FS Very Rare and collectable: 8' fully welded Almarco wide pram, 65 lbs

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View attachment 19946 IMG_4906.JPG IMG_4566.JPG P1286142.jpg
I have a love affair/obsession with these boats but over the year I've somehow collected 4 of these boats and two must go as I've got my sights set on a drift boat. You will not likely see another one of these very rare prams for sale in Washington. The first one I drove to Spokane to pick up, the second I found in Montana, the last one I drove down to Northern CA where I stopped into the shop and shook hands with its creator, Donald Nuss. Here is the write up that I posted last May regarding that trip:

Our route would take us down to Eugene, OR towards Florence for our first night stop. I would see the famous McKenzie River and imagine what it must have been like for the first fly fishermen who floated the river on the wooden dorries that the modern driftboats got their beginnings. The drive out to Florence would parallel the tidal waters of the Duncan inlet on the Siuslaw where I could imagine would be a fanastic spot in the fall for returning salmon and winter steelhead. Since this was a family vacation the time would be limited to stop and possibly fish but my wife did agree that I could make a stop in Guerneville, CA to pick up another Almarco pram. This would be preceded with quick stop in Crescent City, CA for a visit to Redwood Welding Services. Here I would meet the father of the Almarco pram, Donald Nuss. His shop is located just off the 101 in Crescent City and was right along our route towards the Redwoods State and National parks. I’ve talked to Don on the phone but wanted to shake his hand and thank him for coming up with this pram design which I believe to be one of the best out there if not the best that I’ve had the pleasure to fish and row.
I walked into his shop and the white haired and somewhat short in stature gentleman had his back faced to me while working at his pipe bending machine. I said, “are you Don?” With a growl, he answered, “depends… who’s askin’?” The first things I noticed when he turned around was his metal workers hands, big, burly, knarley and strong. You could tell this guy had alot of time behind the torch and spent many hours with plenty of scars to show his craft. It looks like he was working on a big gooseneck tandem axle trailer and had just about every imaginable tool known to a man with his experience. After my introduction, I was there to find out how he came up with this design as I’ve not encountered another lightweight welded pram that was better suited for fly fishing still or moving water than his brainchild, the Almarco drifter. Once we exchanged some greetings, he really opened up and even cracked a smile as I asked him about the serial numbering process and how he came about with the overall design. It was in 1976 a fly fisherman brought his wooden pram to Don and asked if it would be possible to duplicate it in aluminum as the weathered and beat up boat had seen its better days and was pretty much a goner. One side of the boat was pretty much toast and from this, he was able to take measurements from the centerline of that old pram and design with higher sides and a bit more rocker from bow to stern a boat that would glide over the water but have plenty of side to side stability for fly fishermen who often times stood while casting and or fighting a fish. Once the boats started coming out, and the word started getting around, the calls would come in from anglers all over Northern California requesting for his Aluminum prams. He would cut the templates in bulk and weld up each boat once an order would come in, and would take a laborious amount of work, some 30 hours of welding, grinding, bending, forming, and manufacturing to birth a new Almarco. When I asked about the serial numbering process, he shared with me the first three digits are of the manufacturer ALQ, the next are the sequence, the letter designating which month the boat was built, A-L, the next would be the year in two digits, and the last would be the sequential number each boat. Since Don isn’t a fisherman, he had to rely on the input from other fly fishermen on what worked and through the years his prams never really changed a whole lot other than minor things for comfort and function such as the anchor locks. The most innovative and distinctive marks on his prams are the built in handles in the bow and stern. These cutouts are really smart, weight saving, and secure, a great place to strap down to the roof rack or in the bed of a pick up. The next is the width, the boat is wide, and stable, I’ve never felt unsafe in this boat and with the amount of foam floatation under the bench seat, this pram would never sink even when capsized. The built in side trays, the elevated anchor locks, the bow rocker all add to the rowability of this boat as I can testify that it glides over the water versus pushing a path. The most important factor of the boat was the weight, with it coming in at around 65 lbs its so easy to manuever this alone and to have all my gear, lunch, and to be able to fish in comfort is how it all comes together. Don pulled out a file folder and had an invoice for each one of his creations, I was amazed to see the stack of serial numbered receipts, wondering where these boats have made their way over the past 40 years. He said that over the 20 years that they were made, he produced a little over 600 of them. I am lucky to have found my first one in Spokane, I was the third owner .The guy I bought it from indicated that he got it from a retired doctor who relocated from Northern CA to Spokane. Until then, I had only read about the Almarco on the California internet fly fishing forums and had always wanted a better pram as we were limited to either fiberglass, wood, or very heavy aluminum here in the Pacific Northwest. The first time I rowed the Almarco, I instantly knew that it was a keeper.
Knowing that I would make the trip to the bay area, I poked around Craigslist and to my surprise found a guy selling his Almarco. He was the original owner and purchased it in 2000, it was a 1999 model. The state requires all watercraft to be registered and licensed and he had a title and hull numbers that corresponded to the registration, pretty interesting… We got lost a few times even with GPS trying to locate this place, and often times wondered if we’d get robbed or mugged in the seedier of places that was definitely hair raising. The owner was a rough gent but sincere, he agreed to hold the boat as I sent him a hefty deposit and based the sale on trust alone since he was a fly fisherman as well. I was worried when I saw the pitbulls, and the broken down cars and the kids in the streets with joints and the smell of weed through the air. Once I was directed behind a gate, there I saw the Almarco and some of my anxieties went away, Jon would also show me his G. Loomis GL3 8 wt. and Tibor reel, which he used for getting King Salmon in the nearby Russian River. He had only used the boat a handful of times in the 12 years he owned it, but felt it was time to let her go since he had a failing shoulder and could no longer cast a rod.
I brought down plenty of ratcheting tie downs, but was a bit concerned with the Thule roof rack as it was wee bit too narrow to accomodate a solid platform for the gunnels near the stern, there was maybe a centimeter left of rack edge but once I had four tie downs secured, that pram was going nowhere even with highway speeds up to 80 mph that would ensue for the remainder of the trip. I was more concerned about how the whole set up would fit into the parking garages in downtown San Fransisco, where the location that I wanted to park only had a max vehicle height of 7′. The whole set up was measuring about 7′ 4″, too tight! It all ended up working better as I found even closer parking to our hotel and they had oversized parking for the monster trucks that were parked there along with our Honda minivan with rooftopped pram. I found that the pram drew alot of attention from the valets at the hotel, guys saying that they’d never seen anything like that before and how great it would be to fish out of that in the delta. One valet showed me the photos of his Ling Cod, Rockfish, Vermillion, Salmon, Halibut that were all caught in the bay, he said that a pram like this one would be ideal to launch and fish, with a smile of my face, I agreed and we exchanged fish stories and photos while Rolls Royces, and other expensive European vehicles made the way into the parking pavillion. Even in line for gas at the Costco, guys were asking me about the pram, it was like a magnet for anyone that fished and my wife was looking at me and wondering what planet fishermen are from as we must have some kind of radar that beacons us together.
Driving along the 101, we’d cross the famous estuary and mouths that would become the Smith, Chetco, Klamath rivers. Not sure if I would have the opportunity to go back to these places and fish for legendary salmon and steelhead, but maybe one day in the future. Even with all the waters here in Washington, Oregon, and BC that I have still yet to fish, there is a lifetime of exploring and fishing to be done here. Most of you probably think I am deranged, as this is my third Almarco and 4th 8′ welded Aluminum pram in my fleet. Yes, I did say 3rd! With the advent of blogging and the wonders of the internet, you know that I also brought home Almarco #2 most recently. Terry K. from Montana upon doing some research about this boat that he fell upon contacted me and asked what that pram is worth as he was wanting to sell it. I jumped at this opportunity and the rest is history. I am done with my quest for finding these prams, ideally I was considering handing each one down to my sons so that we’d all be able to fish out of them when they were old enough, but who knows if they’ll love fly fishing as much as I do. I know that they will stand the test of time as Don Nuss shared with me that even those boats that were made in the 70′s were still being fished actively. Those early boats outlived many of their original owners!

My original plan was to keep the two boats and pass them down to my boys, but who knows if they'll enjoy fly fishing and more specifically stillwater fishing. I think having a drift boat is more useful for us in the interim and practical, so I've regretfully decided to part with these two lost sheep. These are lifetime boats, built tough as nails, yet ultralight and easily handed and loaded on the rooftop and or thrown in the bed of the small pickup truck. They are the most stable and seaworthy prams in my experience and I've rowed them with wind chop in the sound, launched it off the rocks and sandy beaches and anchored up for Pink salmon, even put a 3 horse kicker motor and putted around Lake Washington! You'll notice that there are fine details un-paralleled to anything else out there such is built in foam floation, notched out grab handles that run on the gunnel of the bow and stern, welded in raised oar lock positions for most comfortable rowing, and excellent fore to aft rocker which make this boat glide over the water taking on the most extreme wind and wave conditions. On opening day at Lenice, when all the pontoon boats and float tubers were land locked due to the winds, I was the only guy out fishing at one point in the afternoon.

The prams won't come with any accessories but I'll help the new buyer with showing the layout and what works best for setting it up. IMG_4566.JPG
That thing is pretty sweet! If I wasn't getting married in a month I'd think long and hard about adding one to my fleet. I love the Fish Rite to DEATH, but I've often thought of getting a smaller/lighter craft to have on hand for my solo journeys, and also for my favorite local lake where it is a real pain to drag the bigger boat to/from the water.

Paul knows his prams, and takes great care of them. Should go quick.
Great pram. I refer to mine as a "mini drifter". I've been in my Almarco on the Madison and the Missouri along with other waterways and it's a very effecient vessel to fish from.... I can stand up in mine when stillwater fishing.

I drove 8 hours round trip to purchase mine back in 1998.

I heard a story where one these Almarcos unfortunately drifted out to sea from a mouth of a certain Nor Cal river..... the Almarco came ashore the next day on an adjacent beach whereby the owner retrieved it and took it home intact. I figured the boat got a little extra deburring in the process.


Go Cougs!!!
Does anyone have a Cliff's Note on Paul's thread? I gave up after first paragraph :D Great looking boat (from picture)!!!


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Wow, I never thought you would sell them. I didnt know you had FOUR!!:)
If your looking for a pram to fish from these are great.
I only had 3 of them. My 4th is a Rogue. I never thought I'd part either but a drift boat fits my needs more than the prams which are in storage.


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Sad parting, but they are both SOLD. Most of you WA and BC guys didn't even know what this was, as I had guys clawing from central and Northern CA wanting to get their hands on one of these boats with the last one going back to the bay area. If you ever run across one of these prams in the future don't hesitate to pick it up. I'm glad that one of my local fishing buddies bought one as I originally wanted to keep them both in WA so I could keep tabs on the boats. I have the right of first refusal if he ever decides to sell it down the road. These things won't look too differently in 10-12 years roughly the time it will take before my boys are ready to row them. I've never seen a raft, or glass boat last a decade without needing some major repair, bittersweet I suppose...


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Paul, I don't know how I missed this ad and this opportunity! Dang! I notice there was no price advertised for them . . .
Bummer, would have loved for this to stay in WA. Some
Guys collect vintage reels and wouldn't wince once at he chance at a reel that would likely get put on a shelf or cabinet and never see the water. A reel built with stamped, riveted and screwed parts that would self destruct when introduced to salt water. To each his own I guess... I've got this love affair with all things boats, especially these little prams. The bottoms of these Almarcos are all welded, chines are not rolled nor do they have any angle iron to hide the welds. This guy is a pretty amazing welder and craftsman. I asked Don if he would ever consider building any more if I bought all the aluminum to build 20 more boats and sadly he said no.

With all due respect, I don't see the fascination that some have with these boats. I love my 8' fiberglass pram which weighs about the same as these boats and will outlast the time it takes for my interest to change to another setup. Koffler designs a much better product that certainly weighs more but on wheels can be towed just as easily. What makes these so coveted?


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Bob, I don't think that's fair to say as you've probably never seen one in person or rowed one. For me it's purely the ride, stability and the design. I've owned 2 Spring Creek Hopper twos, 3 Stillwater Classics, 2 Smith Brothers, and two Kofflers in that size arena. This doesn't even include 2 riveted Jon boats, and 2 HDPE rotomolded jobs that were so squirrely.

First of all, forget about trying to haul and transport a Koffler into Lence or any interior BC Lakes. You need a trailer and or heavy duty dolly to move one them fully loaded. They are built way tougher with heavy gauge aluminum but I found it was almost too much for my needs. I was looking for a lightweight and easily transportable pram that is no hassle and rows and fishes well. Love Kofflers, but that is would be like comparing a Corvette with a Porsche and saying how one is superior to the other, to each his own and a matter of personal choice.

The Springcreek prams best attribute is the Kevlar reinforced pedestal rowers seat, light weight, and built in floatation, especially coupled with a swivel base makes it super nice to be able to turn around and pull the bow anchor when moving around. However, I didn't care for the higher sides of the Hopper especially in the wind and also was a weight factor. My favorite of those prams is the Stillwater Classic, think its the only boat I'd buy if I was looking for a glass pram. The issue I had with those is I wanted to be able to fish my pram hard and put it away wet in both fresh and salt water applications. I wouldn't want to store the classic boat outside with the oak gunnels and or have to worry about a tarp leaking and or flapping in the wind. The classic boat is quiet, smooth but I had delamination issues with the transom in 2 of the 5 boats I owned which showed evidence of poor glassing over the marine plywood. When I talked with some other SCP owners about this and Jim Wheeler it confirmed my decision to pass on this. Try mounting any kind of gas or even electric motor on a delaminated transom and put it under power. Pretty soon you'll have no transom. its fine if you just plan to row it and fish, but it got on my nerves so I decided to sell them all and look elsewhere. I had tried to even put my little gas kicker on the Koffler but they all have flex all but the Almarco.

Lastly my experience with Smith Brothers prams is excellent. Great classic design, lightweight, stable, and quiet, but it was wood and I found myself worrying about it in the salt and storage outside. Id spend time every other year re-varnishing and sanding. I'd still want to own one of these purely for the beauty and how quiet they are but forget about wanting to hang an outboard on it and or storing it over the winter months.

So my current two 'small' boats are my Almarco and a Rogue marine (fully welded) and built as tough as the Kofflers but lighter than and with a few more frills. The Rogue rows and fishes similar to he Koffler but find that it does push water at the bow due to less fore to aft rocker designs. It's very stable, built like a tank, and well thought out but has no flotation and requires shorter walks into deeper access lakes due to its weight. The only drawbacks with having a metal boat is the noise when the waves slap the hull, I use an old rubber floor mat which serves to be a good resting spot for my reels and keeps the noise to a minimum.

If you make it back over to the west side to fish and want to meet up and take either boat it for a day to fish you're more than welcome to do so. It would be at least fair for you to do so before voting it out. I am no boat expert but I've owned enough small prams to know what I personally liked and didn't. I won't even discuss the 'others': HDPE (high density polyethelyne) rotomolded prams by Waylander and Nylander manufacturing which are too narrow and have that undesirable center keel which is not even a contender in my opinion. There are also garage built wood based kits by tree frog and nutshell that are all keel based but I don't find it necessary for Stillwater and or salt rowing needs. If I was sailing, yes, but that's not my cup I tea. If I've missed any other pram I'd consider it but found my search for an almost do everything small boat ended with the Almarco for the following reasons: Lightweight, tough, design, rowing, engineering, salt proof, weather proof as long as you use stainless hardware and rinse it off from trips on the sound, and unique since only a handful of them exist. Don't mean to ever come off as the the 'know it all' of small boats, but just sharing my experiences with other members to hopeful save some time and help others with things to look for when it comes to investing in a small boat.
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