Guest Blogger: Brandon Sausner

It’s the 2017-18 winter and the school I’m teaching at develops a partnership with the Buffalo Maritime Center and a select batch of students are drafted to build canoes. The project needs a teacher to moderate and go to building sessions and I figured being paid to help kids build boats is way more exciting than tutoring. After being there for a few weeks I decided I would become a paid member of the center and build a drift boat. I looked into material costs and post construction parts like anchors and oars and figure I could get it done for less than 2000.00 dollars; and that’s way cheaper than buying one. And I gotta be honest, I’ll go winter steelhead fishing, but only when I’m desperate and grouse season is closed. I have also tied more flies than I could ever fish this summer and I haven’t stopped putting together new patterns.

If you have ever read any of my other blog posts you realize that my father has a drift boat and may wonder, why I need my own. It’s simple, sometimes I want to fish with other people and borrowing my dad’s boat involves speeches that feel like waterboarding and make me question if he thinks I’m a total moron. I’m in my thirties, these speeches are exhausting.

So I buy the plans on line and quickly find them to be a keen mix of Ikea furniture instruction, cavalier references to fitting and sanding, as well as confusing drawings. I take the plans first to my master woodworking buddy to get me started in his shop so the Maritime Center guys are delayed in figuring out I’m a boat building moron. In a comforting way my buddy assures me that the plans were going to make a fine boat but wants me to measure and buy everything like a horses’ ass. We get the bulk of the frame work built and I take it over to the boat guys to begin construction. After being there about one week the boat guys figured out that I would need to rebuild most of what I had done and encourage me to steal more high quality screws from my buddy’s shop. They also confirm that the plans will build a boat but seem deliberately confounding and complex.

The guys at the boat center are like that uncle that laughs at you and then helps you fix everything because he knows you tried. I’m well on my way to getting this on the water in the spring and I can’t wait to bomb some flies from this tub on the West Branch of the Delaware river. Look what fly fishing made me do.


  1. Looks like a very nice boat Brandon. Somehow I don’t gravitate to drift fishing, I think mostly because I couldn’t bear to float on by a million fantastic spots having gotten in one cast each, knowing each spot deserves a hundred precise drifts with each of my go-to flies. Drift fishing also takes a team I think, lending itself less to the solitudinous lone angler thing. I know a lot of folks use kayaks as gear barges, hopping out into the water anywhere they please, to overcome those objections…but while I’m no stranger to vehicle retrieves I haven’t gotten into that scene for fly fishing yet, as it’d only steal precious stream time from the little I get.

    But I like the lines of your boat, and I look forward to hearing how it works for you. Your description of the plans and process made me laugh out loud. Fly fishing spawns these kinds of wheel-spoke projects (like the rod I built a few years ago and use every time I get out) and it all adds so much to the experience.

    I lost my Dad two years ago and would give anything in the world, bar none, to have those “speeches” times again.

    – Mike

    1. I mostly plan to drift the Delaware river in New York and P.A. where the boat gets you away from the crowd of eager anglers that wade fish. On many occasions the river is to high for some wading but still great fishing.

  2. Hi, 15 years ago drift boat kits with the wood and plans were around 25-3000 dollars, now you can’t find a kit for less than 5K minus the cost of the epoxy. Where can I get marine grade plywood? I have a clacker craft and will use some of the measurements from that as a base. I will start by stitch and glueing the outside pieces like I did when I built my kayak, then add the beams and seats etc… inside after its glued. But where do we find marine grade plywood?

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