Many of you know that I am always on the search for the perfect boat based on my limited knowledge of fishing stillwater and just getting introduced a few years back to the Eastern WA lakes. I’ve love Chironomid fishing and even more so figuring out which boats have worked or not worked for me in the past, having owned several crafts ranging from 2 Springcreeks: 8′ Hopper 2, 8′ Classic. 1 Modulus HDPE Rotomolded pram, 8′ Aluminum Jon boat, 10′ Aluminum Jon boat, 10′ Koffler narrow back pram, 12′ Koffler wideback pram, Smith brothers 10′ and 8′ prams, and the most recent addition an 8′ Rogue Marine welded pram. The Rogue is very interesting because it is light, weighing in around 85 lbs and with the 8′ length it fits perfectly into the bed of my truck. It has the widest beam of all the prams in the 8′ category that I’ve owned at 53″ making it especially stable and also having higher sides measuring 17″ at the highest point on the gunnel. I believe the floors, bow and transom are all 0.080″ thickness with the walls being 0.063″ making it light but still rigid enough to take on some abuse. The boat came with an integrated bow anchor lock and 10lb anchor nest made of diamond plate, a web wrapped rowers seat, wood Gull oars that were rope wrapped, and short lengths of rope, too short for my needs… I knew I would be configuring this to suit my needs in terms of balance, seat position, oar lock position, and customization for comfort and transportability while fishing for trout, salmon and possibly other species. The first upgrade was to ditch the wood oars and go with a 6.5′ Cataract Mini Mag oar which I got some help from Jeff on rope wrapping. Next upgrade was to figure out how to box out the seat area so that I could have a place to store my fly boxes, forceps, throat pump, etc… without cluttering up the floor. A trip to Lowes would find some aluminum diamond plate and some aluminum rivets that would be perfect to finish out the trays. Next would be a way to figure out the seating, so a trip to TAP plastics would yield some black HDPE Marine Starboard in 1/2″ thickness for the seat platform, and 1″ thickness for the transom motor block. Lastly, I’d have to figure out the transom anchor mount, so some starboard, and a Folbe locking base would serve to mount the Thomas extension arm and pocket pulley. Some misc. upgrades I will be on the lookout for are some bartending grating or larger floor mat to cover the floor so I can set my reel down without damage and absorb some noise, and a snap lid storage bin to fit under the rowers bench that would store: life vest, extra oar lock, small tools, knife, rain coat, pants, and lunch. I want to keep the floors as clutter free as possible and organized for easy transport. I was trying to figure out what sort of seat that I’d use and ended up recycling a used seat that I had with swivel base. This allows me to easily spin around to pull the sometimes very heavy bow anchor when its bedded down in the mud and or fish 360 degrees, something I missed from the Springcreek pram platform. I also had some leftover Scotty rod holder parts and in particular a fly rod holder, so I used some rail mounts and positioned it near the starboard side so that its easy access or when Im fishing BC with two rods I’ll be able to leave one in the holder position as to not potential lose it to a big fish.
The hull is flat bottom with a little rocker from the bow to stern, in addition two extra chines in the mid span of the hull have been welded for extra rigidity and tracking on the water. My first impressions of the boat were excellent, the zolatone interior finish and the standard clear coat aluminum give it a techno look and there is little displacement and it rows, stops and turns like a exotic european sportscar. Its been a busy couple of weeks, but hope to get out on Monday to enjoy the fruits of my labors. I really do hope that this is my last pram and that its dialed in correctly.
Some you might ask, ‘so what about your Smith boat’? That was an interesting story since I was and still am very in love with that boat. My buddy Thao, has been waiting for his pram to be built by Ron and Fred Smith, but my Smith was intended for him last year. He was just too busy last year and didn’t fish any stillwater, so he let me buy it instead. Short of the story is that since I can’t fish two boats, I figured I’d pass the Smith back to its rightful owner and I’ll have Fred build me another one so that I can hand that down to my son when he is old enough to fish with me and row that boat.
I really like the versatility of having an aluminum boat again, no delamination issues like I did in the Spring Creeks, no stability issues like in the Modulus or 8′ Jon boats, no long lengths or too heavy to put in the back of the truck like the Kofflers, and no worries about sanding and re-varnishing every other year like the wood boats. I am also planning on taking this into tight quarters where a trailered pram cannot be taken, launching from beaches and fishing for salmon since I’ll simply just rinse it out and store her away. I might even in a pinch opt to drift the Yakima river when I have a hankering to run a river.