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Every hardcore angler needs these 4 boats!

Don't be fooled by the boat that says it "does it all". In the world of fly fishing for trout from a boat you'll find no such craft truly exists. Where one boat excels it might quantifiable fail in the next performance based requirement...finding yourself with a boat that doesn't handle the ever changing river conditions. Most diehard anglers find themselves with a small fleet of craft designed for their favorite rivers and lakes, fishing styles and geographic location. Their are several of these "do it all" boats being marketed to the fly fishing market but I'm not here to bad mouth any brands or personal choices, just hoping to educate the next angler who might benefit from a multi boat approach. Now don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a fleet of boats worth a hundred grand housed in my five bay garage with a heated wash-out! Until that day here is a list of the 4 boats every angler wants. Each one adding another layer of approach, access, safety and general fishiness.

Let's start with the first boat every angler should get.

  1. The Personal Pontoon Boat

This is the DIY fishing machine! Adding this craft as your first boat gives you the base of skills to eventually row any boat out there. With it's portability, low weight and ability to turn on a dime there is no wonder you see so many expert anglers still adding these into their fishing seasons.

The pontoon is rowed while running rapids or making laps up a good run and when you want to fish your legs provide the power with a pair of kick fins. The ability to control your drift and position with the kick fins, while actually fishing is game changing...truly one of the few style's of craft the solo angler has the opportunity to fish by themself in moving water. Add in to that the portability, true white water capabilities, the weight capacity to support overnight gear and you have yourself a fine fishing craft.

Now that you're a pro on the oars, reading water and have mastered the art of's time for a raft.

2. Raft with Fishing Frame

A raft with a fishing frame has been the go to guide setup for many western rivers and the reasons are simple. Massive payload capacity's, impervious to rocks, push it pull it or drag it, runs whitewater rapids with ease and if it flips you just flip it back over. Anywhere a drift boat can go so can a raft, but reverse that scenario around and you can not say the same thing.

A raft can be trailered, car topped or taken apart and loaded inside a vehicle. You will eventually want a dedicated raft trailer to speed up the launch and take-out, but the point here is it can be done without one. The key is find your fishing boat buddy's and alternate rowing/fishing equally. There is something great about guiding an angler to a fish through technique and boat placement, it puts a smile on my face every time.

You are getting just as much satisfaction guiding your friends and family, feathering the oars and gaining access to rivers you never had before. It's time to fish in's time for a hard side.

3. Drift Boat

The drift boat is the ultimate in finesse, sneakiness, comfortability, organization and overall a big fish targeting tool. Where it lacks in the ability to run serious whitewater, it more than makes up for it on those classic western rivers we all long for. Found a pod of risers, no worry just row it back up and take another shot...heck do it until they stop rising! You can easily ferry from bank to bank, hold multiple rods rigged and change seating positions with ease.

Mount a motor on the stern and you have the best still water trout boat out there, quickly get to your fishing spot and then get on those oars for a stealth trolling session. Most drift boats are made of fiberglass or aluminum and hardly any maintenance is needed outside of washing and waxing a few times year. The drift boat is your Cadillac now get comfy and go say hello to some big bows.

You stuck with me this far....let's get to the last boat every angler needs (no longer a want but a need) the ultra basic, no frills, get away from everybody, I have 1 hour to fish boat....A Float Tube. That's right the Float Tube!

4. Float Tube

You now have the boat to get away from all your other boats. Got a few hours to fish that bluegill infested bass pond by the water treatment facility? Just wanna drift in the wind and drink your beer while staring contently at your thingamabobber....then this is it. Throw it in the Honda hatchback and fish in the 90's again. You already have the kick fins from your first boat purchase. You've made enough room to store two full size boats already. Your garage is basically a fly shop at this point. I support all anglers who run the 4 boat minimum system....yes I said "minimum", but that's another post all together. Enjoy the river, always wear your life jacket, catch big fish and grow to be an old angler.

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