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Thread: Proper oar length for jon boat

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    Default Proper oar length for jon boat

    I have recently purchase a 16x48 jon boat and I'm looking at oars for back trolling a few rivers. I know they come in lengths of 5ft - 8ft and I'm curious what is the length that the majority uses. Also what is your preference between wood or aluminum? Rivers in question are Little Su & Kenai. Thanks.

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    6'

    OK, that's just a guess, but...

    If the boat puts the oarlocks only 4' apart, you can have no more than 2' of each oar inside the boat, unless you can deal with overlapping oar handles. Generally you want no more than 1/3 of the oar's length inside, and up to 2/3 of it outside the oarlocks. So if you keep this formula, a 5.5' to 6' oar length should be ideal.

    Personally, I don't like really short oars, and 6' is pretty short. I might be tempted to use longer oars and let them overlap, but that requires more concentration to work. Also, if you keep the boat loaded lightly you can stretch that 1/3-2/3 split a bit. You loose leverage though.

    I also greatly prefer composite oars, since they are stronger and lighter than aluminum. Wood oars are great if the are very well made, but the cheap short ones break if you pull hard. Aluminum works. Always buy three. two is not a reliable number.

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    Default Proper oar length

    I have recently purchase a 16x48 jon boat and I'm looking at oars for back trolling a few rivers. I know they come in lengths of 5ft - 8ft and I'm curious what is the length that the majority uses. Also what is your preference between wood or aluminum? Rivers in question are Little Su & Kenai. Thanks.

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    I'm 6'6 and pretty strong, and I like 10 foot oars. Shorter oars will give you more powerful but shorter strokes, it's like shifting down in your car to go up a hill. You have to be pretty strong to use longer oars when you pull or change directions usually, unless you pull them in and cross the handles a little, that will give you better leverage.
    If you are negotiating narrow areas on small rivers you might want shorter oars. If you are going long distances longer strokes are better I think.
    Anyway, I think longer oars are better.

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    If you are going to really fish a lot, get a good set of 8' drift boat oars. They cost a bunch, but are worth it. I bought the cheap 8' oars from Walmart ($50 each) and they don't hold up and you can't get enough power on each stroke. I'm using wood oars, but haven't tried the others so I can't comment.

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    I believe most of the people running drift boats and large pontoons are running 10 foot oars. I have a small one man pontoon (Fishcat Cougar) and it has 7 foot oars.
    Also most of the people I know are using composite oars.
    There is less maintenance with composite than wood.

    http://www.cataractoars.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reel Friend View Post
    I have recently purchase a 16x48 jon boat and I'm looking at oars for back trolling a few rivers. I know they come in lengths of 5ft - 8ft and I'm curious what is the length that the majority uses. Also what is your preference between wood or aluminum? Rivers in question are Little Su & Kenai. Thanks.
    Graphite /fiberglass composite would be better.. Minimium of 8 ft... Go see the guys at AK Raft and Kayak they can set u up nice...

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    2 popular and time-tested formula for oar length selection-

    1) (boat length/2)+1' = oar length

    2) gunnel to center = 1/3 oar length

    Both of these formula are geared for driftboat and frameraft applications, so the jonboat, with its long, narrow profile, might prove to be the exception.

    Best bet would be to find a local dealer that has a pile of oars in stock and see if you can do a little "parking lot rowing", find out which oar balances best in rowing position, as well as feels nicest in your hands.

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    I just had oarlocks put on my 17 foot G-3 Jon boat. I was trying to figure out the same thing (oar length). My 17 foot drift boat uses 9 foot compostie oars. I have a spare set of wood oars from my dirft boat. I will use counter balances on the oars. Anyone with first hand info on a good length of oars would be greatly appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Dog-11 View Post
    I just had oarlocks put on my 17 foot G-3 Jon boat. I was trying to figure out the same thing (oar length). My 17 foot drift boat uses 9 foot compostie oars. I have a spare set of wood oars from my dirft boat. I will use counter balances on the oars. Anyone with first hand info on a good length of oars would be greatly appreciated.

    Who did your oarlocks? Im in the same boat, literally, planned on doing it but haven't shopped it around yet. Care to send me a pic of the setup?

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    How are you going to get 8'+ oars to work on a 4' wide boat? That just seems like whacked out thinking to me. No leverage at all on such a narrow boat. What am I missing here?

    Another option is to build a rowing frame like they do on rafts, so you can mount your oarlocks out farther. Maybe something like Soar does for their canoes. Then 8-10' oars could be used.

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    The boat is 48 at the bottom. It is wider at the top, my guess is closer to 60", if not more due to the nature of the sides of a jon boat. That may allow for a longer oar. Just a thought.

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    I have 4 1648 Lowe flat bottoms and tried the 7' wood oars. Not enough blade for effective control and broke 5 sticks the second season with them. Switched to 8" Carlisle’s (sp) they work awesome and the huge blade grabs the water. This works great as these are rental boats and I also guide out of them still I think if I was to spend every day guiding I would get 10 footers but my river is big. Sometimes you need to drag that boat up and across to hit the seam you want or get to the beach to land a picture fish.

    How much are you going to be using the oars to "back troll". If the answer is a lot then go with the 10'ers. Remember, 16 footers will probably have 12-14 feet x 48" and 2"draw, that's a lot of drag.

    I am not discounting the formulas or the advice of the experienced raft people; this is just my personal experience.

    George
    George Riddle
    Owner/Operator
    Blueberry Island Lodge
    www.blueberryislandlodge.com

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    Default Oar length

    Thanks everyone for your responses. The top of the jon is 70 inches wide so 8 footers don't seem out of the question. As far as how often, probably not as often as I'd like but want to learn how. I'd rather "row" instead of run the motor just to hold my spot. Thanks again.

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    Dewey's Marine did the work. They welded a piece of angle iron on and then painted it to match. Then screwed in an oar lock. However, it turned out to be a 1/2 inch reciever, which is smaller than standard driftboat/raft oar lock pins (they are 5/8 inch). I think it will be too weak to handle the stress and loads put on it. Tracy Harmin at ARK suggested using a hardened plastic cut to shape to fit around the gunnels and bolted through. Talk to him for a better explanation.

    The other problem (that Tracy pointed out) is that you want the oar locks canted outward at a 12 degree angle to make it row correctly/ergonomically. I plan to replace the existing reciever with a sturdier one. I'll try to attach a photo of my current set up. P4100003.jpg

    P4100004.jpg
    Last edited by Mad Dog-11; 04-10-2009 at 12:36. Reason: Miss spelled ARK (ARC)

  16. #16

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    If you have any of the fake wood decking this is a good material for building oarlock recpticals. I went through the same thing when I updated my oars to the Carlisles. Finding the plastic the correct thickness is hard and expensive. For the 12 degree slant you can shim the under side of the wood.

    I tried turning down the post on the oar locks but it didn't take long to bust those off. Lots of money to find the easy way...

    George
    George Riddle
    Owner/Operator
    Blueberry Island Lodge
    www.blueberryislandlodge.com

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    Thanks for the info. I'll look into it. Ted

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