Best small boat for fly fishing PNW waters?

DJSponge

Member
What are everyone's thoughts on the best small boat for fly fishing up here in the PNW? Ideally, something that could cover lakes, the Puget Sound, and maybe some rivers? I'm considering all options at this point, but I'm leaning towards a 16'-18' Bay boat center console style vessel. I'd like to take the wife and maybe 1-2 others on occasion, but I'd need to be able to launch and recover solo. My boating experience is ZERO, and my time on the water is limited to lake fishing and one trip out on the sound with Justin Waters. However, I'd really love to go out and chase some SRC, as well as fish for lake trout and the occasional steelhead. Also, my daughter will be attending WSU in the fall, so I'll be out East a bit, so...Yakima? Let's say for argument I have a $10k budget.

Here are my contenders:

- Fishing kayak(s):
+Low(er) cost, cheap to maintain, no fuel, easy storage, easy-ish launch, car toppable (maybe)
- Limited range, not ideal for choppy conditions, standing could be a challenge

- Inflatable raft:
+ Not the most expensive, hold multiple people, fly fishable, car toppable, easy launch, trolling motor?
- Lifespan, wet floor?, have to pump up at the launch (maybe), wind, range, troller/outboard?

- Skiff:
+ Cheap for a boat (maybe), light, easy to maneuver, can get into shallow places, range
- Wind/weather protection, not good in chop, have to trailer/store, fuel, boat launch required

- Bay boat:
+ Good all around, some wind/weather pro, get into shallows, hold 4-5 people (2-3 fishing)
- Not cheap, harder to launch/recover, harder to fish solo from

What am I missing? What am I wrong about? What else should I consider? What's the best compromise of the bunch?

Thanks,
Doug
 
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bconrad

Active Member
I am biased being a Whaler owner but an older Montauk fits your description other than the river use.

You might be able to find an aluminum semi v pump that is good for rivers. I'll leave it to others with real experience to talk about the compromise there but personally I wouldn't want to be caught in one of those boats in an unexpected saltwater storm.

If you want some comfort for the family I'd encourage you to look at a dual console/bench setup as opposed to a center console. Of course that is going to be a compromise for fishing. An older Whaler 13/15/17 sport may be interesting.
 

Capn Chicken Man

Active Member
You can buy a used Clackacraft Eddy or LP for $8K in great shape (almost new). It won't do you any good in the salt (bay boat), but it will work really good for steelhead on the OP, fishing on lakes, and any rivers such as the Yakima. Add a motor mount and motor for the other $2K and you can go almost anywhere.
 

DJSponge

Member
Thanks bconrad and CCM...I hadn't considered drift boats. I've never set foot in one, let alone rowed one down a river. Lots of learning to be had for me. I'm not even sure what a semi v pump is bconrad, googling now...
 

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
I am biased being a Whaler owner but an older Montauk fits your description other than the river use.

You might be able to find an aluminum semi v pump that is good for rivers. I'll leave it to others with real experience to talk about the compromise there but personally I wouldn't want to be caught in one of those boats in an unexpected saltwater storm.

If you want some comfort for the family I'd encourage you to look at a dual console/bench setup as opposed to a center console. Of course that is going to be a compromise for fishing. An older Whaler 13/15/17 sport may be interesting.


I've seen a whaler on the Skagit near Ilabot creek back 15yrs or so. They where fishing with bobers n eggs for bulls in late November, and doing well.
 

bconrad

Active Member
Thanks bconrad and CCM...I hadn't considered drift boats. I've never set foot in one, let alone rowed one down a river. Lots of learning to be had for me. I'm not even sure what a semi v pump is bconrad, googling now...

"Semi V pump" just refers to a jet sled that has a modified V hull and a jet outboard, here is an example from CL...

https://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/boa/d/hewescraft-river-runner-jet/6534861722.html

If you decide you want a whaler or similar this one looks pretty nice...

https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/boa/d/boston-whaler-15-sport-gls/6541154320.html

The right boat for you will depend on how you are going to use it most of the time.
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
The best boat to do all the things that you want is called 2 boats, LOL!

One motorized boat for the salt and large lakes and maybe very large rivers and then a driftboat, raft or pontoon boat for smaller rivers and lakes.
Actually 3 or possibly 4 boats. I have owned as many as 5 at one time. Each had a purpose. I am currently down to 3. 17’ sled for large rivers. 12’ aluminum semi v for lakes. 8’ pontoon for small rivers and lakes. I need another larger boat, 20’ to 24’ with cabin for the salt.
 

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
That's wild! I don't even want to imagine what the hull on that boat looked like by the time he got it out of there!


Ya no chit, funny ass story, dumb ass dosent discrib the fool well. He almost lost his new 70k truck trying to pull it out too.
 

surfnfish

Active Member
"something that could cover lakes, the Puget Sound, and maybe some rivers?"

Congrats on getting ready for your first boat purchase. There is no one boat, however, that will be ideal for the needs you describe, it will be a matter of compromising towards what you think you will fish the most.

Regarding Whalers. Have owned several, repaired more. The older Whalers used a flotation foam that was susceptible to absorption, the hulls are easily damaged on rocks. Firm fan of aluminum boats, beach them at will, bang them with rocks, easily repaired. Where fiberglass comes into play is on the salt, where a full V glass hull is the optimum ride

If planning on more time on the Sound and lakes, would recommend going for a quality used tin boat with a side console, windshield, semi V hull that will run through chop at speed just fine, will be comfortable for 2 to 3, easy to tow and launch. A boat like a Crestliner Fishhawk offers a forward raised decking that provides a fine fly casting platform (loved mine). With a Mack's River Runner prop protector on a prop engine, would be able to run deeper, non white water river sections just fine, just stay away from the shallower zones.

If more favoring rivers and lakes, a jon style boat like a G3, Roughneck, Sportsman, or similar with either console or tiller, open deck, box seating with swivel chairs would be fine. Best powered by a prop engine with a Mack's installed, would still get you onto the sound on non windy days (who wants to flyfish in the wind anyway), be fine on lakes, fine on non-white water rivers.

I've owned and operated many boats, both props and pumps. IMHO, pumps strictly belong on river boats running shallow waters where a prop would get damaged or hung up. Pumps do not run well at slow speeds, won't troll, are noisy, and only reach maximum performance when throttled wide open.

Whatever boat you get, make sure you get a galvanized trailer with bearing buddy or oil immersion hubs, will last much longer.

And most importantly, get close to max outboard hp on whatever boat you buy. Nothing worse then an under powered boat. Do not be afriad of outboard HP, it is your friend.
A 16' jon style, rated for 60 hp with a 40hp on it would be acceptable, not optimal.
A 16' Crestliner style rated for 75 hp with a 40 would be unacceptable.

Feel free to ping me with a PM is you'd like to have more of an exchange.

cheers
 

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