First Time Drifter

by | Fishing

Learning to use a Driftboat

As some of you may know, I’m from Iowa. Being from the Midwest, there are certain things you learn to do better than others. For instance, driving a boat equipped with a prop compared to oars. I can drive any outboard, inboard, or even trolling motor, but when it comes to oars and paddling, I don’t have the slightest clue how to maneuver around on a gushing river.

A few buddies and I thought it would be a good idea to give it a shot. We took out Explore’s NRS Freestone Drifter and it was perfect for what we needed. I was a little nervous driving to the boat ramp, thinking we were going to be playing pinball against the side of the bank. Fortunately, that was not the case.


Successful Drift float

A major mistake was made in the planning process. We didn’t understand how fast rivers float or how far we could make it in 6 hours (our plan was 6 hours). We picked out two boat ramps that seemed somewhat close and went for it. I was hoping we wouldn’t still be floating come dark. It was close. We ended up traveling around 17 river miles and it took us a little under 10 hours with a few stops to fish. We pulled up to the boat launch to take out around 9:30 pm. I was glad we didn’t run into problems and got out with enough light. 

We also threw some line in the water. Same thing as before; in the Midwest, we learn to cast with a spinning rod. I rarely saw anybody using any fly gear in Iowa. So, floating the Lower Madison, we had the same result we have almost every other fishing trip. The only things we caught were a buzz and a bad sunburn, as for the fish, Nada. I can’t blame it on the fish for not biting, the blame lands on my buddies and I. It’s tough to float for almost 10 hours without a fish.

No fish, but we didn’t die

This is a great boat for beginning drifters. It handles exceptionally well for the size and a full load of people and gear. It took me a few miles to figure it out exactly. During those first miles, avoiding tree branches, the bank, and shallow areas was a bit of a crapshoot. Luckily, this boat is very forgiving when it comes to hitting rocks or branches because of its inflated tough drop-stitch PVC material.

I would really recommend that you give drifting a shot if you haven’t before. Explore’s NRC Freestone Drifter is only $150 per day and honestly if you’re just a beginner, that will be long enough to show you how fun it really can be. It was a blast even though we didn’t land any fish. I took a few candids to show you the trip my buddies and I had, so I hope you enjoy them. Look forward to seeing you in the future!


Explore Rentals is the original outdoor gear rental agency in greater Yellowstone region. Our goal has always been to provide the best possible rental gear for outdoor adventures. With well over 200 different types of outdoor rentals for outdoor adventures, we certainly have an something that will make your Montana experience more fun, safe, and comfortable. 

Our location next to the Bozeman Airport, with after-hours pick-up and drop-offs possible, allows for tremendous convenience with no waiting in line, and no hassle of dealing with shipping- ever.