Great Thread: Wish I'd Thought to Start It
JD makes some excellent points above.
Being a Bibliophile of Addiction, I would recommend you secure a copy of Dan Alsop's book, _Driftboats_ (Amato Publications, ISBN 1-57188-189-1) to get some real background on these remarkable, unique and wonderful craft.
Re Anglers in the Stern: Bear in mind that drift boats are white water craft. They were not designed with float fishing in mind, but rather maximum manueverability in heavy white water. When the boat tilts, as it does in heavy water, the chines on either side act as rudders to stabilize the boat. JD refers to rocker: the bow and stern should be a bit out of the water, but, in a heavily laden boat, this isn't always possible. I would never want to be in a boat that was laden below the rock boards if any heavy white water was to be encountered.
Bottom line, though, is to pull the weight. Make sure your load is in front of you. If you anticipate running class 2 or better rapids, make sure your stern angler sits up front. In flat water, doesn't really matter much.
When running, you'll want your passengers to distribute themselves so that the boat is centered. I have a gauge mounted on my brace board so that my passengers can see when Nimue is riding level.
Again, these are white water craft. There's a real high mixed with gripping fear that comes when you enter the tongue of a difficult rapid. Ahead you see only tumbling white water -- in your head you must see the boulders in your careening path and follow the plan you laid when you scouted the rapid from below. Pull, pivot, Pull, Pull, Pull, Pivot, Pull, Pull, Pull, whew! It's exhilarating!
Not that these aren't fishing boats. They are as stable a craft as a johnboat and can accomodate two fly fishermen very well (maybe only one Spey caster at a time). They are versitile boats and can be launched anywhere you can drag them or throw them (most of us Steelheaders carry 100 foot ropes for impromptu launchs).
But, as I said, they are built to get you safely through the rapids.
Get or borrow the book if you don't already have it.
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