River Jet Boat

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podflyguy

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Just moved from south central PA to bucks county, a few miles from the middle Delaware river. I sold my scadden raft during the move and would like to pick up a jet boat for the river. I had been floating the juniata in my raft and was dead set on picking up a hog island skiff. My main goal is to get my older 2 boys out fishing (now 4 and 5 years old). Really wish I had bought one before the pandemic as everything is nearly double in price now. I’ve talked to a few folks that all run the river in aluminum tunnel hull jets (G3, SeaArk, Lowe). It would be nice to have the option to row, but I realize this won’t be practical when taking the kids fishing. I’m curious to hear your recommendations on the hog island vs aluminum tunnel hulls from a fly fishing perspective.
 
wbranch

wbranch

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I can't respond to your inquiry about aluminum tunnel boats. However, I have an almost perfect river boat. Lowe Roughneck (probably a 1995 model) 15' long with a 40/30 Yamaha jet 1999 model. It gets up on plane in a few seconds when I'm by myself and at full speed runs at 35 mph yet idles very smoothly. Right hand console, bow and stern pedestal seats, live well, electric bilge pump, running lights. The only minimal downside is it is only 60" wide. 72" be perfect. At one time I had a bow mounted trolling motor but I took it off because the fly line was always fouling on it when I was shooting line.
 

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podflyguy

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Thanks for the info. I have looked at the Lowe roughnecks 16-18’, mostly the forward center consoles. I don’t know that I’ll encounter the same types of boulder fields on the Delaware as I did on the Susquehanna, but I like the idea of good visibility while running. If it were just me and some friends I’d plan on rowing. But, with the kids I think I’ll have to control my drift/position with a trolling motor. Is that what you used yours for?
 
wbranch

wbranch

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Thanks for the info. I have looked at the Lowe roughnecks 16-18’, mostly the forward center consoles. I don’t know that I’ll encounter the same types of boulder fields on the Delaware as I did on the Susquehanna, but I like the idea of good visibility while running. If it were just me and some friends I’d plan on rowing. But, with the kids I think I’ll have to control my drift/position with a trolling motor. Is that what you used yours for?

The Susky can get terribly low some summers and with the right hand midships console I have to go very slowly as there is a distinct possibility that at speed I could hit a big rock and either get ejected from the boat or seriously damage it. Forward controls could help to minimize that threat. To tell you the truth I never used my trolling motor very much at all. I used to buy lengths of zinc plated chain at Home Depot in 2' and 3' lengths. Tie one end of 3/8" braided nylon rope to a carabiner and attach the carabiner to a length of chain. Drop it off over the bow and use it as a drift anchor. Let out a little more rope to slow down the drift. Or add the 3' length. I also use 2# free weights attached to a rope for a drift anchor. If you fiddle around with the weight and length of rope you achieve a nice slow drift so you can cast more than once to a nice lie.
 
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podflyguy

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Great idea, thank you! I will have to give that a try, especially while fishing by myself.
 
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a23fish

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I've used a 17' Xpress jet boat on the Susky & Upper Potomac off & on for over 10 years, but not very often in the past couple years. Stick steer is a definite advantage when running shallow water. The trolling motor got used all the time in those rivers. Drifting is OK sometimes, but there are times you want to slowly maneuver around in a particular area - cross current or up current - and the trolling motor is essential for that. But all of my river trips were focused on chasing smallmouths with spinning & casting gear; never fly fished out of the boat. Probably won't either, and plan on selling it this year.
 
wbranch

wbranch

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a23fish,

What is the beam of your boat?
 
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Squatchin

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Easton pa
I can't respond to your inquiry about aluminum tunnel boats. However, I have an almost perfect river boat. Lowe Roughneck (probably a 1995 model) 15' long with a 40/30 Yamaha jet 1999 model. It gets up on plane in a few seconds when I'm by myself and at full speed runs at 35 mph yet idles very smoothly. Right hand console, bow and stern pedestal seats, live well, electric bilge pump, running lights. The only minimal downside is it is only 60" wide. 72" be perfect. At one time I had a bow mounted trolling motor but I took it off because the fly line was always fouling on it when I was shooting line.
How much ya askin for that bad boy??
 
wbranch

wbranch

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How much ya askin for that bad boy??
Not for sale, I was responding to podflyguy's post. There will likely be a time in the next few years where I will no longer be able to manage the boat. Keep your eyes open to see it on the Swap Forum.
 
wbranch

wbranch

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72" at top of gunwales at the rear of the boat. I guess that's where you measure beam.
Thanks, I think mine is only 60". It is definitely only big enough for two adults.
 
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poopdeck

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Welcome to bucks county. So I will assume you will be fishing between Easton and Yardley. I have been fishing this area for many decades. I have a wooldridge jet boat and I have 2 friends with 1862 roughnecks. one has a very forward center console where the front of the console is up against the front casting deck. The other is still a forward console but there is enough room between the front of the console and the front casting deck for a cooler seat. All three are tunnels but like anything a tunnel or no tunnel is a preference.

A couple things I like and dislike. No offense to any other boat owner out there as these are my preferences and my preferences only. Fishing out of the roughneck style boats scares the hell out of me, might be a phobia, I don’t know. The really forward center console makes me have to either stand next to my buddy while he is driving or I have to sit on the front edge of the rear casting deck. Either way I feel exposed. We hit a rock once and we both almost went over and the strike itself wasn’t that bad. My other buddies boat one can sit on the front cooler seat. I much better design for a passenger.

I have a full windshield, high sides and a safety rail around my boat it makes me feel firmly and completely inside my boat. Im that odd person that does not like raised casting decks. Don’t like them one bit on a river boat. I do realize I may be the only fisherman to hate casting decks on river boats. I also do not like the bathtub design river boats like the G3’s and roughnecks. I’ll never ever give up my full windshield. It’s just so warm on a cold morning.

I’ve never even seen a hog island so I can’t comment on them in comparison to other boats. It’s an open boat so I would never buy one myself. I would fish from one though just like a roughneck. As for fly fishing both my and my friends boats are a frustrating fly fishing platform. A stripping basket or trash can is nice to have. the roughnecks with raised casting decks are less of a pain in the neck but neither of my friends are fly rod enthusiasts But I’m sure a deck could be stripped of everything to facilitate easier fly casting.

one last thing, do not let the Delaware fool you. It is shallow in some areas at different times of the year and there are areas that cannot be traversed even in a jet boat. You don’t see as many rocks as on the susky but they are there. our SMB fishing is way way off and will never compare to the Juniata and Susky. We are compensated with better striped bass and shad fishing though.
 
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D-nymph

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I do not own either boat, but I've fished out of a 16x66 jet john with a 60/40 Yamaha a bunch. It is a tiller motor set up to both row & trolling motor. When it's 3 guys or faster water, we row. When it's slack water & 2 guys we use the trolling motor. It's a great platform for fly fishing, I think. Does it row like a drift boat? Of course not, it takes me a good bit of effort to slow momentum if you let the current get you moving too fast, but other than that it rows good enough. He has mounted a diamond plate truck box as a rower's bench & when travelling, the two guys sit on it & face forward while the operator runs the motor in back. The motor gets in the way sometimes but it's just something you learn to deal with. If your line gets hung up on something often, just toss a wet towel over the thing & you'll get snagged up a bunch less.

The Hog Island skiffs... I've seen them & I really like them, but haven't fished from one. Their hull might be tougher than the aluminum & it probably rows easier. I may get one of these in the future.
 
wbranch

wbranch

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But I’m sure a deck could be stripped of everything to facilitate easier fly casting.

That is the main reason I removed the bow mounted Minn-Kota. Almost every time I went to shoot line it would get hung up on various protuberances on the motor.
 
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poopdeck

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Yep, between the trolling motor, anchor and cradle, cleats, rod holders, seats, tackle bags, cooler, net, paddle, PFD’s, throw cushions, fire extinguishers, and extra rods, it’s just easier to strip into a bucket or a trash can. Come to think of it maybe a hog island is a better option. Any chance they can get up to 33 mph?
 
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podflyguy

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My Apologies. I thought this thread was dead as I stopped getting email notifications that someone had replied. Poopdeck and D-nymph, really appreciate the info. Yes, planning on fishing between Easton and Yardley. However, I'd like to make some trips further north to the Water Gap and back to the Susky/Juniata as well when time allows.

The Hog Island had been top of my list for several years for the hull material/ease of rowing. But, as I mentioned before, I'm not sure it will be the best platform to take the kids. And if I don't take at least 2 out of 3 kids, I'm flat out not going fishing! HI has a very small dealer network that outfits the boats, but essentially you are simply buying a rotomolded hull and then paying a la carte for everything else (Motor, trailer, grab bar, casting braces/seats, rod holders, trolling motor/casting platform, anchor system, rear deck covers, poling platform etc). Big Franks Outdoors has a handy cost calculator on their website that I've used to rig a fairly simply setup (Tohatsu 60/40 jet, grab bar, rod holders, trolling motor and batteries, as well as basic trailer) comes out to $25-27K. Used are going for $18-22K. So, it's still a fair amount of money for a 16' skiff. Plus, the boat is one size fits all, 16' and max 40 HP. Not sure about top speeds and question whether it's big enough for my family.

Poopdeck, you've got me a bit nervous about a Forward Center Console. This seemed to be the layout of choice from my time on the Susky/Juniata. I know the Maryland folks prefer the stick steers. Regardless of the layout, I like the engineered packaging of the aluminum boats better. Wiring is channeled/hidden, Latched storage compartments, in the 18/20 ft boats the G3's have flip up seats along the rear deck which look like a good place to put the boys. Aside from all the concerns you mentioned above, the prices on these boats are just insane right now, $35-45K new, $25-35K used. I certainly appreciate the upgrades with regards to trolling motors/GPS/Fish finders that people have made. But these boats sold new for under $20K pre-Covid. The Wooldridge boats are really neat, but way out of my price range. I did contact Stealthcraft Boats for a quote on their 18' aluminum jet sled (not a power drifter). I like this option because it's setup like a driftboat inside with trays and under gunwale storage specifically for fly rods as well as oar locks/oars/rowing station. Price was on par with the G3/SeaArk/Lowe, but wait times are 4-6 months. Perhaps worth the wait.

As with anything these days, it's just not a great time to buy. However, I'm going to take a closer look at some of the more Alaskan style boats with windshield and higher sides. If the kids could drive, I'd be buying a drift boat and running shuttles. But I've got quite some time before that happens!
 
krayfish2

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That is correct that you have to be careful on the susky underpower. I was near sweigert's Island about 2 years ago. Two River rockets were coming up between the islands at full throttle. I think one was a very experienced guide and the other was getting his feet wet and learning the river. The guide avoided the big submerged Rock in the riffle at full throttle but the trailing boat did not. He was ejected and I thought he was dead. He limped his way back in to the console area while the other boat kept circling and creating big waves to wash him off of that rock which took about 10 minutes.
 
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poopdeck

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Yep, and with 3 or 4 people the Boat will be underpowered and there will be nowhere for four people to sit. I personally only fish with one other person in an 18’ boat. I had 4 people in my boat one time, never again. I will take two (3 total) if there’s plenty of water but much prefer just one other passenger When the water is skinny.

I also don’t go flying round, I go slow, relatively speaking, and have no need or desire to go through 5” of water. 1‘ is low enough for me. Those G3’s and roughneck bottoms are very thin and peel like beer cans.
 
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