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Old 04-05-2015   #1
Puyallup, Washington
Paddling Since: 12
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 3
First Fly Fishing Raft

Hello all,

As the title states, I am looking at getting a new raft for fly fishing. I have been browsing around online for the last few weeks, but am a little overwhelmed with all of the options - particularly with frames and how they assemble with different options. Essentially, I am looking for a decent raft that will hold 2-3 people, including the rower. I would also like it to have one standing platform and it be large enough to anchor. I am in the Pacific Northwest and would be looking to float some of the typical medium-large size rivers in Washington State. Most importantly, I am also trying to keep my budget around $3,000, is this possible? I have looked at complete setups in that price range, such as Dave Scaddens Dragonfly, but am wondering if I can put something together with a little larger raft. I say this because it seems that most setups have boats in the 13-14 foot size. I do not have a trailer yet either, but that could come next if needed. Any advice would be great!

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Old 04-05-2015   #2
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
Dave Scadden rafts are light for a reason. They are made of very thin material and puncture easily if you drag it across rocks or hit anything. I would stay away from that brand.

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Old 04-05-2015   #3
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,121
I would highly recommend an Outcast product. I have had a PAC 1000 for over 15 years and it's bomber. A Fish Cat 13 or PAC 1200 would meet your needs & price point. The tubes are made by AIRE, and the frame is set up for 1-2 anglers. The prices includes the boat, frame, oars, side bags, and repair kit. If you want a boat for 2-3 anglers, then you might not be able to stay below your $3000 price (including frame & oars) and still get a quality product. I have looked at the Scadden products at outdoor expo shows and they are not in the same quality category as the Outcast in my opinion.
Fish Cat 13 | Outcast Sporting Gear
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Old 04-05-2015   #4
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,363
Ditto on the negative review of Scadden's stuff. I would look at a used rig, or if you want new, an Aire tributary or the Outcast version of the tributary line of rafts- Aire makes both products. 14' is the best place to start- gives you room, hauling ability and just seems to be the "right" size for an awful lot of folks.

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Old 04-05-2015   #5
Puyallup, Washington
Paddling Since: 12
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 3
Thanks for all the replies. I was suprised to hear abut the Scadden products as they are advertised to handle whitewater. The Outcast boats are nice as well, but preferably I would like to find a self bailing raft. I have looked at a couple Saturn and Rocky Mountain Rafts that we're at a decent price range. Would just like to find a good fishing frame that could be added on at my budget. I am going to keep looking around. Also, I have a truck, would I necessarily need a trailer?
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Old 04-05-2015   #6
pbowman's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 245
Fishing rafts

I posted on this topic at length a few years ago. Since then, I have sold my 11.5' Otter and replaced it with a 13' Otter. I also have casting floors and lean bars on both the 13' and 15' rafts now - great for fly fishing. To find the price point you are looking at, it will probably be necessary to purchase used gear. It may still be a challenge staying under $3000 then, but you might find it. There are also lots of opinions on less expensive rafts like RMR or Saturn, so you will need to do your own research there and make your own choice.

As for size, the standard fishing setup will allow 2 anglers and one rower, with no real options for 3 fly fishing anglers IMO. If the rivers you plan to fish in No Washington are larger volume (2000 cfs +) with less technical whitewater, then I agree with the suggestion of 14'. But if you will be fishing smaller water less than 1000 cfs on a regular basis, I would offer 13' as a better size. As for a trailer, I think they become necessary with the more involved fishing frames. It makes things a lot easier to have a trailer, but it is not impossible to roll and haul in the back of your truck - just time consuming at the ramps.

I share the same thoughts on Scadden as other posts - the capabilities of the product are grossly overstated and misrepresented on his website. Having inspected the products several times at different shows, I personally would not take it on anything over CL II.

Originally Posted by pbowman View Post
i have an older 11.5' NRS otter that i fish from with the basic NRS fishing frame (only one person fishing in front). i also have a 15' NRS otter with the full NRS fishing frame (two people fishing, one elevated seat in front and one seat on the stern).

i chose the NRS frames so that i could have maximum flexibility for different uses. i also row both boats for whitewater and overnight trips, so i can easily take the fishing seats off to rig the frame with a cooler, dry box, seat board, etc. the ability to reconfigure other frames such as DRE and AAA is both limited and cumbersome IMO, and the outcast frames cannot be modified at all. i have acquired a few extra cross bars for my frames, so i can just take the fishing seats off and put the straight cross bars in for whitewater with a cooler of beer. or i can leave the front seat on the big raft, and create some gear bays in the middle and stern of the boat to be rigged for a multi-day fishing trip.

my neighbor also has the 14' NRS Otter fishing package (included raft, frame, oars, lean bars, casting floors, etc) that he purchased in 2010, so i have fished on that several times. i don't find the casting floors and lean bars to be of much use for the type of water i like to fish in colorado, but that is admittedly my personal choice. if i were fishing slower water with very few rapids (like sections A/B/C of the green for example) more regularly, a casting floor may have more appeal to me. one thing to note here is that my neighbor sold a 16' cat with a NRS fishing frame set up (only one fishing seat up front) to buy his 14' raft package. he said he wanted the additional flexibility the raft would offer and he felt safer taking his kids in the raft instead of the cat.

if i were to only have one raft for fishing, i would choose a 13'. i think a 13' raft is large enough to comfortably fish with two people (one in front and one in back), but still agile and small enough to take out when the water gets a little low. my 11.5' raft is packed full for a day trip with just one person fishing, and it would be very tight (basically impossible) to put a stern seat on that set up. having fished and rowed my neighbors 14', i find it a little too big when the water starts getting low. it is also difficult to move around and get on the trailer if there are only two of us.

given all of this, a 13' raft would be an ideal size for fishing colorado IMO. if i could only have one, i would choose the 13' NRS fishing package and get a couple extra cross bars to give me the flexibility to rig for whitewater and booze cruises. i would also get the NRS anchor system added to the package, it is a great addition for the money. this is all based on my personal preferences, experiences, and the water i like to fish, so i certainly respect the opinions and preferences that other folks have expressed here. the bottom line is that whatever craft and frame you choose you will be able to enjoy some great fishing.
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Old 04-05-2015   #7
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,363

Self-bailing Outcast- though it's higher than your budget. RMR is a solid boat as well.

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Old 04-05-2015   #8
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
you can put together a cheap setup and it might work ok for a while but most do not last and the buyer ends up wasting money.

watch the Buzz for a used Aire super Puma setup with a fishing frame
save money till you can go to an outfit like River Boat works in Salida CO and get them put a package together for you. I know river boat works sells a lot of fishing setups for use locally and they might have a used setup or trade in that works for you. I have no connection to River Boat Works except that I have purchased gear and boats from them for years and the service was good and price fair. There may well be local fishermen clubs that can advise you as well.
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Old 04-06-2015   #9
teacher= SUMMERS OFF
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 30
Why not a Cat? One boat...all rivers

I have had a 14.5' Cataraft for the past 20 years that I purchased from AAA inflatables in Denver CO. The tubes are from NRS and it has withstood the "test of time" and very heavy usage. You cannot beat the versatility of a cataraft, and with the casting decks and stands both front and back, it is much more stable then any traditional self bailing raft that I have ever fished out of, and I really have fished out of a bunch of boats. Although I'll fish out of anything that someone else is rowing, standing up all day on an inflatable floor simply sucks and the tiny little floor decks they make for rafts are functional but not ideal. The cataraft is comfortable enough that I used it when guiding for about 5 years before I lucked into my Hyde drift boat (nothing beats a drift boat for fishing....ahhhhhhh). However, since most of the other rivers in Colorado I fish are not fit for a drift boat, I'm often in the cat. Also, I have used the boat on numerous trips down the Grand Canyon, Middle Fork, Green, San Juan, Black Canyon of the Gunny etc etc etc. Same boat for 400 cfs on the Rio Grande and 20,000 cfs on the Grand! I even put the frame on a set of 18 foot tubes once and it worked fantastically to haul my gear and a whole bunch of group gear down the Grand on my second trip down. The pros are numerous, the cons are that you have to be careful where you put your stuff down, the guy up front gets a bit wet unless you keep them out of the bigger rapids (NOT a problem for me or my friends, small problem for clients). Tape up the straps that connect the frame to the tubes and you dont catch up when your flies go under the boat.
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Old 04-06-2015   #10
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Colotucky, USA
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,054
Originally Posted by caverdan View Post
Dave Scadden rafts are light for a reason. They are made of very thin material and puncture easily if you drag it across rocks or hit anything. I would stay away from that brand.
Stay very far away
Very far

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