I have been fly fishing most of my life & am considering purchasing a drift boat in the next year or so. I was wondering what experiences some of you have had, whether bad or good. I have fly fished from an old Alumacraft as a young boy with my father & from a bass boat, but never from a drift boat.
Is it easy, hard ?
Do you go downstream to a point & get out to wade ?
How hard are they to manuver ?
Which one is best ? Hyde, Clackacraft, etc.
What can I expect to spend on a new one versus a used one ?
I've little experience with them, but I'll offer up what I know. They are quite expensive new, and from what I've seen, the price won't drop by a huge margin when being sold used. Hyde and Clackacraft are definitely the leaders when it comes to the top-of-the-line fiberglass boats although there are others, some of which are perfectly good i'm sure. Keep in mind you'll also need a trailer.
The simplest trick I've learned when paddling them is that when needing to avoid an obstacle downstream, (boulder, etc) you basically just point the stern of the boat at it and start rowing. (backwards, the normal direction) This will be the simplest way to avoid the object and the cussing that would ensue should you strike it.
Another option to consider is an inflatable like these . They bounce off rocks better, float in less water, can collapse down smaller, and don't require as specialized a trailer. The guide I floated with who uses one just has a small flatbed trailer (6'x8' or so) that the boat rides very well on. You would need to secure it well for highway travel, but this is true of any drift boat. I'll admit its a little tougher to get around within the boat given its lack of a hard bottom, but there are substantial advantages as well.
1. Is it easy, hard?
Some guys just can't seem to get the hang of rowing well. If you're one of those, you won't have much fun in the boat and you could even endanger yourself and others, depending on where you drift. You can kill yourself in these things if you don't know what you're doing.
2. Do you go downstream to a point & get out to wade ?
That's what I liked best about mine. You could see a lot of the river in one day, with a lot less effort than wading.
3. How hard are they to manuver ?
I don't think they're hard to manuever. But, you can't manuever and fish at the same time. That's one of the drawbacks of owning your own boat--you have to row it. Only one of my fishing buddies really took to rowing; the others couldn't seem to catch on. So guess who got to do most of the rowing? Don't get me wrong--I love to row. But I love to fish even more.
4. Which one is best ? Hyde, Clackacraft, etc.
Depends on who you talk to. Both brands have their diehard adherents.
5. What can I expect to spend on a new one versus a used one ?
I wouldn't think you'd find one for much under a few grand used. New, they're more in the range of 4500 to 6+. Sometimes you can get a good deal on a new, previous year model.
One of the frustrating things about drifting on some rivers is competing with guides. Some of them act like they own the river. They have two sets of rules--those that apply to you and those that apply to them.
One of the things I enjoyed most about having a boat was that I was able to take my wife along fishing--which I couldn't do while wading. She doesn't fish anymore but she loves to be on the river.
A driftboat is really nice if you like to fish in the dead of winter. It's easy to stay out all day even in below-freezing temps.
Finally, I will say that, IMO, you can catch more fish from a boat. It's hard to get a drag-free, 50 yard drift while wading, but it's a piece of cake in a boat.
My two cents: I fish a lot of ponds an like to to floats on small rivers that have many shoals..I find the Kikk boat to be very comfortable and is a lot of fun to fish from. When in slow water using fins to propel the boat allows free use of your hands to fish with. At times a use a trolling motor on larger ponds and at times used the oars. It is a great fishing tool. I have a dual pontoon 8 foot fish cat.
Thank to all who have commented on drift boats. I will be buying one sometime in the near future, probably after helping my youngest daughter thru college. (about 1 1/2 yrs left to go) Here in Grand Rapids Michigan they have a huge Sport/Fishing/RV show in late Feb. & I plan on stopping at each of the booths for drift boats I can find.
Thought of one other detail about inflatable boats that would affect you. They generally do allow some water in where your feet would be, so if you're after a totally dry ride, a hard boat would be the way to go.
#3 from Rocky's post is why I don't have one. I fish in prime drift boat area and I felt like I would be doing all the work so others would fish. I am lucky enough to be taken fishing with a guide a few times a year. Did the Box Canyon on the Henry's a few months ago. Just about can't fish it right without one. My .02
Question for those of you who have had a guided trip ( I have not, so I'm curious ) How often does a guide stop the boat so you can get out & really fish a spot ? Are they always on the move ? I know you can cover a lot of territory over a day, but is that better than finding a spot were there could be lots of fish ? I would not want to bypass a catch of the day/lifetime just to cover 5 miles of water.
If you have a boat which method do you typically use ? I know that when I finally get my drift boat there maybe times I go solo. ( I do plan on putting a small motor on mine to go back upstream. ) If you have a boat is that adviseable or not?
The amount of stopping on guided trips varies ALOT. Sometimes there isn't time to stop and still get to the takeout point before dark, some trips will have you anchored in place or out wading more than you are moving in the boat. Either way, the guide should be willing to give you a good idea beforehand of what to expect. Let him know what you want to do and let him accomodate. If he won't, feel free to find a guide who will work with you. Some guides are known for being very inflexible and almost militaristic in how they run the trip. Often these guys are also hardcore in their approach to catching fish and can totally be worth fishing with and learning from. Just make sure you know what you're getting into and spending no small chunk of change on.
How much you're stopped depends alot on the river too. On the San Juan in the warmer months, you can expect to be stopped alot, due to the fact that the fish will concentrate in colder deep holes at the end of oxygenating runs. My last guided trip on the Guadalupe was the same way. Rivers in a more ideal trout climate and or with a more consistent bottom will likely be ones where you spend more time taking advantage of the really long drifts a drift boat allows. Fall streamer fishing where you're wanting to hit lots of big fish lies can require lots of moving as well.