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Thread: Big sue on a prop

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default Big sue on a prop

    Checked the archives but couldn't find an answer. Curious if the big sue is usually doable from talkeetna up to Indian with a prop and half a brain? Seems like there's plenty of water but some hidden surprises.... Am I right on this?
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    Member Roger's Avatar
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    Doable with a brain and water conditions and kind of boat. I have picked up many stranded prop boaters when I was guiding up there. But its all common sense and reading the river. Would I try it "NO"
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    What about a surface drive?

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    Member Roger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DucksAndDogs View Post
    What about a surface drive?
    If you mean like a Go-Devil, I have seen those alot . I know there are a few people that put in here at the Big Su bridge and go up river to bear hunt in them in the spring. Takes them forever with the current but they get there LOL!!!
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    I don't mean a long-tail like you're probably referring to, I mean a surface drive prop. Yes, Go-Devil makes them. I have a Mud Buddy 5500. I can get right at 30mph in the boat out in the lakes, so I'm not too worried about the current. More concerned with whether or not a surface-drive prop can get there safely.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Why not just use a jet BRWNBR? If you are mainly planning to run rivers, ...A bit less fuel efficient (ok alot) but it will open up alot of places for access that a prop will have trouble getting to. JMHO...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkwarthog View Post
    Why not just use a jet BRWNBR? If you are mainly planning to run rivers, ...A bit less fuel efficient (ok alot) but it will open up alot of places for access that a prop will have trouble getting to. JMHO...

    Again, what about the surface drive? It can run super skinny water and can run shallow sand and vegetation and sips fuel. I just haven't taken mine in the rivers so I wanna make sure it's possible and safe before I try...

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Not dissing the surface drive D&D, I just don't have any experience with one.

    I'd be interested in hearing more about how they do in shallow glacial rivers from someone who has done alot of it....

    I am soon to be in the market for a repower for my 16' hewes and would consider a surface drive if they can get me where I need to get...

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    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    And I'm not trying to come across as snide, I just don't know. I've heard they do ok from some people, I'm just trying to keep them in the conversation. I plan to run mine in the rivers as soon as they open. I'm sure it's not the case for all places, but when guys with jets come out to where we duck hunt, they can't go some of the places we can with surface drives. Just curious how they compare in the rivers. I'll post up my experiences/results once I get out this year.

    I only got to put about 10 hours on my boat because of how late in the season I got it last year. I plan to get my money's worth this summer, and I really want to get out and see what all it's capable of.

    If you're seriously considering a surface drive, shoot me a PM and we'll get together. I'll let you take a look at what I've got, and if we can find some soft water, I'll take you out and show you what it can do.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    I'm not really sure how seriously I'm considering it, I really dont have much to go on. I'm interested in learning more about them at the least.

    Honestly, I really liked the jet for what I do, its just that mine is underpowered. So I need to replace it. I was thinking about going 4 stroke jet but WOW$$$$$$$.

    I'm curious how they'd do in fast current like the Big Su versus typical duck hunting waters.

    The only surface drives Ive seen in action where on lakes and based on the size and height of the rooster tail, it was obvious that there was ALOT of wasted energy. It is likely that those were not set up right or something, but it made an impression on me. I'm always up for learning something new. If you have a seat open one of these days, let me know.

    I'd offer to take you out on the Big Su and let you see how my 35 hp merc does with a jet on my 16 footer, but you would be underwhelmed...LOL...Now if I drop you off on the shore and take the jet out by myself, it fairly flies...

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    They're designed to throw a rooster tail like that. They have a pretty big prop and it's only a 2 blade so for one reason or another, they're set-up that way. I'm no engineer and don't know why, but I've been told by 2 different dealers that their optimum performance is with a rooster tail about like that.

    There are some people on here with them who have run rivers quite a bit, maybe some with experience will chime in. They seem to be catching on quite a bit. I love mine, but have limited time in the water with it. Hopefully this year it'll live up to my expectations. I've heard of guys using a smaller surface-drive motor than mine has carrying 2 guys, a camp, and a moose upriver at 18-20 mph, so we'll have to see. I don't trust a lot of what I hear from people. I'd rather do it myself or hear it from a handful of people I know won't stretch the truth.

    I didn't even price any jets when I was looking for mine, admittedly, because I knew I wanted this motor. What would a comparable 4 stroke jet cost? Say a 40-50 HP 4 stroke jet? I'm just curious the price comparison...

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Interesting to know on the rooster tail. Maybe its not so different from a jet, a jet just throws the rooster tail under water, LOL...

    I balked last year at buying a 4 stroke. The 60Hp Yamaha Jets were running around $7K....OUCH! I am cheap by the way... Who knows, I may try to squeek one more summer out of the merc...

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    I grew up on a prop and will probably be on alot of lake systems and dip netting the kenai but short trips like clear creek and Indian in my mind are doable on a prop. We ran a lot of rivers with only two feet of water on props where I grew up. I have zero experience with jets. Which is why I'm leaning toward a prop.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DucksAndDogs View Post
    They're designed to throw a rooster tail like that. They have a pretty big prop and it's only a 2 blade so for one reason or another, they're set-up that way. I'm no engineer and don't know why, but I've been told by 2 different dealers that their optimum performance is with a rooster tail about like that.

    There are some people on here with them who have run rivers quite a bit, maybe some with experience will chime in. They seem to be catching on quite a bit. I love mine, but have limited time in the water with it. Hopefully this year it'll live up to my expectations. I've heard of guys using a smaller surface-drive motor than mine has carrying 2 guys, a camp, and a moose upriver at 18-20 mph, so we'll have to see. I don't trust a lot of what I hear from people. I'd rather do it myself or hear it from a handful of people I know won't stretch the truth.

    I didn't even price any jets when I was looking for mine, admittedly, because I knew I wanted this motor. What would a comparable 4 stroke jet cost? Say a 40-50 HP 4 stroke jet? I'm just curious the price comparison...
    I havent run that part of the BIg-Su but have run from Sustinal landing to Yetna and alot of slough in between yes you can do it in a surface drive with no problem I had a prodrive and did with no problem. I gave it to my father in law and he is still running to his cabin on Kroto slough off fish creek all the time. There is a person who has a cabin next to his that runs a surface drive so yes you can.
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    The Big Su is easily runnnable with a prop so long as the pilot has the skills to read the water, plenty of water in that river.

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    Jake, consider buying a motor with both a lower prop unit and a jet unit. Easy to swap out and will give you much more versatility. Go with a bit more horsepower than you need with the prop so the jet isn't too underpowered, you lose about 30% of the powerhead rated hp with the jet.
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    This sounds like one of those no one boat will so all you want kinda deals. I'll prob stick with the prop since its what I know and maybe do some exploring when I feel brave!!
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    The main problem with the Big Su (and probably other rivers but anyway) is it going from 20' to 12" with very little apparent change on top, especially if there is a little breeze rippling the surface. This usually happens in the areas where the river spreads out to 300 or 400 yards wide and switches from one bank to the other but not always. I've run out of Susitna Landing down to the Deshka, up the Yentna and up to Sheep Creek and Montana Creek, also from the boat launch in Talkeetna up to Clear Creek in my jet boat. It's always a heart stopper when you think you are 20' of water, the depth finder said you were in 20' of water, you were in 20' of water yesterday and 10 seconds later you scrape bottom.

    On the other hand, some of the old timers I've heard stories of ran props all over the place. The first boat I ever bought up here was an 18' riveted Hewes Craft Sea Runner from the 80's. It came with a jet unit on the 100 hp yamaha outboard but also had the prop setup. The story that came with the boat was that the previous owner had always ran to his cabin up the Yentna with the prop and to back up the story the package included a box of 5 or 6 old beat up props. Is that a clue....?

    If any of you remember Ron Wilson, Ron's River Boat Service from up at Susitna Landing, he had very little use for anybody trying to run the river in that area with a prop. In his prime he probably ran the river as much or more than anyone else and had a hand in rescuing a lot of people off the river. He was also a little opinionated about things, well maybe a lot, and he would tell people they were flat dangerous to themselves and everyone else for even thinking about running a prop. Makes me smile to remember some of those conversations.

    Even with an outboard jet there have been a few times when things got pretty hairy. Pick up a snoot full of rocks and gravel in the jet, have no forward power at all and before I could react be pushed by the 7 or 8 mph current down into some shallow spot, luckily never a sweeper, and have a fun time trying to get out. Learning curves....glad I was younger then. Be careful and have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    Checked the archives but couldn't find an answer. Curious if the big sue is usually doable from talkeetna up to Indian with a prop and half a brain? Seems like there's plenty of water but some hidden surprises.... Am I right on this?
    Seems like a lot of hidden surprises above the bridge. The Su gets pretty braided around the willow too, with some Surprises as well.

    You can run the rivers "OK" most times with a prop I would imagine, but you can run them much better more often with a jet. One lower unit wrecked will eat up all of the gas savings for years to come.

    Also, a jet is much more forgiving with getting to shore. Running the river and keeping to the channels is one thing. Finding the right place to get the boat to shore is another. You can nose a jet boat into the bank and leave it "parked" with the jet on for a while and then hit a full throttle reverse to put you back out in the current without fear of much damage like a prop. Makes looking for game much easier if you are the hunting type.

    If you are hunting on the Su, it gets real skinny (usually) by the end of Sept. Another nod for the jet.

    The Talkeetna river to Clear Creek has been doable with prop the last several years, but the channel changes often. I can remember years when we were going over submerged logs and such in the braids that would have chewed up a prop and left you drifting downstream into the many strainers. Another Jet nod.

    Lastly, look at all the boats at the dock at any landing in June (high water). Count how many are going out on the Su with a prop and then with a jet. Bet you don't need to take off your shoes to count the prop boats. Heck, you probably don't need to take of your mittens.

  20. #20

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    I'd like to hear Alexander weigh in on this one.

    Those guys are hauling freight with props.

    I run a jet but BRWNBR if a prop works for you go for it.

    (I think you would have more fun with a jet though....Just better suited to Alaskan rivers.)

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