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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in the market for a drift boat but need to hear some opinions before I start narrowing down my options. What are your preferences for PM sized rivers. Can one drift boat be used on both the PM and the Au Sable? What's better fiberglass or aluminum? I am leaning towards an aluminum vessel because it is made here in Michigan. I really appreciate your help!!

Loomisfun
 

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Fiberglass over aluminum. Aluminum will dent and ding from hitting rocks and logs (and you will hit them at some time) creating drag. Aluminum is colder in the winter and makes more noise when something is dropped scaring fish. Go with Fiberglass. The only advantage to aluminum is that it is lighter and even that isn't much of a factor.

I have one for sale here when you decide to buy.

http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=47617&highlight=drift+boat

Welcome to the site. You'll be happy to have a drift boat is trout, salmon and steelhead are your thing.
 

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I think overall aluminum is a more durable and lighter material. Comfort wise fiber glass is nice. The new boat by Boulder Boat Works could be the best of both worlds who knows.

But then again I built mine out of wood so what do I know.
 

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I used a FishRite Aluminum 16' guide model for 3 years and loved it. I sold it and got into a 17' Lowe jet boat for some bigger river fishing but seriously miss my drifter. Currently looking to sell the jet due to money needs but once back on my feet will go back to a drifter.
I have never been in a glass drifter but some else told me one time that glass was warmer. I laughed to myself. I think I would get just as cold in a fiberglass unit as did in my aluminum one.

My FishRite got beat pretty good but the best I could do to it was scratch the paint. I used mine on the Betsie and loved every minute. The gunrod has for sale is a beauty and I would give glass at least once.

Dead Chub
 

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For durability, Aluminum is the way to go. If you plan on really beating the hell outta it, then go that route. The downside is they are colder in the winter (if you fish alot then) and much louder going down river. Glass boats are nice, but after a few yrs of scrapin' gravel every weekend, they will need some work. Most guides on the PM use glass, but the guys that do it for a living get new boats every other yr. Personally, I like the Clacka's.
 

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Dead Chub

Tell me about the jet you are selling. I may be looking for a new river rig.

Why would you go back to a drift boat?
What are the benefits of a drift boat?

I can't imagine not wanting a motor on the river
I guess I don't understand the logistics
 

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Downrod

The jet is an 01' 17' Lowe rough neck tunnel with 60/40 Merc jet, center console, galv. trailer. Starting a business and need some cash.

I run the jet on the Manistee and love the ride, manuverability, fishability, feel and look. but need some cash. I have fished the M
in a drifter w/o a motor. Its a long row from the dam to high bridge. Thats why I got the jet. It rocks and sounds cool as well. You can still get a motor for the drifter, you just won't go very fast.

I still like the feel of a drifter, its more relaxing and natural feeling. I don't always like screaming down the river to get to a spot. You can use the drifter on both big and small rivers but you can only use the jet on larger water. People don't flip you off as you go by them in a drifter but boy you sure can piss some off running the jet up and having a little fun.

If I could afford it I would get both and a third boat with a deep v to go fish the lakes. Thats all I need.

Dead Chub
 

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Check into http://www.hydeoutdoors.com

My buddy has one that we use on the PM quite frequently and it is an excellent choice.

They sell new and used boats at thier shop in Newaygo, MI. I went with my buddy to pick up his second Hyde (wanted a larger one) and the people there were very helpful to him. He has never had a problem with either boat and swears by them.
 

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I have run both glass and aluminum boats. It has been my experience that although I really liked the glass boats and swore I would never own a tin can, the opposite is probably true now. I think the “colder in winter” is now an urban legend. That used to be true because of the single sheet hull design. The higher end boats now all have raised fiberglass floors that not only keep you out of the standing water in the bottom, but also keep your feet warmer.

There seems to be some misconception about guide boats getting a good beating. I am meticulous about the maintenance of my boats as I know many other guides are. I like to keep my boats looking like new. My guide boats probably look better than most other fisherman’s boats. I do daily inspections and go over everything once weekly during the seasons. I have found that the fiberglass required more maintenance. The big areas to watch out for in a glass boat are the chine’s. With the lower than usual water over the last several years, when you hit a submerged rock (and you will), you can’t always go over the top. Most of the time the chine will take the impact. This will cause the glass to chip (sometimes a pretty significant chip). I found myself patching the chine’s with glass, having then to sand, and shoot the patch with gel coat. Very time consuming. The other area is the bottom itself. Rocks will cut into the gel coat and over time these will need to be addressed also. The last several years I ran a glass boat, I painted the bottom with pickup bed truck paint and that did provide some resilience to rocks, but did not eliminate the scratches. I had to repaint after each season. The new G4 bottoms that manufacturers like Hyde are using really help out a lot.

The aluminum I have now not only has an aluminum rub rail on the chine, but also uses the Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) Shoe which not only protects the bottom from impacts, punctures, creases, and scratches, but also slides really nice over submerged rocks and logs. If you ever had to pull your boat out at Gleason’s you know that there is about 100’ from the end of the ‘ramp’ to the river. You have to drag (or pull with your vehicle) your boat over timbers that are placed every few feet. With the UHMW, the boat slides like its on skates.

Another issue to consider is whether or not you are going to be running heaters. This is something you really need to be careful with. It’s very inviting to put a heater under the front casting brace for the person up there to stay warm. This causes heat to build up quickly under this brace to the point where the brace itself could combust. I have seen the results of this and it’s not pretty. Fiberglass burns very hot and quickly.

Overall, for Michigan rivers, I would suggest a 14’ low side aluminum with the UHMW Shoe on the bottom. It’s very maneuverable and easily handles three people and all the gear you need. I can’t emphasize enough how nice the low side is for boarding and unloading. I have had several clients go for a swim trying to get back into a high side. I’ll never go back to one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I appreciate the input that you have all shared. I am looking forward to continuing my search. I am leaning towards an aluminum craft. I have talked to the builder in Clare and will be talking to him again. I like the glass boats too, but since these are made locally I thought I would give them a shot.

RSGS, what make of boat do you row if you don't mind me asking? Have you ever put an outbaord on it? Thank you for your insight. I was unaware of a coating that could/should be applied to help it slide better. I also was unaware of a rub rail for the chine. I will be sure to check for that too!

To all again: What options are essential in a drifter. Lay it all out here i.e. storage, anchor system, dog platform (can't leave home without her), drink holders, hot tub, etc. Also where would you locate the storage boxes?
 

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Definitely in the winter time. During the summer many of our rivers turn into a hot tub of their own.:D

Also contact [email protected], he's a member here. He'll be able to answer your questions too. One of the other Hyde guys wrote and article about aluminum vs. glass that he should be able to get to you.
 

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I am on the Hyde Pro Staff (http://www.hydeboats.com/memberpage.asp?ID=78) and, of course, row and highly recommend a Hyde.

I have run an outboard on my drift boats, but I don’t now. I don’t like the noise. Several points on running outboards. You’ll need a long shaft motor. A word of caution – Drift boats are not designed to run under power. They have no keel and tend to plow through the water. One very dangerous characteristic while under power is the more power you apply, the higher the bow rides and the lower the stern rides. I have actually taken water over the stern when trying to motor up some sections of the Muskegon. You can usually make good progress up stream as long as you keep it slow and steady.

The UHMW Shoe is not a coating; it’s a piece of plastic like material that is attached with special anchors. This is a wonderful material, but the problem always was how to fasten it without the material pulling out the fasteners. This material shrinks and expands a great deal based on temperature. When I was building wood drift boats, the challenge was always trying to figure out this dilemma. You could not use adhesives because nothing sticks to it. It was perfect protection for wood boats, but would pull the screws out and/or trap water under it and when that froze, would pull out the screws also. Hyde has developed a method to attach the pieces to the hull that eliminates this problem.

I think all aluminum boats have this ‘rub rail’ attached (welded) to the chine. It basically is a piece of aluminum angle.

On layout, I’m going to refer to the Hyde because I think it has the most well thought-out design. Unlike many other boats, the Hyde is infinitely configurable.
If you are fly fishing, you can run a pedestal seat in the front and in the back. The front has a built in knee brace and the back has a removable knee brace. I highly recommend the storage box for the rowers seat with opening hatches on both sides. This is a great place to store items like PFD’s (remember – THEY ARE REQUIRED BY LAW), spare parts (oar locks, extra anchor line, take down oar, etc.), rescue rope, and other fishing related items. I also pull Plugs so I will pull out the front and rear pedestal seats, the rear knee brace, and add a front storage box with two Tempress swivel seats. The box gives me even more storage. Hyde has the option of an enclosed bow storage locker or an open one. I opt for the open one so I can mount a heater there. They also have a stern storage box option but I don’t use that either. When I run Plugs, with the back pedestal out, I can put a large cooler behind me and still have plenty of room for the dog on the flat raised fiberglass floor.

I like a floor mounted anchor. I think it’s easier to operate with your foot while still keeping both hands on the oars. The other reason is I can store 3-4 rods on each sponson shelf. If you have a side anchor mount, you only have the port side. Plus, I don’t like the idea of all that line running through pulley’s on the starboard side. Too much potential for an accident.
Hyde has two drink holders on each knee brace. I added several more on the sponsons. In addition to holding drinks, I like to drop used fly’s in there to dry off before putting them away.

I also recommend the counter balanced oars. They really do cause less fatigue over the course of the day. Once you use them, you’ll never go back to the conventional oars.

The only other option I would recommend was stated in my last post. I would get a low side. You would be surprised how easy it is to slip while trying to climb into a high side boat. In the summer, it’s not an issue, but this time of year, it could ruin your day.

Best wishes and let us know what you decided on.
 

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I think RSGS has quite a few good points. I like an aluminum boat myself, but the most popular seem to be fiberglass, so if you looking for a good price on a used boat figerglass is the way to go since there are quite a few out there.

Since your shopping, I'll throw this out for you, every week check TSS's classifieds, MS's classifieds and I'd even talk to some guides and see what they would sell for when they get a new boat. Typically if you are patient with your looking you can get a used fiberglass Hyde in good condition with trailer and oars for around $2.5-3k if not less.
 
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