach, Fla., look to produce a pair of interesting, shallow water-ready SUP models.
"We're a boatbuilding company, and fishing is what we're all about, but we're also all about fun," Meador says of the new models. His motivation is simple--gaining better access to gamefish in the shallows. Castlow says their goal is to create "durable, easy to repair, and relatively inexpensive" boards. They want to provide something that will make water access "do-able," will fish well, and will also function as a cruising and fitness board.
After field-testing various evolutions of board designs over the past 10 months--a process interrupted by the BP oil spill, when Castlow and Meador dropped everything to design, build and then donate four shallow-water wildlife rescue crafts in use by various agencies--the result is two Dragonfly SUPs, measuring 13'6" x 32" (42 pounds, $1,900) and 10'0" x 32" (35 pounds, $1,700). The most significant design feature is in the nose and rails, which Castlow describes as "crucial to fishing success," by minimizing fish-spooking hull slap. A raised bow profile, combined with a low V-shaped deck combing and a rail-top "brow," assures a dry ride. The deck brow also prevents a stripped fly line from slipping off the deck.
Castlow, who started out producing surfboards in Florida in the 1960s before crossing over to flats boats, has come full circle. Meador, of Point Clear, Ala., is quite a character--a multi-talented "angler/philosopher" who has successfully marketed many hunting and kayak fishing products--and has been Castlow's friend for over 25 years, collaborating on multiple projects.
Their new Dragonfly boards benefit from the shared experience by creating a hollow board, with separate deck and hull components constructed of hand-laid fiberglass and Innegra cloth, plus a wood-look fender edge to cap the seam. An innovative box-mounted skeg design, consisting of an elongated, symmetrical arc, allows the boards to track well and maneuver in only three inches of water.
Two optional seats provide a variety of paddling and fishing positions: a four-legged rectangle with fishing tackle saddlebags, or a sleek cushion-topped pod that can serve as a cooler. Flush-mounted sockets accept adjustable rod holders, and deck plugs forward and aft facilitate gear storage. Designed to be simple, the boards still boast the hull volume that allows anglers to bring along the kitchen sink. -- Tom Fucigna Jr.