If you ask 10 mud boat owners which is best a Surface Drive (SD) or a Long Tail (LT) you’ll get 20 different answers. There is no right answer to this question. They both serve the purpose they were built for very well. I purchased my first LT in 82-83 season from Go-Devil. It was a 12 hp push button start and the fuel tank was on engine. It was one of the first in the North Texas area. I was going where absolutely no one else was able to go. I have owned a LT ever since. I also have owned a 35 hp SD. It was a great motor and did things the LT could never do. It’s ease of driver operation beats the LT hands down. The open water qualities were better than an outboard. It was great to sit down while traveling. This motor was a power horse. It just did not work for my style and area of hunting. I still wish from time to time that I had it. This last season made me wish that wish. The drought had made all the runs to the hunting area in open deep water. The minimum travel to the areas were 8-9 miles one was 12 miles. I run a 16×48 23 hp LT and it was not built for this. The wind was a huge factor in the areas I could hunt. It was too dangerous to go to many areas at times. The trip was a body pounding tight rope walk. Standing up in a boat while steering in any waves for 8 miles was not fun. I longed for my old SD. Now the bad parts. In North Texas the SD does not perform as they do in the coastal area or swamps of Louisiana. The prop guard is it’s Achilles heel. Now lets not get into a back and forth match with everyone. It is pure physics. If the prop is not in the water what happens. Yes you can get a SD in 6” and down to 3” of water but what happens when you stop. Your stuck, all your momentum and water flow over the prop is lost and the prop is out of the water. The mud is just too darn hard to trim the engine any further into the water or I should say mud. The other factor I could not tolerate was the slow handling qualities of the larger heavier motor and boat. When you have to slow to a crawl over stumps and logs you can get high centered in both SD and LT. When the back-end was high everyone had to pile out and push the boat over the obstacle. This happened way too much with the clients. Ok I can hear it now “You have to power fast through it” . You can’t do this with clients, if you’re at all concerned with their safety and comfort. You come to a sudden stop doing any speed over 5 mph everyone flies out or to the front of the boat. With the LT you have about 6 feet of reach 180 degrs from the boat to power off the high center. You can crawl like you are in a low gear 4×4. The other advantage is you can dig a hole in the mud to get water over the prop. I can squeeze by in 3” of water and start from a dead stop with a full load. I have had to wait many times for SD friends when the water was only one foot while they struggled to get their momentum up. Then of course the were at the ramp miles ahead of me. Nothing is perfect in the real world when you off the internet and in the marsh. In the perfect world you would have both characteristics of the SD and LT in one motor.
|16x48 LT in 5 inches of water|