Joe Koffler’s Rocky Mountain Trout Boat – The Full Review

Ok, maybe not absolutely the FULL COMPREHENSIVE review because there are a few applications I do not have to draw on, such as running these boats down through Martin’s Rapids on the McKenzie, but Joe has, so give him a call and ask him directly.

But aside from running these boats in very rough rapids, I have several years experience with Rocky Mountain Trout Boats, hereafter referred to as RMTBs. Call Joe at 541 688 6093 if you have any questions.

Q:  My qualifications for writing this review?

A:  Namely, I look like this: so my review might not be helpful but then again, it just might be helpful.  Up you to judge.  I should add in the spirit of blatant commercialism and self promotion, I have published  some critically acclaimed books on fly fishing, fly tying, salmon conservation, and the hatchery fish / wild fish issue.  All of these books are available on Jay Nicholas books on Amazon and I would be more than pleased to provide a personalized signed copy if you contact me directly.

What is not to trust about anything a reviewer like this says?
What is not to trust about anything a reviewer like this says?

Second, I own two of these beauties, because they are so perfect for the fishing I do.

The only thing better than owning one RMTB is owning  two.
The only thing better than owning one RMTB is owning two.

Third, I have fished out of various sizes of these boats for a bunch of years, but have finally settled on the 14 ft by 54 inch boat as being perfect for me.

My most common use is in the estuary. I fit these boats with Yamaha electric start, power tilt 9.9 hp motors and they are awesome estuary boats.

Fourth: I have been running aluminum drift boats and jet sleds in Oregon waters since 1978, and Koffler boats since 1981.

Q: What is the main use of the RMTB?

A: The Koffler website says something about these boats being designed for small river trout anglers. The boat description mentions a rocker bottom on the boats that allow it to navigate in flowing waters;  low sides make it possible to fit under low bridges (ha ha) and less hassle fishing than a high side boat; and of course it mentions that you can add seats with all sorts of great compartments and rod lockers and drink holders and how the seat positions are adjustable and full length side trays, and multiple oarlock block options, and foot braces and such forth.

I think there is a statement about these boats being the most stable aluminum boats on the market for lakes and small rivers.

Q: Does the official RMTB description miss anything?

A: Of course its just me, but I think that the RMTB is vastly under-rated. Sure, I would never attempt to row this boat down the wild and scenic reach of the Rogue River.  I wouldn’t attempt the RMTB in the first big drop below Moonshine on the Siletz or Martin’s Rapids on the McKenzie –  but Joe might be able to run these places in a RMTB.

The fact is that these boats will handle rougher white water than the official description indicates, and will certainly handle more than just gentle rivers.

These boats are really fun to fish from in estuaries, lakes, and all but very rough river reaches.

And these boats are also perfect when you are traversing down a river, anchoring or veaching the boat, and wade fishing.

Q: can a person stand and fly fish from a RMTB?

A: Yes – BUT – unless the boat is anchored, you might want Joe to add the casting brace front and rear or just front of the boat, to give the caster support and stability.

Q: What boat size options are available in the Rocky Mountain Trout Boat series?

A:  13 ft with 48 inch bottom; 14 ft with 48 inch bottom; and 14 ft with 54 inch bottom. That said, if you REALLY need a modification, talk to Joe Koffler and he will probably be able to deliver on your wish list.

Q: is a RMTB the same as a pram?

A: No. Although I often refer to my RMTB as a pram or as my SUPER PRAM, they are quite different.

Q: Compare transom ( Rear end) and stem (front end) height on a RMTB versus a drift boat.

A: The transom and stem on a 14′ X 54″ RMTB are the same (19″)

The transom and stem on a 16′ X 54″ high side drift boat are not the same ( 25″ and 38″)

This means that the RMTB looks virtually symmetrical and in practice, it is easier to fly fish from the RMTB because there isn’t that high bow end sticking up in the front of the boat.  I can fish with my rod tip in the water or make any kind of cast I want with lower sides all around me in the RMTB.

Q: Compare the hull weight on the RMTB versus the High side 16′ X 54″ drift boat?

A: the RMTB is going to run close to half the weight of the drift boat, probably less than 500 pounds versus close to a thousand pounds when all the internal fittings (seats, floor, accessories etc) are considered.

Q: Is wind resistance a factor with the RMTB versus a drift boat?

A: Yes.  the lower sides on the RMTB are less prone to being blown around on an estuary, lake or river, compared to any drift boat.

Q:  Do these boats get up on plane?

A: No, a flat bottom boat would do that, but I want to be able to row these boats in rivers, and I have run these boats in the lower reaches of several coastal rivers, the McKenzie, the Willamette, the Santiam, and on lakes. The Rocky Mountain Trout Boat has a slight rocker similar to a drift boat, and this makes it handle quite a bit of rough water and still row very nicely and maneuver like a charm and anchor in modest current should you wish to do so.

Q: is there sufficient room to move around and fish from these boats?

A:  I ask people to imagine an 18 ft drift boat, then cut off two feet from the front and back, reduce the rocker just a touch, and lower the sides.  You should ask Joe Koffler or his trusted assistant Scott if this is accurate, but it seems so to me.

I honestly think I have more room to move around and fish from this 14 ft X54 inch RMTB than I did in my 16 ft Koffler drift boat.

Q: How do I like my seats?

Here is how I like my rower's seat in my RMTB.
Here is how I like my rower’s seat in my RMTB.

This is a half seat, with a walk around area.  Joe had never done this before and actually asked me if my butt would fit on the seat.  More than so.  You could shorten the seat another 3 inches and enlarge the walk around space and it would still be plenty of room.  Of course this means that the seat is bolted to the floor, but I don’t move it anyway, so no big deal to me.  This photo also shows my SIMMS BOAT BAG and the diamond plate box over the bilge pump at the edge of the boat floor.

Q: should the ordinary angler consider the standard seats instead of the minimalist seating I have settled on?

A: Absolutely.  I principally fish alone or with one person in estuaries or the lower reaches of coastal rivers.  I do not want seats to clutter up my boat.  I like to walk around and cast, play fish constantly (ha ha) and have a lot of space to move around.  Most anglers, especially people fishing as they are going down trout or steelhead rivers, will want seats for passenger comfort and stability.

Q: What about full floorboards?

A: Yes, I think they are essential to the fly fisher.  I can stand on my fly line all day long with felt or rubber sold boots in this boat, just not using metal cleats, which will cut any fly line.  The full floor boards make for fewer trip hazards too.

Here is a nice profile view of a Rocky Mountain Trout Boat by Koffler.
Here is a nice profile view of a Rocky Mountain Trout Boat by Koffler.
And this is probably a better profile of the RMTB.
And this is probably a better profile of the RMTB.

Q: How many anchor releases?

A: You need two if you will fish estuaries for salmon, one in the rear (I place mine on the right side) and in the front (mine is on the left side).

Q: What is that funny front gizmo on the anchor release?

A: We call those “bunny ears” and they are welded on so as to keep the rope mostly in the slot but allow me to throw my anchor line off with a crab float attached when I’m playing a fish in a hog line.

Top view of anchor release.
Top view of anchor release.
Close view of bunny ears.
Close view of bunny ears.

Jay Nicholas Koffler Rocky Mountain Trout Boat Review n

This view shows a lot.

Plastic bracket for fish finder on right side of bow.

Bow tackle tray and shin brace.

Bow eye external on left side front of bow.

Bow eye internal on right side inside of boat.  This is to tie the boat to a dock, for example.

Bow eye internal on right side inside boat near stern, this is also a tie down point.

Stern anchor release on right side with bunny ears.

laundry basket (white) to stow rope and crab float in to prevent line tangles.

Walk around mid seat.

No front or rear seats in this boat – we stand to fish.

Tall stainless oarlocks, a Joe Koffler special and a favorite feature for me.

Tall oarlocks allow me to row in the standing position, and I like this because it allows me to look for fish far better than if I were seated and rowing.
Tall oarlocks allow me to row in the standing position, and I like this because it allows me to look for fish far better than if I were seated and rowing.

These oarlocks are expensive but well worth it. And you are saving so much money by not buying tricked out seats that you can afford the oarlocks.

The yellow top crate in the back holds life jackets and anything else and keeps it all dry.  You can stand and cast front middle and rear of this boat.
The yellow top crate in the back holds life jackets and anything else and keeps it all dry. You can stand and cast front middle and rear of this boat.  The raised flat casting deck is visible in this photo.

Q: What about that raised flat front casting deck?

A: as far as I’m concerned this is absolutely essential.  Otherwise your shins and calves will be beat by the end of the day.

Here is the boat going off or on the trailer, very light and easy to load.
Here is the boat going off or on the trailer, very light and easy to load.

Have these boats caught fish?

Yes, these are very fishy boats.
Yes, these are very fishy boats.
This view shows the bow tackle tray the fish finder is laying in the tray.  I stand up front and sometimes brace my shins against the tray and I keep fly boxes dry under the tray also.
This view shows the bow tackle tray the fish finder is laying in the tray. I stand up front and sometimes brace my shins against the tray and I keep fly boxes dry under the tray also.
Here is another view of hinged cover to bilge pump.
Here is another view of hinged cover to bilge pump.
Stern anchor release.
Stern anchor release.
I keep the gas can under the seat, and use an RV battery in the compartment under the side of the seat.  These RV batteries are more expensive than the usual giant battery but take up far less space and are plenty strong to start these motors.
I keep the gas can under the seat, and use an RV battery in the compartment under the side of the seat. These RV batteries are more expensive than the usual giant battery but take up far less space and are plenty strong to start these motors.
View from rear of seat where the battery compartment opens up.
View from rear of seat where the battery compartment opens up.

Q: are these KOFFLER RMTBs Koffler tough?

A: One of my boats sank twice during storm events. it is in perfect condition, just a little moss growing in it like any good coast boat.

Q: aAng to say about the bilge pump?

A: very nice, just make sure that Joe remembers to leave space around the pump so that you can reach in and clear the leaves and debris from the pump.  One of my pumps is properly installed but one is difficult to access and brush trash off the pump, so I must keep fiddling with it to drain the boat.  Not a deal breaker, just a little matter, and I know Joe will fix it if I ever haul my boat back to the shop from the coast (ha ha).

Q: More to add about these boats.

A: I love these boats.  May not be right for your tastes, do not go fast, but they are perfect for estuary and modest river running.

These Rocky Mountain Trout Boats just fish and fish.
These Rocky Mountain Trout Boats just fish and fish.

Q: is this a paid review?

A: No.  Joe hasn’t even bought any of my books –yet.  He should be ashamed of himself.  I know that Joe is too busy to read, but he should really  buy at least two dozen of my books for friends and family as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, free fishing day, and for his big dollar clients who purchase giant ocean going Koffler boats. And I’m confident that he would learn a lot and laugh right off his chair in the office if he flipped through the pages of Fly Fishing Book of Revelation.

Thanks for your patience, I would be pleased to answer any specific questions about these boats if I can.  I have owned one Alumaweld drift boat, one Alumweld sleld, one Willie drift boat, three Koffler drift boats, and one Koffler sled.  I am more than pleased with these RMTBs.

Jay Nicholas, August 2016

5 thoughts on “Joe Koffler’s Rocky Mountain Trout Boat – The Full Review

  1. very nice write up Jay! I have a 1991 Koffler 16×48, love it for the local rapids… are you willing to part with one of your 2 prams? you can’t fish them both at the same time 🙂

    1. Thank you Doug. Sorry, but I really do need the two RMTBs. You are right, I can’t fish both at the same time, but I keep one stationed up on Tillamook bay and the other on the Nestucca, giving me more options for fast response to local fishing conditions. Best wishes to you. JN

    1. Fantastic to hear from you man! I promise you will be first on list if I do, but there are no fish up that far North so not really worth my time, right? JN

  2. I have a 14 x 49 rmtb…..several years old and still going strong. I was wondering how much rocker and the length overall (LOA) of the 14 x 54. From the Koffler site they give one transom dimension – 19 inch, and you give that in your report. Can you tell me what the chine and sheer dimension are?

    I use my rmtb mostly in lakes here in Nor Cal, and never see another one. They are used extensively on the Snake River in Jackson Hole.

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