Looking for drift boat plans. Anyone built one of these?

Hi guys, I'm looking to build a drift boat and this looks like a good place to ask a few questions.

Has anyone built a boat based on plans from Spira International?


Specifically, I like the idea of the Ozark Drifter. Anyone built one of these?

How good are the plans from this outfit? Is a lot of lofting required and how difficult is this to do?

Generally, I'll be using this boat for small to medimum sized rivers, not in WA, I hasten to add, but in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I won't be running anything more than Class 1 whitewater, and the reason I like the idea of a < 13 foot boat for ease of transport (pickup truck bed) and the weight would make it possible to walk it through shallow spots or go for a short portage if necessary.

Anything else I should be thinking about before buying plans from this outfit? I'm a pretty good woodworker, I have all the tools required an know how to use them, etc.


OK... Before you jump at the cheapest plans you can find you should look (and wait, before you tell me you did) let me tell you there are some REALLY nice plans out there that cost just a few bucks more. Try these:
You may find more questions to ask after visiting these sites. If you look at the different styles of construction you should be able to make a decision that you will be happy with. By the way, I bought plans from each of the sites above and still bought an old used Don Hill boat for cheaper than the material would have cost in the '80s, and that old Woodie fishes just fine. One last thing, it's just a box that floats:beer2:
Tom C.
Not sure about the specific set of plans you're referring to. If you're interested in other options, take a look at the Buffalo boat from http://www.montanariverboats.com. Access to the plans is about $20 and while they're not the best-written they're definitely sufficient to do a great job!

This forum is also an invaluable resource for boat building: http://montana-riverboats.com/boat-building.php

The forum covers stitch-and-glue as well as framed construction methods.

Good luck!
Thanks for the replies guys.

Cost of plans wasn't the reason I was interested in the Spira boat. It's the idea of a <13 foot boat that's narrow and light enough that it could be hauled in the back of a pickup.

I'm liking the Beavertail design from Montana Riverboats, thanks for the link Kevin. Also, I really dig the idea of stitch and glue constuction because I understand it's a lot easier for a newbie. Anyone know what lengthe the beavertail is? It doesn't say.

OK, just to pile on the questions:

- Am I kidding myself that a <13 foot boat would comfortably fish two standing anglers? Yeah, I know you CAN fish two guys out of an 8 footer but realistically it's not fun.

- Will I quickly discover that, again, while I CAN haul a <13 drift boat in a pickup, it's such a PITA that I'll do it about twice and then buy a trailer? In which case I'll wish I'd built a bigger more comfortable boat because I'm trailering the dinky 12 footer anyway?

Thanks for the help.

Grouse... I think you should consider the reason drift boats have a wide flat bottom and apply some math to determine what weight it will take to submerge "a boat" one inch. I think you will conclude that there is a reason people sell their 13 foot boats. Don hill has had the same talk with me (and yes Don, I did listen). You will (deleted) conclude that for the average river that you want to run a 16' boat with 2 people is great 90% of the time. I think you will find a 13' boat will be less satisfactory more of the time. Get a trailer and be happy you have one:beer2:
Tom C.
Grouse, you might want to post those questions on the montanariverboats forum - you'll be sure to get answers to your questions there!

In addition, here are the specs for the Beavertail:

centerline length--------------------11'
gunwale length----------------------12'
bottom width-------------------------48"
height at the oarlocks------------24"
Plywood Fiberglass-------------Approximately 210 lbs.

capacity-----------------------------three persons, 825 lbs.
Ooops. Those were the specs for the Buffalo boat. Specs for the beavertail are:

centerline length--------------------15'
gunwale length-----------------------16'
bottom width-------------------------48"
height at the oarlocks---------------24"
Plywood Fiberglass-------------Approximately 250-275 lbs.

capacity-----------------------------three persons, 1000 lbs.

I just recently finished a Beavertail. You can see pics at http://waflyfisher.blogspot.com/ Feel free to contact me with any questions...
I second Montana-Riverboats plans... I finished the Honky Dory this summer. It was a great project and the plans were straight forward. Its a 16' boat so it maybe a little bigger then you are looking for...

I couldnt agree more with Kevin, the forum on Montana-Riverboats website is invaluable. There is a tremendous amount of experience on that forum. Roger Fletcher, auther of the Driftboat book referenced above often posts, as well as Jason founder of Montanaboatbuilders and of course Sandy. These guys are all pro boatbuilders.

btw Kevin, we still need to plan a WA wood boat float - great looking boat man, well done! How about the Yak in the spring???

back to the plans... the process is relatively easy to follow. The Honky Dory is stable, light and durable... As with Kevin, email me any questions you have about the process...

If you do build, keep us updated.. I grew up in WI and always like to hear local reports from the midwest...
A float in the spring sounds like a great plan! Yak would be good, as would the Sky - although at that time of year it would probably be strictly a float rather than fishing.

Great looking Honky, btw!
I bought a set of these plans in a word they were terrible! These plans are for a framed boat but there are no angles for the frames (you are supposed to fair them to the correct angle). The plywood for the sides was but jointed against a wide center frame and you had to build a strongback jig to build the boat. I got ahold of some old plans and have built 6 boats from these plans with a lot of research on the internet. The plans don hill sells are excellent except thay don't tell you how to scarf two sheets of plywood to get the 16' length. Roger Fletchers book has many plans as well as excellent instructions. You can also order plans from his website that has all the info you could need.
Hope this helps.
Hi guys,

An update. I ended up buying both the Montana BB'ers plans for the Hunky Dory and the Spira plans. The problem I had was to get enough info about what it would really cost both in $ and time to build the boat, I had to buy the plans.

In the end I decided to build a modified version of the Spira 14 foot Canadian. It had the length I wanted and the cost of construction is lower because it's a framed boat rather than a stich and glue, which by my estimate will use well over $600 in fiberglass supplies alone.

The downside is the clutter of the ribs in the interior of the boat. It's probably my inexperience, but I couldn't see a compromise. I wanted cheap, light, and fairly fast consturction which this seems to offer.

Obviously, this boat is not suitable or designed for the rivers like you have out west, we don't have anything near the whitewater here that you guys do.

I started building last week and as of tonight I have all tribs and the frame for the transom done. I need to gather more materials, but the next step is to build a strongback jig and then the real fun begins. So far, so good, it won't be perfect but I'm having fun.

Thanks for the advice. I'll keep you posted.


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