First Drift Boat

bpatton

Member
Starting to look for our first drift boat. I don't know a damn thing about them, except that they look like fun. So I guess my 2 questions are
1- We don't have a full sized truck to tow it. We've got a forester, a 4 cylinder Tacoma and/or a 1989 Ford Econoline to tow. My first thought wa to hitch up to the truck. I know they're not the heaviest to tow, but any thoughts on that?
2- I was thinking something smaller and aluminum since we'll probably beat the hell out of it perfecting our craft? Does that make sense?
Any other suggestions on what I should be looking for?
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
Starting to look for our first drift boat. I don't know a damn thing about them, except that they look like fun. So I guess my 2 questions are
1- We don't have a full sized truck to tow it. We've got a forester, a 4 cylinder Tacoma and/or a 1989 Ford Econoline to tow. My first thought wa to hitch up to the truck. I know they're not the heaviest to tow, but any thoughts on that?
2- I was thinking something smaller and aluminum since we'll probably beat the hell out of it perfecting our craft? Does that make sense?
Any other suggestions on what I should be looking for?

You can tow a drift boat fine with your forester or your tacoma no problem.

The type of boat you get depends on how you want to use it.

Aluminum boats great for transportation
Glass and wood boats are best for fishing out of.

The shorter and narrower the boat it the deeper it will draft and the harder it will be to row.

I suggest a minimum of 16 x54.
 

Poff

Active Member
Lots of great options out there to choose from and will often just come down to price and personal preference for what you want.

Good luck in your search. There should be plenty of threads in the forums to read.
 

GeorgeV

Active Member
WFF Supporter
The amount of draft is determined partly by the bow-aft curve of the bottom. Alumaweld increased the curve of the bottom then widened the boat from 48" to 54" to create more lift. I have a number of friends that were very experienced (guides) that continued using the 48" configuration. Some places a wider boat couldn't get between the rocks. Fifty years ago 2 of my friends with 4 dudes spent about a week floating the Salmon R. and took out at Heller's Bar on the Snake. Plenty of room for gear (ran outa beer) and handled the Salmon's rapids easily. I've had a wood drift boat (early 60's Maxwell) and aluminum boats, nothing rows as good as a well designed wood boat (Keith Steel, Maxwell), I've only rowed 1 fiberglass boat a Lavro. The boat was 'trimmed' properly, big guy in the bow. I don't know how that small thin guide had enough strength to row all day, and we were on the Yakima. I don't know how he would do on the O.P. The original design of the drift boat was for the short fast rivers of the coast areas. The boat should "balance' at the rowers feet, the stern above the water, so the water 'slips' under the boat, not hit the transom and push the boat. I see boats frequently on the Yakima dragging the transom, hard to hold or stop. I'm not familiar with most of the new boats now manufactured, they appear to be built for flatter rivers with less gradient. A regular drift boat designed for coastal type rivers doesn't row very well with a person fishing from behind the rowing seat, even in the Yakima. For a first boat I would consider how and where it'll be used, then look at Craigslist, I've seen Alumawelds for less than $3,000 and up, be sure to look in Oregon. I would also consider a used raft. Hire an older guide for rowing lessons and try different boats. Here is a FACT, the owner rows.
 

Bmac7

New Member
Starting to look for our first drift boat. I don't know a damn thing about them, except that they look like fun. So I guess my 2 questions are
1- We don't have a full sized truck to tow it. We've got a forester, a 4 cylinder Tacoma and/or a 1989 Ford Econoline to tow. My first thought wa to hitch up to the truck. I know they're not the heaviest to tow, but any thoughts on that?
2- I was thinking something smaller and aluminum since we'll probably beat the hell out of it perfecting our craft? Does that make sense?
Any other suggestions on what I should be looking for?
 

Bmac7

New Member
I wouldn’t go with anything smaller than 14’. I have had a 14’ Hyde drift boat. And now I have the 16’ pro series which is a 16x54. Awesome drift boat. Aluminum Seems like it’s the way to go but fiberglass slides over rocks. Aluminum it pretty loud and sticky. Just my opinion. I have rowed both clacka craft and Hyde. Great boats with a life time warranty.
 

kmudgn

Active Member
Suggest "renting" one first by going to an outfitter who will charge you to use the boat for a day and see if you like it and/or are strong enough to row against a wind
 

WAS

Member
I'd get the boat you think you would want ten years from now. For example, a used Clack with a tunnel hull can be found reasonable if you are patient. They track well and will make your days on the river a lot easier. My Clacka WF-2000 16' weights just under 280 and Baker trailer is 300, so either rig should pull it OK. Agree with kmudgn on the rental and Bmac on size. Buddy has Clacka 15' LP, great smaller river boat but not something I would want to take on the Clearwater or Salmon rivers here in Idaho when the flow is up.
 

Fotdesign

Active Member
I would suggest taking a class (or two). Go out with an experienced person and try a few styles of drift boats and/or rafts if you can. The money and time spent will definitely help in your decision and make you a better boater. Red’s on the Yakima has classes and so does Emerald Waters in Seattle. Also consider the gear and safety equipment that you’ll need.
 

racermo

Watch that Backcast
WFF Supporter
Clackacraft makes damn good glass boats. My own boat is a 16 foot wooden boat made by Ray Heater (Ray's River Dories) Sweet boat, lots of rocker, very maneuverable. Bought it unfinished in 1985 - still going strong.
 

A.A.

Active Member
I suggest talking with anglers (especially guides) who fish the waters you will fish the most. The “best” drift boat will be different in different places. Just about every guide on the Umpqua system has settled on a 17’x 54” aluminum boat. 60” was a little wide for some of the narrower slots. Can use heaters in aluminum boats, so if winter fishing is a priority it’s an important consideration. Size of rapids (high vs low sides). Number of people you plan to take out.

As far as vehicle, I had a 6 cylinder outback and a drift boat would be pushing it in terms of recommended towing capacity. Plus, it was really hard to see around the boat from a smaller vehicle. Traded it in for an F-150 and I’m much happier/safer.

Also, looks are very important. Willie’s look WAY better than Clackacrafts!

5AD933DA-1BCF-4AE1-9984-31C9F36B33A9.jpeg
 
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bpatton

Member
Lots of great options out there to choose from and will often just come down to price and personal preference for what you want.

Good luck in your search. There should be plenty of threads in the forums to read.
Ha, that's such nice way of telling me to use the search function;)

Thanks for the responses. I didnt realize the size made so much difference in how the boat rides.
Although I was kind of hoping someone would say that I definitely needed to upgrade to a Tundra or F250
 

Jerry Metcalf

FishyJere
I bought my first one from Clackacraft on Oregon - Used. They recycle guide boats and bring them back up to snuff. It was a 15' low profile and proved to be a great boat. The price was worth it, not full list, not troublingly cheap either.
 

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