Lower cost, lower operating expenses, easier poling, less draft, and more fun—that about sums up the 168 Banshee Extreme. First, look at the math: this boat costs less than most new cars, even when rigged with a 60-hp Evinrude E-Tec outboard and a trailer, because you can own this rig paying in the mid 20’s. And though it sounds small, that 60-hp E-Tec is plenty of power for this boat. When I tested it we jumped on plane and broke 30-mph in mere seconds. An outboard this small also ensures low operating costs. Cruise around in the bay in the mid 20’s, and you’ll only be burning a couple gallons per hour.
If you like fishing the shallows in stealth mode you’ll find this an easy boat to pole, thanks to the light weight and poling strakes on the hull bottom, which improve tracking. The poling platform itself is sturdy and when I climbed up top and rocked back and forth, felt no sway or wiggle in the supports. And unlike many small technical poling skiffs, the Banshee Extreme has rod racks built in which can accommodate full-size fly rods, at 14’ long. Spinning and conventional rods can rest in the four vertical holders lining the sides of the center console, and there’s even a reinforced spot on the transom that’s ready to be fitted with a Power Pole.
Does an inexpensive, small skiff have to come bare-bones? Ranger says no way. The Banshee Extreme has high-end touches like a stainless steel steering wheel with a suicide knob, Lenco trim tabs, a hydraulic jack plate, and hydraulic tilt steering. Jazz it up with all the options, however, and price will climb into the low 30’s. Other down-sides? Just those you’d expect with a boat this small. Big waves cause launching, spray, and a bit of discomfort. Hey – size does matter. On the flip side, a rig this compact is easy to get into tight creeks and channels, and it’s a breeze to tow.
Why do I say this boat is also more fun? Fun is tough to quantify, but when you take a test run you’ll experience it for yourself. Sit at the elevated helm—which makes spotting channels, tailing fish, and potential hotspots easier than on most flats boats—firewall the throttle, and spin that wheel. Feel the hull grab and turn, reacting as quickly as your brain can get the message to your hands. Leap off a few wakes, then weave among some crab trap floats. Fun? Darn straight. In fact, it’s so much fun you could call it Extreme.