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Spey Boats

20899 Views 57 Replies 33 Participants Last post by  t_richerzhagen
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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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.

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.

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Wondering if you ever pulled the trigger on a boat? What did you decide?
Take care,
In addition to the Aluamfix and the Rogue Jet stealth the only other similar design I am aware of is the Fish Rite Power Drifter.

I have not talked to ayone with first hand experience with either the Jet Stealth or the Power Drifter. However, my biggest concern with both of these models is their limited horsepower rating.
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