New Drift Boat - terrible oarsman - advice

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by RubberLegs123, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. I have been trying to convince my wife we "need" a drift boat for the last 5 years. Of that time (the last 3 years) were spent just enjoying the sport of the conversation, always anticipating the answer to be "no". Not sure what I said, specifically, to produce a "yes" but something worked and I bought that drift boat last weekend and immediately floated it down the Yakima.

    Clackacraft 16' FFB / Trailer / Have truck.

    The advice I received after purchasing the boat was priceless but I a'm still looking for any advice I can get on; rowing, setting up to drift a run, how many trips on Class 1 water should I make before moving up to more difficult water etc.

    I'm pretty good with a rod but not so good on the oars. Plan is to use the Yakima as my training ground, during our maiden voyage I felt like the Keystone Cops floating down the river, would like to change that.
    Thanks in advance to any advice we can get.
  2. I think Reds has some Yakima pontoon/drift boat classes at various times. Might want to check them out.
    fredaevans and RubberLegs123 like this.
  3. Can you share your experience with white water - rafts - toons?

    How long are the oars? I find many people set-up drifters for just back rowing plugs down larger rivers and the oars are to long.

    Drift boats, you have to handle completely different than a raft or toon. you don't let a drift boat gain to much speed and the water does not just flow under them while being sideways. The water grabs the side of a drifter 3 times harder than a soft boat where the water for the most part just flows under them. I'm sure someone has already told you point the front of the boat at all objects and row away from them but boat speed is also just as important, when just learning - approach everything you need to go around rowing very hard backwards to slow the flow of the boat and make your maneuvers very slowly and safely. I don't know how many boats have gone down because someone let there "BUDDY ROW" who knew nothing about handling a drifter.

    If you can take the class do it! Or get someone to take you down a river that knows what they are doing. This summer get it on soft water as much as you can and row. Not having to think about what you need to do with the oars to move the boat is a must in harder to float rivers. I could go on and on.

    Anyway welcome to the club! And be safe!!!
    fredaevans and RubberLegs123 like this.
  4. I took the rowing class at Red's last year and would highly recommend it. A lot of different aspects of rowing and safety were discussed before a boat was put on the water. Handouts were provided of the class and included additional information. You are encouraged to bring your own boat which worked out very well for me. I was very pleased and thought Mike M taught a very professional class.
    RubberLegs123 likes this.
  5. If you're serious about learning to row the boat, get out with someone experienced and leave the rods at home. Learn how to row safely first, then learn how to row for the angler in the front and back.

    Most of all, don't try to teach your wife to row..leave that to the professionals..;)
  6. I too took the class and found it helpful. As in many things sometime having someone point out minor adjustments can make a big difference in your performance. I would like to see them offer some additional more advanced classes though.

    Floating from Reds to the slab or Roza several time simply focusing on rowing basics would be a good choice unless you have similar water closer to home. Derek's advice on not trying to fish while learning to row is spot on, as is having someone else teach your wife if she is interested. It is a bargain in the long run.
    RubberLegs123 likes this.
  7. Hear great things about the Red's courses. Have a friend and his better half that have taken it. Not sure it helped him, but she is a freaking ROCK STAR now!

    Wish I could double like Derek's post about taking someone out that has experience. Learn from them in your boat and then replicate what they do. This has worked for me. I'm an inflatable boat rower, and find my cataraft handles quite different than the hard sided boats. I have enjoyed them all nonetheless. Row that "easy stuff" until your certain you can keep that boat in the exact line you want, dance around and between any obstacles you can find to hone your skills and feel for your craft. Once you get that set, find a slightly tougher run and take that one repeatedly. Nothing should be taken for granted. The river can be dangerous at any time, in any place and for any reason. Careful where and how you anchor and be ready for the worst at any time.

    When is your next adventure? My hands long for the handles of a good set of oars.
    Bill Aubrey and RubberLegs123 like this.
  8. I don't know how many boats have gone down because someone let there "BUDDY ROW" who knew nothing about handling a drifter

  9. Lemoyne Hyde put out a video years ago about rowing a drift boat. Might check it out on utube and see if it is still around. It is what I used around 20 years ago to learn to row a drift boat. It is also helpful to get on still water and get really good at spinning the boat in both directions by pulling with one hand and pushing with the other. That should become second nature. Rick
  10. As Captain Ron said, "if anything is going to happen, it will happen out there (water - emphasis applied) so let's light the fires and kick the tires") I think you need a cruise with a "Captain Ron".
    RubberLegs123 likes this.
  11. There's obviously much more to it, but if you start with a few key thoughts, it will get you going. Then, time on the oars will teach you pretty much the rest.

    1. Point the bow at what you DO NOT want to hit, and pull on both oars together. It will move you away from the obstacle
    2. If you stop suddenly, it's because you hit something. That's where the spin move comes in. Push on the oar that is in the direction you want to go, and pull back on the other, hard and fast. Keep spinning until you are clear or the bow is pointed downstream again, then stop the spin with the opposite movement. Practice the spin until its second nature.
    3. Don't drift with the oars hanging in the water. Tuck the grips under your knees and keep the oars out of the water when drifting. The tips will find something hard and immoveable, and bad things happen quick.
    4. DO NOT drop the anchor in heavy water. DO NOT tie knots in the anchor line in case you need to let it go.
    5. If you stop quickly (see #2) and you cannot spin, then remember to do and yell "HIGH SIDE" immediately. That means move yourself and everyone in the boat to the high (downstream) side of the boat. It may keep you dry, and if you have to exit, you do not want to exit on the low or upstream side.
    6. Get good pfd's and wear them. Keep a spare oar available and ready at all times. Losing an oar never comes in calm slow water (see #3)

    The worst thing you can do to a boat is to not use it. Get lots of hours on the oars, and you will become proficient quickly. You will know when you're ready for bigger challenges. Do not be bashful about pulling over, getting out, and walking to scout rapids/falls if you do not know them already. Even if you do, things change. Practice picking a line and set up early to move through rapids, even if they are class I. Its something you should do before entering any rapid. Don't take anything for granted. (There's an old saying about bush pilots that applies to drift boaters: "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no Old Bold pilots".) That's where the fun comes into rowing.

    This is how I learned to row, and I have rowed my drift boat down the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho. 125 mi., lots of class IV water.

    Hope that helps
  12. Here's a pretty good video that does two things. Shows you how to row heavy water, and illustrates the difference between soft and hard boats. What works for one does not necessarily work on the other. Drift boat is around 1:45"drift boat" +pistol creek rapid&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq="drift boat" +pistol creek rapid&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=17E25D7EEA867E072FED17E25D7EEA867E072FED

    Here's another good one from the Middle Fork
    ChaseBallard and RubberLegs123 like this.
  13. A couple of very wise and very helpful guides we ran into on our first trip down The River of No Return told us, "keep your ass pointed away from danger". Citori covers this with his key thoughts #1. Also agree with learning to pick a good line is crucial and not just on technical waters. Better to learn these 'feel' and 'visualization' techniques on kinder more gentle waters. Have fun and be safe!
    NateTreat and RubberLegs123 like this.
  14. Derek' is offering sage advice, though he might have an orvis in hand. Go out with an experienced oarsman and drift a good stretch of river with different features. Let them show you and coach you.
    RubberLegs123 and Derek Young like this.
  15. If the conditions are right, I'll have a 4 wt DS in my hand! :cool:

    RubberLegs123 likes this.
  16. Pretty much what everyone else said. A positive attitude, a cold 6pack,and some sandwiches go a looooooooong way in getting folks around here to offer advice/wisdom. This place is a gold mine of great people willing to help out a decent person. Next free weekend post an open seat thread with the expectation of the person taking you up on it showing you around on the oars. If I was free, I'd take you up on it, and I bet I wouldn't be the only one. Just remember, videos are ok, but the only way to get experienced is experience.

    Good luck!
    Bill Aubrey and RubberLegs123 like this.
  17. Like Citori posted; get lots of time on the oars. You want it to be second nature every time you make a stroke. I advise folks to build up muscle memory (and the right muscle groups) by rowing every chance you get. If there's lake nearby, go do a few laps every chance you get. Practice pulling, pushing, feathering, doing stops, spins and travel strokes. You'll find out if you need to adjust the seat to your size, move the stops to your taste, and whether or not you want 'oar rights'.

    Build up your rowing strength and stamina, so when you get to your first set of class III's and IV's, the boat will go where you want without thinking about it.
    Bill Aubrey and RubberLegs123 like this.
  18. Wow. This site is a great resource. Thank You to everyone for your input, tips and advice. Citori, thanks for the videos and sage advice. Orangeradish, great idea on posting an open seat thread and I can make a mean sandwich!

    I can't wait for some better weather, I'll be out in that boat either practicing on lakes, easy rivers or with one of you fine forum members.

    Not one bad piece of advice offered. Thanks All. See you out there.

  19. Need to practice in flowing water to understand what it takes to make the boat move. Lakes/ponds are OK, but if you want to learn how to row in a river, you have to row in a river. The side of the chine is basically a rudder, and rudders don't work without water pushing on them.
    Bill Aubrey likes this.
  20. Don't get too good at rowing... You might get stuck there

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Trustfunder likes this.

Share This Page