OK, I am in the market for one. I see all types out there and want to know what suggestions you may have for someone who is looking to buy. If you had to buy yours again what would you do differently? Go wood? Go Aluminum? Go fiberglass?
You have to decide what use you will be the majority of your drifting. I use an Alum boat for the faster choppy waters, for me the added pounds allow me to track well in those waters. I use my glass boat on slower tailwater or slow moving water such as the MO or Mad where the lightness of the boat works to my advantage stroking it all over the water. A low profile boat is good to me on non windy days, the higher profile of my Alum boat acts as a sail on windy days. The Alum boat is a bit noisy as well on those slower waters as you clank around.
If I were to do it all again, I would do it the same, an Alum and a Glass. Make sure you check and maintain your trailer, pack the bearings, keep the electronics good and you will have it a long long time!
Thanks for all the great feedback. The more I keep thinking about it the more I think I want to get something that is versatile. Living here in the Seattle area I want something I can float the Yakima one day the chase searuns in the sound the next day.
Another thing to consider is if you strictly flyfish only or use gear as well. Some boats just don't work well for plugs (if you want to go that route). Also, if you are going to use in salt, you may want a kicker to boot. So keep your eyes peeled.
But if you plan to do alot of summer fishing on rivers, I'd go with a glass. Will float a bit higher and glide over rocks better (which WILL happen if you float rivers). I've owned both (actually, all three including the first DB I ever used was my Dad's which was wood). Each have their positives and negatives. Just depends on your usage.
Way Less Hassle - Get a good pontoon boat. Easier to maneuver, easier to transport, River big or small, stillwater dont matter. You can run some Ugly water in a pontoon boat. Rock gardens etc that Eat drift boats.....ease of maneuver with a pontoon. You can always take the 3 to 7 thousand dollars you save over the drift boat, and buy all kinds of toys.
Tricky to transport your spey rod on a pontoon though - I havent figured out that one yet - would have to tear it down after every run.
LOL. Key to carrying your spey on a pontoon is to buy a 16' model (or whichever length which will encompass your rod). LOL. Always best to break a rod down if it sticks outside the length of your boat and should NEVER be held upright in standing rod holders. Watched a few nice rods get shortened that way over the years.
But, I didn't bring up pontoons, since some just don't want them. But, some want the less upkeep of a DB. (well, a good glass or alum that is). Most pontoons have alot more upkeep (if you aren't upkeeping yours, then you better). Plus, most of the good comparible pontoons that will fish multiple people are almost as much as a DB (I assume he wants one for multiple people, not just solo work). A good quality pontoon multiperson should run you around $3500 (and I say good quality, not cheap). Well, that's unless you have connections.
I have owned a glass boat for 2.5 years now and I have no complaints...I have shed a bit of gel-coat, but that can be replaced. I also asked many people what they thought was the more practical boat...in the end the comments and number of people that suggested glass ruled.
These are a few reasons I heard:
warmer (I believe they mean it doesn't conduct the cold like aluminum would)
does not stick to rocks
repairs are easier
less weight = less draft
I purchased a Lavro...based on a few recommendations, and what sold me was Ron's video and seeing the 'shop' where he constructs his boats...lastly the lifetime warranty that is given on the hull.
As for a pontoon, I own one as well...they are great...and are fun when others have one, but I tend to take my driftboat more since my fishing buddies don't own pontoons.
Pontoon boat may be easier to trasnport if you're one guy.
But one drift boat is a hell of a lot easier for 2 or 3 guys, than 3 drift boats, three trailers, dividing up all the gear, air pumps, rigging frames etc etc. Drift boats are simple and bomber, which is why they've been around so long. Plus you can fish standing up, eh?
For the question luv2flyfish had about travelling in a raft and storing you spey rod. Buy a 15' piece of schedule 80 PVC pipe(2"Dia.), end cap, and a 6" piece of 4" w/ union to 2". glue it all together and strap to outside of raft and off you go. just slide rod in tube, place end cap on and all is secure. Schedule 80 pipe will not break.
You did say you'd be fishing the Yak and the salt. The pontoon boat is not the best alternative even though you won't be using a spey rod. Fishing on the move from a single person pontoon boat is not preferable on the yak and is not the most efficient way to move around estuaries. A drift boat works well in these situations. OK, what type? Wood boats are beautiful but require too much upkeep and are not as durable as the aluminum or glass boats. The aluminum boats seem to be most popular on Olympic Pen steelhead streams where you'll encounter wilder rivers and contact with boulders is more likely. If that's not your gig, then it's fiberglass. For glass boats, consider and test drive Hyde, Lavro and Clackacraft models...all make great boats. You can get used versions from each of these mfrs if money is an issue. Good luck.
also consider a glass willie drift boat. i do not know how to pick the best boat. i am in the market as well and am in a quandry as you might be. i won a one day drift boat rental at the north idaho fly casters raffle for the missouri river and i think they have hydes and willies so maybe i can use both to help in the buying process. let us know which one you picked.
All things equal, I'd go with a woody drift boat for tail waters and mellow floats, a tough glass D boat for chunky waters. A small jet for upriver. A larger jet for downriver. A nice big well powered jet or V for estuary fishing... stock up! And a salt boat too....
Nailknot, I knew I always liked you. You sound like my type of guy. When I'm healed up, you got a ride in any of my boats. LOL.
But yeah, truthfully speaking (and have said this many a times) there is no one perfect boat out there. Especially if you do alot of different fishing (like myself). I was in process of buying a new Northriver sled before my shoulder went out (had just sold my older smaller sled). But at one time I had a DB, sled, couple 14+ catarafts (mostly whitewater, but had some fishing frames for them) some smaller catarafts (under 12') that were all standup fishable on the move. Couple float tubes, and a small pram. All had their plus and minuses. But none have it all. My old sled was good for the salt, lake, and rivers. But not all aspects of that. For small lakes, small rivers, etc then I varied up the boats I used. From what I've read, I think you'd be best off with a glass driftboat. I love aluminums for pulling plugs all day. But if you flyfish only, you will be more then happy with glass.