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removed_by_request 12-23-2003 10:24 AM

Drift Boats
I have been thinking about biting the bullet and buying a drift boat. (Seen tons of them in our tribs in all shapes and sizes).

I am thinking about a boat that would be at home on the PM and Muskegon as well.

Do any of you have any thoughts on what boat would fit my needs? (Pertaining to length and composition). Also any add-ons that a well thought out boat must have.

Please give the pros and cons of each.


FrenchCreek 12-23-2003 10:54 AM

Drifter look-out
I don't know about your rivers but I've had Clack drifters for the past 10 years+.
My first one was a 14 foot drifter and the latest one is a 15 footer with the new chunnel hull (2002 model). Depending on your budget, I would recommend a 15 foot boat, they are so much easier to handle Vs. a 14 footer, extremely light and will handle all sorts of water conditions. Also, if you can, get a model with lots of dry storage space, like a storage bin rower seat and dry bin pedestal seats. They are really nice to store cameras & other such baggage. Lastly, make sure you get one extra break-down oar, the last thing you need is to be up the proverbial creek! I've never broken an oar but have seen it happen...

Lipripper 12-23-2003 02:20 PM

Hey MJ,
Good to hear you wanna join the good team. (bad team= jet sleds) I have a 15' Clacka which is pretty much what you described. Perfect for the PM and great for the Mo. Getting it setup to fit your needs is a never ending process. Seems like I come up with something else I would like to change everytime I row the friggin thing. But, it's at least livable at this point. Anyway... if you want to row it around on the Mo (while I strip some streamers:) ) drop me a pm.

daveg 12-23-2003 02:47 PM

I have the following thoughts on drift boats. My boat is a 16 ft 54" wide aluminum FishRite made in Cave Junction Oregon. A nice rowing boat with high sides which is comforting in big water. It does not anchor well in current, it occilates side to side. I wish it had a rear storage bin that doubles as a seat when using a trolling motor. Make sure you have beverage holders and rod racks. I have rod holders for fishing with plugs but also added vertical rod racks that allow flyrods to be kept out of the way. An anchor cleat on the bow is nice when you pull the boat to shore. A heater is also a nice add.

Aluminum: tough as heck, if you are rowing heavy water with boulders it should be highly considered. They are noisy and cold also. Have rowed Kofflers, Willie, Alumaweld and FishRite. The Kofflers and Willies are sweet but very expensive. The Willie boat sides are a little low for my liking.

Fiberglass: quiet and warm and pretty tough. They are easier to get off that rock that looked to have enough flow over the top but did not. I have rowed Clackacrafts and Lavros and they both handle beautifully. A friend just bought a Hyde and thinks it is the cats meow.

Wood: Quiet, warm and heavy. Well designed ones row just great. They take a lot a maintence and a garage is highly recommended. Just about the best looking boats. My buddy Rudy has an old (30 year) Don Hill. Rows very well but does not like hitting rocks in the Deschutes. A rib and the top rail was broken and the boat developed a leak, but we got home ok. If you are handy there are plans and kits. Check into Greg Tatman's website.

To save bucks, either make it yourself or get a used boat.

Rob Estlund 12-23-2003 04:16 PM

Aluminum or Glass
I just went through the anal retentive process of evaluating boats before I bought one. The selection process goes like this...

Glass, Aluminum, or Wood -- Wood is too high maintenance for most people, especially me. The main advantage of a glass boat was that it is slippery so it slid over rocks. Most aluminum boat manufacturers now offer a UHMW sheet on the bottom of the aluminum boat that makes it almost as slippery as glass. Because of that I got a Hyde 14'6" low profile aluminum with UHMW. I got a decked out boat with storage seats, galvanized trailer, etc. Hyde factory store is in Michigan if I need parts or service. Love the boat so far. Have run it in rivers between 200 and 4000 CFS. Handles 1 to 4 people, but 4 is pushing it. It rows very easy, but can be stern heavy if you run a motor. I run a 4hp Yamaha four stroke and wish I had gotten a lighter motor. 4hp is more than enough for me. I rarely use it anyway.

Round chine or square -- The chine of a boat is the corner where the side meets the bottom. Some are rounded, some are square, some are raised, and some are proprietary (willie). As all of the manufacturer websites say... Round chines don't track well. What does that mean? If you're pulling plugs all day, you'll stroke the oars more often to keep the boat straight. However, my guide on the Deschutes this year wished he had a round chine boat because the strong currents tend to grab the chine and spin the boat. In other words there are advantages to each. There are also techniques that can be applied to each. In other words, you don't row a square chine boat the same way you row a rounded chine. In my opinion, the chine design is mainly marketing hype. Aluminum boat manufacturers preach the benefits of square chines because that's how they're built. Glass boat manufacturers preach the benefits of round chines because that's how they're built. (except hyde's glass boats also have a square chine so they preach only raised chines -- whatever)

Length (and width) -- Assuming weight is a constant (which it ain't), the longer and wider the boat is, the less water it drafts. So get the longest and widest boat without getting too heavy. Shallower drafting boats also row easier and are more stable. Not to mention they have more room. I chose the 14'6" length because it is considerably lighter than the 16'er and my freinds aren't too heavy. Also important to note that the Hyde 14'6" has the same footprint in the water as the Hyde 16'. In other words, teh 14'6" rides higher in the water than the 16' because its lighter yet has the same displacement.

Highside vs Lowside -- Midwest fishermen can get by with a low profile. The highside only offers disadvanteges in the midwest. Wind, weight, hard to get in, etc. I met a guy out west this fall who ran 5 people in his Hyde aluminum low profile. He also ran class 4 rapids in it. (not with 4 dudes!)

Options -- Dry storage is nice, but rubbermaid tubs work well too and can fit in and around the seats where the dry storage goes. That way when you don't need dry storage, its not in the way. Rubbermaids are also hundreds of dollars cheaper. Storage alone in my boat ran about $700. I bought the deep storage front bench seat and 3 lid storage rowers seat. The rower's seat rocks! I'm not completely sold on the front seat yet. I maybe would have been better off with the pedestal since most trips don't require that much dry storage. Anyway, if you want to save some money, do it on storage. Galvanized trailer is a must in midwest because of road salt. (so my friends tell me) A cover is unnecessary if the boat is aluminum. Get the best oars you can. I got the counterbalanced cataracts. They're nice. So are Sawyer Lightweights, but they're wood and require refinishing every few years. If you do get wood oars, get tip protectors.

Be sure to read the thing on TSS classifieds by "" regarding "don't buy a drift boat until you read this". He gives some good information that anyone buying any drift boat should know. He's also a nice guy. I bought my boat from him.

Also try some general searches on the following forum... Try searching on hyde, lavro, clacka, willie, fish-rite, driftboat, drift boat, oars, row, etc. People really love Lavros and Willies. I almost bought a Lavro.

daveg 12-23-2003 05:25 PM

Good comments. I agree on the oars. I have the wood Sawyer lights and cararact breakdownable, one of which I use as the spare. I actually hate the Cataract since I went cheap and didn't get the counter balanced. The non-counter balanced are very tip heavy. I can buy counterbalances for them for another hundred bucks or so.

removed_by_request 12-24-2003 08:51 AM


Thanks for the tips, Rob great read on tss from Steve@hyde.

I was leaning towards a Hyde due to the close proximity to my house; 150 miles or so. Clacka also is within a 4 hour drive, would love a Lavro, but if I needed warranty repairs the drive would be insane.

One more thought comes to mind.... do I buy new or used? If used is OK what do I look for?

Thanks guys and have a Merry Christmas.

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