Dave Scadden's
Fishing Untouched Waters
Pontoon Boat Journal

The online authority of pontoon boat fishing, whitewater and recreation


Welcome to the wonderful world of personal pontoon craft. My involvement with this sport spans over the last 25 years. It all began back in the early 80's with an unquenchable thirst for accessing out of the way pieces of "untouched waters". I had guided for a number of years and found myself becoming increasingly burned out on watching clients fish while I manned the oars of my drift boat. Recent advancements in float tubes intrigued me and I soon found myself launching my belly boat on many of the major rivers in the west. I quickly found the limitations of the float tube on rivers. The heavy shallow flows of the Madison could beat you up and the deep turbulent flows of the Green, Snake and Henry's Fork could easily overturn your boat if strict attention was not paid to the river. Safety issues aside, I was elated to have finally found the fishing freedom I had been looking for. I could finally float and fish at the same time. It wasn't long until my new found secret would leak to the masses.

A good friend of mine worked for KSL TV in Salt Lake City, Utah. Don Judd was the anchorman for the largest outdoor news media in the rocky mountain west. He was intrigued with my tales of grand adventure floating the technical trout rivers of the west on a float tube. It wasn't long until Don and I met one early spring morning in 1986 below the towering vigil of Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River in Utah. Don had a camera crew and a drift boat to film from lined up and we pushed off on a fishing trip that would reshape the future of fishing as we knew it.

The excitement of floating a river on a float tube that Don caught on tape that day captured the imagination of thousands of anglers across the western states when the footage ran on prime time TV a week later. Suddenly there was a literal explosion of float tubes on every major river in the west in the months that ensued. Overnight anglers were experiencing the thrill of navigating and cracking their own water. With that explosion came numbers of near death experiences. The exhilaration of floating a river, hooking and landing a fish found many anglers unconsciously breaking the cardinal rule of running a river. The river always comes first. The excitement of fighting a fish was soon turned into mayhem as the distracted angler found himself upside down in the river. After all, round float tubes were not designed for rivers and that fact became very apparent as the list of dangerously close calls began to mount. Several deaths soon followed. It was at that time myself and a few other freedom seeking anglers began working on advanced versions of the old belly boat

Darrel Osborne and I worked on the Water Otter project that resulted in two four foot long pontoons that were joined by a lightweight aluminum frame. This design left the front open for easy entry and exit. Unfortunately the flat waterline of the craft proved to be unsafe in heavy current. The near misses continued. I then hooked up with Jim Dean at Buck's Bags in Boise, Idaho. I had designed a fully swept "rockered" design and Jim was confident that he could bring the design to life. The Buck's Bag Bronco was soon born. It was an overnight success. Not only did my "rocker" design work, it worked so well that it would become one of the most copied designs in the history of the tackle industry. The small rocker design boat was only safe on moderate moving water, but offered much better stability and maneuverability on technical water. The modern day pontoon craft was now a reality.

Several years ago I was attending a fly fishing retailer show in Denver, Colorado. While at the show I was approached by an individual by the name of John Randolph. I had never met John before but recognized his name immediately. John is the driving force behind Fly Fisherman magazine and arguably one of the most influential individuals in the sport. I will never forget what John said to me that day. He said, "Dave, I want to shake your hand and thank you for your contribution to the sport." I said, "Thank you, it is a privilege meeting you." He then stopped me and said, "Dave, I don't know if you realize it but you have changed the sport of fly fishing forever." That day will stand alone as one of the high points in my career in the fishing tackle business.

The past twenty years have been a blur. My desire to float and fish at the same time has blossomed into a literal lifestyle for many anglers. As pontoon boats have gone mainstream over the past few years, it has been exciting to see so many anglers step up to the plate and add one more ability to their arsenal of fishing skills. The skill of self-navigation. We are now able to access even the most demanding and technical fisheries on the planet with recent advancements in portability and performance. Pontoon boats are our passport to exotic locations that would have been literally impossible to access previously. The search for fishing untouched waters grows more intense every year. I hope that this magazine will give you some insight and ideas for your next adventure as you begin your personal quest for fishing untouched waters.