Fly Fishing Traditions

Fly Fishing Traditions Blog and Website
"It's about Life & Fly Fishing"

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Kingfisher's First Float

Well, after 7 months of dedicated work, countless hours of sanding and layers of epoxy and marine spar varnish, I was able to find out if my new handmade drift boat floats. It did, and it did so better than I had dreamed of. Let me explain. I had a few concerns prior to launching the "Barca de Trucha", (Trout Boat). Little nagging questions.

First, the boat is 17 feet long from the bow to the stern. This is about 18" longer than my Hyde Low-Profile. It is also wider by about 6 inches, I was concerned that it would be a little to big for the Lower Yuba. An air craft carrier in a small bay so to speak. It isn't. It floats like a leaf, lighter and more responsive than my Hyde. Being so, makes it feel smaller, I always referred to my Hyde as a sports car. Nimble and quick to the response of the oars. The "Barca" is just as quick if not quicker.

Second, it seemed to be a work of art more than a working drift boat. Once I floated it down the river it just felt right. It will be a working drift boat come what may, scratches, dings, scrapes, it will be a fisher.

Third, Rope Seats? The rope seats look real cool, but what would they feel like, Uncomfortable? Pinching your rear? Well, definitely not your padded plastic seat. They felt fine. I wore lightweight shorts and was comfortable. The ropes will need to be tightened until they stretch out properly, but other than that definitely a passing grade.

The first float came with a sense of pride. Every piece of wood, every screw, every coat of epoxy and varnish was placed with care and thought. There is a sense of pride that is sort of like catching a fish on a fly rod you've built with the fly you tied. Now I can add "the boat I built". I've always been a craftsman and this is just another extension of that. I take pride in what I do, I do was I say, I keep my word and promises. My Mom and Dad raised me that way. This is just another mission accomplished, a plan come to fruition. I thank my Mom, Geri, for encouraging me to pursue my passions. This is is just who I am.

I am looking forward to many years of fishing in this new boat and coaxing many fish to the net. More stories, more time with good friends and family on the rivers of the west. It was worth all the time and effort! No regrets!

Photos from Launch Day

Ready to Head down the River

Ist ferry across the riffle

Zack the Photographer

My lovely wife, Laura, enjoying the inaugural float

Running a Chute

Zack getting ready to take the plunge

Taking our time down the river

Zack, Thanks for your help and encouragement along the way!

Made it to the takeout with nothing but smiles!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kingfisher Drift Boat Build - I'm Done

I started the "Kingfisher" build in September of 2014. Today is April 20th, 2015. It's been quite a journey. I purchased the plans from Jason Cajune and they were worth every cent! The varnish has been curing and hardening for about two weeks, The build has taken me about 7 1/2 months, not bad from what I've heard. This includes 3 weeks off to build a pole barn/garage, so the actual build time was a more like a strong six months. I have probably averaged about 40 hours a week, so I've got something like 1000 hours into it, but who's really counting. My trailer should be arriving next week, so the trip to see if it floats is about a week away. 

Photo Gallery of the Kingfisher

The finished boat is 17'0" long. It has a beam of  6'6". The width at the bottom is 4'10". It should float high and dry and be real stable.

I had a decal made with my "Fly Fishing Traditions" logo imprinted on it. The sides are 3/8" Okoume plywood that have about 3 coats of epoxy and layers of fiberglass cloth. The main body of the boat is painted on the outside with "Blue Water Marine Paint". It is a silicone copolymer topside enamel. The color is "Super White. The bottom and 4" up the sides at the chines are coated with "Linex" bedliner, smooth Black. The gunnels are black oak with 3 coats of epoxy and then 6 coats of flat "Last n Last" satin varnish.

The transom is "Rounded". Constructing the rounded transom was the most intimidating part of the construction. My plans had a squared off transom so I had to figure this out myself. It was bent around a form using 3 layers of 1/8" Okoume plywood. The rounded transom has 3 coats of epoxy and 6 coats of varnish. It turned out great!

The interior of the boat has decks and sides of Okoume mahogany plywood. The rowers seat and the fore and aft seats are made from white oak. The floors, dry boxes and the lower portion of the sides are coated with bed liner that was applied with a roller. The oars are Sawyer square topped counter balanced oars,

The fore and aft seats are made with white oak. The base of the seat was steam bent using 3/16" x 2 1/2" strips. The seats have 2 coats of epoxy and 6 coats of varnish. The rope for the seats are 3/8" diameter double braided poly. The seats are mounted on "Springfield" swivel bases with a bracket that allows them to be removed.

The rowers seat slides in a track and can be adjusted forward and backward. Rubber retainers hold the rowers seat in position. The deck in the background has a dry storage box that is accessible by opening the hatch doors. There are dry boxes on each side.  

The rear knee brace is made by laminating 3 layers of 1/8" Okoume mahogany plywood. I constructed a steam box to steam the plywood and then placed them in a plywood form to conform to the desired shape. I call it a "George Jetson" knee brace. There are two cup holders integrated in the middle section.

At the rounded transom there is a wooden plate with a handle integrated into it that reinforces the transom and is where the anchor rope runs through the hull. There are two pulleys that are lined up with the hole that runs through the transom that guides the anchor rope.

There are 4 hatches that access the dry storage boxes. two at the starboard and two at the port side. The dry boxes ate about 5 feet long. The cup holders are sealed t keep the dry storage boxes dry. The foot rest for the rower is adjustable to 4 different positions. There are two positions for the oar locks.

The front seat has a large pedestal with storage underneath. You can see the circular lamination of the seats. There are two cup holders tucked up in the bow section. There is a triangular casting deck to catch your fly line when you are fishing.

An ice chest fits snugly into the pedestal under the front seat.

There are rod holders tucked under the main deck on each side, starboard and port side. You can store two rods on each side for a total of 4 rods. This is a spey rod broken down in half. The rod holders will take 10 foot rods fully assembled.

All I need is a trailer and it will be a fishing machine. Can't wait!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kingfisher Drift Boat Build - Painting the Hull

Now that I've got the boat upside down, all prepped and masked I'm ready to start painting the hull. I'm using a one part paint. It is a polyurethane enamel. It will provide a hard protective coating and with super high gloss and has very good color retention and is durable. The paint was manufactured by Blue Marine. I decided on their Super White Color.

I'm using "Blue WaterMarine Paint", which is a one part polyurethane enamel. 
The color is 'Super White'

The first step is to get everything I'll need to get the job done. Here's the list;
  • Blue Water Marine Paint, Super White
  • Half gallon plastic container
  • Stir stick
  • Toluene for thinning - 1 ounce per quart. 5-10%
  • 1 pint plastic measuring cup
  • Excellent quality brush with soft tips
  • 6" foam roller and frame
  • Disposable paint tray
  • Clean Rags
  • Tack Cloth
The first order of business was to re-vacuum the areas to be painted. I then used the two rag method and wiped down the surface with Acetone. Once wiped down, I used a tack cloth to do the final cleanup of the surfaces to remove any remaining dust particles.

Next I opened the quart can of paint and pour it into the half gallon plastic container. Measure 1 ounce of Toluene into the small pint plastic measuring cup and pour it into the larger container with the paint. Use the stir stick and stir for 10 minutes. Yeah, really 10 minutes.

Next set up the roller pan, roller frame and foam roller.Get the kind that have rounded edges at the ends. Get your paint brush.

Time for Painting

The method for applying the paint is referred  to as "Rolling and Tipping". the paint will be applied with the "Roller" and then "Tipped" with the brush. I'm right handed so I decided to work from right to left. I will be brushing left to right, which is opposite to the way I'm working. This is important. When you are "Tip" the paint you always want to go from the dry area back onto the painted area.

The boat will take two coats with a hand sanding to 320 grit between coats.

Here's how the first coat is done.

  • The fist thing to do is to load the roller with paint and then roll it repeatedly on the roller pan to have a loaded foam roller but not overloaded. I count to at least ten strokes each time I load or reload the foam roller. 
  • Starting at the transom and working to the left I roll out the paint working to the left with vertical stokes. Press hard on the roller to squeeze out all the paint. If you don't the paint will go on too thick. I work to the left until I am loosing coverage with the paint.
  • I then work the roller horizontally to spread the paint out evenly to the left. 
  • I finish this application with a vertical roll at the left edge to create a straight vertical line. You will end up with a vertical line with dry  surface on the left of the line and paint on the right.
  • One roller load covers an area about 24"tall by about 1 foot wide.
  • The paint will have lots of air bubbles in it and should be a thin even coating. 
  • Put the roller down in the tray and stat brushing from left to right. Start at the top and brush horizontally.
  • Place the brush on the dry portion of the vertical line on the left and brush to the right with a light touch. 
  • Lift the tips off the paint at the end of each stroke. Feather the paint out.
  • Continue the same method from top to bottom using horizontal passes.
  • Start back at the top and repeat.
  • That's it. Repeat the same steps all the way around the boat, move quickly and efficiently and keep a wet edge.

Prepping for the second coat

Once the paint had dried thoroughly, which was about 48 hours in my case as it was getting below 50 degrees in my shop at night, I hand sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper with a sanding pad. I then used a 320 grit Scotchbrite pad and hit the surface once more. 

I then vacuumed the surface and finished up with a tack cloth.

Just repeat the same process as the first coat.


I'm really happy with the paint job. It's not perfect like a spray finish but it has that hand made look to it. A few brush marks here and there but I think a job well done.