Aluminum drift boat design

Greetings WFF!

I am an aluminum boat designer with 8 yrs experience looking to design an aluminum drift boat. I have zero water time on such a craft, and was hoping to gain some insight as to what works and what does not. The end result of this experiment will be a cut tape of an aluminum hull to which "serious contributers" to this thread may have access to. My intention will also be to kick something back to WFF website if any currency is generated. I just hatched this plan this morning and its full of pitfalls im sure, but I want to get a dialog started and see if there is any interest..Attached is a quick mock-up.
Your basic shape looks good.

Can you turn on dimensioning in your software so we can get some idea of the scale and porportions?

After having built a wooden driftboat, I'd personally start with around 16 feet of length. Beam will be a matter of some debate I'm sure.

As far as other design ideas right from the get-go:

- Design the transom so it's reinforced to accept outboards up to 10 HP or an anchor mount.

- As important as the hull design is, I think a lot more attention has to be paid to designing the interior. This will have implications for the hull because you'll need to design reinforcement in some areas for through bolting, and so forth.

Keep going, looking good so far.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Lots of really good drift boats out there. I have many friends with them and no two own the same boat. They all perform well in the water, less draft seems to be preferred. The interior design is what I think will make or break you.

Can you design them and market them for the different uses that folks will want? Storage, rod holders and angler braces of the right type for the main use of the craft (gear vs fly). How about adjustability inside, do the benches allow movement, good rod storage solutions and a clean interior that allows for lots of dancing with fish. Will you cover the bottom with UHMW or HDPE to make it slick, or coat your aluminum with gluvit and graphite?

I don't own a drift boat, just a solo boat and three person cataraft. A drift boat is on my to get list...eventually. I love to check out every one I see because each has some items that really impress me with features that I think I would really like in a craft.

Best of luck.

Clint F

Fly Fishing Youth
Good start on your boat. I have also built a wood/fibergalss boat. I currently row a 16' 10" riverwolf. If I had the option to buy a brand new boat it would be the 18' 6" by 60" wide. The goal is to draft lesswater. this can be achieved by having less rocker (longer flatter bottom) With less rocker you have less drag making the 18 foot boat row like the 16. Good luck, I will be following this thread to see what you come up with.

I have a 14' Al. boat and it has way to much rocker. Looking at your CG I'd say you need to flatten the bottom (less draft) and raise the meeting point of the prow bottom (better front end clearance). Also the pitch of the sides needs more angle(makes the boat more stable). My two cents.

Rick Todd

Active Member
I have a 17' Ray's River Dories Guide model I build from a kit. It is the easiest rowing boat I've ever rowed. It has a 52" bottom width. I live in Ferndale and would be glad to let you have a look to get some ideas of shape. Rick

Clint F

Fly Fishing Youth
From personal experience a short boat with a lot of rocker not only drafts more water but does not track well at all. Derek, Currious as to what boat you are refering to? Just got a pm From Derek Young and he was refering to a raft. Personaly I dont think you can take qualities you look for in a raft and apply them to a drift boat and get good results. The 2 are designed so differently you cant really put them together. Let me know if I am missing something here.

Thanks for the interest everyone!
What Ive gathered so far from the above comments: adjustable interior, storage, transom for anchor and kicker, bottom reinforcement, more storage.
Most immediate needs are to better define this hull. Based on the suggestions above, I may narrow up the bottom a bit. I will need to run this thru my floatation program with 2 persons and cargo to get the cgs located.

Rick, I may be in touch to look at your dorie.
Jeff, how does that 14' handle 2 men and gear? I will look into increasing the bow height, and reducing rocker by flattening out the aft.

dimensioned pics attached, hope to make some progress this wknd.
Thanks all

Sean View attachment 40225 View attachment 40226 View attachment 40227


Well-Known Member

1. Sides too vertical; try ~ 15* angle from the horizontal cross section.
2. Plan view shows a "footballish" shape that tends toward sluggishness in the water. Needs less beam and center bottom chine, or more length for that beam.
3. Side view shape and proportion looks good for bow angle, rocker to length overall proportion, and transom height and angle.

Yup, stretch overall to 14'6"-15' keep the beam the same. Drop the free board a bit. If you don't mind a bit more thought, flatten the center area of rocker, making it compound. You get the best of both worlds, high stem and stern, shallow draft. Still easy to row, and holds great! One more thing, add a slight "v" to the bow, tapering to the centerline and meeting at the change in rocker, this reduces the wave slap a bit, makes a quieter ride. This is how I designed my wooden boat, and it rowed great.

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