What Sets Gator Trax Apart From The Traditional Flat Boat?

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Traditional Flat or "Jon"Boat

What sets us apart from the traditional flat boat?

Thanks for considering us to help you design YOUR next boat! Let me take a few minutes to tell you a little about what sets our hulls at BFC Marine apart from the traditional flat / Jon boat.

First, let’s clarify a traditional flat boat. Any mass production hull, any crimped bottom hull, and hull with cross bracing, or any flat boat with light weight aluminum (.100 or less), is considered, for these purposes, a “traditional flat / Jon boat”. This list includes most ALL of the brands that have become household names with duck hunters. We won’t list them here, but if you’ve heard of them and it’s not a Gator Trax, you can safely insert their name wherever we refer to the “traditional flat boat”.

“There is a BIG difference in a true, shallow water duck boat, and a crappie rig or a bass boat that happens to be painted camo!”

Kent Saxon
Owner, BFC Marine, Inc.

We need to point out, that traditional flats were NEVER meant to touch the bottom of the lake. Nor, were they designed to hit underwater obstructions; i.e. stumps, logs, rocks etc... Therefore, one should NEVER run a mud motor on a traditional flat. For that matter, if you intend to hit bottom on occasion, you shouldn’t even run an outboard on that hull….if you want it to last.

“That’s a pretty bold statement”, you may say. Let’s back that up.


Let’s look at what the competition offers and how it stacks up to, not necessarily what WE offer, but what YOU require in a duck boat.

1. Traditional Flats- .100 or LESS thickness of aluminum.

If the boat you choose is built of .100 or, in most cases, .080 or less aluminum, this means two things. One, that gauge of aluminum is not thick enough to stand on its’ own. By that I mean that it must be crimped for rigidity. Two, that thickness of aluminum is offered in 5052 alloy. 5052 alloy is an alloy that allows a lot of flex. Flex is good to a point. But what happens is that this 5052, coupled with the thinner aluminum, is a dent waiting to happen. It is not a question of IF it will dent; it is a question of WHEN it will dent. In short, this thickness of aluminum was never designed to hit anything at all.

Gator Trax hulls- .125 aluminum ONLY!

You can rest assured that your Gator Trax hull will be made of .125 (1/8”) aluminum only. Not only will this be up to TWICE as thick as our competitor’s hulls, but it is made of 5086 alloy. The difference in 5086 and 5052 is tremendous. The 5052 alloy is easily manipulated, while the 5086 stands its ground. In short, if you intend to hit stumps, logs, or rocks, or if you intend to let your boat be run on mud flats, you will want 5086 alloy with .125 aluminum.

2. Traditional Flats- Cross bracing system

Traditional flats have braces that run down the side, across the bottom, and up the other side. These cross braces not only are not sufficient to keep the boat from denting, they CAUSE dents. When the boat hits a stump, that stump pushes in on the aluminum. If the stump was not hit hard enough to dent it immediately, you are still not out of the clear. With a mud motor what do you do? You are going OVER that stump right? So now the boat begins to travel over that stump. As the boat travels, the stump keeps flexing that aluminum just like it was designed to do. Problem is, when the stump gets to the cross brace, there is where your dent will occur. That rib has no where to go. It is welded to the floor, or worse, pop riveted to the floor. You have just created a dent. Over time, you will be able to flip that boat over and see every rib perfectly outlined on the bottom of your hull. It will appear that someone has thrown a softball at the bottom of your hull for three days straight! In the marine industry, this is called a “hook”. Hooks in the bottom of your hull are horrible for performance. In short, this bracing system was never designed to hit anything at all.

Gator Trax hulls- Longitudinal bracing system

Gator Trax hulls use a longitudinal bracing system. By this, I mean that all of our braces run from the transom to the bow, long ways with the length of the boat. No cross braces can be found in Gator Trax boats that actually touch the bottom of the boat. How does this benefit you? It prevents dents! The longitudinal brace allows the boat to flex between the ribs when you hit an underwater obstruction. This stump, log, or rock can then be run completely over without ever coming to the “end of the line” in front of a cross brace. It will simply pass under the length of the boat and go out at the transom. And if you DO hit something hard enough to dent this stronger, thicker aluminum, in spite of our exclusive dent prevention bracing system, your dent will be in a tunneling fashion; “with the grain of the water”, if you will. This type of dent has no adverse affect on performance whatsoever. In short, if you intend to run your boat in shallow water and you want it to not only last you for years, but to perform the same way it did as when you bought it, you will need a longitudinal bracing system.

3. Traditional Flats- Square or “hard” chines

A square chined boat is what comes on a traditional flat. This means that the boat was made of 2 sides and a bottom welded together. Where the sides meet the bottom, this creates a square corner. Now, take that boat and place it in the middle of a pure mud flat…no water! Push pole it sideways. Not working is it? You are pushing a pile of mud like a bull dozer blade. Take that boat and place it on a log or the edge of a canal bank that you accidentally ran on in a hard turn. Does it slip off into the water again with little or no effort at all? No. The flat corner has perched itself there and until you get out the push pole, or worse GET OUT AND PUSH, you are stuck there. In short, a square chined boat was never meant to come in contact with underwater obstructions or shallow mud flats.

Gator Trax Hulls- Rounded, or “soft” chines Watch this video of our boats turning with rounded chines

Gator Trax hulls are made with rounded chines. This means that the hull is made of one solid piece of aluminum! The sheet is laid flat on a jig, all the components are set in place, and the jig grabs the “sides” and wraps (or rolls) the sides up around the inner components of the hull. No seams at all run the length of our boats. It is one continuous piece of aluminum from gunwale to gunwale. Not only does this make the boat stronger and less apt to crack or leak, but you also wind up with rounded chines. This means there is no square corner where the side meets the bottom. There is a curved roll there instead. Rounded chines are like the mud grips on a 4x4. They allow you to push the boat sideways on a mud flat, slip off of logs and stumps, or slide back on track after eating a little bank in a hard turn! Speaking of hard turns, rounded chines will also keep you from EVER sliding in a hard turn at high speeds with an outboard or a Hyperdrive. Our boat dips into the turn and grabs, turning on a dime! These are the most responsive hulls you will ever run with an outboard or Hyperdrive! In short, rounded chines are the only way to go if shallow water is your playing field.

4. Traditional Flats- Square transoms

Traditional flats have a transom that comes down and is welded to the bottom. Again, this creates a square corner. Consider this scenario. You run your boat at high tide onto a nice grassy bank. Your hunting party gets out and all of you pull the boat further onto the bank so it won’t “drift away” while you are off hunting. You come back to the boat two hours later to a LOW tide situation. Your boat now has 20 feet of mud flat BEHIND it! Pushing a square transom boat backwards, with the weight of the motor on it, in a mud flat is not an easy task.
In short, this transom design was not intended for shallow water use.

Gator Trax Hulls- Angled transoms

Gator Trax uses an angled transom to alleviate the above mentioned problems. Our transom is angled at the bottom so that when you push the boat backwards in mud or sand you have a much easier time moving the hull. It is almost like having a miniature rake in the back of the boat. In short, this transom was designed to use in shallow water situations.

5. Traditional Flats- Crimped bottoms

The traditional flat has crimps on the bottom. The common misconception is that these are keels that keep you from sliding in a turn. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are crimps that were placed there to make the thin aluminum rigid enough to stand on its’ own. Nothing more. These crimps are a HUGE disadvantage in shallow water. They create drag on the mud or sand flats. When you cross a log or stump, the crimps “grip” the stump and “track” you across it a certain way, even if you are steering another way! And if you hang up on a stump or get high centered on a log, the crimps will do their best to keep you there as long as possible. All the while creating stress on your hull and causing your blood pressure to rise! In short, this bottom design was never intended to be efficient in a shallow water situation.

Gator Trax Hulls- Smooth bottoms

Gator Trax hulls are made without crimps on the bottom of your hull. Why? Because we don’t NEED them! They do not enhance performance in any way. As a matter of fact, as mentioned above, they have an adverse effect on performance. Remember, our braces run long ways on the INSIDE of the boat already. When you drive one of our hulls over a log and try to steer it in a certain direction, YOU CAN! There is nothing on the bottom to grab and “track” the boat any other way than the way you want it to go! When you get high centered on a log, just turn the engine a little and give it the gas. You will slide off easier than you can imagine. Remember, all you have to do is get that stump to that rounded chine and the boat will HELP you slip off the log. And getting to the rounded chine is easy with no crimps to “block” the boat from sliding across the log. In short, a smooth bottom is the only way to go if you use your boat in skinny water.

6. Traditional Flats- Shorter rakes that rise quickly

Most traditional flats have short, almost non existent rakes. The rake is the portion of the boat that begins to rise from the bottom of the boat up to the very front. If this area is too short, then you have problems, especially with mud motors! Mud Motors have never offered much top end speed. In addition, you need the rear end of the boat to drive your mud motor which forces you to place all your gear, passengers, dogs, etc… towards the front half of the boat. This causes you to plow water! You wind up not having enough horse power to get the boat up on plane and stay there. Your top end speed suffers and so does your safety. Why? You are riding nose down. How many of you have hit two foot seas with a loaded boat that is riding nose down? WET RIDE! In short, this rake design was never intended to use with “underpowered” engines that will be heavily front end loaded. They sure weren’t thinking of duck hunters!

Gator Trax Hulls- Airboat style rakes

Gator Trax uses a rake that is patterned after the Louisiana airboat. This rake is long, sloping, and rises gradually over several feet of the bottom of the boat. This allows you to load the front end heavily with your gear and still get on plane and stay there! You also ride higher in the water for those days you encounter rougher seas. In addition, your acceleration from a dead stop is also increased. In short, this rake was designed for duck hunters, and more specifically, those using mud motors.

If you took the time to read this information, congratulations, you are in the lower percentage of the population. By this I mean that you are one of the few that actually take the time to do the research, ask the right questions, and make sure your next boat is just right for you. You have one more step to take. Print this information out and go shop! Ask our competitors if they have these features. Now that you are in the “know”, it will be easy for you to know if you are looking at a true, shallow water, duck boat…..or their trimmed down version of a bass and crappie rig that happens to be painted camo.

Thanks for taking the time, and more importantly, thanks for considering us as the company to build the duck boat of your dreams!

PS. - If it IS the camo that gets ya….we offer that too!


At Gator Trax, we start with a standard design and give you options, lots of options! But we are also open to your ideas. If you see something you don’t like, tell us. If you don’t see something you want, tell us! There are a few things that can not be changed for structural purposes, but for the most part, we can design YOUR boat to fit YOUR needs!

Remember, our prices reflect the standard hulls and standard accessories. Any custom work will be added to those prices.


When it comes time for you to consider ordering your new hull, keep a few things in mind. For the most part, we build our hulls one at a time as they are ordered. This is because we sell so many different models and have so many different options, that it is hard to “guess” what you guys will want! With that in mind, know that we can only give you an estimated date of completion on the day you are ordering your boat! However, here is a rule of thumb from years past to keep you close. WE CAN NOT BE HELD TO THIS GUIDELINE! This is an approximation and can change depending on sales, good or bad duck seasons, and MANY other variables!
JULY-NOVEMBER- Lord help us! We have seen it up to an 11 WEEK wait at this time! However, we have built a new facility and production is better. On the flip side, we have tripled our sales every year for the past 2 years! So, it may even back out.

The bottom line is, DO NOT WAIT FOR SEPTEMBER IF YOU WANT A HULL FOR TEAL SEASON! However, if you find yourself in circumstances beyond your control, and you are in dire need, give us a call and we can try to work with you. We may have a dealer with a hull similar or exactly like what you want that we can send you to.

We would love for you to help us design your next boat. Call anytime with questions or comments. Let us know if we can help further.

Gator Trax Owners,
Allen Wall, David Porter, and Kent Saxon


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