Any Tips for buying used drift boats?

So a year ago I had my boat stolen and my wife has just now given me the go ahead to get a new (used) one.I decided to go with my first drifter and I was wondering if you all had any tips on things to look for when purchasing used boats. It seems like a lot of boats have Glove-it and Coat-it bottoms which isn't that big of a deal but I worry that it might be coving up some major issues. I saw a really nice looking Lavro in MT, in my price range, but they coated the bottom with Rhino Liner, that seemed a little on the sketchy side to me. Have any of you ever had a boat with Rhino Liner on the bottom? I feel like it would drag a ton in the water and grab on to rocks rather then slide over them. I was also wondering if you had any opinions on the lower profile boats and how they handle in rougher water? For you east siders, I was also curious about running the narrows on the Grande Ronde in a drift boat, seems like most guys are running rafts and toons? Thanks for any advise you all have, it's greatly appreciated.
Iv'e owned two drift boats and a raft over the years. I would strongly suggest buying a raft. They are cheaper to maintain and last forever. Just a thought.

I would just walk around the boat and make sure there is no cracks in the exterior jel coat. And make sure the chines aren't torn up. Typically if it look good, its good.
Jason Cajune of Montana Boatbuilders in Paradise Valley on the Yellowstone River (MT) built some of the most beautiful wood drift boats you'll ever see.
The economic downturn hit their business hard in 2008, and I'm not sure they are still building boats; if so it is on a very limited basis.

However, Jason coated the outside bottom, front edge, and (I believe) the inside bottom of his newly made boats with a spray-on material like Rhino Liner. (I'm not sure exactly what the product was.)

I suspect that having Rhino Liner on the outside boat bottom would make the boat a bit less slippery than having just a gelcoat finish, but otherwise it wouldn't bother me at all to have this on the bottom of my driftboat (other than from an appearance standpoint, and a bit of extra weight.) I would think it would provide some added protection to the bottom, and perhaps in the case of the Lavro you're looking at, cover over some of the invariable surface scratches and (perhaps) chips in the gelcoat finish.

In general, I think that Lavro's have a reputaion of being pretty much bombproof, and other than giving the bottom a good lookover (inside and out) to make sure the Rhino wasn't covering up anything major, I wouldn't be too concerned. Just my opinion.

I would look it over, especially on the bottom and lower sides and transom, for mushiness, which would be an indicator of rot. this is something to check whenever you are looking at a used boat where you have fibreglass covering any wood. Gel coat can be repaired to like new, but if it is covering a problem, you still have a problem.


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I guided for years out of a driftboat. I owned six. When you're rowing anglers around, you get to look around a lot. I saw people t-bone driftboats into bridge pillars, swamp them, slam them into shoreline rip rap, and drag them off the end of trailers up boat ramps.

Driftboats are great, but if I were buying a used one, I'd ask the guy if it was his first. Most of these "starter" driftboats take a beating like no others. By the time a guy gets to his 2nd boat, he's figured out how to row it much better and the damage to a 2nd + boat is far less than his starter.

Since I quit guiding, I no longer own a driftboat. I have an 14' self bailing raft. The reasons are:

1. I can put my raft in any water you can put a driftboat, but the opposite is not true.
2. I can load my deflated raft onto a mule and pack it into the back country.
3. Rafts bounce off of stuff.
4. In the winter time, instead of shoveling snow out of my boat, my raft is neatly tucked away in my storage shed.
5. I can easily fix my raft myself.
6. When it rains or snows on the river, I don't have to bail the water out with a bucket.
7. With the choice of frames and accessories available now, you can customize a raft to suit your specific needs and change them fairly easily if those needs change.



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I've seen rhino liner on aluminum drift boat bottoms. As long as it doesn't have the "grippy" additive, it helps slide off of rocks. It's not as good as UHMW, but better than gloveit. Never seen it on a fiberglass boat and would be interested to see why the owner decided to go that route.

Low profile boats take on more water in rough water, and there's no way I would consider taking a drift boat down the Narrows at low flows. I'm a class IV whitewater guide on the Lochsa but the risk/reward of the Narrows on the Rhonde is too much. It would be way too easy to park it on the bottom. I'd do it in a raft in a heartbeat, but they float when full of water.

If you do decide to get a drift boat, get a cover. There are several truck tarp companies in the Spokane area that will make you a custom bombproof cover for less than the cost of one from the manufacturer.


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I put rhino lining on the bottom of a glass boat. It is added floatation to the boat and made it row better. If it is done it needs to be smoothed on the bottom.
As for a DB I would go for a 16' guide model aluminum or glass. You said your boat got stolen. Was it a DB?

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