Aluminum Drift Boat: Why?


not bad for a yankee
Last summer i guided the madison and the big hole out of a koffler aluminum boat. I actually liked it. The thing was heavy, not remarkably easy to row or hold in the current, but i knew that i could trust it not to get fubar'ed if i happened to touch a rock. It was my first summer ever rowing rivers and it felt good to know that i couldn't really destroy it on rocks. These days i mainly row on vancouver island, with rocky fast rivers similar to the OP. I wouldn't consider buying a clacka (which are in my opinion the best glass boats) for the island rivers because tapping rocks occasionally is just a reality. They are really sturdy though, and honestly, like others have said, once you row anything long enough you learn to love it. I had a chance to row clackas, south fork skiffs, and the big aluminum kofflers and because i rowed the kofflers the most, i liked them the most. Just my two cents.
Aluminum and fiberglass boats of about the same size weigh about the same. For example, here is a link to a specification sheet for one of Hyde's glass boats:

Here is a link to the specification sheet for Hyde's aluminum boat of the same length, beam and bottom width and side height:

Check out other manufacturers and you will find the same thing. Full sized aluminum and fibreglass boats are going to weigh around 300 pounds regardless of who makes them.


Slow and Low
If you do day trips down any washington streams it doesnt matter. If you do multi trips you'll want a boat with a rake higher sides and good balance. I had a clackacraft and will tell you loaded and unloaed my Koffler is an easier rowing boat PERIOD. Glass boats are made for a toally different thing. For instance my Koffler is what you would call a steelhead boat Two guys in front fishing. Clackers, hydes whatever are balaced for one in front and one in back. My Koffler doesn't sit right with one in fron and one in back.

As far as toughness goes all boats are tough enough. You need to decide what kind of fishing you are going to do. If you aren't leaving the state I don't think it makes a differnce. I spend the entire summer on the Lower Deschutes and will tell you I almost sunk a loaded Clack Twice, and my buddy sunk a loased Clack in Whitehorse last year.

Again depends on how much adventure your lopking for.
Now what about whitewater? I have rowed an aluminum driftboat all my life, but one day a customer had me take his brand new clacka down tinley falls and it was pretty killer. I have never done tinley falls in an aluminum or really anything else that burly in a drift boat. I want to do more "huck n' chuck" kinda fishing and was wondering what kind of boat I should be looking at.
I dig the aluminum because you can beat the hell out of them and they keep begging for more. You can punch a hole in one. It takes the right rock with the right amount of velocity and you are dead in the water.

Smoker Craft makes a decent aluminum drift boat. Good price and you can run them through anything. My Uncle has one that we use alot on the Washougal for "huck n' chuck" fishing for Steel Heads.

This was just my $0.02,