Idaho Fly Fishers Blog

Big Y Fly Company

Big Y Fly Company
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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Perfect Fishing Raft

"The Perfect Fishing Raft" posted by YellowStoneFly aka Idaho Angler at Idaho Fly Fishers blogspot. Well, I have tried them all. Hydes, McKenzies, ClackaCrafts, Willies, Jons, all kinds of canoes, float tubes and pontoons. All these have advantages and disadvantages. Canoes, float tubes and pontoons are easy. They are very maneuverable, but payload is small and they really make my knees and back hurt. Jons can be heavy, noisy, also hard on the back and they definitely are not maneuverable. All of the small crafts are inexpensive and can easily be transported between rivers and your home.

Larger fiberglass or wooden drift boats (those classically used on large western rivers) are great if you hire a guide to row them for you. They are, however, very expensive & heavy and can only be placed into the water from a ramp. You must have great upper body strength in order to row them and to me, they are hard to handle in rapids and high winds. They are very roomy though and tend to float high in the water. They are also quiet and have lots of storage. But, they can be very expensive ranging from $4,500 - $7,000. Sometimes this price includes mandatory trailer and sometimes it does not.

For my money, I’ll take a raft any day. Mine floats high, weighs less than 150 pounds even with fishing frame, and is extremely maneuverable. I prefer a trailer, but they can be inflated and deflated at will anywhere. Costs, with a used trailer, generally range from $2,250 - $4,000. About the only downsides are they do need a little inexpensive maintenance, they are not quite as roomy as a Hyde or McKenzie boat and they are a little difficult to manage when it is really windy. The boat I use is pictured here.

This 12 footer is made with incredibly strong glues. The quality is superb! The base price for this raft was around $2,000 but my fishing frame and trailer were extra. I probably have $3,000 total in my rig, but it has everything and is a really fun craft. It is available at Kootenai Valley Inflatables which is located in Troy, MT. Doug Etherington is the proprietor and a really great guy and very honest. His email is and his phone 406-295-5001. You can see photos of some of Doug's other rafts here. I am sure he would ship to you for a reasonable price if you so desire. If you need another opinion, send a quick email to one of my fishing buddies at Ask him what he thinks of rafts versus drift boats.

Good luck in making your decision. If you have any other questions you are welcome to email me as well at

Idaho Angler (

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