First Drift Boat - Thoughts & Questions

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by mplutodh1, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. mplutodh1

    mplutodh1 Member

    For several years now I have fantasized about one day owning a drift boat, something to take out for a relaxing day on the water with my dad or a fishing buddy and maybe even bring the pup along.

    I'm no expert fly fisherman, head out a few times a year but have plenty of obligations that typically keep me from getting out as frequently as I'd like. Regardless - I like to take advantage of the time I do have on the water and have taken a liking to floats.

    I don't have a small fortune to get my dream but - rather just considering getting a starter / first boat in the not too distant future. Thinking of keeping my eye out for a used wooden boat that could use some TLC - always liked the looks of a nice wood boat.

    A few things I'd love folks advice on:

    Wood Boats
    • Are they that much work?
    • Are they really as fragile as many like to make them out to be?
    • Do you have to store them indoors? If not, what should I know about storing it outside?

    Other Questions
    • Is a 16' good for 2-3 guys? Will likely almost always have just 2 of us on the boat
    • For Northwest waters - what should I look for in a boat?
    • For the inexperienced rower (I'd take a class from someone like Red's has before taking it out) what are the best waters around the Northwest? Ideally driving distance from the Seattle area.
    • Anyone have suggestions on where to look for used boats besides Craigslist?

    Any other advice or thoughts would be great. I've done a lot of reading in this section and plan to do more.

    Thanks folks!
  2. DaMurph

    DaMurph Member

    It just depends on how much money and how much time and money you are willing to put into a wood boat. Personally I would not get a wood boat unless I had the $$ to put into it to keep it in tip-top shape for years to come, I do know what you mean about the nice look of a wood boat. 16' is plenty of room for 2 guys (you and a friend) and if configured correctly 3 is fine. As far a where to look, start with the classified ads on this board and check out classifieds on other local fishing forums, might as well buy from a local who could give you some tips with the purchase and maybe even go with you for a test row. Just my opinion but buy a used Clack or other respected manufacturers boat, I think in the long run you'll be glad you did, you'll spend more of your time and money on fishing instead of maintaining and worrying about damaging your boat on rocks, etc. I row a very old Clack when I'm not using my Steelheader and it has held up very well with almost no maintenance.
  3. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Hope you like rowing 'cause you won't be doing nearly as much fishing :clown:

  4. mplutodh1

    mplutodh1 Member

    Thanks DaMurph. Part of my reasoning for going wood is the cost of them used tends to be lower - at least from what I've seen. Obviously that's because they require a lot more and are probably not in the best shape. But I'm not really looking to shell out a few thousand at first - and that's what I'm finding the glass/aluminum boats for. The alum. boats I've seen are usually pretty stinkin' ugly, in bad shape too. With alum. you are kind of limited to making changes/modifications. Part of why I like the idea of wood. I'll keep my eyes open though.
  5. DaMurph

    DaMurph Member

  6. If you only plan to use it a couple times a year, I"d strongly recommend renting one when you need it IF you fish a place with a fly shop renting boats nearby. Last I checked a boat rental was $100-150/day. No maintenance, storage, and a little more freedom.

  7. Brett Angel

    Brett Angel Member

    Sound advice! You won't have a problem finding people to fill the seats, but finding people to row can be an issue.

    You should rent a couple boats at different lengths and styles before you buy. The initial cost will save from buying a 16' when a 14' would fit your needs and still be a bit lighter. Aside from craigs list and online forums like this check with manufacturers. You can buy used/refurbished boats with a warranty.
  8. Milt Roe

    Milt Roe Member

    Find a buddy, cut your cost in half. As long as you can work out an acceptable sharing agreement, this might be your best first move. My buddy and I paid $500 for an old Eastside boat and trailer, and that was good enough for several years for fishing together and on our own.

    If you have inside storage, a wood boat isn't much more work than any other material. If you have to leave it outside, you will have a lot of work to keep it in good shape. I would not buy a wood boat unless you have a passion for wood boats and all that comes with that.

    Good luck.
  9. Jason Decker

    Jason Decker Active Member

    i'd recommend you buy a clackacraft if you can afford it, they hold their value.
    go to the evening hatch in ellensburg and rent one to try it out.

  10. surfnsully

    surfnsully Active Member

    I second that recommendation for a Clacka. Great boats and great service from Bruce and the gang.
  11. Keaten LaBrel

    Keaten LaBrel Formerly Tyinbugs

    can't go wrong with a clack...they're forgiving with the rocks while you learn how to row and are pretty much the best deal as far as drift boats go (in my opinion)
  12. bfunk13

    bfunk13 New Member

    I would also recommend renting one for a few trips. Find the boat you like, learn to row, then go for the one you want. I financed my clacka from a local bank with 50% down. My payment is $100 a month. I did 15 floats this last summer. Well worth the extra payment.

    As far as wooden vs. fiberglass. I don't know much about the wooden ones. They are beautiful boats, but i love the lack of maintenance the clacka takes. Bring it home from a trip, pull the drain plugs, spray it down with the hose, cover it, DONE... Once in a while i will take it to the spray car wash and give it e real cleaning. I would imagine the wooden boats take constant maintenance and care. Seems like they are a hobby all on their own. Keeping them in good shape. Most i've seen are immaculate, and can tell the owners spend many hours working on them. If thats what you like then cool, personally i dont need more stuff to work on.
    I do know they recommend storing wooden boats indoors. Wood expands and contracts with heat, moisture, weather. Sun is also not good on any boat and a cover is essential. Just my opinions.

    I did my homework before i bought mine and you will have to shell out thousands to get any decent river worthy drift boat. You can find a clunker for less and put alot of time and money fixing it.

    Check out go to classifieds they are out of salt lake city.
    Sometimes they have a good number of boats for sale.
  13. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald Dr. of Doomology

    Wood boats are constant maintainence. Get a Clacka!
  14. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    Most guys who recommend glass have never owned a wooden boat and probably haven't rowed one. A couple years ago, I was up in Calgary on the Bow and a friend from there took me out in my boat. He owned a Clack. He couldn't get over how much easier my wooden boat was to row. He must have commented 20 times during the day. I was with a guide on the Missouri a few weeks ago and we were trading off on rowing his Hyde (he is a friend so not acting exactly like a guide plus he had a sore back that day). I was amazed how much work that boat was to row! It's no wonder he has a bad back after 100+ days rowing that boat each year! I will admit to more maintenance, but if you can store it insede, the maintenance is one weekend per year, and to me it is a lot of fun to work with wood and varnish (in fact, building my Ray's from a kit was one of the most fun things I've done.) So don't rule out a wood boat. Now if most of your floating is on the klickatat or Methow, maybe a glass or aluminum boat would be better, or consider a raft. Rick
  15. Luvlite

    Luvlite New Member

    I'm new to the forum but thought I could add some perspective here. I've built 3 stitch and glue boats which I assume is how most driftboats are constructed. Someday I'm certain I'll build myself a wooden drift boat.

    Of all the wooden driftboats I've seen and kits I see available, these boats are effectively fiberglass boats with a wood core. Some even have kevlar bottoms which I have to believe are as strong or stronger than mass produced boats. The weight also looks very comparable.

    It is fair to say that wood boats take more maintenance but most of that maintainence is protecting the fiberglass and not the wood per se. Rails and other unfiberglassed parts of the boat typically get a coat of epoxy so even on the "wood" parts you are really protecting the epoxy. Varnish is there to stop UV protection much like gel coat or paint do in other boats. Ro, Clackacraft, and the others make great boats and sure you can more or less hose them down and be done with it. But then those boats also don't look like a properly cared for "wooden" driftboat either.

    If you want to go completely utilitarian, you can't beat the standard drift boat. If you want something that has a bit more soul and something to invest your time into for a long term value, consider the wood driftboats. With all of the fly tying, rod building, and other effort many fisherman put into this hobby, I'm surprised there aren't more wooden driftboats.

    And for those who don't have inside coverage for a wooden boat . . . that's what covers are made for. I would suggest even a well taken care of conventional driftboat would benefit from one.
  16. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald Dr. of Doomology

    I can't vouch for the rest of the guys, but I've owned at least five wooden boats (in this case, all sailboats-one designs). I enjoy varnishing, and making a boat look great, but my current sailing vessel is fiberglass. I've owned aluminum, glass, wood, but not concrete, and been around boats both in salt and fresh water all my life. While I'd love to have a beautiful, warm wood drifter, I'd rather be fishing than sanding.
  17. nomlasder

    nomlasder Active Member

    If you hadn't guessed, my preference is for a wood boat also. All boats require maintenance. I clean my boat when I get home, every trip. On extended trips I may wash it down (no soap) right on the river before putting it on the trailer. How the boat looks is important, but also how it functions. During this process all the garbage is cleaned out, flyies wandereing around in the bottom are picked up, line, anchor, life vests and the like are all stowed. All of the brite work (varnished wood) is wipped down with non aresol carnuba wax. Takes all the water posts off and leaves it clean and protected.

    All of this takes about 1/2 hour per trip and some variation of this proceedure should happen to every boat regardless of material. After returning from the salt with a friends alumaweld, the motor is flushed and the boat washed down. This is the routine and this is part of being a boat owner.

    As to the wood being a lot of work. Not if you plan ahead. if you let it get deteriorated, you bet. One of my boats sat out two full years unprotected in Jackson Hole and now it's a lot of work. A fiberglass or aluminum boat would just require a long week end of pressure washing and replacing rope seats. David now has a long winter of restoration due to neglect. I have a good cover for mine, it sits out side all year, but after fresh varnish last winter, it's still good to go. It will go in the shop for a couple of weeks this winter for some hardware modifications, but not for lake of maintenance.

    There are some great deals on Craigslist now, so if you are in the market, you can find some good deals.

    Good luck, and have fun.
  18. martyg

    martyg Active Member

    Matt -

    Do a craigslist search. There is a used Lavro that is selling for $2,500 - outfitted. It is a killer buy. If I didn't already have a driveway full of boats I would buy it. It looks like it is in super shape and Lavro's hulls are just bomber. I have experience with their full-on WW dory and just bought a RWE.

    Based on what I know a 16' would be your best bet, and a full size boat will allow multi-day trips.

    PM me if you want to work on skills.
  19. Slipstream

    Slipstream Active Member

    Milt is right on. Go for the wood if you have, or can get inside, storage. The best thing about a wood boat is they are super quiet. Nothing like watching a fly fisherman jump out of his waders when you ask, "What side of the river do you want me to float through." You can hear aluminum and glass boats coming two holes upstream.
  20. wet line

    wet line New Member

    You owe it to yourself to check out NOMLASDER's, Ross, drift boats. I have fished with him several times in various boats he has built and watched him put them together. They are well crafted and have some nice inovative ideas. They also look great! It seems everybody who has seen one floating down the Yak remembers the boat.

    He makes a darn nice pram besides his drift boats.

    wet line Dave