Family/Fishing Raft Advice Please - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-19-2018   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
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Family/Fishing Raft Advice Please

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on this forum, but I've spent a good deal of time reading about the topic. My situation may be a bit unusual. We live in Texas, and we spend the summers in Montana and Idaho fly fishing. We drive an RV up there, towing a Land Cruiser.

Until now, we've simply wade fished where we could. But, we're seriously considering purchasing a raft and adding a frame for fishing. The raft would see use about a dozen days a year, maybe a bit more. Some days we'd use the frame for fishing, other days we'd just use the raft without the frame for family floats. The primary rivers we'd run are the Madison, the Big Hole, and the Salmon (between Stanley and Torrey's). I do not intend to deal with any serious whitewater. Our floats would be no more than from morning to evening...never overnight.

We have five in our family - me, my wife, an 18 year old son, a 13 year old son, and an 8 year old daughter. All five of us would be on family float trips, BUT only my two boys and me would use the raft for fishing trips.

We do not have a trailer, nor do I see how we could get one from Texas to Montana to use with our raft. Portability/weight are important concerns in our raft decision. We have a very high quality roof rack on top of the Land Cruiser, so one option I see is to load the raft on top of the truck for transport to the river. But, I have real concerns about weight in that situation...not the roof rack's carrying capacity, but rather our ability to get the raft on/off the roof. It would basically just be me and my older son doing most of the heavy lifting in that case.

We will be staying in one spot in Montana next summer for 40 days, so I could leave it inflated during our stay there. Then, I'd need to store everything for our trip from Montana over to Idaho, where we'd spend two weeks fishing/rafting. We'd transport it from Texas to Montana/Idaho and back stored in the RV's "basement."

I understand that some rafts are easier to roll/store, some tend to develop pin holes when stored, some are heavier than others, etc. We have a bit of storage space in the basement of the RV, but I certainly want something that will fold/roll up pretty compactly. I suppose I could leave the frame assembled and just store/run with it on top of the Land Cruiser when not in use.

I would very much appreciate hearing from the collective wisdom of this group about what raft you'd recommend for our situation.

Thanks in advance, and best regards!

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Old 12-19-2018   #2
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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It's a pain to inflate at every putin and deflate at every takeout. I did it for 7 years, but it was a big undertaking. I was also in my late 20's at the time, and devoted more energy to logistics. Now I'm older, and I simply want to be on the water, rather than spending time getting ready to be on the water.


If your boat is inflated and on a trailer, you'll be 2x as likely to go out on a whim and get on the water.




Consider buying a Harbor Freight trailer that you can pin to the back of your motorhome or FJ. HF trailers aren't the best out there, but you're driving shuttle...not the 500 miles to the river. They bolt together so you could have the main frame assembled and unbolt the tongue for stowage. Bolt it together in MT and go fishing. If you hate the HF trailer, you can probably sell it for what you paid to someone who doesn't want to assemble their own!



Not sure if you're flat-towing the Cruiser or trailering it? If you trailer the FJ, you could also use the car hauler trailer for a raft trailer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kmghmg
I do not intend to deal with any serious whitewater. Our floats would be no more than from morning to evening...never overnight.

Yeah, that's what they all say until they try some fun whitewater or have a wonderful overnight trip.
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Old 12-19-2018   #3
 
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Also about the pull the trigger on a raft and fishing setup myself, although I'm specifically looking for some versatility to do whitewater/multiday trips. I spend a good deal of time wading in Montana and Idaho (Madison and Henry's Fork especially) and am likewise looking for a fishing setup for these rivers.

From the uses you are describing, it sounds like you'd also likely be looking to be able to breakdown your frame. As far as fishing frames go, after looking into a lot of different options myself, I think the best in terms of being able to break down and/or be reconfigured for whitewater are based on the NRS Lo-Pro system or something similar. There are some other great fishing frames out there (Montana Raft Frames and Streamtech frames from Link Jackson in Boise come to mind), but if the ability to break down and/or reconfigure quickly is important, something that uses Lo-Pros or a similar system seems like a good way to go. Definately look at Montana Raft Frames and Streamtech frames though as they are fabulous.

NRS makes a lot of fishing frame components based of the Lo-Pro system, so you can build out something that suits your needs. Dusty and DRLrivergypsies also makes some beautiful well-thought out fishing frames in my opinion based on the NRS Lo-Pro system. Very easy to switch out his fishing frame design to a whitewater/people hauling setup as well. Alternatively, look at what elkhaven on this forum has done - beautiful frame he build himself using the Lo-Pro system. If you look in the gear talk thread for a post I made a few days ago titled "Fishing Frame with a Maravia Zephyr" or something similar, you'll see some photos of his setup.
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Old 12-19-2018   #4
 
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I'm with MT4Runner. Over a 40 day period, a $350 HF trailer and $50 in 2x6's is 10 bucks a day. And if time counts as $, you will be saving hours upon hours of inflate/rig/un-rig/deflate. Sell it at the end, or don't. Give those boys a project to figure out what to do with it.

How about this - Roll the to-be-bought boat and shove it in your towed SUV, slap the frame & oars on the your fancy roof rack with raft straps, and buy a HF trailer when you get there. I found 5 HF stores in Montana and 7 in Idaho.

On the boat topic - Here is the mecca of all threads. https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/...igs-40045.html You will see many opinions and setups.
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Old 12-19-2018   #5
 
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Belgrade, Montana
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Thanks for the kind words Utahpowderhound!

Kmghmg - there are lots of pics of my frame out there... I won't post anymore because it's not what you would want. You want to keep it simple. You can totally haul a raft on your roof rack. If you keep it simple and light I think the two of you could get it up there easily enough. You may also be able to work up some sort of roller on the rack to aid in loading (google edie boat loaders...well here:https://boatloader.com/) I'm not suggesting getting one persay and I'm not sure even how well it would work with a raft, but just for an idea...

As far as frames go, you don't need a fishing frame to fish and in your case you might start off super simple and see how that works. There are lots of modular frames out there, NRS is one that seems to work best for me, mostly because they dominate the market up here and parts are easy to come by. There are also great builders (Neff's customs - in Darby, not far out of the way from the big hole to stanley...) that incorporate welded modules and NRS fittings for modular, break down frames that are lighter than a full NRS frame... But whether your rigging at the ramp everyday or schlepping the rig on your Cruiser (I'm an FJ40 lover) you'll still want it simple and light.

As far as rolling, they all roll, hypalon rolls the best, so you could go with an NRS or Hyside both are great - or an aire super puma or 136 DD... or 130D.... harder to roll but will still not take up much room - really that shouldn't be a deciding factor between them - at any rate I'd be thinking around 13 feet...that's on the small side but will definitely be easier to load onto your rig. I'd probably lean away from welded or glued PVC, not because of rolling but because they tend to be noticeably heavier. I'm not fluent in boat specs these days and could be wrong, but that's just my general observation.

I used to have a driftboat and a 13' raft and had lots of friends with out a boat, so they both went almost every trip with the raft stacked on the drift boat. we always fished 3 people in both boats and it worked fine in the 13'er but it was easy to lift and load onto the DB. Granted we had at least 6 people to do so... We also had a buddy that had the same boat and he used to haul it around on top of his Volkswagen, wagon of some sort... we'd load it easily with 4 people but I know he did with just 2 at times. So my point? a 13'er is fine to fish the three of you out of and will carry the other two just fine when you want.... and it will be fairly easy to load. Could you put a 14'er on top, sure! It's just gonna be harder. Would a 12'er work for your needs... yep, but it'll be on the small side.
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Old 12-19-2018   #6
 
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I would tend to agree with elkhaven on the 13' boat, too.


On the small side for overnights, but awesome size for daytrips -- both fishing and mild whitewater.

And another plus--13' boats make sick paddle boats in bigger whitewater.
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Old 12-19-2018   #7
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
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Thanks so much for the incredible input so far! I greatly appreciate it.

Buying a trailer up in Montana is a very interesting idea. And, when breaking it down by daily cost, it's really very little. It also just struck me that I might be able to borrow a trailer from someone in the RV park on the days we want to fish, though it could get tricky if the guy wants to use his trailer that same day. I even thought about just pulling the trailer behind the Land Cruiser while the Land Cruiser is being towed by the RV. But, just the RV and Land Cruiser are 61 feet already. That's long enough already!

There is a Hyside 12 footer for sale just a few miles from me here in Texas. Asking price is $975. No frame. It looks older, and the owner doesn't know how old it is. He says it's in good shape, no leaks, etc, but I've not looked at it in-person. It's obvious that the front ring has been pulled off. Here's a link to the ad online.

https://sanantonio.craigslist.org/bo...751918392.html

What are your thoughts on that particular brand and size for our needs? I see that several of you recommend a 13 foot raft.

Thanks very much for all the suggestions about frames, material, sizes, etc. What a terrific forum!
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Old 12-19-2018   #8
 
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Thanks so much everyone. I really appreciate the input on frames, material, size, etc. And the idea of buying a cheap trailer up there and either selling it or giving it away when we're done is very interesting. You're right, yesimapirate, that's not much cash on a daily basis.

There's a 12 foot Hyside Outfitter raft for sale near me for $975.00. It's older, from what I can tell, and the front d-ring has been pulled off. I've not looked at it (just found it online today), so I don't know the overall condition. The seller says it holds air fine and that it has "some small patches on the floor". It is one of the blue ones with the yellow stripe all the way around. I see that a couple of you are recommending a 13 foot raft. Given the ease of acquiring the 12 footer near me, I'd very much like to hear your thoughts on that raft.

I'll give the frame issue a lot of thought and research as well. THANKS!
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Old 12-19-2018   #9
 
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If it's in decent shape, grab it. That old Hyside is not going to lose value if you take care of it, it's already depreciated. Find a deal on a 13' boat later and resell the Hyside for the same $975.



Hypalon is easy to roll, as noted above. Decide to add the trailer later if you wish.
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Old 12-19-2018   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT4Runner View Post
If it's in decent shape, grab it. That old Hyside is not going to lose value if you take care of it, it's already depreciated. Find a deal on a 13' boat later and resell the Hyside for the same $975.



Hypalon is easy to roll, as noted above. Decide to add the trailer later if you wish.
Thanks. I'll talk with the seller about setting up a time to see it.

Dumb question of the day... I've never been in a raft. LOTS of other types of boats my entire life, but never one of these rafts. Would the floor in this Hyside be solid enough to stand up on comfortably to cast a fly, or does the floor "give" a lot when you stand up in one of these rafts? Total rookie question, but I just don't know the answer!
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