Drift Boat or Raft? A real conundrum

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by aplTyler, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. fluvial New Member

    Posts: 12
    corte madera, ca
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Raft. Stealth put-ins and take outs. Cross country fire road access at speed with the raft safe inside the car. Slide in and out of the raft at will when drifting - stop for a particular run, in/out easy... Dog too. Handles much more "rough" water... Access more runs. My 15 foot Avon Expedition doubles (with a frame swap) as a serious whitewater fun vehicle - drifting for steelhead one week, the next have the family and friends screaming on a Class IV run. QUIET as can be - the beauty of drifting rivers in my mind. Carry 3 buddies, a dog and all our gear on 7-day trips. Faster access with the boat inside the Suburbasaurus vs. trailering for multiple, multiple hours. Slide the raft down a 100' embankment and you're put-in and going... I love oars on a hard-shell drifter, but given the choice of one option... Hands down a RAFT!
  2. Rick Sharp Member

    Posts: 366
    West Richland, WA 99353
    Ratings: +16 / 0
    I've had wood, inflatable and fiberglass, never had aluminum. currently have a glass boat and it serves up all the needs I have for now, I'd suggest try em out, see how they fit, handle and feel for you, something you could spend all day in rowing. If you come to Tri-Cities give me a shout and you can take my drift boat out for the day, hit the yakima and row around with the wife and see how you like it, who's knows maybe even hook a fish or two. Your going to do most of the rowing so it should fit and feel good to you first and formost.
    Good,luck with the new job hope it works out great for you as well.
  3. Preston Active Member

    Posts: 2,453
    Ratings: +423 / 0
    Lots of good points made. I've owned a raft (actually two, sequentially) for over twenty years. The first one was over ten years old when I bought it and, after about twelve years of ownership, sun damage to the hypalon coating finally led to enough pinhole leaks to require a regimen of patching whenever I cleaned it up after a trip. My new raft (a 12 1/2 foot Achilles, purchased about 4 years ago) was able to use the existing frame and oars, so my out-of-pocket expenses only amounted to about $2K. I deflate my raft for transport, thus eliminating the expense of storage, licensing, etc. for a trailer. My high-pressure impeller pump will inflate the raft fully in about five minutes. Rolled loosely, the deflated raft is stored in the garage, out of the weather.

    One shortcoming which I seem to notice with increasing age (mine not the raft's) is the time and effort required to deflate, roll and lift the raft into my truck for transport. At the end of a long, cold day, there is much to be said for being able to just hook the boat up and crank it onto the trailer; of course much of this can be allayed by having young, strong fishing companions.
  4. Chloe's DAD New Member

    Posts: 38
    Port Orchard, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    :beer1:I will put it to ya like this, I was in the same dillemma that u are ty i looked hard and long to make my purchase. I thought. Do i really want to plug holes blow up tubes deflate tubes take twenty mins at a launch an hold people up or get a db and what kind of db ro hyde or clack each manufacture builds there boats for the water that is the close for testing and varies in style find the rivers that u fish and see what crafts are sliding by. And look at what holds it's value tjink if i buy this craft can i sell it and not loose my ass if i sell it. Well i made my decision and bought a Clack? what made me choose? that killer deal from rod at clack and it was brand new and one of my first floats was with my wife and two yes i said Two year old daughter fast asleep wear ever we float she loves naps in the bow while it is very easy to control down and even up the river for that second drift. yes left some gell behind but we did not get the rains or snow this year but i always stay dry and i have launched and retreive by my self with ease so get glass!:beer2:
  5. Dustin Bise Active Member

    Posts: 3,089
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    drunk at 11 am?
  6. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,660
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +833 / 0
    Think of all the money being saved on sanitary products....
  7. Chloe's DAD New Member

    Posts: 38
    Port Orchard, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    If u really new me u would know i don't drink ding dongs!
  8. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,660
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +833 / 0
    May I suggest a thread break so as not to sully this meaningful thread, and create what could be an epic one?
  9. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,219
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +197 / 2
    Yep, I'm lazy enough that the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is deal with breaking down a raft and storing it. I'm more than willing to deal with the inconveniences of a trailer (parking, backing up, tabs, initial expense, maintenance) for the convenience of loading everything on the trailer at the end of the day and strapping it down. Some would say that by trailering your raft, you are losing the advantage of getting something that breaks down and so you might as well get a drift boat. While there is some truth to that logic, rafts still have some advantages as have already been mentioned. And drift boats have theirs.
  10. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,361
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,329 / 9
    I just found out that my NRS frame fists my 14'9" Scadden three seater pontoons perfectly. This give me more options than I knew of before. I don't like the Scadden frame quite as well as the NRS, maybe because I've spent more time with the NRS and getting it set up just how I want it. My 14'cataraft with maxxons are great, but sometimes there is a need for more gear carrying and spreading the weight around is problematic. With the closed and rockered rear end of the scadden I can put the weight back there and not put the boat off balance. I have a short sided utility trailer and my cataraft goes into that trailer. It sits and travels protected by the trailer and covered when not in use. I have a wife and two young girls that are not yet ready for the launching and recovering part of the trip, but don't mind the trip itself. For that reason the cataraft or scadden is better for me. I can launch, move and recover it solo...but with the scadden the boat weighs quite a bit less. The maxxon tubes are heavier, but larger in overall diameter. Unsure of what the real weight load capacity is on these two compared against one another, but the tube weight is noticable.
  11. flyfishn Member

    Posts: 163
    Banner Elk, NC
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Look at the Hog Island Drift Boat, they're bullet proof.

  12. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,354
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +404 / 0
    Well, years ago I owned a drift boat and I have drifted rivers with a raft. The drift boat is much
    easier to row on flat water, but both will do. Just don't plan on making any long trips in either.
    A motor will work on the stern of most Drift boats, and some rafts.

    Depending on experience, I say a raft in the river is easier to float, a drift boat gives you a
    higher vantage point.

    Just my $0.00. Good luck on your choice.
  13. Alchemist New Member

    Posts: 27
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    I think everyone with a boat has struggled with this question, (I did last year) and of course everyone's answer will be biased by personal experience:

    My thoughts:
    If you move to PDX get a drifter with a suitable transom, you can use it in the estuaries with a kicker, and it will handle your local/coastal winter steelheading and Deschutes trips just fine. If you move to the Tri-cities I would go with the raft, I would imagine more summer work on shallow eastside rivers where a raft will really shine, and you don't have the same estuary opportunities.
  14. Rick Todd Active Member

    Posts: 1,856
    Ratings: +233 / 0
    I have many of the boats mentioned here. A 17' wooden drift boat (by far the sexiest and easiest to row of my fleet), a two man Scadden pontoon (almost as easy to row as the drifty and if you are good on the fins, both people can fish while drifting), a 13' raft (hard to row, heavier and harder to launch in primitive places than the Scadden, but lots of fun in Black Canyon on the Methow in June!) and 3 one man pontoons. At times, with friends and family, we have all of these boats on a float at the same time. My favorite personal craft is a Scadden X5 that is easy to fish rivers with fins and easy to launch. You will notice that most guides in MT Id and on the Yak use drift boats-just easier for clients to fish out of and a lot easier to row day in and day out. Get to the Methow in winter and the guides are in rafts (but you don't fish out of the boat as much as from shore for steelies). On the Klick, guides are about equally split between drift boats and rafts. It boils down to the kind of fishing you are going to be doing the most! On oars, my Custom made Lindy Feather Sitka Spruce oars for my drift boat are so nice to row with-light weight, great flex pattern. When I get into the raft, with Carlyle counter balanced composite oars, they just don't row nearly as easily. I'm also in the pay as you go camp. Haven't owed money on cars or boats for at least 10 years. Debt free is the way to go IMO! Rick
  15. Dan Cuomo Active Member

    Posts: 275
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +62 / 0
    Reading this post avidly, as I too am in the market for some mode of conveyance to get me off the banks. Great thread. Thanks!