There is an old adage that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day they buy the boat and the day they sell the boat. If you’re staring down the barrel at a big purchase, that’s a tough hurdle to overcome! The truth is that owning a boat will always come at a cost (some will cost a LOT more than others), but if you choose the right boat then the benefits will outweigh the costs. We asked a few friends for their input on buying a boat.
Kayaks are trending
-Jon Easdon, @anglers_covey
The idea of fly fishing for me has always involved some level of solace. With the popularity of fly fishing, a lot of the rivers I grew up on have become very busy. While I still frequent those areas, it’s nice to get away from people every once in a while. This fact brought me into stillwater flyfishing about 12 years ago. This has quickly become one of my favorite venues to fish.
After fishing stillwater in belly boats for several years, I gave kayak fishing a try and have never looked back.
Things like the ability to stand up and cast, ease of transport, and the stealth factor round out the benefits of fly fishing from a kayak. There are a few things that I look for when buying or outfitting my kayaks:
- I prefer wider kayaks. They create more stability, which is especially important when standing up and casting.
- Consider the length of kayak. The longer and wider, the more stable it will be. Just make sure it’s not so long that it makes if difficult to load in your truck or transport.
- You can go really simple, or add every accessory possible. There are days I just want my fly rod and fishing pack and there are days I need a depth finder, anchor or even a motor.
- Identify your budget. Kayak have a huge range of prices which make them attractive to the budget conscience angler or the angler who wants it all.
- Rent first. Most places are renting fly fishing kayaks near stillwater fisheries. Try renting a time or two first. It will give you a better idea on what to purchase.
What type of boat should I buy?
-Cheech and Curtis of Fly Fish Food, @flyfishfood
Over the years, my buddy Cheech and I have owned a number of boats from float tubes to death-trap aluminum boats to drift boats, fishing rafts, bass boats and now a big-water big-boy Crestliner fishing machine. The biggest question we get asked is “which type of boat should I buy?”.
The best answer is you should buy every type of boat possible, but that’s not an option for most people. When choosing, we like to ask one simple question: “what type of boat will cover the most amount of fishing situations where you live?” The type of boat you should buy is in your answer. If you live close to a big body of water, buy a bass boat or something with a motor that will get you access to a large amount of water. If you’re close to driftable rivers, a fly fishing raft or drift boat would be ideal. The best advice is get what you can afford, make sure your boat is safe for your fishing conditions and remember a boat can be a game-changer when it comes to getting in front of more fish!
What if I know I want a drift boat?
-Pete Erickson, @pete_erickson_flyfishing
When you think of fly fishing in a boat, drift boats are what first come to mind. If it’s your time to make the leap and purchase one, here is my advice.
First, learn a small amount of rowing skills before you begin the purchase process...then row several different brands and models before you make your purchase.
Second, think about what type of rower you are...if you are a powerful rower a larger boat will be great, but if you have less strength a smaller lighter skiff will be best.
Third, think about what type of water you will be rowing and how many people you will have in your boat on a daily basis. This will help guide your boat size and also the interior layout.
Once it’s time to pull the trigger, know that almost every boat manufacturer in North America makes high quality, great performing boats and it often boils down to "Ford vs. Chevy" argument. Once you’ve answered these three questions, you can start shopping around to find your ideal boat.
I want the bells and whistles
-Lael Johnson, @flygyde
I spend a lot of days guiding in my drift boat around the Pacific Northwest searching for Salmon & Steelhead. My boat is not just a boat, it’s also my office and sometimes feels like my home. Because of this, I want all of the bells & whistles possible. I’ve customized my boat with:
- LED running lights for organizing gear in the dark
- Bow mounted search lights
- USB and 12v charging ports
- Bilge pumps
- Spray hoses to wash things down
- Trolling motor
- Mounted Traeger grill and Yeti Tundra 65
My 16ft drift boat has it all, and even with all the extra options added, it does not feel like anything was forced into this build, or that would compromise an angler from catching fish. Anything is possible with some thoughtful ingenuity, black tape, a drill, and some time.