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I am really new to fishing out of a raft. However, I am planning on buying one very soon for fishing and some moderate whitewater and overnighters.

There is so many options out there today it is overwhelming to a newbie like me. While I am a veteran fly fisherman, I know nothing about fishing frames and the like. What brand is the best bang for the buck? Are the top dollar frames REALLY that much better than the cheaper ones? Do you really need those expensive casting platforms they sell or will the raft floor of a self bailer be enough? $150 for a stripping basket! damn... do I need that? or is it pretty usefull? I think you get the jest here folks. thanks for looking and THANKS SO MUCH for any comments cheers

p.s. Oh getting a 14' foot raft BTW.
 

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You know what they say about boats….doesn’t really matter if they have a motor or not.

Some of your decisions depend on if you are trailering or not. If not, keeping it simple and light is better. NRS frames are pretty nice in that regard, plus being modular very easy to change around for fishing—whitewater—multiday setups. The rest is just how fancy/comfortable you want to get…anchor system, floors, lean bars etc. Nice but add weight and complexity to the system. If you have a good trailer with a winch adding all the nice-ities isn’t as big a deal.

You didn’t say what kind of raft you were getting. Standing platforms are nice but not necessarily needed on some rafts depending on how hard you can make the floor. Vanguard’s have pretty solid floors for example. Some floors are pretty mushy…just depends. If you are putting a bench up front the angler will be more prone to stand than say with the NRS seat which is essentially as tall as you would stand. The more expensive frames integrate more features into the frame design for a seamless setup, the cheaper ones are more piecemeal. Items like stripping baskets are totally optional. I don’t even bother to put my anchor system on for CO, it’s nice on bigger water in ID/MT though.

The problem starting out is you don’t know what your preferences are yet, and most of it is just setting it up how you like it. Look at as many setups as you can find and decide based on your usage and needs.
 

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I've really enjoyed the flexibility of my NRS frame. I don't have a trailer and like being able to break it down when needed. I also do multi-day whitewater trips, so like being able to set it up for a dry box/cooler.

My first boat had a drop stitch floor, which worked fine without the casting platforms. I now have the frame on an AIRE, and the casting platforms would be really nice as the floor is tough to stand on.

I'm going to add an aftermarket stripping basket (read: 5 gallon bucket or Rubbermaid container). The anchor system is nice, but not necessary.

Best of luck.
 

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floors aren't necessary. its all personal preference. most people use them because it makes casting standing up much easier. if you plan on anchoring and casting to rising fish, it might be helpful. they also add a TON of weight.

some people find casting while sitting akward. that typically has to do with the strength of the angler's cast. good casters can cast from any position. standing helps you compensate for short commings.

NRS and DownRiver make the best frames. Down river's are more robust, but heavier and more expensive. NRS frames are simple and lighter and cheaper. i've guided exclusively on NRS frames and love them. also, you can buy the most basic model of either and then upgrade (with floors, anchors, thigh bars, etc) as you figure out what you like and/or dislike.
 

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"Do you really need those expensive casting platforms they sell or will the raft floor of a self bailer be enough? $150 for a stripping basket! damn... do I need that? or is it pretty usefull?"

Agree with what others have said. I bought a DRE frame and originally was going to get the front casting platform. I changed my mind due to the added cost, but had them add the attachment fittings in case I wanted to add it later. Ultimately I went with a homemade plywood floor that doubles as a gear storage platform. Works great.

I opted out of the stripping basket as well but now have realized that some form of basket is almost necessary...
 

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Any chance you can try some set ups out, or float with another local before you buy? Even if you have to hire a guide for a day, you may end up money ahead if you avoid future unnecessary expenses.

Here in the PNW I nymph the pockets, usually seated, from run to run, and then get out and swing the runs, generally with the two handed rod. The NRS bighorn frames are popular in my area: NRS Bighorn I Raft Frame at NRSweb.com

though I do see more of the 'trout' focused guys with the more elaborate frames,with the lean bars, etc.

Another cheap option would be Gary at www.rowframe..com - a simple and inexpensive frame to get you started before you spend a heap on things you may not need or want.

I'll also say that I get by with a cheapo laundry basket for a stripping basket; it's a tool that's gotten me by locally, and even in MX while fishing out of a panga for pelagics. Use the money saved on another trip with the boys!

There's no reason Gary couldn't fit you with something cheap until you find a preference.
 

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another vote for the nrs frame. very adaptable to each trip's needs without having to buy a new frame.

the only section i consider mandatory for a fishing frame is the stern mount seat for the safety of the person in the back and the rower. beyond that, i don't like to use anything else beyond a low mounted swivel seat up front when appropriate. if you plan to run only easy class I or easy class II then sure get as fancy as you like, i guess. if you plan on running allot of III -IV+ water to get to your fishing holes though then things like lean bars or casting decks are just asking for serious injury with the way people get thrown around from time to time.
 

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I started with an NRS fishing frame because that is what the package I bid on came with. After the first float, I ditched the front seat, bought another cross bar and mounted my recretec table across the front. If I was starting out, I would get the NRS compact outfitter frame, row from a cooler, have the passenger on a dry box, add a stern seat (which to date is my most favorite place in the world to sit and drink a beer), anchor system and add a full wrap thigh bar for the front passenger. One can easily cast seated from the stern seat - thigh bar not necessary. If you're not guiding for a living, all the stripping baskets, casting platforms and other goofy stuff are a heavy waste of money. This is basically what I have morphed my fishing frame into. The rails for the stern seat make it really easy to hang a beaver board from to load gear for overnighters. The laundry basket for a stripping basket is genius, thanks for the tip.
 

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I started with an NRS fishing frame because that is what the package I bid on came with. After the first float, I ditched the front seat, bought another cross bar and mounted my recretec table across the front. If I was starting out, I would get the NRS compact outfitter frame, row from a cooler, have the passenger on a dry box, add a stern seat (which to date is my most favorite place in the world to sit and drink a beer), anchor system and add a full wrap thigh bar for the front passenger. One can easily cast seated from the stern seat - thigh bar not necessary. If you're not guiding for a living, all the stripping baskets, casting platforms and other goofy stuff are a heavy waste of money. This is basically what I have morphed my fishing frame into. The rails for the stern seat make it really easy to hang a beaver board from to load gear for overnighters. The laundry basket for a stripping basket is genius, thanks for the tip.
I built the same exact frame with nrs parts piece by piece, but I have a "y" lean bar for the rear fisherman if they want to stand, and my drybox and cooler are opposite from yours. I also have a home made anchor bracket made from an nrs fitting, 12" of pipe and a cheap anchor bracket piece from walmart that has a pulley and jamstop-bolts next to the rear seat and makes fishing here in the east soooo much easier and better. Its a great versatile setup-I can fish or day float class IV or I could run the grand in the same rig. I have 3 nrs frames, and I can mix and match them to make a frame for just about any boat. never had any trouble with them ever
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the input guys! super good info!! Most of it was confirming what I my gut was telling me. thanks so much
 
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