Round Up: Locally-crafted Drift Boats

Within the Northern Rockies lie some of the most legendary fishing rivers in the world, so it’s no surprise that this area is also home to some legendary boat makers. Here’s a look at what new drift boat models and features you can expect to see this season.


A Bozeman, Montana-based company since 2005, RO is introducing a new drift boat for 2017 that’s a blend of their most popular models, with some newly introduced features. “We took our most popular 16-foot guide model, a McKenzie-style drift boat, and lowered the gunnel height to make it a true low-sided drift boat,” says owner Robert Eddins. “And we used that opportunity to redo the entire interior.”

The lower sides take weight off the boat, make it easier to get in and out of, and provide less sail on those windy days. The LSG interior features additional elevated storage, more rod holders, a walk-through design with a raised pedestal rower’s seat, and it incorporates their trademark flexible concave bottom, a tunnel-shaped bottom for better tracking and minimal damage. “A drift boat’s duty, day-in day-out, is pretty brutal,” Eddins says. “Their daily job description includes sliding over gravel bars and rocks, so it needs to be tough.”

Adipose High Flow

This Helena, Montana-based drift boat company unveiled their first new model since 2009, the High Flow, at the 2017 Denver Fly Fishing Show this past January. “It’s a high-sided model with the same footprint, design, and overall look, but it’s a bigger-bowed boat,” says boat builder Justin Clark. “We’ve really built this name [by] being extremely functional and fishable, and now we’re tapping into the market with a skiff for rivers with more rapids, bigger water, and a heavier spring flow where they need the added safety of a bigger boat.”

Adipose interiors have all the bells and whistles, and are known for innovative layouts and storage spaces. And as a small company, they can customize a boat’s interior features and exterior wraps. “For the guides, this is their office; they’re in it 170 days a year. Everything has to be functional and comfortable,” Clark adds.

Clackacraft, 360-interior

This Idaho Falls-based drift boat company is launching new 17- and 18-foot models for 2017, but recommends the Eddy and 16-Foot Low Profile as their most popular drift boats for many regional rivers. “These two hulls are available with multiple interior configurations, one of which was introduced last year: the 360,” says sales rep Matt Kelley. “We offer more hulls and interior options than any other boat manufacturer, so it’s more a matter of choosing the right boat, interior, and options for a particular application.”

The 360 configuration features a roomy interior with a walk-around rower’s seat, plenty of space for gear and coolers, and storage for up to six assembled rods. “We do a couple of bare bones boats, but for the most part, all of our boats are high end,” Kelley adds.

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