Motor on a Zodiac? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Motor on a Zodiac?

03-21-2005, 06:09 PM
A friend and I are thinking of getting a Zodiac or similar boat in the ten to twelve feet range and putting a motor on it for use in the Skeena country next fall. We would be using it on the Bulkley, Copper, and so forth. I saw Pete Peterson with this sort of set up a few years back so I know it is a doable thing, just don't know how big a motor we need to be able to propel the thing back up river to get back to camp. We talked to a boat salesman at DownRiver here in Denver but he said he had no clue as to how much motor we need to be functional or if you can buy a jet drive in the smaller sizes for this application. According to what he told us, the motor needed is what drives the size of boat we need to buy. I am hoping someone here will be able to fill me in or point me to a source where we can get some good info.

Thanks in advance for your help!



03-21-2005, 07:06 PM
The inflatable will have a rating for its maximum recomended horsepower on the transom. Some will also have a range of recomended power for an outboard. You're probably looking at about a 25-30hp jet to push you and a partner around in a 12ft inflatable.

I'd talk to another dealer. The one you've spoken with should have been able to tell you what size outboard will work for the boat you're looking at. Jets work well to push around inflatables for river running.

Look at the boat manufacture's web sites. They will list the size outboard you should use for any particular model.

03-21-2005, 10:27 PM

There are several issues regarding an inflatable and a motor (trailering, outboard portability, rowing frame, boat balance, pontoon/bottom durability, cavitation of the jet etc.). The guys at Alaska Raft and Kayak have the most experience and willingness to help from what I've gathered in my research. They can help you. I am/have been looking for something similar because I want something to run rivers but not have to trailer a craft. I also wanted something large enough for two guys with gear or four adults for a day trip. Boat size and horsepower become an issue (especially with a jet) when trying to balance portability of the craft (like when I assemble and launch by myself).

The Zodiac Grand Raid is the model to pursue in the Zodiac line from what I understand. There is also a boat called an Alaskan Jet Ranger that might give you something additional to consider. Another possibility is a Dux Boat.

You can find additional information on the under the boating and hunting forums. Lots of guys on this site have first hand experience and can give you tons of helpful information to help you consider everything before you drop any cash.

Mercury makes a 25/20 hp jet.

Hope this helps some. I'm still banging my head against the wall...


P.S. Unfortunately, I have never talked with a motorized sport boat (who is a river runner) that would do it again vs. going with an aluminum boat and a jet.

03-23-2005, 02:25 PM
I have had a 12' Achilles inflatable for quite sometime. It's rated for a 25 hp motor. I had a 15 hp on it and it would really fly. The only problem with running infltables in rivers is the bottom. My Achilles has a wood floor. It wouldn't stand up to rocks for very long. It that isn't a concern they're great boats to fish from.


03-23-2005, 02:37 PM
I'm hoping Kush will pipe in here - he runs an 11 -12' raft with Yammy jet on it. I used to run one as well - a Zodiac-like 11' with 25/20 MercJet.

The biggest problem is they're Squirrely. No rigid bottom or keel - without the prop to provide "bite" and tracking they get blown about by wind, waves, etc. Beware sticks, sharp rocks, etc in the water too.

Given your awareness of their limitations, they do provide adequate transportation for flying anglers who need to get from place to place on remote river systems.

My .02,


03-23-2005, 03:29 PM
I have been using inflatables with Jet Pump OB for twenty years and chose that set up for the same reasons that you are, portability and ease of portage. I have flown boats in Beavers on floats to fish steelheads in some pretty remote areas of Alaska. Actually carried them around impasses and continued on upriver into the land of Notrax and Grizzly Bears, they do have advantages for being lightweight.
When you go above 20/25 hp you are going to jump substatially over what I figured was a sensible weight for each componet, 100 pounds. A 20 hp Mercury Jet weighs just shy of 100 I used to have a Metzler Juca LS with an HP (high pressure) floor that was very flat and pretty stiff it too weighed just under 100# pumped up and ready to go. It would carry three adults and a Lab with a rod apiece and a lunch! I would gladly pay top dollar to replace that boat because I haven't found a replacement that was as good or even close since.They don't make them anymore!
Mine just got old and the HP floor delaminated which made it worthless.
I have now an Achilles that is about 11.5" and it gets two people and a very small lunch if the gas can is full up on step and performs well under most conditions. Like the Metzler it has the HP floor I usually keep it at 10# which I beleive is a pound or two above the manufactures suggestion but it gives much better performance with that extra stiffness.
There is a German outfit called Grabner that make something that looks interesting but I do not know anybody who owns one.
I have a small light weight aluminum skiff and an automatic cartop loader for my pickup truck that just might make my inflatable a thing of the past. As a matter of fact my wife asked me if I was going to sell it now that I do not need it, and then she laughed knowing that a guy can never have too many boats until you run out of storage room. Lots of room still in the barn.
I'd be happy to share further information with you if you are interested.

Willie Gunn
03-23-2005, 04:02 PM
I had a Ford Zodiac once it came with a motor but it eventually seized.
Lovely car lots of happy memories in the big comfotable seats.
The handbrake was hopeless it only worked once a year for its roadworthy test, the rest of the time pulling an umrella would have been as effective.

03-24-2005, 06:06 PM
Thanks to all who responded. Spending a good bit of time searching for the right combo now. When we find the right combo I will post it and let you know what we dicided to do. Great to see folks who are willing to share their experience with those of us who do not have much.
Again, thanks a bunch.



03-25-2005, 12:41 PM
Here info on the Alaskan Jet Ranger I mentioned earlier:


03-26-2005, 11:59 AM
Good news!!!! I no longer have to search for a used Metzler (nor does Pescaphile) and even though I need another boat as much as I need another flyrod I am sold. I showed my Wife the boat (Ak Jet Ranger) and the reponse from the fellow in Anchorage and she wanted to know why I hadn't already bought it.
So given the speed of the internet I am now waiting on deleivery sometime in June or there abouts.
Now I have an Ahillies to put on the market. :hihi:

03-26-2005, 12:34 PM
Darn! Now I really wish I had bought that little merc jet that I was offered for a song in Yakutat last May! Hmmm maybe he's still willing to part with it?

03-27-2005, 10:45 AM
Moonlight and Pescaphile,
Looking forward to what you have to share about the Jet Ranger after you get them and have some time on the water with them.

03-27-2005, 04:27 PM

It took me a while to spot this thread but here are some of my thoughts. As Doublespey mentioned I have a 12'2" Achilles with an inflatable keel and some serious fibreglas floorboards. I have also spend some time running around on the Morice/Bulkley so I have an idea of your needs.

First, you could probably get by without a jet - that is what Pete Pederson and a number of the "old boys" have done for years. Though they do have a "river runner" set-up which allows him to tilt the engine immediately via a handle attached to the top of the engine cover. It works while under power. As for where and what they are I am afraid I can't help you. Though I have seen others running rafts with props there without the special set-up.

A prop would aloow you to get away with a 15HP (but a 20 would be better). As for a jet, you could probably get by with the Merc Jet20. I used one up there on my boat and it was fine for just me, but I didn't think it had enough for 2 large guys. A jet28 (40HP at the head) is better IMHO. I think if you could find a 30HP prop and convert it it would be perfect.

As for max engine size, I have to admit that I have pushed the limit a bit as I have a Yamaha Jet40 on the back of my boat. Yes, a "tad" big, but the only insurance you have with a jet is power. One of the problems with rafts is their short length. This gives very little planing length, without the length (and weight) out in front the only thing to put the boat on plane is power. Another key issue in favour of power is the poor drag co-effient of the round rubber boat. The drag definitely hampers the speed and handling of rafts. If I were to put my power on a 16-17' hard boat I would leave a raft like mine out of sight in a matter of minutes.

Even with the negatives, the jet-raft is great. We took it into the Dean a couple of years ago - giant engine and all - and it was great to have. You can't do that with a hard boat (at least very easily)!

To summarize, go ahead with a raft, I would recommend a jet. Depending on how large you and your regular fishing partners are I think the Jet20 is not really enough for 2 guys - a 30HP prop converted with an aftermarket pump (as I don't think there is a factory one made - though I could be wrong) would be perfect for a 12' raft and 2 guys.

03-28-2005, 07:26 PM
One more round of thanks to all those who have responded to my question. We are researching this and trying to find a local source for at least some of it. Hard to spend this kind of money without ever seeing any of the items except for photos. Will keep you appraised of what we decide to do.
Again, thank you very much for all the input.

04-11-2005, 08:10 PM
Found another option for those looking for a motorized inflatable. It is called the Aire Power Traveler. It is a 17' inflatable canoe type vessel that supposedly runs like a "scalded ape" with a 25/20 Mercury Jet. It is currently being evaluated with a 40 hp jet... I found it on the under their boating forum on a thread about inflatable canoe tests. You have to click that link and a pdf file comes up with the inflatable canoe reviews. Keep scrolling through the pages and you'll see the Aire Power Traveler. Checked Aire's web site and couldn't find anything yet. Something else to consider. Looks incredibly portable and I belived the ape thing.

04-12-2005, 09:54 AM
Hey Gator I checked that "canoe" out it does certailny look interesting I noted that they mentioned "Narrow and Deep rivers" it sure looks like it could handle skinny places I wonder why deep was mentioned inso much as they were using a jet pump? The Grabner importer in Los Angeles told me about a fellow in Bellingham Wahington that has a 14' Grabner Ranger with a 40 hp prop it does well over 50mph if you have the inclination for Hooyah events!!!! Not recomended by grabner for even a 20 hp. :hihi:
My new toy will arrive in Seattle from Korea in early June I will be looking forward to giving a complete report here on its performance (Alaska Series Jet Ranger20)

04-12-2005, 10:08 AM
I'm not sure why the mentioned "narrow and deep" either...didn't make a lot of sense based on the pump and the look of the design. It does look incredibly portable. Not certain how stable the craft would be in technical sections or with just one person trying to tiller steer the boat on moving water at any kind of speed.

Really looking forward to your report on the Jet Ranger and how it works for our type of application.

I'll keep looking and keep posting my finds!


05-02-2005, 05:33 PM

got this off the riverjet forum
stilll thinking about the outboard jet idea ????????????

06-02-2005, 09:28 PM
It's early June...looking forward to the report on the Jet Ranger!

06-03-2005, 10:03 AM
Hey the fellow who runs the outfit called me while I was out fishing on "opening Day" (June 1st) to tell me that both my new inflateables were in Seattle so now that I am back from fishing I will get in contact and get them on the water a report on performance is forthcoming :D

06-04-2005, 11:55 AM
Awesome, looking forward to it!

06-14-2005, 09:39 PM
Picked up my new boats this morning in Seattle and have the Jet Ranger all ready to blast off I will give it a trial run first thing in the morning on my local River, report to follow. It is honestly built for very rough conditions I don't know how far you would have to drag it to put any wear or tear for that matter. The guys said it had a bottom as tough as a truck tire seeing is beleiving! :Eyecrazy:

06-14-2005, 10:14 PM
Fit & finish and quality of construction looking good? Glad to hear so far so good. Really looking forward to reading your report.

06-15-2005, 12:06 PM
Pretty cool boat. I honestly beleive that it is better than the Metzler Juca LS which until now has been my "Gold Standard" for evaluating Inflatable Jet Boats. I took the boat upstream several miles and played with several side channels with 2 or 3 inches of water and it passed through nicely. The floor as it is backed up with that "truck tire" skidd plate material appears to create enough stiffness that the 4 lb. inflation pressure is adequate to keep the floor from undulating.
I give it 5 stars and would recomend these boats to anyone.

06-16-2005, 12:23 PM
Any way you could post some pictures? Would love to see the specifics and the way you have it set up.

Also, glad to hear you're happy with the boat :)


06-19-2005, 06:29 AM
Thanks to all who supplied info on my request for help. It turned out that we decided to wait until next year to buy the boat set up. :roll: I think we are going to get the same model that Moonlight says he likes so much.
Best to all