If you’ve been a hard-core angler for more than 30 years this will come as no surprise. If you’re not, it likely will be.
Duckworth has manufactured open-style boats since the late 1960’s. No doubt many of them are still on the water today bonking their fair share of fish. The heydays of the open boat excitement began in the mid 80’s when the Pro-Steelheader models first emerged.
The Pro-Steelheader was custom built for the largest independent dealer of the times, Nixon’s Marine. In fact, most of the earliest models did not even have the signature Duckworth logo on the side. The model was offered in an open tiller style, center console and windshield versions. The quality was exceptional and years ahead of competitors. Unique angling features, designed by several prominent guides of the times, drove sales in a one-way direction—up and up. For many years, demand outpaced production and scores of orders awaited their place in the assembly line.
This version of the Pro-Steelheader built by Duckworth was the original namesake. The name was trademarked at the time but has since expired and is now being used by several other manufactures. (Unfortunate, but true.)
In the 1990’s, production capabilities at Duckworth grew and another equally capable open boat was designed, first and foremost to suit the demands of Alaska’s most prominent fishery on the Kenai River. Aptly named the Kenai model, it was offered in lengths of 16, 17 and 18 feet with a 66” bottom and 26” sides.
During the mid 1990’s, you would have been awestruck by the number of boats competing for the world’s largest salmon. Amongst the rowboats, jon boats, bathtubs and flat bottom sleds, undoubtedly you would have seen dozens of Duckworth Kenai models. The same would also be true on most popular rivers in the west coast.
The Kenai model was created to run the Kenai River which had horsepower limitations for the outboard motors of 35hp. All tolled, Duckworth built approximately 250 open boats. The last open Kenai was produced in 1999 and the last windshield Kenai rolled off the line in 2000.
During the same period, Duckworth also built a Pro I, Pro II and Pro III series of boats – the Pro I was the open version, the Pro II was center console, and Pro III was a windshield version. These models were available in 17, 18, and 19 feet versions. A handful were custom designed for professional guides and carried the “Silverwing Guide” moniker. The Pro series was later renamed the Discovery Series. In 2001 the Discovery Series was replaced by the very successful Advantage series of boats that continues on today, but in windshield versions only.