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Old 05-02-2013, 11:08 AM
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Default Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Hey guys,

Been thinking about floating the south fork of the snake in Idaho for some time. I've seen a lot of different styles float it and what some input on the comparison of wooden drift boats vs. welded frame/platform, inflatable pontoons... Both 2 or 3 man size....what do ya think? I wouldn't know the first thing about float trips.. I've just done some white water rafting as far as floating goes..

Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:41 AM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Uncle Chubby.....

First I love the name.
Are you going to be floating yourself or with a guide or someone familiar with the river. If not familiar with the river system, I always recommend going with a guide for at least one float to learn the river etc. Some portions of the snake have diversions dams irrigation channels that can cause a boater some serious issues. With that said, I myself prefer an inflatable craft. If cash was no issue, I would have both, but since I live in the real world, I have only one… a cataraft. Set up for three. Being in Boise, I float the SF of the B often and you cannot take a drift boat through the canyon. I have heard of guys doing so but it would not be pretty...
Many of the rivers that I favor or frequent require an inflatable craft. With said, your decision really should be based on the water you hope to access. Are you thinking only the S. fork of the snake?

Pros of an inflatable. Can access rivers at lower flows. For the average boater, an inflatable is more stable / safe in faster water. Also, it can be used as a recreation craft when not fishing.

Cons, not as easy to move around in (from rower’s seat to casting platforms etc.) Depending on size of craft. Many of the catarafts on the market today do not have actual floors making moving around difficult. I know when I boat with buddies; we each take turns running the sticks. We set a stop watch for 45 minutes intervals. You can see, we are more about fishing then boating….
Hope this helped a bit.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:49 AM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Welcome to the forum,

Hopefully you'll stick around with us here so we find out what you decide to go with. We have many members who float your target river as well as rivers all over the country. I expect you will get a good sampling here.

I use a couple different Cattarafts, good if you're going to be dragging across gravel bars and every now and then banging a boulder in heavy water. Fairly easy for one person to handle unless you get into the really huge rafts. What I call me big one is a 13' Fish Cat by Outcast.

The downside is that if you want to be a good owner you break them down every winter (if you have winter) and store the tubes in a warm dry place. Reassembly every spring can be labor intensive. This is what I do and mine are 5 years old and hold their air fine.

In a drifter it comes down to learning to handle your boat well. This is especially true if you are going with any other than a noisy aluminum hull. Glass or wood will take a pretty good pounding but you don't want them busting boulders or dragging over the gravel often of you're going to be doing lots of repairs.

The upside; you just cover them for the winter. They track beautifully, they are faster, they are generally more comfortable. They don't have air valves or bladder seams that can leak.

If you take good care of a raft they will last but not as long as a solid hull drifter.

If you're going in for the long haul I would say Drift Boat.

Ard
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:24 PM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Thanks Guys!

I do have some friends that are very familiar with the river.. Cut Throat leaders I do need to come check out the Boise...heard a lot of good things. And the name comes from a video i watched of a very enthusiastic guide who was guiding on the Madison. Couldn't stop laughing...

Hardy Reels I do plan on sticking around...Cant think of a better way to reach out for advice! I don't have that grandpa figure to point the general direction I should go and teach me all he knows.... now as far as the choice of boat I am going to start making a plan to acquire one in the future (Future being an ambiguous term with no definite time line) as soon as the money starts getting creative!

I do like the idea of both... Got a friend with a three man pontoon and its definitely convenient, as well as the cons you both shared.

This is probably nonsense but I have got the "bug" to looking into building my own raft...I could just see myself going all out and if successful in building a quality home built raft I wouldn't want to risk getting it banged up...and thus defeating the idea of getting out on a boat out and fishing!
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:16 PM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Glad to hear you're gonna stay with us here. I said that because we do get first time posters who ask a question then after getting 20 replies never have returned to say anything further.

If I lived right near a drift boat river I would have one of the popular models like a Clacka or similar. however I am not situated near such a river. The rafts are better suited to use on small to medium waters where there are sometimes no maintained boat launches or take outs. On smaller rivers and streams the 13' like I mentioned really shine. You can use a front seat for a second person (with a casting deck and grab rail) or remove the seat and add some extra decking for additional gear & large German Shepherd.

If I had a drift boat I would be much more limited on where I could use it while the raft will handle a big river or a medium creek with stability and enough room to take the gear. Another point I forgot: rafts are easy to stop. When over 1.5 foot of water you just slid down off your seat and into the water. From this position you can just walk the boat to where you want it. The drawback is that you must remount the raft in order to get out of this position and exit the raft.

I find being able to do as I just described most handy when you make the wrong call where the river forks into 2 or 3 channels and come into low water. Being able to stand and walk is often all it takes to raise the tubes and walk yourself to deeper water.

Ard
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle chubby View Post
Hey guys,

Been thinking about floating the south fork of the snake in Idaho for some time. I've seen a lot of different styles float it and what some input on the comparison of wooden drift boats vs. welded frame/platform, inflatable pontoons... Both 2 or 3 man size....what do ya think? I wouldn't know the first thing about float trips.. I've just done some white water rafting as far as floating goes..

Thanks!
+1 for the advice that Mike passed to you. Before I row most rivers I get a guide and do a float so I can see the hazards first hand, not someone telling me what to expect. Both Hyde and Clacka sell basic rowing DVD's and if you Google drift boat rowing instruction there is a ton of stuff online. Also check with Hyde, I think they have a demo program. As the others have said, you need to think about the rivers you will be floating. For example, if you are floating fairly calm water and the area has wind, then think about a low side drift boat, on the other hand if you are going to float something like the Green below Flaming Gorge, than a high side boat is better due to the rapids. In Colorado a lot of the guys end up with rafts due to the shallow water in a lot of the rivers. For the SF of the Snake a low side drift boat or raft would be just fine.
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Old 05-05-2013, 08:15 AM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

Thanks hardy reels and mcnerney,

I do need to look more into the rivers I'd be floating and such. I can really see the benefit of a raft as was mentioned in taking it down the wrong fork and runnin into shallow water..

Like the image of a big German Shepard in the drift boat though haha!

Thanks guys you have given me a lot to think about for the future. Let me see what kind of fishing opportunities come my way this summer and see what is going to work better for situations I could get into with some type of boat, or raft. Makes a lot of sense to look at WHAT rivers i WOULD float if I had the equipment...

Thanks,

Norm
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:58 PM
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Default Re: Drifter or pontoon? Pros and cons?

"Horses for Courses" as the saying goes. But if you go with a 'solid hull' get one with low sides such as the Clak. Another option is the Prav. that has the door in the hull.

Reason for this is (even anchored up in just 6" of water it takes a pretty agile person to get in and out. With 'age' it gets even worse. Large pets, even worse.
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