Another twist on drift boats...

I have actually been mulling over exactly what kind of boat I want to buy .
For the record I requested info from both Clack and Hyde and Hyde not only sent me an email within a day but Ihad the catalog in a couple days. matt Hyde then followed up with a couple emails answering questions. Still nothing from Clackacraft..

My quandry is that I fish mostly stillwater (although I would definitely drift the Deschutes and Yak on occasion along with the Kalama, Sandy and a few other local rivers) and I can't decide on what boat best suits my needs. I fish from pontoons and tubes mostly now but I have two boys who are going to be getting started here soon and I want them high and dry.

One question for you drift boat owners is how well do they perform on stillwater to get around in? How well will an electric motor push one? Most lakes I fish are electric motors only but some are big enough to make me not want to row acrossed.

Secondly, how hard are they to control in a windy situation on stillwater?
Matt Hyde tells me they are fine in stillwater but then again he is trying to sell me one.

Lastly, will the lower profile boats (which are better for wind) suffice on a river like the Deschutes?

I must admit my other thought is to buy a nice Livingston and customize it with a casting platform and anything else I want but I realize that severely limits the waters I can fish while a drift boat in theory lets me do both.

I realize this is a pile of ?'s but any little bit of info will help!

Thanks in advance.......Matt

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I'd go for the driftboat. While they don't row as well as other hulls in a lake against high winds and big chop, due to the flat bottom and rocker, you have to ask yourself if you will be out flyfishing in those conditions. I lake-fished with PETI once out of his driftboat, powered by a trolling motor. I worked great. You might need more than one battery to push a heavy boat around all day, though. I think PETI had two batteries hooked up "in parallel" so that they would draw down slower, and he wouldn't have to hassle changing over from one battery to the other as the first got drawn down. (Don't hook 'em up "in series" though, or you'll get 24 volts, unless you want to run a 24 volt motor, which will give you considerably more power).
I sometimes push my 9'6" Don Hill mini-drifter around with a 30# thrust Minnkota, and it works pretty well in small waters. I wouldn't want to be out in a large lake with strong winds in it, though.
I have a 15 1/2' Clackacraft, low profile, fly fishing model. I have used it quite a bit on lakes and it works quite well. I don't think I would want to be across a lot of water in a cross wind, however. These things do not have a keel and they go sideways just fine. In reasonable conditions it is not a problem. I have seen people hang trolling motors off the stern with no problem.

I float the Yak, Cowlitz, Skagit, and Grand Ronde with no problems due to the low profile. I have been on the Deschutes in high profile boats but it has been some time ago. You should get advice from others on this river. It has some sections with bigger water but most are OK.

I like my boat as an option for stillwaters. I can take my kids, girlfriend or guests. The low profile is very nice for getting into/out of and has much less wind resistance. I would strongly suggest the low profile and a bow drop (a fitting for a bow anchor). I have one and use a 20# pyramid. I normally position the boat cross wind to allow easier fishing for everyone. The fitting doesn't impede any river operations. I did have to customize (with the help of a girlfriend's sewing maching) my boat cover. I just unstiched the bow section and restiched the seams to have an open hole. Works great.

My 15.5' boat allows 3 to fish, sort of. It is crowded with 3 and better with 2. A longer boat would be better. As to Hyde vs. Clackacraft.... They are both good boats and you would be happy with either. I bought mine through the Clackacraft used boat program. It was completely reconditioned and warrantied. I saved money over a new boat while getting an essentially new on. I picked it up in Clackamas and they gave me absolutely great service.

Yours is a big dilema. The bigger the boat, the harder it will be to row when the wind kicks up. My 14' driftboat sucks to row even on a small lake with the wind blowing. The wind usually sends me rowing for the launch before it stops me from casting, especially if I'm using a sinking line. The electric motor makes things easier but, once again, it doesn't take too much wind to overpower the little minnkota or at least make it really hard to steer. Another option might be to buy a used jonboat and a used driftboat. That way you could cover both situations with about the same money.You need to take this advice with a grain of salt though because I'm an admitted boataholic:eek:



Active Member
I have a 14' Lavro and mainly fish lakes (probably the same ones you fish) and it works great. I have a 46# thrust motor that pushes it around easily. Just get 2 good batteries and your set for the day. If it's super windy the fishing is going to be tough no matter what type of boat you get.

Although the higher sides on my boat catch more wind, I like them because I feel more secure when my young daughters are in the boat.
Gorgefly: I used the Minn Kota Riptide 55/T transom mounted on the back of a 15' dift boat for about a year on lakes. I go the saltwater version as I planned on getting a boat, but never did. It was unstoppable even in a strong wind. Each battery gave me around 4-5 hours of power, so, I carried two. I'd lean toward a litter more horsepower than they recommend for your footage of boat due to the flatter hull your boat will have.
Thanks for all the good advice! I will probably end up with a driftboat in the end and since I live in the Portland metro area (I am a Washingtonian though!) I will probably end up with a Clack.
I have seen the skiffs online and in catalogs and the do look like something that I might check into.
I wonder if they track any better on stillwater? Probably not if they still don't have a keel but I am sure they are a little better in wind.

Thanks again guys! Very helpful!

Matt (a.k.a. - do we change that name again anyway?)
I had been asking drift boat questions on another thread but as long as this one has started on motors....what has been peoples experience with outboards on drift boats ?

David Loy

Senior Moment
Gorgefly - Just for grins (and since you're in Portland anyway) call Ray Heater or Cy Happy at Ray's River Dories (or check out their web site and go visit their shop in the Multnomah area. The glass boats mentioned above are gorgeous boats, and I think one can do more with design in glass. I wouldn't hesitate to own one but I do like wood. It's warm, quiet, classy, and because I grew up in wood boats, it's more a part of me somehow. I use the Minn Kota Riptide Jason mentioned on the boat to my right and it works well. It also works well with an 8hp outboard if you need more kick.
I believe any driftboat with a slick, flat bottom, will row & power sideways a bit, just because of design. I'll add that I've been blown off of a lake too. A low side boat would help some. I keep a sea anchor in the boat for wind drifting. Power up, drift down, repeat. Certainly not perfect but...


Active Member
I grew up on the salt, East coast, and have been rowing my whole life. First boat was an eight ft. pram at ~ 5 yrs. old. Second was a 14' V bow plywood piece of green crap, but to me was the most beautiful boat in the cove. Outfitted it with a bamboo mast and what I remember to be a sheet but must have been canvas, for a sail. Went down wind easy but the row back was a killer. One of the old guys at the boatyard noticed what we were up to and suggested side boards to allow tacking for the return trip. (Try to stay with me here this becomes important) What this consisted of was a board laid across the gunwales and two more boards nailed to the ends vertically, jutting into the water on each side. This acted as a crude keel and allowed us to tack against the wind.
A drift boat while great for rivers and good for lakes has a serious shortcoming in my mind in that, due to the design of the hull to allow for maneuverability on rivers, didn't track well when on a lake under power. Consequently I was constantly working the tiller arm to correct for drift caused by the wind. I was even considering a centerboard setup like they use in small sailing dingys so I could drop it down on lakes and pull it up for rivers. Then the old side boards came to mind and I realized I had them on board already. I have a side mount anchor bracket that allows the use of a motor but causes the boat to swing when anchored on a river. If you drop the oars the oar rights force the blade into the water vertically, acting as side boards, and stop the swing. A couple of months ago it clicked and I tried it on a lake, Eureka! Not perfect but a world of difference and it gets the oars out of the boat and out of the way.
I've rowed a lot of different hull designs over the years and I'm amazed at how well and fast a drift boat moves on still water. They carry the power of the stroke exceptionally well and handle a chop better than I would have believed had I not been forced into it by a motor failure. I find them to be as efficient on lakes as on rivers, a pleasure to row.
As Jimbo mentioned I carry three batteries and use (now that the old one died) a 55 MinnKota. Might be because of the size and weight of my boat but I need all three on a long summers day, running down to about 50% on each battery. All are 85 amp hr. Top speed ~4mph on a fresh battery.
I like Paul prefer a high side for the kids and they take on much less water in the heavier stuff than the low side style. I've always like sitting in a boat, not on it. Can be a pain getting in and out of but a trade I'm willing to make.



spent spinner
I'll second the Ro skiff suggestion, the Clacka skiff is a poor copy - it's much heavier. I have friends that own Ro's - one guides the Madison with his. Just returned from fishing the gulpers on Hebgen Lake and floating the Madison as well. It's a VERY versatile boat. Tracks very well with a Minn Kota.

David Loy

Senior Moment
Peter - Fascinating idea, borderline genius!
I normally envision sideboards in the large oval shape but you're using oars mounted vertically. Seems like one could fashion modest sized sideboards that could mount in oarlocks, specifically for still waters, and that don't stick up above the gunnel much. Most DBs have two sets of locks so you could still row a relatively straight track down the lake. Very cool idea Peter.
Once in a while a tender nugget comes down the chute.