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_by Kirk Deeter
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We saw a number of interesting new products for the fly fishing market at the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade expo in Reno last week. On a 1-10 “innovation” scale, given the fact that this was a smaller show compared to years past, I’m going to rate the new collective product offering a 7. We’ll get into a number of specific product reviews in the coming days and weeks, but I wanted to kick things off with the NRS Clearwater Drifter.

It’s a drift boat. No, it’s an inflatable raft. Actually, it’s both–an inflatable watercraft that has a frame and is shaped like a dory. This boat generated a lot of buzz at IFTD, and actually won a “Best of Show” award in the watercraft category.

The boat is made of drop stitch PVC. The cool part is that it can be shipped via UPS in a surprisingly small box, frame and all. What that really means is that it can be broken down and stored in the corner of a garage, or transported to the river in the back of an SUV or station wagon. You don’t need to trailer it, but you could. If you’re someone like me who has always wanted a drift boat, but has never been able to convince the Mrs. to let me take up garage space or store a dory by the house, this might just be your ticket. If you’re stuck between choosing a raft or a drift boat, this might be a happy compromise.

Because the Clearwater Drifter purportedly offers some of the advantages of both worlds–namely the ability to bounce off rocks like a raft, and the maneuverability, fish-ability, and open space of a dory. (It’s 18-feet long and 82-inches wide when inflated to around 9 psi.) It’s definitely priced more than the average raft at just under $6,000 retail. And I’m not entirely sure how a light (300 pounds) higher-profile boat like this would handle on windy days.

But I’m definitely looking forward to rowing one (and fishing from one) to check it out. I give NRS props for ingenuity.

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