Boat Features, Fly Fishing, Puget Sound

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by jsuyes, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. jsuyes FFF-CCI

    Posts: 153
    Kent, Wa
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Fellow WFFrs,

    Im looking for a boat for flyfishing in puget sound. Ive done some searching on the board and have found few threads that mention what type of boat to buy but I cannot tell why you want to buy that boat. In other words, what kind of features should I look for on a boat for fly fishing in puget sound?

    I imagine you want a fairly open boat so you dont have alot of casting obstructions. I figure a Boston Whaler might be good for this reason. However, I see a lot of boats that have closed off cockpits that I assume are needed for protection from the cold and spray. Is having protection from the elements more important than having no casting obstructions?

    What size of boat is necessary to keep you safe? (Im not the type of angler who only wants to fish in pretty weather.)

    Electrioncs: Do you really need fish-finders, gps and radios?

    Power: One main engine or two? Is the second smaller engine (I assume its for trolling.) necessary for a fly fisher? In other words, do you troll to locate the fish and then switch to your fly rod?

    Finally, any brand of boat that y'all are partial to? I personally like Boston Whalers, however, I was also looking at Carolina Skiffs since they are a little cheaper.


  2. jsuyes FFF-CCI

    Posts: 153
    Kent, Wa
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    A few other things:

    Casting decks: Are they important? I know bone fishers like that deck over the motor and mosts of thier boats will have a raised flat section of the bow to cast from? Is that unsafe in the choppy waters of the sound?

    Consoles: Is it better to have a center console, a walk around, or does this even matter.

    Once again, thanks!

  3. Joe Gallagher New Member

    Posts: 41
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I would want a center console. Lots of casting room is the biggest reason to want a center console. Boston Whalers are good boats. The boat i prefer is Parker, they make a nice 18 and a 21. The 21 has a nice 21 deg bottom and carry's quite a bit of fuel. I would want a kicker even if you didn't troll because it gives you a spare to limp in on if you have any problems with the main. Electronics wise I would want a GPS for those foggy days and I would never leave the dock without a VHF.
  4. Dirk Pitt New Member

    Posts: 170
    Tenino, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Ibn has a boston whaler that works out real nice. I have a Lund side console that has a good bit of room for a 16ft boat. I recommend a trolling motor if for no other reason than safety. It will get you back,although slowly, when your main engine fails. I don't think you need a huge boat for the sound 14-18ft work well, weather permitting. think bigger if you head out to the ocean or the straights.
  5. martyg Active Member

    Posts: 981
    The world at large
    Ratings: +74 / 0

    Lots of different philosophies. Here's may feeling...

    I currently have a 17.5 AquaSport that I think is one of the prettiest boats on the South Sound. It is also heavy, has a large engine, and in my opinion, as a center console has somewhat limited casting room. It is also way too pretty to gunk up.

    I fish the Sounth Sound maybe 100+ days a year out of a boat and guide other places out of river boats. I am also a former Military rescue guy - and have seen EVERYTHING go down. Something says that it is sink proof? Bullshit! The only boat that comes close is a Whaler Impact which is made to take rounds - and don't for a minute try to equate it to a recreational grade Whaler.

    If I had to do it over I would get a 16.5 foot aluminum jon boat in camo or an RBI - here's why:

    1. My boat is too pretty to throw crab pots around in it. It is the same reason that that I get whigged out when I own a performance prestige car - I love to look at them and drive them, but you don't want to throw wet, muddy dogs in a Porsche.

    2. Weight - not in towing but getting in and out of manke ramps. There are a lot of days when I had to let tides dictate when I put in and pull out. On low tide days you have to wait for water at a lot of ramps - unless you have a really light boat that you can beach launch.

    3. No enter console - a big aluminum boat - tiller stear - with a casting deck fore and aft is the ultimate stripping basket.

    4. Engine - a 500 pound hull boat, with a 60 hp on it will sip gas. A 2,000 hull with a 115 does not. However, nothing smoothens out chop likea 2,000 pound hull.

    5. Trolling motor - nice to have to reposition the boat, relative to shore, on a drift. A light, aluminum boat will make it problematic.

    6. Kicker / twin screws - if you venture far out - I don't need it in the Sound.

    7. VHF - only if you venture out - not in the Sound - use a cell phone.

    8. Fish finder - absolutely. I use mine hourly to pin point structure. With a 9 wt shooting head I can effectively fish down to 35 feet when other guys are fishing shore, catching nothing, and scratching their heads.

    9. Camo - it can double for duck hunting. Camo is the new floral. It doesn't mar, show stains, dirt, etc. At least with me, if my pretty white boat has scum on it I wash it. I would rather fish, tie flies, work so I can afford to fish & hunt more, play with my dogs, play with my lovely wife, etc. than clean my boat.

    Get a boat that will suit 90% of your fishing. If you fish the Sound, and want to go out to Neah some day, then rent a boat up there. If you will be fishing open water a lot get a RBI. NOTHING - and I mean NOTHING - will preform in big seas like a suitable RBI. I have run them extensively in 20'+ breaking seas - everything from 14' boats to 23' boats. A 14' boat in breaking 20'+ hurricane generated waves is a kick.
  6. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,654
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +540 / 0
    Glad this thread came up, 'cause I was just about to ask some questions about this stuff.
    I'm currently outfitting an older lightweight aluminum sled. Its a 16' Sea Nymph, late 70's model... both rivited and welded, shallow vee bottom with the strakes running full length. Hard chines along the bottom edges and a diamond bow with a "casting deck." Sort of a beater bass sled (a little crinkled down one side, because a tree fell on it).
    Probably only weighs 300lbs, 21" sides, takes an OB with a 20" shaft. This is a light boat that can handle small wind chop fine, but doesn't like Capt. White kicking up a big fuss.
    This boat was formerly used as a work boat by an old retired guy who worked a couple of crab pots and harvested oysters with it in both Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The more protected, "back bay" areas. Its a great river boat (although I am absolutely not getting one of those 30hp jets for it (I don't jet) a good price on a NEW '05 9.9hp 4-stroke electric-start longshaft Merc). It will pole or row thru water only 5" or 6" deep, with the motor tilted up.

    I'm keeping the interior fairly clear. Tiller OB, and only full-length floorboards are installed now. This boat is still completely open.
    I'm building a wide box on top of which I am installing track for a sliding seat or two (removable, folding, plastic driftboat seats, on swivel mounts). This seat-box will be removable, for when i go alone, or I can clip it in and add one or both seats.
    With the forward seats removed, I can actually transport my mini-drifter, (bottom up) inside and still have room to sit comfortably in the back seat... some possibilities here...:hmmm:

    I am going to put anti-skid on the bow "casting deck." Either indoor/outdoor carpet on some 5/16" plywood cut to fit, or go cheap and toss some sand on some wet paint. (etch with white vinegar first).
    I'm going to do a freestyle spray-can camo paint job on it, and also maybe use some fern fronds for spray templates. Custom pipe-insulation rod holders just under the gunwales will hold fully rigged flyrods.
    Some kind of rail-guard stuff or large diameter heater hose for the gunwales, and any misc "necessories" where needed.

    I have a hand-held marine radio, marine binoculars, air-horn, fire extinguisher, bailing can, getting some flares, have a portable sonar with suction cup mounted transponder, but don't plan on getting a gps anytime soon. (No matter where you go, there you are!)
    I have a good anchor and anchoring system.
    Have a Minnkota Riptide 50lb thrust trolling motor.
    I may get some clamp-on LED running lights, for pre-dawn launches, and late returns.
    If I take this boat out on the S Sound or my local bays, I don't plan on going out on lousy days, and plan to run back to the ramp when it starts to get ugly... I trust my judgement and experience, and superior logistical talents to prevent me from getting myself into bad situations, and if one happens, then I trust my experience and ability to get out of it. I don't worry much.
    And of course I will troll for tidewater Kings out of it.
    I only hope that I don't let it turn me into a pro bass fisherman.

    Any comments? Be glad to hear 'em. Thanks!
  7. martyg Active Member

    Posts: 981
    The world at large
    Ratings: +74 / 0

    My binoculars are always with me in the boat bag. I use them all of the time to scope other boats.

    Two things that I would add:

    1. Do some sort of rear, elevated casting platform. You can better see fish, structure, gain some distance on your cast, etc. if fishing off of the back of the boat.

    2. Cheap push pole. I use mine extensively. If I am drifting too close to shore and going to get hung up I give a push. It saves starting the motor and spooking fish.

    It sounds like you will have the perfect rig.
  8. BFK Member

    Posts: 332
    North Sound, Wash.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Here's what I'm using for my "tidewater" boat, one that will also work well in lakes and reservoirs and rivers where I don't need a pump.

    I've got an 18-foot Starcraft sled I bought from Three Rivers. It's basically the Smokercraft Sportsman sled-- a light-duty vee-bottomed hull with a fairly large front casting deck--but with different paint. I'm running a 50-hp Yamaha two-stroke and have a 6-hp Yamaha four-stroke kicker. Both are tiller operated.

    Kerry S has the Smoker version of this boat, I believe.

    I could readily get by with a 16-foot version of the same for what I do, as the 18 is a huge boat. But it works well for crabbing, flyfishing, trolling and mooching for whatever. I haven't had it out in any really rough stuff yet...but I am surprised at how seaworthy it is. I did get in a nasty rip off Whidbey, and it was a dry, stable, safe boat in that. It will run on a wet lawn as it doesn't draft much at all.

    Currently, I'm running a 24-volt Minn Kota Riptide bowmount trolling motor as well as a transom mount (I'll get rid of this, I think).

    There are things I don't like about it, and its size is one of them. However, now that I'll be fishing Tillamook a bit and will run out of the Jaws to do it at times, I may stick with this boat or something similar.

    One thing that really surprised me on this boat was the ride. With the 50, I can lift the bow enough so the boat runs on the last four feet or so of hull, and in that attitude, it smooths out chop unbelievably well--much better than my Alumaweld Stryker used to do.

    If I were starting over today, I'd probably think about picking up a used fiberglass skiff or mooching boat in the 16-18 foot range, stripping it down to mooching boat condition and then putting in a casting deck in the bow. I do like those for a lot of what I do. I'd run this boat with a tiller and keep the interior as simple as I could. That way, it would run fairly shallow, have room to fish two people and still be useful at Neah Bay.

    I would not in any circumstance buy a Carolina Skiff with the flat bottom; those things will, in my limited experience, will pop the fillings out of your teeth in a mild chop.
  9. Clint F Fly Fishing Youth

    Posts: 675
    Port Orchard,WA
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    We have a 21 foot center consol Mako with a 200 hp merc that is an awesome salt water boat. It has a very deep v and is very heavy which can be very nice in waters such as neah bay at times. These boats are built in florida though. I think you should consider a little bigger boat if you plan on venturing offshore or not. If not a 14-16 foot boston whaler would be good for the sound.

  10. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,654
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +540 / 0
    Thanks for the suggestions, martyg.
    Yes, I am planning to get a "new" pole for this boat. Where I go locally, you sometimes need to pole thru the flats or over bars at low tide.
    The rear seat bench is wide and extends back around the fuel tank cavity on both sides to the stern, wide enough to stand on it and cast. I need to apply some anti-skid to this. I can stand up, and with a stripping basket to keep my line off the motor, I should be able to use this rear seat as a casting platform.

    I need to get an engine flushing attachment before I take this out for a test run. The marine supply store is 6 miles from here... not too far!

    I have a couple of questions about properly securing an outboard motor to the stern. The owner's manual that came with my O/B says it is wise to thru-bolt the motor-mount bracket to the stern. The bracket has holes for this, and I think it is a good idea, as I am going to keep the motor on the boat, and garage the boat when not in use.
    Do motors not attached this thoroughly fall off? Is this necessary for a 9,9hp? Its actually a very heavy motor for a 10hp...weighs about 102#, being the Bigfoot model.

    Also, I have seen a locking device that fits over the screw-clamp handles on the mount. I suppose I need to get one of these if I ever
    leave the boat/trailer parked more than 50' away from me or out of sight.

    Cable locks to go thru the holes in my trailer's "mag" wheels and around the frame will help ensure there being there when I get back to the ramp.

    I'm strapping down the gas tanks, battery box, etc. so stuff won't be bouncing around loose.

    Thanks for any suggestions....anything!
    I'm not done outfitting this ugly duckling yet, but I'm having fun, and the dreaming has begun! I could launch it now, for a test run with the new Merc, but I'm waiting for a nicer day to get out...raining here now.:cool:
  11. Roger Stephens Active Member

    Posts: 1,199
    Ratings: +306 / 0
    I fish in shallow water quite a bit over gravel bars for sea-run cutthroat and use a pole to push my boat into position. I use a plastic painters extension pole that goes from about 5 ft to 10 ft. They cost about 15 to $20. It is easy to stow and doesn't corrode from saltwater.


    Quite a few years ago I had a 15 hp motor flip off the back of my boat in very choppy water when I hit a small log. It went underwater but luckily I use able to pull it up to the surface by the gas line and I was close enough to shore to beach the boat and be able hoist it back onboard. The next day I bolted the motor onto the transom. Plus I don't leave the motor in the locked down position but have the lever in the up position so that if I ever hit anything again the motor shaft will flip up.

  12. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,654
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +540 / 0
    Thanks Roger! I'm going to go drill some holes in my transom today!
    Great suggestion on the painter's extension pole, too. Sounds lighter than my old 8 1/2' wood pole. (Remember, we're talking push poles here, not flyrods, gang:clown:)
  13. BFK Member

    Posts: 332
    North Sound, Wash.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Jim-- Since you're running shallow, definitely bolt the motor on the transom. In case you don't know, but you probably do, the cavitation plate on your motor should be at or even slightly above the transom when the motor is in running position. I'm not 100% sure that's the case with the Bigfoot motors, but for every other one, that's the case.

    Also, be sure and seal the holes you drill in your transom extremely well. You can use 5200, but it's a bugger to break free. If I were doing it, I'd probably drill the holes, seal them with epoxy, and once it's dried, install the bolts while filling the cavity with a silicone sealant of some kind.

    It sounds like a fun boat.
  14. Derek Day Rockyday

    Posts: 567
    Ratings: +146 / 0
    I went to alaska this summer and we fished out of 21 foot crestliners. They were awesome. technically they're bass boats, but they were wonderful. They have a raised deck in the fornt and back (bass boat style) and were great for casting. I would check some out.
  15. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,654
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +540 / 0
    BFK, thanks for the advice. the manual that came with the motor says the cavitation plate should line up to be no more than one inch below the bottom of the transom. I measured it and its a hair over an inch, maybe 1 1/8".
    I found a 1/8" thick strip of some of that cross-linked polyethylene bedliner material stashed in a pile of junk in my garage, and i can lay that down on the top edge of the transom as a spacer, and that should reduce the distance to one inch.

    I even found a partial tube of 5200 that still seems liquid enough to squeeze out, when I was rummaging for my epoxy putty. I have some waterproof epoxy somewhere around here, too. Didn't happen to have the right size stainless bolts/nuts/washers lyin around, though ...damn!...that hole in the water is a hungry beast! Eventually, there are limits to what can be scrounged up.:ray1:
  16. jsuyes FFF-CCI

    Posts: 153
    Kent, Wa
    Ratings: +3 / 0

    Im surprised this thread got resurrected. Thanks, fellas, for taking time to put in your comments. I have learned alot. I think i know about what im going to get and how im going to outfit it.

    One question though:

    What's an RBI? Im guessing a rubber inflatable like a Zodiac?

  17. Kim Hampton Not Politically Correct

    Posts: 276
    Tacoma, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I bought a 17' Trophy center consol this spring. A center consol gives you a cleaner deck for fly fishing I feel. It doesn't give you much weather protection so I don't think the boat dealers sell a lot of them through the year in the NW. I've had it in enough weather where it has almost hurt when running and stayed dry from the spray so the hull seems to be a fairly good sea boat. Like the Whaler the bow is really clean for casting. I figured I got into this boat 5 or 6 grand cheaper than a Whaler with the same amount of power.

    I've already rewired the trailer lights to the led style. Seems like I had trouble with the lights from the get go. I probably should have taken it back to the dealer but just upgraded the lights instead. No problem with them so far.

    Along with all the required safety equipment I wear at all times an inflatable life vest as I fish alone most of the time. Puget Sound is cold no matter the time of the year. Your cheap light Danforth style anchors don't work well as far as I'm concerned. Get some weight in your anchor. A VHF is good to have as I see a fair amount of cell phone dead spots in the Sound. I've installed a combo gps chart plotter fish finder (Humminbird 997si). To me it's more of a fishing tool over a safety device. Or if you really get down to's a fun toy.

    My next purchase for the boat will be a trolling motor. I haven't made up my mind of a small kicker vs a bow mount electric. Opinions??

    So I've bought the boat and I'm fairly happy with it.....then I go on vacation down south and see the Panga style of boats. If I had it to do all over again I'd take a look at this one really strong (
    or maybe at their other line up of boats ( To me the 17' looks like it would be a great Sound boat. Price isn't bad either.
    I guess once you start you will always be looking for the next best thing. Kind of like fly rods.
  18. BFK Member

    Posts: 332
    North Sound, Wash.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Kim-- On the electric trolling motor: you probably be happier with a bowmount rather than a transom mount. I've got both and have found the bowmount a better choice from the standpoint of control. The transom mount motors don't have the torque to really steer well, in my opinion.

    Someone once compared using a bowmount vs. a tiller this way: "It's a lot easier to pull a rope than to push a rope." Pushing a rope is the way I've felt at times using a transom mount electric when trying to position a boat in wind and current. The downside, besides increased cost, is that a bowmount electric is more clutter on the casting deck.

    And I think you're right, a panga would be a natural for the Sound. If you want to get more ideas, check out as it has a thread or two with some pangas pictured in it.
  19. johnnyrockfish Member

    Posts: 320
    Kitsap County, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    An open aluminum skiff will be easy to tow and easy to power. A heavier hull like a whaler/parker etc will ride better. Pangas are efficient but they are not great riding in a chop like we get in the sound.

    Definitely use 5200 on sealing your transom. The idea of using epoxy isn't bad to seal the transom material but still you want 5200 or boat life in there because it stays flexible. The epoxy will crack and let water into the transom. Don't use silicone!

    You may not need to through bolt your kicker motor but definitely tie it to the boat.

    Whalers are unsinkable but it doesn't mean they won't ship water over the bow. I like the Outrage 18 or 20 from 1982- 1990. Great riding hulls that go very shallow and are much lighter than the new ones. Parkers are excellent boats. Carolina Skiff makes a V hull called a Sea Chaser. I own one of these. It rides well for it's size. No wood construction is nice. Not a high end boat but it serves my purposes well with plenty of room on the forward casting deck.

    Anyone know a local supplier of "real" poling poles? I use a long dowel but it's not really long enough.

    Have fun.

  20. martyg Active Member

    Posts: 981
    The world at large
    Ratings: +74 / 0
    Whalers are not unsinkable. A busted up hull may keep you out of the deep in calm water, but not in larger breaking waves - especially with a larger outboard.