Drift boat vs raft?

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Hey Al -

Quick note - generally good advise to be had, but I have to disagree about durability. I have never punched a hole through a composite boat - and I have been down a lot of gnarly rivers on a lot of different continents in composite racing boats, drift boats and rafts. I have however, punched holes in rafts. In low water conditions a composite drift boat is going to slide / drag easier than raft - while doesn't move at all. Gel-Coat is made to be dinged.

Re maneuverability.... If I am rowing a 16' gear raft with personal belongings for 10 people and the trip kitchen it will be a total pig. However I also have a Super Puma, and I can put that into any river feature (narrow line, eddie, etc.) that I can put my drift boat into.
I agree with Marty on this one. Though, I haven't totally punched a hole through, I did put a good tear in my old Aire Ocelot. Never punctured or damaged my driftboats. Some scrapes were about it on the driftboats. And I too have beat the living crap outta all mine over the years. Onto drag ability, it's all in how much weight is in the boat at the time and how heavy the boat is. My old Eastside slides nicely, but it's alot lighter then most newer glass boats. My old alumaweld driftboat I had was a bear to drag (even with the gluvit).

Mind you, I LOVE inflatable boats. Especially the cataraft grade boats. But I've always had a preference when I'm really hardcore fishing to use driftboats or river suitable prams.
IF YOU CAN ONLY BUY ONE BOAT That is the issue here. If a guy doesn't have the spac,e time or resouces to have a marina in his yard the Raft is the BEST multipurpose boat for a family in my opinion.
You can use it in all kinds of water levels and conditons, it is safe for the whole family, it is great for white water stuff and adequate for fishing. With the tubes surrounding you and your kids you and they will feel safe. If you get into some rocky or hairy fast water they are very forgiving and still float when upside down (trust me I know)
Is the raft the best for all situations? NO but I believe it is the best compromise.
You dont need a trailer if you have a pickup, deflate it and put it in the back of a truck or suv and put the frame on top of the rig. If you have a travel trailer take the raft in the towing rig and inflate when you get to the river.
One of the downsides of a good self bailing raft is the inside is always wet the floor is under/in the water all of the time. This is fine on a hot summer day but for a family on a cool day having wet feet and clothing can be a pain.
We have a raft and a driftboat and would like to add a 16' cataradt to the armada maybe next year. Then you can pick the boat that is the best for each situation.
My three cents; a 14' raft with a convertable rowing/fishing platform like a Pac 1400 from Outcast or similar.

jesse clark
Just dealt w/ this question myself and landed on a raft. A friend that helped me with the decision described driftboats as Cadillacs and rafts as jeeps; they'll take you anywhere you want to go. No boat is perfect for every situation so pick the boat that matches the water you fish most frequently. For me a hard side didn't make much sense.
Well, I can’t say I am a much closer to making the choice, but I definitely have a lot more to think about. Clearly I am going to have to rent a raft and possibly a cat for a trip this fall, thanks for the pointer to the Oregon City rentals. Jesse I appreciate your point as to the necessary compromises in choosing 1 craft for everything, which is definitely what I am intending. If I can re-state this perhaps naive question:
How is the anchor stability on these larger 14+ ft rafts and cats? Can you sit on anchor in a reasonable current?

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Another thing to think about too. What type of fishing do you plan to do alot? Just row point a to b and get out and fish? Or do you want to hold water, possibly pull plugs, sidedrift, etc? I've rowed alot of rafts and catarafts, and IMHO I'd rather be rowing a driftboat for that anyday. It won't hold as much weight as a raft (well, depending on size of DB you look at), but for rowing and tracking with less effort on a pull, a DB will be the way to go. Now I'd love to try the new Maravia that is out by Streamside I think it is. Looks like a great inbetweener. Gonna borrow it myself to test it out to see how it tracks. Awesome floor in it and looks like it may be a very cool hybrid boat.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
I have had success in reasonable current anchoring my 14' cataraft. I did not notice any dipping, diving or side to side movement in the moderate flows in which I anchored (Hoh and Yakima rivers). I was not in fast water by any means, but in current that was greater than I would have tried to anchor my 9' pontoon boat. I've fished out of drift boats that seemed to hold anchor well and move very little in moderate current. I still think I'd like to have a drift boat...and a raft, but I'm happy with the cataraft.
I have been in and rowed them all. I ended up with a Driftboat. I use it in rivers year-round. Montana in the summer and Forks in the winter, there isnt much it wont do. Really high water and really low water is where the raft shines but I have never missed a day fishing because my boat wouldnt do it. The DB also lets me fish lakes. I have a 5hp gas Merc. for Sammamish, and a MinnKoda Elect. for Beaver Lake/rattlesnake Lake. I eaven have downriggers for it if the situation requires it (looks silly, but it works fine) I can crab in the sound and chase silvers close in.
Pontoons are better to row but lack storage in my opinion. I was in the brand new Maravia last week and it is really nice. That is a raft that was great to row and will last a long time.
There is no perfect boat so way all the pros and cons. BTW-craigslist is your friend for used boats!
Right now I have a 16' Clack FFB, 16' old town canoe and a belly boat. Ill probably pick up a Aire/Outcast puma with a NRS frame soon.
Good luck.

Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
We're looking at Watermasters right now, so I can access really skinny water along the Methow and upper Yak, but I already own a Clacka 16WF-love the boat!! My big complaint is I can't find either the wet bar or the humidor on the Clacka, but I find it's not a boat I can really enjoy solo. I'm on the sticks, and when the water's high like now on the Yak, there's no time for me to fish.
I have a Clackacraft FFB and love it! I about sold it last month to buy a sled. I then drifted Mayfield to Blue Creek on the Cowlitz river and caught a whole bunch of cutthroat. I took it off craigslist that night!

I purchased an 8hp Mercury on Craigslist and it will push me about 7mp on the lakes. I tried it on the cowlitz and it pushed me up the river when it was running at 4300 CFS just fine.

I don't think you will ever meet a Clackacraft Drift boat owner that is disapointed with the boat.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Floated for two days in Derek Young's new Green Drake Streamtech by Maravia. Heavily rockered raft. Lots of comfort, ample room, handled the roughest stretches we did very well. I rowed it for a bit, wish I would have stopped fishing sooner. It handled very nice, tracked very nice and can spin on a dime. Very maneuverable. I took it through a few standing waves and it was really stable and fun. While fishing I stood up throughout even the rougher sections and enjoyed the ride. If I did not have my cataraft right now and was looking for a boat, this one would get a lot of my attention.