Driftwood Magazine — Drift Boat Buyer's Guide
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Slide Ramps And Drift Boats
Travis Moncrief

EASY PROCESS TO LAUNCHING YOUR BOAT DOWN A SLIDE RAMP.

THROUGHOUT YOUR SALMON AND STEELHEAD FISHING PURSUITS YOU WILL UNDOUBTEDLY COME ACROSS A SLIDE RAMP OR A SIDE HILL WHERE YOU CAN LOWER YOUR BOAT DOWN TO THE RIVER. AS WITH MOST SITUATIONS THERE’S A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO DO IT. HERE’S THE RIGHT WAY.

First things first. You’ll need good rope, a bucket and a pair of gloves. Your rope should be at least a half inch thick; I personally use three-quarter inch nylon braided rope. I recommend 150 feet of rope. That’ll give you enough rope to safely launch on most ramps.Stay away from cotton and other less durable styles of rope. Keep in mind you’ll be lowering and holding back a boat that weighs a lot and after prolonged use the fibers in the rope material will break down and become weakened. Many times I’ve seen and heard about drift boaters who attempt to lower their Boats down a slide ramp only to have their rope break and the boat sails into the river. It’s not a pretty sight.

You’ll want the gloves to keep from burning your hands. There will be times when you lower the boat that you’ll have to hold tightly on the rope as it passes through your hands. Having a good pair of gloves will lessen the burn and give you something to grab onto.

Finally, keep your rope stored in a five-gallon bucket or a small crate. More on this later.

Prior to launching your boat I recommend removing all your rods, and anything else that might be damaged. Carry these to the river’s edge and place them in your boat once it’s been safely launched into the river.

In order to launch your boat safely you’ll need to back your trailer up next to the slide ramp. You’ll want the stern of the drift boat to nudge up against the ramp. Keep your boat attached to the trailer until you have your rope securely tied to the boat. To do This you’ll want to wrap two hitches around the front of the slide ramp. Using a bolen knot tie your rope to the bow tine. I’ve seen some guys use only one hitch around the ramp, and it is usually fine. But the double hitch allows you to safely and slowly lower your boat down the ramp.

At this point in the launch process unhook your boat from the hitch and slowly push the boat onto the ramp. Now the only thing keeping it from cascading down the ramp is the rope and the hitch knot.

Depending on the ramp surface and your boat material you may want to get the ramp wet. I know with aluminum drift boats the tendency is to stick to the ramp. Dumping water over the wooden ramp rails will allow the boat to drop smoothly to the water.

And smoothly lowering your boat down the ramp is the key. I’ve seen guys let their boat go, and then suddenly decide to stop it so they pull tight on the rope. It stops instantly. If you’re using an inferior rope the chances are good that it will snap and you’ll lose control of the boat. If you’re able to lower the Boat without a lot of jerky movements it’ll be an uneventful process.

Chances are you’ll be fishing with a friend or two and invariably they’ll want to help. I advise them to stay out of the way. Unless of course the boat stops on the ramp. At that point you’ll need them to rock the boat and get it moving again. If that’s the case they should have a bucket of water handy to lubricate the ramp.

Once the boat is a couple feet from the water I recommend letting the boat drop into the water. If you lower it too slow you run the risk of having your stern catch the water’s edge and your boat filling with water. If you let it drop the boat makes a little splash and usually has less chance of filling up.

Once the boat is in the river, have your fishing partner untie the bolen knot. The bolen knot is one of the strongest knots and it’s easy to untie. I’ve seen people use carabineers in this situation, but I prefer the bolen knot. Good carabineers are expensive, and the cheap ones have a tendency to break. Learning the bolen knot saves you money, and ensures a secure knot. Once he unties the knot, your partner should secure the boat so it doesn’t float away.

At this point you should retrieve the rope. This is where the bucket or crate comes in handy. As you bring the rope in, coil it in your container. Doing this ensures that it’s not a tangled mess the next time you launch your boat on a slide ramp.

1 | ONCE YOU’VE SECURED YOUR DRIFT BOAT WITH TWO HITCHES AROUND THE SLIDE RAMP SLOWLY PUSH THE BOAT ONTO THE RAMP.

2 | A BOLEN KNOT WILL KEEP THE DRIFT BOAT SECURED AS YOU PAY OUT ROPE AND IT LOWERS IT TO THE RIVER.

3 | HAVE YOUR FISHING PARTNER FOLLOW THE BOAT AS IT’S LOWERED TOWARD THE RIVER. SHOULD IT STICK TO THE RAMP HE CAN GET IT MOVING AGAIN WITH A SIMPLE ROCKING MOTION.

4 | USE 150 FEET OF BRAIDED ROPE TO LOWER YOUR DRIFT BOAT DOWN THE RAMP. THIS SLIDE RAMP ON THE WILSON RIVER IN OREGON SHOWS PLENTY OF USE OVER
THE YEARS.
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