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chrome-magnon man
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Ok, so I have a little boat now for lake fishing and am thinking I should maybe get a bigger boat for rivers. Now, I know a thing or two about Spey casting but I'm basically a complete rookie when it comes to watercraft on rivers (well, sort of--I was certified to charter sailboats to 50ft in 1991 but I never kept up with it)--Jet boat, drift boat, raft, pontoon boat--what do you use and why?
 

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What types of waters do you want to fish in your boat?

If you are talking about a river that is restricted to non-motored craft you need a drift boat or cataraft/pontoon. Adding a decent outboard motor to a good class III/IV cataraft can give you some flexibility to run upriver. On big high flowing rivers like the Sac. in CA or the Columbia in OR, outboard jets are very popular, they are a kick in the a** on big water and have the power to shoot minor rapids upstream, just watch out for rocks. Don't get a jet if you intend to run in "dirty" water as any debis sucked into the impeller is bad. If you are worried about scraping bottom with a motor (conventional or jet), you can install an adjustable jackplate that allows you to raise and lower the motor mounting point on the transom. Tunneled transom jon boats like G3 are great if you are a duck hunter or flats/slough fisher too, they have a pretty low draft, but aren't as low in the water as a flats boat & they can handle a big motor for their size. They have decent gunwalls and will handle moderately rough water since the bow is a modified shallow "V" that transitions to a flat bottom at the transom. They make conventional tunnel and jet tunnel designs so you can take your pick. If you are a handy do-it-yourself kinda guy, or like myself, can't ever afford what I really want? You may consider getting a basic aluminum hull and outfitting it yourself. I have a buddy who just built a new 18' aluminum G3 with a 50hp Yamaha for about $10k including trailer. WOW that boat is about $15-16K normally.
 

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I inheritied my son's G3 15' long 44" wide G3 Jon Boat

He bought a bigger boat for the Delta, and I keep his boat here for his once a year duck hunting trip.

It has a casting platform on the front and he put wood flooring and astro turf on the bottom. So the middle of the boat is perfect for casting or bringing a hooked fish in for the release.

We have a Minn Kota Salt Water Electric Trolling motor for the front and one for the back. I prefer the one in back and he prefers the one in front. I may spring for one in the front with the remote wrist control. We have our old 15 horse 4 stroke gas engine which moves it along at 15 to 20 MPH with two good size guys in the boat. Most of the places we fish are 5 MPH zones and we use the Trolling motor for most of our fishing and lot of travel. I had thought about a jet, but as Bill Malin points out, the algae and junk in our local river would clog up the water intake on the Jet. With the Tidal waters, a salt water electric trolling motor is a must.

The boat is very stable for casting, bringing in fish and grabbing them with a lip grabber and releasing them. We don't use nets as that is just one more thing to get caught with a fly, fly line or rod. We use round trash cans with about 3 inches of water in them to hold our lines as we strip them in. We put an anchor in the bottom of one, put our rods in and strap then tight to go from one fishing area to another. I have a combo depth finder/GPS with the cone mounted on the rear. The GPS has two purposes: 1. To leave an electronic bread crumb trail to get back to the dock in case of fog 2. Marking spots where we have caught fish or had good strikes.

I, also, use my Side Winder Depth finder to find fish along the shore. I put the holder and Side Winder on the side of the drop off with the vegetation to find the Stripers. Stripers will often hold in those areas. If you pick them upon the finder, you can go upstream and float back down with the flies drifting down stream along the shore or you can anchor up stream and cast and mend your flies down stream. A 7-10 # striper in shallow water when hooked often becomes an air borne event. We fish with 8-10 # tippets to keep from getting our lines snagged with a airborne and rampaging striper.

I use my switch rods when I'm in this boat. Stripers, big bass and big trout don't go well with my longer Spey Rods. I read about people using the long rods in boats, I wonder how they do it. I have had a couple of near disasters with even 12' to 13' rods and a fish over 5 pounds. A hot 3 pound fish is too much for my Sage 5120 in my boat.

These G3's are basically bullet proof. If we want to rest, have lunch or whatever on shore, we just run the boat onto the shore get out snub it with the anchor in weeds or tie it to a bush. Then when we leave, we release the lines or anchor get back in the boat with a little shove and reverse it out of there.

This boat works slow but okay on a big lake unless the waves are over a foot, then the flat bottom is not desireable.

We have a lot of trees and other stuff in the water in our local river which is often submerged. So we hit this stuff some times. :saeek: We have replaced props on our electric motors (carry a spare or two) and on the gas motor, but the bottom of the Jon boat is still water tight and in great shape. We never do anything besides pull the plug with the boat besides wash mud out of it with a hose after fishing or storing it.

One of my friends has an 8 hp outboard and we use it on my Jon boat on a local lake with a limit of 10 hp on outboards. The boat hums along with the two of us until we find fish w/the finder and go to the trolling motor. We made at least a half dozen trips last summer on one tank of gas.

I'm thinking about buying a Hobie Mirage Fishing Kayak, the one with the foot peddles and hand controlled rudder. You can go up stream, across stream and hold position with those pedals and the hand rudder. I recently saw a young man in one :eek: with a Switch Rod holding down stream with the tide going out and keeping the Hobie in overhead casting range where a stream came roaring into the river.

The other alternative is the Mokai, which is a kayak with a small jet engine. That might be the best alternative if one can afford one. You could get into places :Eyecrazy: where drift boats can basically only pass by with one of these and cast to fish who never see flies or lures.

Boats are like Spey rods. One is never enough.
 

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Spey boats are different from Tay boats and Tweed boats due to the speed of the river.



Notice the long rope, it is common to use a 56lb weight as the anchor, after each cast 1 coil is taken off the pegs to allow the boat to progress down the pool.
 

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That's an interesting way to fish a drop. In Canada when you fish from a canoe you take one cast each side and strip a length of line off and repeat. After you've covered all your water you reel in and the guide takes you down another drop past your longest cast.

Can't imaging hauling that boat back upriver to get all the coils back in.

-Chris
 

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wilson said:
Can't imaging hauling that boat back upriver to get all the coils back in.

-Chris
That's the gillies job, the guest does sits in the stern.

I usually demand water skiing speed.
 

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17' sled. I use it only for transportation when using the 2 hander. It becomes a fishing platform for searun cuts.
 

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Dana -- It depends on the river and your intended uses.

While a sled is a great thing on the Snake, Skagit, Skeena and even the Bulkley, they won't do you much good on the Dean, Copper, Kispiox or upper Sky. Theya re great though as you don't need a shuttle.

A driftboat will do better on many rivers but it has limitations on the water it will handle, is a pain on long dead sections and requires a shuttle.

A pontoon will handle most water without too many worries, can be used on the smallest rivers but limits you to only fishing with friends who also have them. These require shuttles as well but can be launched or portaged almost anywhere.

The final category is the cataraft -- a large pontoon boat capable of the roughest water and carrying multiple people. I think in many cases, you can make a case for these being a great option but the do require a shuttle and are not as easily launched or portaged than their smaller cousin.

So all of this boils down to ---- you need to have one of each :p
 

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`Rogue River' style drifter

the reasoning behind the `RRiver style is,the `paralel chines',,as Hyde calls theirs,with a motor you can,,go upriver,get out and two hand it,then do what i call `skiddin',drop the anchor just `SO' and get in the front of the boat,,once you have the anchor `set' you can fish,then rock the boat and since you're in the front(it's all about trimming/balancing/loading et al when talking aluminum boats),you change the `trim',the boat moves and you slowly make way downriver,still fishing away!,best to know the river bottom well tho'!,,driftboats are more universal when a motor is mounted,you can do anything with them,i want a sled and i'll have one!,but i wouldn't even think of selling my drifter=no way!,strip them out and you can launch down embankments in areas that are away from the crowds,load them up with motors,fishfinders,coolers,family and go to a lake,,,the Rogue River Bottom motors better as a point of note,they row dif. than a Mackenzie that's for sure,but,both HAVE their attributes,and,for motoring upriver thru riffles/rocks to escape the crowds (as well as holding dead flat in a moving river with hardly a stroke of an oar)i'll demand a Rogue style boat with a flat bottom,give me a foot of water and i can go up the riffle!,,,Fish-Rite builds a version ,custom order tho it's not on their website,Alumaweld,and of course the fantastic Hyde boats along with DriftCraft at Gary Anderson's Custom rodshop,,Mr DriftCraft rents shop space from Mr Anderson,,custom order what you want!,,,,,,,,,,,,now that i think about tho',, a trawler would catch more fish,hmmmm
 

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I use a pontoon, but I don't fish from it. The primary use is for transportation downstream. I find a spot to fish, drop anchor, hop out and have at it. It does this job well enough.
 

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Dana,
From what I understand you'll be spending more and more time in my neck of the woods, Sinktip is wright,you need a cataraft Steelheader 10' type, for the water that is mostly helicopter fished/accessed, away from the crowds.
You need a little inflatable for those runs you want to fish on the other side.(Poul style:chuckle: )
You also need a little sled/jet to get to the rivers accessible only by boat.
George
 

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Dana
I started with a 8.5 foot pontoon boat (one can fish solo if one leaves a mountain bike carefully concealed in the bush!) and have added in an 11.5 foot selfbailer raft (NRS Otter), 12.5 foot Zodiac with 30 hp Yamaha jet and a white water kyak - and if all else fails, a good pair of boots. It is amazing to see how much water one can actualy find if one is fit and prepared to shed a little sweat - especialy on smaller waters.
speydoc
 

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My next boating toy, Oh yeah

I was looking for something that would function in the flats/estuaries as well as in rivers up to class II/III. Pretty wide range of use. Oh yeah, it needs to be reasonably portable. Not to improperly plug a product, but FYI take a look at www.seawolf.biz I am figuring on a 13 ft predator with a 50/70 hp outboard jet and a good saltwatert rated trolling motor. It would be real easy to cast from those decks and you could easily rig a polling/sighting platform. BTW Guys race these things in the SF bay delta and ocean surf and regularly hit 65-70mph, and 10-15ft of air!! Not a bad endosement for durability/stability.
 

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Bill,
Be careful with the set up you mention. Several years ago I looked seriously into the Dux boat w/jet option. According to the mfg, it was not even an option. Converging wakes off of the pontoons do not offer the proper flow of water into the intake of the jet resulting in cavitation of the pump. I also talked with the folks at outboard jets (makers of the pump units you see on outboards set up as jets) and they concurred. I too am impressed with this type of boat and the proven performance and was dissapointed that this was not a realistic possibility.

Dana,
No one boat will do it all incredibly well. You must figure out the type of waters you will be frequenting most and then buy the set up ideal for that application. After many, many, MANY hours of research and mental anguish here are some of the things I have learned and a few specific recommendations:

Single Person Pontoon/Cataraft: My recommendation would be to go with one of the major whitewater manufacturers vs. one of the flyfishing specific maker's offerings. Aire, Maravia, NRS, Sotar all make smaller single person crafts that are true load handling white water boats. (These makers offerings are made from different materials (PVC, hypalon etc.) that each have their pros and cons.) Have a custom frame made for it by one of the white water frame manufacturers (NRS, Down River Equipment Company, RecreTec) laid out to your specs and outfit it with the gear you need. A Watermaster is another option for a single person craft. The guys that have them seem to really like them. They are easy to store and will handle decent water and a modest load.

Raft: Aire Super Puma/Maravia Spider or the NRS Expedition 135 (or the NRS Otter if you don't want to spend as much) depending on how you want the boat set up. The Super Puma/Spider option offers an incredibly nimble boat for one or two anglers with a few days worth of provisions and excells as a boat you can use for day trips. The NRS E135 offers a larger more traditional platform with a larger payload for longer trips and will handle an additional angler and gear more comfortably. Also, it is sized right for most rivers and gear/angler loads. Again, have a custom frame made for your application by one of the makers listed above. You will also need a trailer. Make sure you buy a top quality trailer with 16" tires, a full size spare and LED taillights! Do not go cheap or you will regret it when the thing shakes apart leaving you stranded.

Cataraft: A 16' cataraft from one of the major whitewater makers (again Aire, Maravia, NRS or Sotar depending on the material you think fits your needs the best) outfitted with a custom frame with full aluminum diamond plate floors is a very versitile and spacious platform. They offer outstanding manuverability when lightly loaded but have a tendency to get sluggish when loaded down. This inflatable offers perhaps the most flexibiltiy in terms of frame configurations and versitilty. See above note on the trailer.

Driftboat: Clackacraft, Hyde and Lavro all have glass offerings that will appeal to our type of useage. Personally, if I had to choose a glass boat today it would be the Clackacraft 16' Flyfishing Bench Model. If you want an Aluminum boat the two I would look at would be Willie and Koffler. Rotomolded boats: Hog Island and Boulder boat works both have offerings with merits. Watch the weights on these boats since the plastic they are made out of (like whitewater kayak material) weighs a ton. Wood: Montana Boat builders have a great reputation and offer models which are stunningly beautiful and incorporate kevlar bottoms. Wood, plastic, glass and aluminum all offer pros and cons and only you can make the choice as to which fits your needs the best.

Jet: Wooldridge or Alumafix. Wooldridge offers several designs suitable for a variety of conditions. The Extra Plus with a 225hp outboard jet and canvas offers a serious all weather platform that handles big water and a large payload. The Alaskan (or II) is another good option. They can be outfitted with smaller outboards and handle skinny water quite well. Not nearly as large of a payload, but they are less expensive smaller boats and certainly more economical to operate. Alumafix offers the Flyfisher which is the boat RA asked Mike Forsyth to build based on his Rogue/Dean River type craft. He asked Mike to incorporate the improvements he found from his experience on the water. This craft has a lot of merits in it's simple open well thought out design. It is designed to be operated with an outboard in the 60-90 hp range. For simple river transportation it really sounds like an excellent option. Hopefully Ed will chime in and give a first hand report of the crafts true ability on the water under actual conditions.

That's what I remember off the top of my head without pulling out all of my notes taken from all of those gracious enough to have shared their water wisdom. Hope it helps.

Chris
 

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Thanks for the tip Chris

Thanks for the tip on the Jet impeller not co-operating with the Dux layout. It makes sense when you explain it. Still a good option with a coventional prop for me. Just won't be as likely to try any small whitewater.
 

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No, he hasn't pulled any triggers, but at the moment we are thinking about smaller lighter inflatables for crossing and some limited drifting - places where it is too difficult to launch my jet raft.

Right now I am thinking hard about a Watermaster type craft and would be interested in in opinons.
 

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An angler needs a fleet.

As others have mentioned, no one watercraft does it all. I have a small fleet, but reasonable in stature in terms of the space it requires and its costs. I began with a canoe because I'm convinced it is the most versatile of all watercraft. I can use a canoe in more places than any other single type of boat. I still have and use my canoe, but since I have other choices as well, it no longer is so freqently used.

A driftboat is nice in terms of the payload it carries and the class of water it will run. However, it requires a trailer, is a pain to get in and out of if you use it for transportation and prefer to wade and fish from your feet. So I've never bought a drift boat.

A raft is convenient to pack around, hauls a large payload, and handles the heaviest of water. That's pretty admirable, but that's not mainly the fishing I do. So I followed some friends and 20 years ago bought an Achilles LT-2, a 7' one man raft that packs in a duffle bag at 30 pounds. It's not intended for river running or to be a fishing craft. I've floated nearly every major river in WA state pluse the SF Snake, the Snake at Heller's Bar, etc. I do portage the narrows on the Grand Ronde, however. This summer past I upgraded to a Watermaster, which is does everything the LT-2 does, only better, and still weighes in at about 38 pounds in its huge dry bag. The Watermaster will handle Class III easy, and likely Class IV, tho I haven't tried it yet.

A small raft is handy. I can throw it in the car and take along just in case I might want to do a float - try that with a driftboat. It's nice to have along just in case I want to cross a large river and fish a couple spots from the other side - think Martel. It is perfect for "stealth" launching and retrieving. That is, I don't need developed boat launching facilities. I take the Watermaster down a deer trail to the river, or if necessary, throw it off a bridge over a small secluded river I wish to float and fish. This is handy for solo floats, and I can ditch my mountain bike in the brush near where I will take out, stash my deflated boat and gear, and ride my bike back to my car. I especially enjoy this independence that other choices mostly don't allow.

Jet sled. Nothing offsets the use of a sled. Since I often fish solo, I don't need a shuttle with my jet boat, as I can return to the launching location. I don't have one of the more common jet sled choices. I choose a 16' Lund SSV for a couple reasons. I have long experience with Lunds and know them to be durable and very tolerant of benign neglect and outright abuse. The 16' model is light enough that I can easily launch and retrieve it by myself. It's also relatively inexpensive contrasted to Alumaweld, North River, Woolridge, and similar popular and costly brands which are heavier and therefore require larger and more expensive motors. I have a 50 hp/35 hp at the pump and can carry 2 and even 3 anglers and their gear for a day's fishing.

My fleet is rounded out with non-river craft like a float tube which are popular for fly fishing lakes, and an ultra-light Curtis raft for alpine lake fishing 2# complete in my backpack.

I'm sure a well rounded angler needs another boat, but I haven't been able to rationalize another one just yet. Maybe after I get that new 3-car garage built, I'll realize that I truly am short at least one more floating device.

Sincerely,

Salmo g.
 
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