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I am looking at getting a pontoon boat that will be used 25% of the time winter steelheading on WA/OR rivers (e.g. myself and another person), another 50% in trout waters all over the west--often in MT and Idaho (myself and 1-2 anglers fishing from the boat), and another 25% for multi-day trips (myself and another person). Some Class III with the occasional Class IV--especially on the multi-day trips.
I am looking at the NRS 14' River Cat, 14' Aire Lion, and 16' Aire Jag.
I think I understand the tradeoffs. The price differences on the tubes are not huge ($2195 vs. $2565) and each has a 10 yr warranty. I'd appreciate any insights to help me decide, especially from any of you who have direct experience with these boats.
 

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There's a rule of thumb that says 2 feet longer for a cataraft than a raft. A 14 foot raft is right on for multiday with another person, so that would suggest the 16' cat. I'm sure others will chime in. (Can't say from experience, but I suspect a rower plus 2 fishing would be more comfortable in 16'.)
 

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We have a 16' x 25'' Sotar ST and use it almost exclusively for multi-day trips with two people. For a 1 week trip w/ two people and their gear, about 1000-1100lb., it's at it's limit IMO. I'm not saying we haven't enjoyed it for the 7 years we've owned it, but we bring a lot of chit down the river and bigger tubes would be nice. We plan on ordering a 16' x 28'' ST from Sotar at their Fall sale in Oct.

Other options for you could also be a 16' Lion or a NRS Kodiak Cat.
 

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Definitely get a 16 ft. cat. I've rowed a 14 footer for many years, and it would be a challenge to carry 2 passengers + gear. If 50% of your use will be fishing with 3 people on the boat, a 16 will work much better, and it will make your multi-day trips with a passenger a lot easier as well. Absolute bare minimum of 24 inch tubes, 25 or bigger would be better.
 

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I row a 14ft raft, my uncle an aire jag.

2 people with camp gear I would say is max for his boat...if we are both loaded similarly like this, his boat always looks much more loaded down than mine. (but he does have a heavy full frame decked out in plywood too). I would not want to overnight with 2 people on a 14ft cat.

It always appeared that the NRS tubes had less rocker (and longer flat section) than the aire tubes, so I would think NRS tubes of the same length would have a higher carrying capacity than the Aires. BUT I know his jag is surprisingly nimble, maneuverable and fun for a boat that looks like it weighs 1000lbs. Never ceases to amaze me the things my 68 yo uncle can do in it.
 

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I was in the exact same position. I think the Jag is better in technical or whitewater, but I read some problems with it being less stable than the other choices which would make sense and it would be better if I were doing a lot more technical stuff.

If your going to only have one boat I would recommend the Lion or the NRS 14. I have an old post here on the buzz about those boats in WW. Here is the link: http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/whitewater-on-the-aire-lion-14-a-49478.html

That way I had a stable boat to handle most of what I do, but they will also handle the WW that I encounter less often. In fact some of the replies that I received suggested that the Lion handled the WW extremely well, even on a regular basis. Just my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I was in the exact same position. I think the Jag is better in technical or whitewater, but I read some problems with it being less stable than the other choices which would make sense and it would be better if I were doing a lot more technical stuff.

If your going to only have one boat I would recommend the Lion or the NRS 14. I have an old post here on the buzz about those boats in WW. Here is the link: http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/whitewater-on-the-aire-lion-14-a-49478.html

That way I had a stable boat to handle most of what I do, but they will also handle the WW that I encounter less often. In fact some of the replies that I received suggested that the Lion handled the WW extremely well, even on a regular basis. Just my two cents.
Thanks very much for the link--VERY informative!
 

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I wouldn't even think of a 14' cat for the uses you described- you will be better served by a 16'

I have a 14' x 23" Sotar- great boat for solo trips and guide + angler with a light load. Would NOT want a second angler on there- or even a heavy gear load with 2 on board.

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I can send you to numerous individuals you can contact and ask questions where they use 14' cats as guide boats and carry multiple people and gear. Tube shape comes into play if they are continuous curve or full rocker they wouldn't work well for sure. As I always say call the people who actually build whitewater/fishing cats all the time and ask them. Tell them what you want to do.
 

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Old Salt, I have a buddy that runs pretty much this same rig, has for about 10 years and loves it. He runs it around MT with the standard 2 fishermen + rower and does extended overnighters with his family (2+2 kids). I myself have no desire to run a cat but he adores his boat and I'm sure you'd be happy with that set up as well.

I also noticed you asked the buyer a question about Jack's (JPW). When you get a chance research them (him) Jack knows his shit!! and he sure appears to be a great, standup guy. He posts here on occasion (probably when not too busy building boats) and is always helpful and rarely, if ever is in salesman mode. You cannot go wrong with a JPW boat.

On size I would error on the larger side, bigger boats float higher with the same load and as you may know Montana rivers can get pretty thin by august. I just went from a 13' round boat to a 15'er and can't believe the difference in room and draft. Staying high in the water will increase maneuverability and reduce effort rowing for fishermen.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Old Salt, I have a buddy that runs pretty much this same rig, has for about 10 years and loves it. He runs it around MT with the standard 2 fishermen + rower and does extended overnighters with his family (2+2 kids). I myself have no desire to run a cat but he adores his boat and I'm sure you'd be happy with that set up as well.

I also noticed you asked the buyer a question about Jack's (JPW). When you get a chance research them (him) Jack knows his shit!! and he sure appears to be a great, standup guy. He posts here on occasion (probably when not too busy building boats) and is always helpful and rarely, if ever is in salesman mode. You cannot go wrong with a JPW boat.

On size I would error on the larger side, bigger boats float higher with the same load and as you may know Montana rivers can get pretty thin by august. I just went from a 13' round boat to a 15'er and can't believe the difference in room and draft. Staying high in the water will increase maneuverability and reduce effort rowing for fishermen.

Thanks for the great info. I'll add JPW to my candidate list although this boat particular look quite large--even recognizing that larger has its advantages. I'm 66 y.o. and expect to be able to row for another 10 years but doubt that I'll be getting any stronger along the way--so I expect that maneuvering a smaller boat is the way to go for me. I'm hoping that with the rower floor remaining open I can walk thru the thin water while my guests stay seated.
 

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Reread what Elkhaven posted. It's counter intuitive but smaller boats, especially cats are heavier to row when loaded. Two fisherman is a pretty good load and then you add some gear and other stuff in the cooler and you have a damn heavy boat that is not at all easy to maneuver. Put that same load in a larger boat and it will feel lighter and easier to move around. Big boats get a reputation as pigs to row because people put so much more in them on multi day trips. But if you keep your load the same the big boat will be easier for you in the water. Boat ramps may be a different story.


Jim
 

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We recently bought and outfitted a 16 foot Aire Lion. Love it. It can carry everything needed to outfit a multiday trip to regulation requirements and a passenger plus personal gear. The only downside is that big tubes kind of suck in the wind. We used to have a 14' NRS, I recommend a 16 like many others on this thread have.


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Small overloaded cat is not gonna row the way you want. You'd be better off in a 14' raft with the load you've described. Why a cat? I have a cat largely for solo floats (fishing and whitewater). If I were guiding 2 anglers I wouldn't think of taking it- I'd switch to my Zephyr

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Discussion Starter #19
Small overloaded cat is not gonna row the way you want. You'd be better off in a 14' raft with the load you've described. Why a cat? I have a cat largely for solo floats (fishing and whitewater). If I were guiding 2 anglers I wouldn't think of taking it- I'd switch to my Zephyr

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I appreciate the your thoughts and yes, if I was guiding I'm sure I'd buy a 13'6" Streamtech Salmonfly (having spent a day rowing one--it's SWEET!). But 1/4-1/2 of my time is spend just going from gravel bar to gravel bar on Class III alone or with another and a light load steelheading. There might be 1-2 trips a year with 2 people (or even just myself) on a multi-day trip. And I've not made up my mind--I may end up with a 14' raft--just that the cats I've rowed are much more nimble than the rafts. As someone with modest experience who anticipates doing Class IV (not a lot, but regularly) I somehow think I'll do better with a cat.
 

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You are right- just bear in mind that as you load that cat, that light and maneuverable feel will go away. The raft will maintain a more consistent feel regardless

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