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Old 11-18-2010, 09:59 PM
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Default Drifting in a pontoon boat?

Hey, I am looking for an alternative to buying a drift boat because I won't have the money for that for a LONG time. Everytime I fish from shore I just think to myself "Wow I could be catching 10 times more fish if I were drifting down this river. So I was looking at one of those 200-300 dollar pontoon boats that Cabelas sells. I have never seen someone drift down a river on a pontoon boat, so I was wondering what you guys thought of it. I am not too worried about safety. I am young and invincible. But I am worried about comfort and ease of fishing on fast moving rivers. Thanks for any input.
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

I can't comment on the Cableas pontoon, but I have seen a number of folks using pontoon boats on the Green River in WY and UT and the North Platte in WY. I've also seen a few on the South Fork of the Snake in ID. I think depending on the rowers skill, the quality of the pontoon and the size and type of river all play a part in this equation. If you don't have any rowing experience in a pontoon or drift boat I'd definitely recommend learning on a river with a pretty mild flow and then work up, the North Platte or middle section of the Green river are perfect examples to learn on without the risk of getting in too much trouble. I wouldn't take one down the A or B section of the Green River below Flaming Gorge without quite a bit of rowing experience. Both Hyde and Clacka sell DVD's that explain the basics of rowing a drift boat that should apply to a pontoon, but then I have never rowed a pontoon. Personally, if I was going to purchase a pontoon with the intent of using it on rivers, especially with any kind of serious flow or rapids I'd seriously look at one of Dave Scadden's boats, they are rated for white water. Kelly posted a trip report on the South Fork where his son and a couple friends did a float using pontoons and one of the pontoons broke an oar. They were able to lash two boats together and safely complete the float, but had he been alone the outcome could have been quite different. The flows on the South Fork are nothing to mess around with.

Larry
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:01 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

Those Dave Scadden boats look nice but they are WAY out of my price range. I was looking at something more like this: Cabela's: Outcast Wave 9
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kfisher99 View Post
I have never seen someone drift down a river on a pontoon boat, so I was wondering what you guys thought of it. I am not too worried about safety. I am young and invincible.
That is a very arrogant statement. There was a death on the Lower Yuba during the fall when a drift boat hit a downed tree. At 3000 cfs, one drifts right over it. At 900 cfs, it is a direct hit. The oarsman floated the river many times and just happened to take the wrong line. His father went over and drowned. The Lower Yuba is a very easy river to navigate, but a lapse in judgment could put someone in the water. Safety is something that every oarsman should be worried about.

As for those boats, I would not trust them. For fast water, a boat should be rated to class 3. The frame should be aircraft grade aluminum. The maximum amount of pieces should be four, so there would be less flex spots. My preference is the 10 foot length for tracking stability. But don't be fooled into thinking that a 10 foot boat is not maneuverable. It is. I'm partial to the Outcast PAC boats, but there are some other alternatives available from Buck's Bags and Scadden.

MP
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:18 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

I'm with Mosca here, this isn't something you want to skimp on. Check around for a used boat of better quality. Stillwater maybe, but on a river noway one false move could be fatal even in the modest of flows.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:20 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoscaPescador View Post
That is a very arrogant statement. There was a death on the Lower Yuba during the fall when a drift boat hit a downed tree. At 3000 cfs, one drifts right over it. At 900 cfs, it is a direct hit. The oarsman floated the river many times and just happened to take the wrong line. His father went over and drowned. The Lower Yuba is a very easy river to navigate, but a lapse in judgment could put someone in the water. Safety is something that every oarsman should be worried about.

As for those boats, I would not trust them. For fast water, a boat should be rated to class 3. The frame should be aircraft grade aluminum. The maximum amount of pieces should be four, so there would be less flex spots. My preference is the 10 foot length for tracking stability. But don't be fooled into thinking that a 10 foot boat is not maneuverable. It is. I'm partial to the Outcast PAC boats, but there are some other alternatives available from Buck's Bags and Scadden.

MP
Ya I understand deaths happen on rivers. I am just really comfortable on and in the water. I fell in the yuba a few weeks ago after the rain storms, it was very deep and I drifted down a good 100 yards. It wasn't fun at all but it didn't worry me that much. I still take safety into consideration for sure and I definetly learned from it and I choose my spots to cross the river more carefully now. But as far as a good boat for fast-moving rivers would be, considering your suggestions, what would be the cheapest one I can get ahold of that will be rated class 3? Are the cheap ones from Cabelas just not durable at all?
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:56 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

I am going to take a stab at this one. The boat you posted I am not hands on familiar with, so my answer is strictly hear say. Those seats are not that comfortable. They sit very high on the frame making them less stable than those you sit in between.
The steel frames are susceptible to rust. And 6' oars are a little short for a 9'er to me.

I do know of two people that bought TU pontoons and the fame welds broke while on the water, so check welds.

I guess I am spoiled. I love my Scadden's. The Outlaw X5 for when we use a trailer, and my Renegade when just the truck or car.

Check Craigs list and places like that as well. There was an ad in the KSL a couple of weeks ago for the NFO Madison with standing deck, and a Minn Kota motor plus battery . To top it off, Force Fins which retail for $200. all of this for $500. So, the deals are out there.
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

Hi kfisher99,

I have floated a lot of rivers with a pontoon and they will handle surprisingly rough water. You do need to know how to row and the safest approach is avoidance of obstacle. The problem is you can't always do that and an obstacle that a drift boat would bounce off of might flip a pontoon.

Joni has made some very good points about the Cabela's boat.

1. The seat is of poor design and is not adjustable.

2. The oar locks are in a fixed position and not adjustable. This would not be as much of a problem if the seat was adjustable but as it is you have no way to adjust your seating position you have to take what is there.

3. The oars are too short. This will limit your ability to turn the boat and especially make spin turns. In anything but calm water the oar length would be a safety concern.

4. The rear storage behind the seat is terrible. You would need to add a ridged platform to be useful.

5. There is no anchor setup. When fishing rivers you need an anchor to position the boat for fishing. It needs to be easy to deploy and retract.

6. The frame is painted steel and every scratch will rust. Frames do git beat up and painted steel is not the best choice. If water gets inside of a frame section it will rust from the inside out.

So if you really can't afford better this boat will float. If you make the needed updates like oars, anchor and back platform you will have more money invested that it would be worth. No matter what pontoon you buy keep in mind that you need a good life vest that you wear all of the time. Being young or lucky cannot replace being smart and safe.

I might also add that anyone using a pontoon boat should have three oars. I have break down aluminum oars and the third oar sits under the seat out of the way. Unless they have changed the rules, on the Utah Green you can't launch unless you have three oars. I also carry a spare oar lock.

Frank
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Old 11-19-2010, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

save your money for a scadden, it is well worth it. i have floated the green, A section on several toons (not any of my scaddens yet) and have found, like mentioned, the seat is quiet important. not just for comfort but for safety.

defentily read up as much as you can, and try to find a calm section of river to practice on. i ran the south fork of the american river well over 100 times, but every single time was different.

dont forget your spare oar and life jacket, and not the inflatable kind either you want a good, reliable jacket. Lotus makes some great guide jackets that i use that dont hinder casting or rowing.
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:21 AM
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Default Re: Drifting in a pontoon boat?

Thanks for the replys. I am definetly going to do my best to find a used Scadden boat on Craig's List or Ebay. I hope I can find an outlaw model for like 50% of retail price.
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