Flats Cat

Discussion in 'Fishing Forum' started by JCH, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. JCH

    JCH New Member

    Jul 5, 2000
    Have any of you South Texas or Louisiana boys ever heard of a Flats Coat fishing boat? I have looked at the website, but would like to someone that has actually run one or fished one. They look so cool!

  2. lockedup

    lockedup Refuge Member

    Sep 4, 2002
    South, La.

    I've heard of them and seen pictures in Tide magazine and they do look cool, but I do not know anything about them. Have you asked on rodnreel.com? It seems like I saw someone asking about them some time ago on the reports or the forums.
  3. Texas Snow Goose

    Texas Snow Goose Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 6, 2002
    In the middle of big trout, Tx.
    I personally know the guy that made the original mold for these boats. He didn't have time to perfect the design and the another guy basically took his design as was and started producing boats from it.

    Its has structural problems and most, if not all, eventually end up having their hulls repaired for stress cracks that they develop from pounding across the bays.

    I have seen quite a few that had to be cut into so that the cracks could be repaired for within.

    The guy that made the original mold has improved upon the original, but its still has a few flaws and even some of them eventually develop a few cracks. His name is TV Tran and he produces the Trans Cat out of Palacios, Texas. I think that they have continued to work out the kinks with the design but you'll have to talk to him about this.

    The boat basically has a hull that rests upon two pontoons that make it resemble a modified catamaran. These pontoons seem to flex against the hull as the boat is running, which eventually causes the cracks. His new design rides wonderful, but I have heard of a few problems developing over time. Word has it that some of these that have received hard use have also developed stress cracks. These aren't as bad as the ones that develop in the Flats Cat but still require attention.

    If it was my money, I'd stay away from these style boats. TV Tran makes some wonderful low profile type Boston Whalers that preform excellent and his 20 ft. model can handle any type of bay fishing that you could want. It will handle the worst waves and still perform extremely well in shallow water.

    We use them all the time duck hunting and have crossed the bays with northers blowing full blast. They really ride great and are very safe.

    Good luck with your choice, Mike.
  4. Coastal Ducks

    Coastal Ducks Elite Refuge Member

    Sep 6, 2002
    South Texas
    Well that's one rendition of the story.

    The man who makes Flats Cat, Bill Allison, started out making them out of aluminum. I started seeing the first ones in Matagorda back in the early '80s. At some point he decided making a fiberglass version would be desireable. He teamed up with TV Tran in Palacios, Tx to have the fiberglass version of his boats produced. At some point they parted ways but for a while TV was building the Flats Cat.

    I always love to here the "TV Tran invented Flats Cats" deal. There were Flats Cats (aluminum ones) running the bay long before TV Tran began building recreational fishing boats. Back then he made commercial boats, shrimp boats and such.

    Now, on to how they perform.

    My #1 fishing buddy has a '85-86 ish 21' Flats Cat with a Johnson 112 spl. I have spent as many hours aboard that boat as anyone I know has spent on a Flats Cat. It has good and bad sides. It handles a chop pretty well. It's dry and it runs and gets up shallower than most and does it without a need for cavitation plates or trim tabs. The hull is highly efficient, my buddies' boat will run 35 mph with three guys and all our gear. That's a 21' boat with a 112 hp 4 cylinder motor. That's pretty dang good and it's fuel efficiency is great. It has a lot of fishing space, drifts well and is easy to get in and out of. His boat has held up well. It sees water almost weekly and he has owned the boat for about 6 or 7 years.

    The things I don't like are minimal, his holds a little water on the deck right at the front of the console. The console is huge, you can't drive sitting down because it's too tall. The boat can be rough in the right situations. Storage is minimal. Gas tank is under the console and wastes a lot of storage space. The hatch covers don't last more than four or five years.

    I think it's a decent boat. The cats have had problems with cracking and splitting. It's gonna happen when you have two hulls held together by a deck. There is a whole lot of flexin' going on. I think the problem is probably more pronounced in the boats overpowered and driven hard. I know a guy with a Tran Cat who has a 200 merc on it. It'll run over 60mph. Do that in a chop and there is a lot of stress put on the hull.

    Which is better Flats Cat or Tran Cat? I don't know. I'd probably buy a Tran if I was looking at the two just because TV will customize the layout however you want. I don't know how Mr Allison takes care of his customers but the folks I know with Tran's boats have been pleased. Also the bottom of the "hulls" is a vee on Tran's boats and are flat on the Flats Cat which might make the Tran Cat ride better.

    One things for sure, these boats are unique critters and both will run scary shallow. They both offer maximum fishing room and good efficiency. If you are really interested you need to make a trip over and check them both out. The two are made less than two hours drive from one another.


    I like the cats but when it came time to plunk down my $s I went with a v hull. I am getting ready to buy a new boat this summer, a Pathfinder 2200V also a v hull. They all have their place.
  5. Texas Snow Goose

    Texas Snow Goose Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 6, 2002
    In the middle of big trout, Tx.
    Fiberglass boats come from fiberglass molds that have been "chased" and perfected with gel coat and cabosil to produce a mold that is supposed to be flawless and extremelly smooth on the inside.

    Careful reading of my statements will indicate that I said TV Tran made the first mold, not the first aluminum boat. Aluminum boats don't come from molds.

    I, too, know of his aluminum boats and have road in one on numerous occasions. I dated a girl whose father owned one in Rosenberg.

    The problem with their design, as I stated, is that the pontoons flex with the hull when the boat is moving. This can't be prevented and eventually the stress is going to manifest. The Flats Cat's hull/pontoon shape make it necessary for the boat's hull to be removed from the mold by flexing it to get it to "pop" from the mold. Its shape won't allow it to be removed without bending the fiberglass to pull it from the mold. It also has to be removed from the mold with only a thin layer of glass on the hull in order to get it out of the mold. If the glass is put on too thick then the hull can't be flexed to be removed from the mold.

    Nowhere did I comment on the boat's ride. And by the way the Tran's Cat does ride better because of the vee on the bottom of each pontoon. It makes re-entree in to each wave a lot softer. The original flat design was a little rough.

    Having grown up in Palacios, I have seen TV's business grow from its first boat. I know the guy that bought his second boat and is still using it to this day. As with any business, they have their own sets of problems. Growing pains have strained their ability to quickly turn out quality custom boats for the growing number of customers hungry for one.

    I have already stated that I have seen numerous Flats Cats being gutted to fix cracks. These were being fixed at TVs shop and required extensive work to get them back on the water.

    TV will back his work and will take care of you if you buy a boat from him. I do not know about Mr. Allison's policy on this subject.

    Its clear that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I'm only offering mine .... Don't do it.

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