Deschutes get a willie or a koffler Alumaweld or and other brand.
I admit I've never owned a north river boat., but I tried on my last sled. my problem isn't with their product it's with the customer service.
They were the most arrogant people I've ever tried to deal with. And thats saying alot for skinny water boat manufactures or dealers.
Once burnt twice learntor something like that. Anyway I ended up buying anouther alumaweld but it was a sled.
The North River looks a lot like a Willie. Hmmm. What does that tell ya?
I am not up to date on new drifter price but I would buy the Willie.
He made the first great drifter. Now the masses, who can't seem to improve on his design, are seemingly duplicating his boat. The man knows how a boat works. If anyone deviates very far from the winning formula, it costs them.
Why not buy a used Willie and save some bucks?
Buy a used boat now, and spend the money saved on gear.
My 2 cents.
Mark and the slightly biased by real world experience, not marketing, dog.
D2, I had a 2001 16X54 Willie Guide Model, and now have a 2003 17' North River Drifter.
I have rowed both boats and they are different. The Willie has virtually no flat spot on it's bottom, which makes it very responsive to any input at the oars, but this also makes it harder to keep on line when pulling plugs. The North River has a flat spot on the bottom as well a being a foot longer than the Willie. It is way more stable when pulling plugs and can go over shallower water than the Willie. I am an average oarsman, and for the rivers and methods I use to fish, the North River rows better. On very technical water, like some areas of the Deschutes, I imagine the Willie would have an advantage. I use my boat for fishing, not running major white water, as I am sure 90% of the drift boat owners here do, and just feel the North River suits me better. I know it is almost sacriligious to say anything rows better than a Willie, but I have owned both and the North River does.
The Willie may seem cheaper at first, but outfitted equally, the Willie will cost way more. The North River is 17 feet vs. The Willie everyone compares it to is 16 feet. The North River comes standard with a front dry box, Fish-On seats, rower seat dry box, fish box, anchor pulley system, gunnel guard and most importantly, an aluminum trailer. Add those to the Willie, and the price will far exceed the North River. Another plus with the North River is the option to upgrade to Cataract Oars for just $40.00.
Make no mistake, both boats are quality built pieces, designed to last a lifetime in normal use. I have no doubt that both companies would stand behind their boats 100% if a problem arose.
Their are places that the Willies excels over the North River such as the beautiful welds they lay down. The North River welds look nice, but the Willie welds are works of art. But as an overall package, I feel the North River is the boat to beat nowadays. If Willie added content and length to their package, it would be a horse race. Don't expect that to change though, Willie sells everything the can produce, and why mess with that formula.
One thing I would like to address, was mentioned by Reel Fun Fish'n. My dealings with North River, were completely different from his. I can not imagine a company making my purchase and ownership any more enjoyable than North River has. Not only was I treated superbly by Dave, Chris, Joe and all, but also was introduced to the owner Brian, during a visit to the factory. I had never met any of these people except Dave prior to buying at North River, but have fished with Chris and become friends with the others. I can't pay a higher compliment than that. I now own 2 North River boats because of the way I was treated.
Instead of asking folks who fish different rivers( I used to live in central Oregon. When in Rome), ask the locals. There were 6 or 7 guide shops in Bend alone. 1 in Redmond that I know of. And another in Madras.
Ask the pros what they run, and why they run it.
If you plan lots of multi day trips on the D( where you are packing camp and fish gear, and dudes) with a boat that is well suited to pulling plugs on the Wilson, you will work pretty hard when you don't have to. If I did a lot of multi day shows, an 18 -20'er would be my drifter of choice. Just stay off the John Day when the flows are below 600cfs( do not ask me how I know this, just trust me :blush: )
If all you do is the Deschutes, maybe a raft would suit you best.
Hey Troy, I have rowed 2 17' Willies. They both had the same flat spot you refer to( at least much more pronounced than my 16).
The 16 is a better technical water ride.If I had to do it again, I would buy the 17'er so plugs were easier. But if I were to hit the tricky upper river minefield of death watch out for that tree chutes and ladders stuff, the 16 was sweet. Still is.
Does your new ride row forward better than the Willie? My only complaint about the hull. That and they dent if you was to load 1500 pounds of kitchen sink in one and whang it on top of a rock. Go figure.
I owned a 17' Willie for 5 years---it's now Mad Wizard's guide boat--- and now own the 17' North RIver. I love the 17" North River---feels a lot lighter on the oars than my Willie did and it is built with all the identical options my Willie had so it's a good comparison. The only mistake I made was switching from the standard Sawyer Light oars, Cataracts are way heavy in the tips. Other than that, I wouldn't go back.
Spooled, that was me that pulled past you at Herman Creek...next time I'll stop and say hi.
Before you buy a drift boat I suggest you call and speak with Joe Koffler at Koffler Boats. Koffler Boats set the bar for quality, custom options and SERVICE! My next drift boat will be a 20x66 Koffler.
Drif boat selection is not as easy as some make it out to be. The type of boat you buy will depend on how you want to fish. Do you want to run a kicker an electric (74# or 101#) or do you just want to row the boat. If you hit rocks you want a boat built with higher quality Alum. like Koffler uses. If you just want to row the boat and plan on anchoring up to fish, buy a boat that is easy to row like a Willie, Koffler or RB. If you need your boat to perform with a kicker buy a boat with a large flat spot with a 52" or 54" bottom. I own a Riverwild built out of Grants Pass designed to be used with a kicker. North Rivers first drift boats were built by Bob White of River Wild boats. North River contracted out to RW for their drift boats. The old NR boats were 16'4'x52. Now they are 54" wide. If you plan on running an electric with two to three 12v. batteries I suggest you look at a boat with a larger surface area like the 19x60 the FishRite is building or the 20x66 that Koffler is building. Fish Rite is building a boat that is designed to be run with an electric system.
Do you want to run small stream or are you going to launch at improved ramps 100% of the time. How much weight are you going to have in your boat 80% of the time. You and a buddy or three guys?
Another suggestion, dont get caught up in what the guides are running. They have the best boat on the market to fit how they fish their clients. If my goal was to put fish in the boat and run the boat all day vs. catch fish myself I would run a flater bottom boat and a kicker to side drift my dudes into the fish. However, I own the boat and I want to fish too and I like to side drift. Thus, I am running an electric system allowing me to fish my guys and have my line in the water 90% of the time.
So much info to consider...
I know one thing for sure. Once you visit with Joe Koffler and see their facility you will want to buy one of their boats.
Wambam is right, with North River selling every boat they can build, they can be picky on who they sell too. Word is that you have to be able to catch fish to buy one. Sorry Wambam, Alumaweld for you. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
Cosmo, I saw you putting in as we were pulling out. Nice boat. :smile:
Drunk Cowboy, say hi next time. We have been killing steelhead there on flies. It sure is more crowded than it used to be. Still, the same old people seem to be doing the catching.
Something to think about - Willie builds TONS of drift boats. It's the Willie specialty. North River builds alot less. Last I heard, they build less than twenty driftboats per year. Also, Willie can have your boat ready in less than three weeks (usually) while NR can have up to a 4 month lead time. Willie will build the boat any way that you want. They love to customize boats and make their customers happy. NR has repeatedly said that their driftboats are production boats and they don't customize. They actually told a friend of mine that if he wanted it customized he should buy a Willie. As far as the price goes, Ask for Jim at Willie and see what he can do for you.
I told you saying anything rows better than a Willie will stir it up. Fact is, of all the posts here, 2 people have either rowed and or owned both boats. Of those two, the score is North River 2 Willie 0.
No one is saying bad things about Willie Boats. They make a great product, but give credit where credit is due. North River has done an excellent job with their Drifter and in some people's opinion, have surpassed Willie. Things change....Mercury use to be THE motor of choice. I sure see a lot of Hondas and Yamahas nowadays.
I don't work for or in anyway have a connection to North River, I just bought their boats and was treated very well through the process on both boats. It is unfortunate that someone's siter's brother-in-law says something about North River, and now it is passed along here, third party. Go in if you are serious about buying a boat, and see how YOU are treated.
Drhall99, your friends story may be true, I don't know. I find it hard to beleive after my experience. All I can say is, North River did every option I asked for that was not standard. Chris Baumgartner at the factory in Roseburg will add about anything you want, as long as it does not compromise the stuctural integrity of the boat. Just ask for him and pull out the check book. Oh yeah, custom stuff does cost money :grin: . I would question your total on how many driftboats North River builds a year. Chris can also answer that.
******, you noticed another boat that didn't have the "W" name? :shocked: :grin: I am flattered.
Rags,mines a 82 Alumaweld,or whats left of it after 50 trips down the wild section of the Rogue.Oh ya I always overload it,gets very interesting at 800cfs. Willie builds um to take a lickin and keep on ticken. A good barometer to go by is look and see what the guides are using.