Dave Scadden's career in fly fishing dates back to when he was a young
boy. At an early age, Dave's dad would haul him out across the heavy
riffle between the two log jams on the Big Bend of the Madison River in
southwestern Montana. He would sit him on a large flat rock with a rod
and reel. Dave would cast and cast all day. Finally, one day he actually
caught a fish. At the time, the fish seemed like it was 10 pounds! Later
Dave's dad would tell him it was about 13 inches. Dave was three years
old at the time. His life has never been the same since.
Continuing a legacy that was initiated by his grandfather Thomas Draper
and his father Lamar Scadden, Dave had an interest in fly tying and fly
fishing that soon turned into an obsession. Dave was tying flies very
proficiently by the age of nine years old. He began selling them commercially at the age of twelve and was teaching fly tying classes in his early teens. His fly tying classes evolved into fly casting and fly fishing classes by the age of fifteen and he was running the fly shop at Wolfe's Sporting Goods at eighteen years of age.
At this stage in his life he was running the shop, instructing full time and producing an average of 10-15,000 flies annually that he sold commercially. He was also building custom fly rods for his own use, but it wasn't long before he was building custom rods for his clients and within a few years was producing hundreds of custom rods each year. In his early twenties, he helped start the Angler's Inn tackle shops in northern Utah and after several years as a stockholder and store manager he had the opportunity to buy the four store chain.
Through this period of time, things were changing on Dave's beloved Madison River. He was now greeted by locked gates and no trespassing signs. No longer did a bushel of peaches to the Kirby family gain access to the hallowed waters of the Big Bend. Many of his favorite waters were being systematically shut down as developers exploited the river systems of the west.
Dave had maintained a guides license for a number of years and guided hundreds of clients. Like so many guides, he was becoming burned out with rowing his guide boat while his clients fished. It was very rewarding but growing old nonetheless.
He soon became driven by a desire to find a way to float rivers and fish at the same time. That desire led to floating rivers on float tubes in the late seventies and early eighties. Many anglers heard of his adventures and followed suit. Float tube sales skyrocketed and within a short period of time hundreds of anglers were float tubing rivers.
As quickly as this rage began so did the reports of mishaps. Many anglers didn't know how to read rivers and soon found themselves in trouble. Float tubes were especially unforgiving in a tight situation. Anglers actually found themselves trapped in their "belly boat" unable to escape from its clutches. If they got upside down in technical water, all of a sudden their body weight was forcing them down. Many were unable to right themselves and actual fatalities began to mount.
It was at this point Dave began to explore other options that would still keep his
hands free to fish yet offer mobility in moving water. He soon joined Daryl
Osborne and Doug Swisher and collectively developed the original Water Otter.
Dave then set out on his own and developed the first rocker hulled pontoon
boat for added maneuverability and safety. Soon he evolved high tech aluminum
frames, exotic anchor systems and highly efficient pocket systems. After 20 years
of changing pontoon boat designs, Dave is still at it with his most recent
development the Aqua-Lok sliding standing platform and articulating lean bar
system. Once again, this highly technical patented design has revlutionized the
pontoon boat industry.
After all of these years, Dave still considers his greatest achievement in the fishing world giving access to home waters back to the average angler. There are few places he enjoys more than his beloved Big Bend of the Madison River.