A Cheap Man’s Drift Boat!

by Montana Grant on September 8, 2014

Canoe CommanderCanoes are a perfect fishing boat! A canoe gives fishermen obvious advantages. First of all, canoes are mobile and easy to transport. The first waterborne fly fishermen surely used canoes.

Whether made from aluminum, wood, plastic kevlar or birchbark, canoes have changed little over the years. Early fishermen were able to paddle into remote areas that offered great fishing and adventure. Modern canoes offer motor mounts, outriggers and nearly indestructible construction.

Any truck or car can be adapted to transport a canoe. There are a variety of homemade or commercial carriers available. Most empty canoes weigh less than 100 pounds and can easily be handled by two people.

My “Ripple Runner” is a 17 foot long aluminum Grumman canoe that weighs in at 75 manageable pounds. Several families in my Boy Scout troop were able to get a group discount when we purchased several together. We paid for them with money made from recycling newspaper in the 1960”s.  During its history, the Ripple Runner has drifted rivers and lakes from west to east.

We have caught striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and trout in Montana from the same craft. There have been crabs, deer, pheasants and waterfowl harvested using this great vessel. Midnight cruises and pathfinder adventures have been part of this crafts legacy.

The primary use of a Drift boat, or canoe, is to navigate to a location where you get out of the craft and fish or hunt. There are times when you can fish or shoot from the canoe, but honestly, they are transportation. Canoes can be tipsy on a good day. Adding some white water, wind, excitement and poor decisions can result in a wreck.

Canoes allow the angler or hunter to take extra gear and equipment. They can save time and energy in accessing remote and less visited hot spots. Any car or truck can be adapted to carry a canoe. No boat trailer or boat ramp is needed.

Attach an elevated box or shelf basket between the gunwales to keep gear off of the wet bottom. Adding rod holders, cup holders, and other attachments helps to protect gear. Always wear a floatation vest and knee pads. They both provide safety and comfort. A cutoff plastic milk jug for bailing is useful.  An ice chest attached and centered in the craft allows for storage and balance. A small anchor comes in handy to secure a beached boat or pause in the softer currents. Duct tape makes for quick repairs and first aid. Always carry a spare paddle. Always anticipate and prepare to get wet. If you take this advice, you will not lose as many cameras, guns, rods, and gear. If you are prepared for the worst, it seldom arises.

Kayak paddles work well in canoes. When drifting for ducks, the front shooter can kneel on the seat ready to shoot, while the paddler guides the boat with a double bladed kayak paddle. When paddling the canoe alone, sit in the middle of the canoe and try using the same double bladed technique.

Kayaks are also an option for a cheap man’s drifter. They have both good and bad points. The worst thing you can do with any new gear, boat, or RV is to not use it. Experience is the best teacher.

It is possible to stand in a canoe while fishing but….. Canoes have many design variations with keels, bottom shapes, and styles. If you opt for the best stability, you may sacrifice some speed. Seats add comfort but raise the balance point of the canoe. Kneeling offers a low point of balance but can be uncomfortable with time.

Do your homework before buying a canoe. There are also many used canoes on the market. Identify your needs and target the style that best fits them.

Enjoy whatever floats your boat!Poor man's drift boat

Montana Grant

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