Montana Boat Builders


Tamer of Trouts
First class operation! When I was going to school in Bozeman a few years back my roommate and I bought an older wooden driftboat that needed a lot of work and we were lucky enough to hook up with Jason at Montana Boat Builders. Jason let us use his shop, tools, knowledge and ordered the necessary stuff for us to restore the boat at cost. After working with him and watching him hand craft these boats I wouldn't hesitate to buy a boat from them. :thumb:

They are beautiful pieces of work, but not for everybody. I am saving to get a freestone classic, 13', which i plan to start guiding out of at the end of summer when it is done. I am hyped, they are SOOO nice, but SOOO expenisive. I can get tricked out claka for this cost, plus I have to get it liscensed, finish getting my guide liscense...


AKA Joe Willauer
where are you guiding that you need to finish getting your guide liscense, cuz in this state you just need to finish writing your 180$ check
Hi guys -

I pop in to this board to lurk from time to time and this thread caught my eye. I've drooled over the boats on the Montana Boat Builders website for a couple years now but just can't justify the time and expense to build one. I've just got too many other projects lined up right now, and I don't have the storage space for another boat.

So I was reading this thread and a crazy idea pops into my head - how about a co-op project? Here's the deal: I'm in the Olympia area, and I've got a garage full of woodworking tools - tablesaw, bandsaw, planer, routers, hand tools, etc. I've built a few boats, kayaks and the like from plans, so it wouldn't be too hard to knock one of these together from scratch and save big bucks over a kit. Materials-wise eyeballing the boats I'm thinking it would cost in the 900-1500 range. Maybe more, maybe less.

Problem is I don't have space in my shop (i.e. garage) for a 16 ft boat project right now or in the foreseeable future.

Here's how it might work: You buy plans and materials. We can mill up most of the stock here and do the assembly in your garage. You'll have to do most of the gruntwork, but I can give a few hours a week to coach you through the tricky parts. When we're done, you've got a boat that's the envy of everyone on the river. Payback is I get to take a turn in the bow a few times a year.

Another option if 3 or more people want to go in on it, we split materials cost, and work out a co-ownership deal like a timeshare. It's been done before for big sailboats, so why not a driftboat? We still would need a garage to build it and somewhere secure to store it.

It's so crazy, it might just work! Any south sounders out there interested (within say, 30 minutes of Olympia) let me know and we could get together to knock back some brewskis and work out details.

Alternatively if you just want to say screw it and go fishing I'd be up for that too.

The thing is that I also have wood shop half a block away with two table saws, 2 band saws, planer, jointer, miter saw... I was thinking about building one, but i decided to buy a bare bones one and build on it in shop. Though I am sure some one would probably want to do it with you who is near olympia. They use almost all mohagany with a kevlar bottom and their craftsmanship is immaculate. They have a deal here thyey send you all the materials and you build it which costs 1500 without a trailer. I have looked into all options and have decided to save and save some more.
Jergens, yeah i already have the $180 check ready, but i want to be able to get liscensed in montana so i can guide the madison, and i believe you need a water rescue class, cpr, and some other stuff to get it, but maybe not.
You should build your own boat. I built an eight ft prma in about a month. Mostly weekend and a few weekday afternoons. It ran me a bout $525 with oars. You really don't need many tools either.

Just curious but why a 13 foot boat. The weight limit would be such that you wouldn't be able to guide ole fat guys like me, let alone 2 people. If you are making a guiding investment I wouldn/t go smaller than 16. JMHO
I have plenty of customers urging me to guide them, and them only. The weight ratios on these boats are sweet and unless you weigh over 500 lbs therre own be a problem. I have dealt with 16 footers and plenty of other boats and I want a small craft that is designed for one at the oars, one in the front. and one in the back. If you know what your doing all you need is 13', guiding for me wont be like some, this will a be trip that is fully customised, with lots of instruction, grill lunches, flies and when to use them, stuff that I have gone through years of testing by myself that I want to share with people who will use it and go on it. Clients who will personally talk to me about what they learned and how they applied elsewhere, and what problems they are having, not some rich dude who goes once a year and gets faded on the river and by the time the day is 3/4 through want to take the afternoon off and let me row them down the river. That is easy yes, but if it was easy than i wouldnt do it.
Dan Soltau said:
but i want to be able to get liscensed in montana so i can guide the madison, and i believe you need a water rescue class, cpr, and some other stuff to get it, but maybe not.
When I was a licensed guide in MT in the 90's you needed a CPR class, insurance (FOAM was the best and maybe only one that offered the specific type of insurance needed. I think they are in Gallatin Gateway), an Independent Contractors License (ICL), and a licensed Outfitter to sign your Guide License. I don't remember if you need an ICL if you were only going to guide for one Outfitter. Some guides in MT will guide for multiple Outfitters and I know they needed an ICL. The water rescue class may be a new thing, not sure about that. If I remember correctly, MT strictly limits the number of non-resident Guide Licenses, maybe even a lottery system.

I don’t recall all the specifics when I got my license and I know the state made some changes to their rules/regulations right after I gave up my license but hopefully this will help you get started in the right direction.
Dan -

Sorry, in my post I meant "you" in the generic-everybody-reading-this-board sense, not you personally. Obviously you've already got plans lined up, and with your potential guide business you'd need full time use of a boat. Plus Seattle-Olympia is a bit of a commute.

It just struck me that for the average amateur flyfisher, a driftboat co-op might not be a bad way to go. Splitting ownership among say 3-6 people ensures a steady supply of people to take turns at the oars and to arrange for a shuttle car at the takeout. A homebuilt plywood boat would be the cheapest way to get there.

Frankly I'm kind of surprised you don't see more plywood driftboats out there. Most of these designs are stitch and glue composite construction which is about as easy as it gets for boatbuilding. They look beautiful, they're lightweight, and with the right coverings (kevlar etc) they can be built incredibly strong. If you know how to build it you can also fix it so repairs and maintenance are easy. Plus you can customize them - built in coolers, rod holders, dry storage compartments, cup holders are all easy to do. Anyway, just a thought.

Interesting info on the hoops you need to jump through to start a guide business in MT though. The requirement to be signed up through a licensed outfitter seems ripe for abuse though in that it would be easy for a few guys in a town to choke out any competition.