Should I Buy a Drift Boat? 8 Reasons to Say “Yes”


A drift boat anchored on river

Drift boats are not the most common inland water boat in the country but they are some of the most beautiful and versatile. These amazing rowboats can do things that no other rowboat their size is capable of doing and what’s more they do it in style. But with such a high price tag should you take the plunge and buy a drift boat?

There are many good reasons to buy a drift boat. A drift boat offers incredible responsiveness for the oarsman, it makes an excellent fishing boat, can access areas with very shallow water, can be used in both whitewater and rapids. Its superior handling means you can take it through tight rocky canyon passes and, let’s face it, it just looks amazing. If you are so inclined you can also rent your drift boat for fishing trips with you as a guide.

Why you should buy a drift boat

Although you might see drift boats in different parts of the country they are most common in Oregon, especially along the McKenzie and Rogue rivers for which these boats were designed.

From its humble beginnings as an ocean dory boat the drift boat has evolved into an excellent river runner and freshwater fishing vessel.

A drift may be an expensive purchase but it is worth every penny you pay for it because there is no other boat that can quite do what it can do, nor in the style that it does it.

Let’s look at at the reasons why making a drift boat purchase is a wise idea.

Incredible responsiveness

A drift boat is no ordinary rowboat. Although it can be fitted with a motor this boat excels under oar power. Its responsiveness is second to none.

A drift can literally turn on a dime.

This gives the oarsman complete control over the boat regardless of the type of water it is in. As you will see, as you read on, this superior handling means a drift can be used in waters that are very unusual for a rowboat.

Shallow water access

Because a drift boat has a flat bottom and a shallow draft it can access very shallow waters.

This not only makes it great for shallow water fishing but it also allows the boat to navigate through the type of shallows that would ground other boats.

Drift boat fishing

Drift boat fishing is different from other types of boat-based fishing.

Unlike other forms of freshwater fishing where you drop an anchor, and maybe even double anchor the boat to stay in one position, on a drift boat the angler casts off and fishes downstream while the boat stays in motion moving upstream.

The guide, or oarsman, will continually adjust the orientation and movement of the boat so the angler is better positioned for a bigger catch. For this reason drift boat fishing always requires 2 people on the boat; a guide (or oarsman) and the fisherman.

Its responsiveness and ability to easily handle whitewater and rapids gives it a distinct advantage over other shallow water river boats when it comes to fishing in whitewater rivers. A drift boat can be used to get to areas that other boats simply could not reach.

Read more about drift boat fishing in our drift boat fishing article here.

Whitewater rowing

Dealing with whitewater and riding rapids is what a drift boat was designed to do.

In whitewater rivers a drift boat has no equal. Though a kayak or whitewater raft can handle the same type of water, and take a lot more abuse (especially in rapids), they do not offer the same capabilities as a drift boat especially as regards handling and fishing.

Below you will see a drift being rowed through whitewater and rapids and you will see just how well suited to these waters this boat is.

Rapid riding

No other inland waterway rowboat can match the responsiveness of a drift boat. With the ability to turn on a dime and with the boat instantly responding to the slightest movement of an oar, drift boats can easily ride rapids.

Under very experienced control a drift can deal with rapids up to the Class IV. Though they are more regularly used to navigate class II and III rapids, even on fishing trips.

Canyon excursions

Squeezing through tight rocky canyon passes in a wooden boat may not seem like a great idea to you and me but to a drift owner it is power for the course.

This is where the responsiveness of a drift boat is really put to the test.

You can see in the video below just how close drift boats get to rocky protrusions in tight passes and just how responsive the boat is to the oarsman as he guides it through the obstacle laden course.

If you enjoy adrenaline rushes on the water then a drift will certainly offer you the opportunity for that.

It can make you money

It is believed that Carey Thompson Sr. was the first drift boat owner to take a fisherman for hire down the McKenzie River back in 1809. Since then people have been making money doing the very same thing. It seems Mr. Thompson was the pioneer of a new industry.

The type of waters that a drift boat excels in attract a lot of anglers because fish are plentiful and diverse enough to offer variety.

Because whitewater rivers, like the McKenzie and Rogue rivers, offer such great opportunities for fishing but are difficult to navigate a drift boat is the best watercraft for the job. But, because a drift boat is expensive not many people are willing to make the financial commitment it takes to buy one.

This means a fairly big rental industry has developed where drift boat owners act as guides for anglers who rent them and their boat for day trips on the water.

At $550 for the day, renting a drift boat ain’t cheap. On the flip side though, it can be pretty lucrative for the drift boat owner.

With an all-year-round season in many parts of the country your drift boat could quickly pay for itself and then start filling your bank account if you rented it, and yourself, out to anglers.

Style and elegance on the river

If none of the above reasons for a buying a drift boat have resonated with you then surely at least this one will.

There is no more elegant or stylish way to float on a river than in a drift boat. Drift boats just look gorgeous.

You can see every penny of a drift boat’s worth in every inch of the boat. If you want to river run, fish or simply row leisurely on a river on a hot summer day then a drift boat will let you do it in style.

If after reading this article you are still not convinced that buying a drift boat is a good idea you should consider reading our article why use a drift boat for even more fantastic reasons to purchase this boat.

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