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Thread: Drift Boat Advice

  1. #1

    Default Drift Boat Advice

    Fellow Anglers,

    I am thinking about getting a drift boat and need advice for what type, size, and material.
    Primary use will on the AR, Feather, and Yuba. Also Fly Fishing layout.

    Thanks,

    Frank

  2. #2

    Default

    You cant go wrong with either alum or glass. I really like Clackacraft and RO drift boats.
    If I was to go with aluminum willie boats would be my choice. The problem with willie is they sucker you in with a cheap boat and then you start adding options they get expensive real fast.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Sonoma County
    Posts
    269

    Default

    Fiberglass is what I've had (a Lavro, which was huge at 17ft) and have, a Clackacraft (Hyde makes a value priced all fiberglass boat, the Condender, which is built on the EMR driftboat mold).

    If I was looking to replace my current 2006 model. I'd get the new "Eddy" from Clackacraft (wider stern, supports more aft weight, keeping the rear out the the water to allow flow to go under the boat) or the Ro DeVille (narrow stern but lighter and wider to float in less water and keep the rear out of the water...keeps the flow going under the boat instead on against the stern and pushing the boat).

    All 3 makers have used inventory and list them on their websites.

    There's a Clack for sale in the Classifieds section on this website...looks good.

    Have fun,

    Paul
    Last edited by pgw; 03-30-2012 at 11:37 AM.

  4. #4

    Default

    Some things to consider before purchasing a drift boat:

    Are you buying it to fish for yourself? If so who is going to row you around? How many friends do you know that can actually row or know the waters your plan on fishing?

    After about 2 years of owning a clackacraft 16 lp driftboat I can count the number of times I have actually fished from my own boat on one hand as most of my friends do not know how to row. That said, I do enjoy rowing my own boat, but I do the fishing vicariously through them. On the other hand, if your primary motivation is to get from one place to the next, to actually fish on a more consistent basis, or to gain access to new areas to fish, a driftboat wouldn't be on the top of my list.

    As for make, model, etc. Generally, your budget will determine what boat you end up purchasing. Most drift boats hold their value pretty well, though aluminum tend to be cheaper used. High side can be good for the extra safety factor, but they don't row as well under windy conditions and can be heavy to row over long periods. Generally you don't need a ton of bells and whistles. Casting platforms (definitely get a stable rear casting platform if you plan to fish more than 1 at a time) bench vs rowers seat etc are all personal preference. I will say however that the pedestal seats can be a bit annoying in that fly lines have a tendency to get wrapped around the seats when least expected. Also, a side anchor is better IMO than a floor anchor (which I have on my boat). Get a spiked anchor btw, they hold much better IMO. Its best to go shopping in the off season as most dealers have used boats they want to get off their inventory before the guiding season begins. If buying used, check the trailer! For peace of mind hope that its galvanized and not rusted up after hard use. Its hard to tell if you can't see these things close up.

    If possible you should find a few folks willing to let you row their boats so you can get a sense of what each make is like, loaded down, etc. Try to also evaluate maintaining a balanced boat with 3 people plus gear. Its trickier than it seems to keep a boat true. Also, I would suggest getting time behind the oars on a more forgiving platform like a cataraft or pontoon first to get a feel for reaction time, ferrying across the river etc if you are new to rowing. These boats are more responsive and make rowing easier. It makes the transition to a driftboat easier IMO. Also, don't overestimate the importance of a good pair of balanced, but light oars. Depending upon ones setup I would suggest oars > 9 feet. No need to counterbalance if properly placed/setup. You will notice a much bigger difference in enjoyment of your driftboat experience with a good set of oars. And don't forget to get some PFDs for everyone you plan on bringing out. Lastly, its a driftboat so my advice is to get one used, don't worry about a few scratches (they add character), but without any major accidents or in need of any repairs other than cosmetic, that way if and when you hit a rock or something you'll never know which one you caused or care. Its a driftboat, its bound to happen sooner or later anyway.

    **All major driftboat companies have good warranties. That said, Clackacraft is the closest to you for service.**
    Last edited by Tfisher; 03-30-2012 at 08:34 PM.
    Carpe Piscis!

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    MONTANA
    Posts
    21

    Default Drift Boats

    Tfisher made some pretty decent comments that reflect some of the ups and downs I've experienced owning a drift boat. One economic factor is if you're not going to use it a dozen times a year then technically it might not pay for itself as compared to renting a boat. However, that said, my son was home from college last weekend and being able to make a family trip in a boat you know is safe AND clean was a valuable asset to me.

    But finding those guys that can help you row is a challenge. Nothing better then dead drift fly fishing from a drift boat, it's truly an awesome experience. In fact I'd prefer to fish from the boat then wade fish hands down - unless it's a scenic piece of water where I need to get some photos and stop and smell the roses.

    I'm inviting some friends over to watch the Hyde video and made a goal this year to add oar qualified guests to the top of my list. Having the kid in college also depletes the fishing budget so sharing the cost with three anglers hopefully will be my ticket this season. Although I own a Clackacraft the first thing I did years ago was watch the Hyde video. It's a basic, well done instructional video called How to Row a Drift Boat.

    As Tfish said find somebody you can go with and see if a drift boat is really in the cards. Local fly fishing clubs are good sources. Have fun and we look forward to hearing your story. -k-

  6. #6

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    Tfisher and Kyo are right on I own a practical fly fishing navy with a wf17 clack, 1756 Lowe motor boat, 13' NRS fishing frame raft, 14' Lowe fall river boat and I personally fish out of my drift boat the least. The best thing I did for my personal fishing was buy my first motor boat 6 or 7 years ago. I can go fish on my own for a few hours and be back home fairly easily. With young kids and work I rarely fish out of my drift boat and almost never go on "floats".

    With regards to boats though I have rowed and owned them all. I would tell a beginning rower to stay away from anything "low sided". Traditionally glass boats are a bit easier to row as they are lighter weight and more responsive but they don't track as well in the water as less of the boat sits in the water and the way the backs of the boats are designed. This can kinda evens out the work load as the rower can constantly be making corrections to keep a line if there is complex currents or wind. my favorite boat is the clacka wf17 for price and meeting all the needs of a central valley. If I had unlimited funds though I would get a tricked out willed with the slick bottom but as someone said earlier you start adding all the features to a willie and you get a pretty expensive boat. that my 2cents.

  7. #7

    Default

    Excellent Advice!! Thank you all. Now it's time to row one or two and take it from there.

    Frank

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    MONTANA
    Posts
    21

    Default Low Side Drift Boats

    If you plan on running a lot of calm waters or tailwaters
    the low side will negotiate in the wind better. Google the
    Hyde and Clackacraft websites and bone up on their features.
    And if you do get a boat take it out on a boater friendly pond
    or lake and practice the strokes. Most folks don't wear PFDs
    but they are required by law in some states. Not a bad idea
    at least for the first few journeys. You might want to shed
    that hat Frank . . . probably going to blow off anyway.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Chico
    Posts
    425

    Default

    Coming from someone with a low-pro Hyde, don't buy a low sided boat unless you are very experienced on the sticks. When the water is over 2500 on the Yuba I have to bilge out after 2 different spots out there. The swirls on the sac can also get ya. If I were to recommend a boat to a new oarsman it would be the classic 16' WF clacka. No they don't track the best but we are fly fishing and there would always be someone on the oars. I personally will be buying a Clackacraft after I crack the Hyde I row now...shouldnt take much longer...

    Pyramid anchor is the way to go and as far as side or floor release...make do with what you have.

    The biggest improvements one can make to a boat is getting the weight pushed as far forward to the front of the boat an having good oars.

    Sawyer wood shafts with dynelite blades are my favorite, cataracts are nice but more stiff than the Sawyers.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Sonoma County
    Posts
    269

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin.Deel View Post
    ...I have to bilge out after 2 different spots out there. The swirls on the sac can also get ya....

    The biggest improvements one can make to a boat is getting the weight pushed as far forward to the front of the boat...
    I'll 2nd that, my bilge pump keeps the residual water from waders, felt soles, & nets (as well as "spray") from getting too deep in the boat; keeping weight forward helps to keep the river's flow going under the boat.

    Paul

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