Where can't a Drift Boat Go?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Bob Neal, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. Hello all,
    I, like many of you, am going back and forth between getting a drift boat or a raft. I've searched and ready many a thread regarding the pros and cons of each so I'm not asking you guys to regurgitate that info, but...
    I'd like to know where I would not be able to take a drift boat? I fish in Washington for steelhead & trout, Yakima, peninsula, etc., sometimes go to Montana, just got my first spey rod, am planning to fish more and want a watercraft. I keep leaning toward a raft because it will go "anywhere" but I can't think of specific examples of places I fish where a drift boat wouldn't work.
    I'd love for some specific rivers at particular times of year where a drifter just wouldn't work that may make me say, "oooh, I want to do that...better get a raft". Or not.
    BTW, this is my first official post so I figure I should say thanks to all of you for the info I've quietly mooched from this site.
  2. lower klickitat canyon, but I doubt you get through there in anything short of a kayak and a rough ride at that
  3. depends how good you are on the oars!
  4. No go on the Methow anytime in the summer or fall.
  5. Do a weight comparison. My 13' raft with frame+boxes weighs 165 pounds. The glass boat, closer to 500. Which would you rather row?
  6. A hard boat cna go anywhere you wawnt to go, and it can't go where you don't take it.

    I sold my beloved glass boat (an old eastsider as Jerry revealed to me) this spring. I'd resurrected the hull from the scrap heap, and spent lots of time rebuilding stuff and varnishing her up. She was really pretty, so like an urban beauty, the calf pens at the rodeo really were'nt her natural habitat. Shallow rocky water, rough launches, class 3 rapids, all were pretty much out of my comfort zone. It might be different in an aluminum boat, or something, but I spent enough time with epoxy putty and paint in the winter anyway, bringing her back to her best. It'll be your choice. Among the places I wouldn't take mine again, that I might take a raft/cataraft setup: Rock Ck. MT., some stretches of the Bitterroot, the rock garden that is the lower Klickitat, the Ronde.

    Of course, all these boats will go, it's just a matter of , whether or not you're willing and able to take them into harm's way. Most of my relcutance was due to the time value of winter repairs. I hope the nice folks who bought my sweetie wear her out...they've already sent me swell pics of clearwater steelhead..bless 'em for that.
  7. I've only been down through the "wild & scenic" section of the Rogue once. So I'm no expert. I bought a 15 ft cataraft for the trip & went down with a bunch of rafters. What surprised me more than anything was spotting a Greg Tatman woodie half way through the run. So it can be done. My present boat is a 16 ft Clack. That flexible bottom will get through some pretty thin water. But I have no plans of taking it through the canyon.
  8. There are rivers that are so rocky, a raft is a better choice. Rock Creek and the Big Hole come to mind. There are rivers where you have to portage around obstacles like log jams and a raft can do this. The float from Bullfrog to S Cle Elum on the Yakima would be an example. There are rivers where the put ins and take outs won't accommodate a drift boat like the Methow or the Kettle. I have both a drift boat and a raft (plus a two man pontoon and two one man pontoons.) A raft will offer you more versatility. You might consider a two man pontoon as well if you don't want to carry 2 additional anglers as a pontoon offers you the possibility of fishing by yourself and using fins so you can fish out of the boat as you float the river.
  9. I was on the Deschutes once with John Hazel and he told my his favorite boat for really technical stretches of that river was a 16' Rays River Dory.
  10. Hey Rick... If you had to sell every rig but one, which one would you keep? smile

    I have the drift boat fever... but my two-man toon (paid for) is looking better every day now.
  11. I've had several catarafts (mostly whitewater, but also quite a few one man whitewater grade pontoon boats), a couple driftboats, prams, rafts, etc. In fact, at one time, I had a jetsled, an aluminum driftboat, a glass driftboat, 3 catarafts (in the 14-18' range), 2 smaller 8 and 9' pontoons (one whitewater grade, other a small outcast), a pram, and a couple float tubes (yes, all at the same time). But I do alot of fishing, and I don't just flyfish. I use what boat best suites where I'm fishing.

    Now, if it came to fishing (and we are talking fishing here). You shouldn't judge your boat by where it'll take you. It should be where you are COMFORTABLE rowing it. Just because a raft/cataraft is class V rated doesn't mean you can grab a set of sticks and row a class V (or even a III for that matter). People who use a boat as a crutch kill thier passengers or themselves (not trying to preach, just stating a fact). For me, and I'm saying me, I'd go driftboat hands down. I've put alot of time on the sticks over the last 30 years. And for me, the style of fishing I'd do, I'd go aluminum all the way (but like I said, I do gear as well as fly). BUT.........the Hydes I've seen with the defined chine has me intrigued. I may have to try one out and see how I like it. Also, need to try out Dereks raft as well. Looks like another option. I'm not worried about weight. I've portaged driftboats enough that it doesn't bother me. In fact, where I was fishing this week, I had to drop my driftboat down a rock slide, then portage it about 100 yards before I could even get it into the water. Loaded with gear, still wasn't that big of a deal. But those glass boats sure do slide nicely over rocks (and the aluminums do too if they have that gluvit/coatit with graphite resin coating on the hull).

    But point I'm getting across. If you don't have the money and/or room to store that many boats. Don't go off what others tell you. Because no matter what, in the end YOU have to decide what's most comfortable for you and what "feels" right rowing. Funny for me, certain rivers and certain activities different boats feel right. I LOVE, and I mean L O V E LOVE catarafts. But I LOVE rowing them through whitewater. I've used them for fishing for years, and they do work great. Put me into certain waters I care not to put a driftboat in, though in the past I have put a driftboat in there (Calawah comes to mind).

    There are plenty of people around. Try to do a few trips on the rivers you love to fish in different boats. See if they'll let you row them. If not, I do know there are companies that even rent driftboats, rafts, and catarafts. Rent them and try them out. Trust me, renting them is ALOT cheaper then buying one and realizing you hate it and having to sell and buy something else.
  12. Thanks for the great advice fellas. I've rowed a bit over the years, both a buddies glass Hyde and another buddies Star raft, but I'm certainly a betinner. I'd say at this point the raft (or cat) route is more appealing...I'm mostly looking forward to the day years down the road where some guy asks this question and I get to answer like Jerry with a long list of all of the boats I've had/have!
    One cat question. I do one trip annually with three other buddies and each time we've had either one guys drifter or the 15ft star raft (old school friends & we all live far apart). It's not ideal but we've been able to fish with one up front, one in back, one rowing and the last guy sitting on the cooler in the drifter or in the raft on the tube in the back corner (Yes, we are all grown men...a little silly looking but it gets us down the river and the guy on the "bitch seat" gets to hop out if tricky water arises, though we stay away from anything too tricky). Can this be done on a big old cat? I'm thinking in particular of that masterpiece that Mumbles put together.
  13. You know I would keep the two man Scadden! (even though I would cry to let go of my 17' Ray's River Dory with African Mahogany sides that I build from a kit-I have a real emotional attachment to it and it is still the easiest rowing drift boat I've rowed (which includes Bavro, Hyde, Clack and RO boats)) Rick
  14. I'd be hard pressed to give that boat up too Rick.
  15. Yes, it can be done with an old cataraft. I used to have a 16' Aire Ocelot (one of the first off thier production line). I'm assuming you mean sitting actually on the tube? Used to have what we called "saddles" that strapped to the tube and we could put passengers on. Just safer to be inside the boat. Here's an old custom frame I had on my Aire.


    I could put 3 passengers (and drop it down to 1 passenger) and rower with this boat. Was great.

    BTW, wish you could pan through this pic. You can see my old jetboat there, and just to the left was my driftboat in garage with smaller cats hanging from the ceiling.
  16. You would be surprised what a drift boat can do. On Youtube look up the videos from the Lochsa River. There are a bunch of roadside videos from Lochsa Falls(?) showing raft after raft being overturned on a huge standing wave. A couple drift boats go through the same spot and punch through with ease.

    I've personally taken them through some hairy spots a lot of guys would avoid, including a 4' drop over a diversion dam. Like Jerry said, its all about your personal comfort level and what you like to row. Try different crafts out on the waters you like to fish and figure out what works best for you.
  17. Speaking of cool boats, I was in Montana last week chasing pheasants, and I managed to do a couple days on the Missouri as well (where I rented an RO drift boat from the Trout Shop in Craig and is rowed like a PIG!). There was a top of the line Montana Boatbuilders wood/kevlar drift boat on the river both days and that is one awesome craft! I got some pretty good ideas for some mods to my drift boat, so I have a winter woodworking project in my future! Rick
  18. Rick, it's funny how different boats are. I have been TRYING to restore my old Eastside. Ain't working. Everytime I rip it apart I want to take it out and put it back together again. It's not pretty, was that way when I got it. People look at it and probably think "I'm not going to survive a float in that boat". Tune changes fast. I know Chris and Evan have been in it on the board. Rows like a dream, and handles some pretty skinny water nicely.

    I've heard mixed reviews on the RO boats. Aren't they the composite boats (as in like the same materials as the kayaks)?
  19. So how was the Mo fishing?
  20. I debated this question for about a year before finally deciding on a Clackacraft FB. It was the best decision that I made. There is always a river with fish in it in Western Washington that you can take a drift boat. The only time I wished I had a raft is July and August on the Kalama for Steelhead. The water was to low for my driftboat.

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