Aluminum Drift Boat: Why?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Flyfishsteel, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. I've heard of all the praises of owning an fiberglas drift boat, but I want to hear of the advantages of owning an aluminum drift boat from its owners.

  2. Not an owner myself, I have a glass boat, but have rowed both. The primary advantage from what I understand is that the hulls will take more of a beating than a glass boat. This is important if you're going to be primarily going down rocky OP rivers and the like.

    Personally, I didn't think the aluminum boat that I rowed tracked very well, however, that may have been the particular boat I was in rather than a problem which they all share.

    My 1 cent.

  3. FFSteel,
    Depends on what water you are fishing. For places like the Yak, a glass boat is fine. Take a float down the Sol Duc though and you'll understand why most folks out on coast use aluminum. Alot of the rocks in that Duc have silver tops. You'd beat the living crap out of a glass boat over there, especially in low water.
  4. Alum boats are like your old 65 Dodge, they are more heavy, can carry more, require more energy and can take a beating. With an Alum boat, one can add more features and have a more rigid boat. The Alum boats today are made of great material and depending on the maker are fitted with fittings that allow for shrink and expansion with the climate. As a result of weight, they tend to not get up on a stroke as fast as glass, but once they are moving, they are an equal to any rock or obstruction you may encounter.
    A glass boat is like your 06 sport coupe, very light, very flexi and take very little effort to stroke up. The disadvantage to a glass boat is the flex, in that the material will want to expand and retract with the climate and fittings, screws etc can over time come lose and may even strip out of the housing (if the maker uses screw housings).
    A good oarsman(or woman) can take a glass boat down any water a steel boat can due to the fact that they can "skip" over water with ease. However, Nobody should have to work at rowing a boat, your time on the water should be spent fishing, NOT trying to work around this or that. I would say it comes down to what you want, what you want to do with it, how you want to do it and otherwise. I run an alum boat 90% of the time due to the fact that I am used to it and prefer it, however I would and could run my glass boat down any water I run the alum. Most drift boat issues stem from the nut that holds the oars, not the boat itself.

    Hyde Pro-Staff
  5. According to the video on Lavros web site, glas can take as much beating if not more than alum according to them. Lavros and Clacks are supposedly the toughest glas boats in existance. In my opinion and experience alum boats are superior only in tracking ie; pulling plugs,etc. straight line anchoring. I've seen ALOT of alum boats with huge dents, I would assume if you hit a rock that hard to dent it, someone had to of been thrown out!

    IMO, any drift boat is better than no drift boat:beer2: .
  6. I'd agree with the others, it is a trade off between durability and rowability. But, that depends on the aluminum boat as well, and you'll get used to whatever you end up with. I've rowed SAK man's old Hyde, and it was A LOT nicer to row than, say a big ole' Lavro. A big Lavro has its place--bigger rivers on the coast is one of them (high sides are sweet in big water)--but if you want durability and manuverability, then take a look at some of the smaller metal boats: the Hyde low pro comes to mind, and a it is nicely laid out boat for sure.

    Aluminum is louder, heavier and colder, but way more durable. If you got the scratch, and are going to use it on the OP, buy a custom new boat, have them put that bedliner spray-in stuff inside of it, and go from there.

    As for aluminum boats with dents in them: if you hit any rock hard enough, you'll kill your boat. Nothing beats vigilence behind the oars, and taking time to learn to move a boat around well.

    One last note: if you want your boat to row nice, often times it is a matter of having a good set of oars-buying a new set of counterbalanced, light oars can make the boat feel a lot different.
  7. I think aluminum has a bunch of upsides and one major downside: noise. They're loud!
  8. I am moving back to the west side soon and i have an old clack (fiberglass) that has taken a beating on the upper madison over the years ( it is really beat up). I plan to refurbish it this winter. It is however a low profile boat and i was considering selling it as when i move back home i plan to spend more time on the OP than the Yak. I know how to row and i dont really plan on taking on anything that i havent already seen here in montana, but since most of you have mush more experience on the penisinsula, do you think im better off selling it and upgrading to a high side? thanks for your input
  9. My experience is metal boats are cold, on the plus side on foggy days folks downriver can hear you banging off of rocks and get out of the way.
  10. Crettke,

    I think you should sell your make that give your old nasty beat up worn out clack to me and just shore fish like Bob Triggs. :D
  11. I can't speak for beating composite drift boats, cuz I just haven't beat one to the point of submission.

    With composite racing canoes and kayaks however, I have, and it seems to be dependant on the builder and what went into it. I took a $5,000 Composite Engineering ICF kayak, 17' long weighing in at about 16 pounds down heinous, heinous stuff. I have done the same with a Kevlar / core We-no-nah Advantage canoe (weighing 29 pounds). The We-no-nah even left my rooftop at 35 mph and only suffered dings. I have also destroyed more price point boats with much less effort.

    IME builders can lay anything up, with the right combination of glass, Kevlar, Spectra and polyester to withstand virtually any beating, and surpassing aluminum which is noisy, cold and sticks to rocks.

    Also worth looking at are rotomolded drift boats. If you are really concerned buy a raft. I rowed an Aire Super Puma set up for fishing this Fall on the MIddle Fork and you could put it anywhere you wanted.
  12. crettke,
    I will give you an answer.
    Over the years I have owned wood, glass and aluminum. My glass boat was a lowsider Eastside with a 48" bottom. I used it on the SolDuc and Queets for many years but in white water as mentioned earlier it oil caned, to the point of being difficult to maneuver when encountering the heavier white water; not to mention the water I would take on board because of the low sides. it was a perfect boat (for two) for rivers in this area. I eventually bought and an aluminum boat with a 54" bottom and it was like a Cadillac vs a Ford Pinto in white water. The weight and carring capacity is a huge plus when it comes to navigating the white water you will find on the OP. Even though glass boats are heavier today, as mentioned earlier there is a reason most the boats you see in the Duc and Queets are aluminum.
  13. Cat-a-Raft.
    The best way to go in my little mind.
  14. For the last year or so I have rowed the Sol Duc 3 to 7 days a week (excluding Aug and the begining of sept) in a clacka weight forward. I have rowed all drifts with the river at negitive boards, 13 boards and everywhere in between. I have found this boat to be far more durable than my willie boat, Alumaweld or the eastside. I have hit rocks so hard in this boat that I thought my fillings were gonna pop out. The chines look like crap but it still rows like brand new. As far as rowing goes I would say the huge advantage of glass is its so slipery. Rocks that would hang up a Aluminum boat, even with a fresh coat of glove it, just slide right under the slick flexible floor of the clack. That makes a huge difference in low water rowing. The downside is when it comes to super tight cornering. Of all the boats I have rowed nothing turns like a willie, if your used to a willie boat you have to relearn some things to row the softer chines common on glass.
    Here is the thing though, I have never bought a drift boat to row it. I buy them to fish out of, a willie boat turns great untill you put a guy in the back, then the shine really comes off. I got the clack because if you fly fish you want one guy(or girl) in the front and one guy in the back, the clack has the most comfortable rear fishing area in the business. One note of caution, the low profile clack , in my opinon, does not have enough free board for the coastal rivers at medium flows and there could be a danger of swamping if you wernent really watching your ps and qs .
  15. This isn't really an answer to your question, but depending on your budget, you might take a look at Boulder Boatworks. They make their boats from an HDPE polymer material that they claim is more durable than any other drift boat material, and their boats only weigh between 160 - 180 lbs., depending on the model, so they are very light compared to other options. Not cheap though.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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,


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