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Discussion Starter #1
I'm considering purchasing a raft for fly fishing. I'm looking at the Aire Super Puma, NRS Otter, and Down River Adventure. My questions re these boats are:

1. What's the best overall fishing rig for floating the Ark, Colorado, and similar rivers?
2. What's the most stable boat?
3. Is the Super Puma spacious enough for three guys on an overnight trip?
4. Should I be considering any other boats in this price point?

Thanks for your thoughts.
 

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Super Puma is way too small for three guys on an overnighter. They are super narrow and they have really small tubes. If you are thinking about ovenight trips, I would go with a 14ft boat. I recently had this debate and ended up going with a 14ft over a 13ft and have zero regrets. I also struggled with what brand to go with and wound up choosing a Saturn. I am an old Hyside guy, but I just couldn't ignore the fact that I could get a raft, trailer, frame, and a 5 year warranty for less than it would cost for just the boat from the other manufacturers. Again, no regrets on that decision either. With the boats you mentioned, the Aire will be the least stable.
 

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otter 14' length, 6'6" width (142 maybe?) perfect setup for fishing and river running - small enough for smaller rivers of CO and WY but big enough for larger western rivers. bighorn 2 frame, cooler up front, box in the back. plenty of room left for three people and their gear. it works well for me and is at a great price point when compared to similar maravias and sotars.
 

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Look into the vanguards - alot of fishermen are going this route. Good price point, bomber PVC. The reason so many Vanguards are being used as a fishing platform is the floor - it is super stiff, so much so that casting platforms are not needed in these boats, saves weight and $$. I love mine - fun to row, great to fish from. Have a 14ft., good sized boat. Vanguard does make a 15 ft version, same dimensions as the 14ft raft, just 10" longer - I would've got one of these if one had been available, just a little more room for gear.
 

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I concur w/ watermonkey. Picked up a 14' vanguard a few years ago. I don't have all the frame accessories for fly fishing but with the bighorn frame it holds all the gear for multi-day trips and with the stiff floor it makes fly fishing work. One thing that I need to get is a thigh bar in the back. A little tough for the person in the back to get a good stance for fishing all day. Took it on the upper colorado for two nights of camping, 3 people and 2 labs and had room to make it all happen. The PVC and wrap around the perimeter makes it bomb proof.
 

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I liked my 13' boat for fishing, but for all around river trips I have a 14' now- it's a lot nicer on longer trips, but if I was doing mostly day trips and a couple short overnighters, I'd still have the 13' boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the feedback. I'll do some research on Vanguard rafts. Anyone know anything about the Super Duper Puma?
 

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sd puma

Thanks for the feedback. I'll do some research on Vanguard rafts. Anyone know anything about the Super Duper Puma?

super duper puma is a great 3 person fishing boat and will handle overnites for three persons depending on the water you run and how you rig the boat. if you want an angler both front and rear on overnights, then the rower really needs to sit on a cooler (as opposed to a tractor seat) or you will be fighting for space. with a table/drop bag across the front for two people to sit on and the rear for gear, this set up will do extended trips for three comfortably.

i wouldn't waste money on floors and bars for standing up to fish on a super or s/d puma, it is not only unecessary but makes it much more difficult to get in and out. standing is for driftboats and people learning to fish/cast. a puma will take you through places that you can't get a drift boat through and if you don't pile tons of extra frame parts on it, you can carry/drag it in or out of places that you can't get a trailer to.

if your a bird hunter or have dogs, rafts are way easier to get dogs in and out of and the boat won't tip from side to side when two dogs go back and forth-which mine always do.

as a fishing guide i have the luxury of being able to justify owning 3 rafts, 2 cats and a drift boat. if i had to own one boat it would be the s/d puma with an nrs frame because of it's versatility and ease of adjustment.
 

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If you aren't doing anything bigger than class III you might consider a bucket boat. They fit more gear and make standing up to fish easier, in that the floor being lower puts the tubes closer to your knees so you can brace against it, and makes it so the seat is closer to your butt so you don't have to struggle so much to sit down and stand up. Plus, buckets are way cheaper, easier to maintain (no PR valves), and less expensive to repair the floor if you rip it. I have been guiding out of star buckets (eastern star) for eight years, and
I love how comfortable it feels with the lower floor. Plus, you can stand up and row easily. I have yet to row a bailer that I can stand straight up in and row ( I'm 6'3''). And, you can take a bucket in rowdy water, but you gotta have your passangers ready to bail! Don't get me wrong, I love my aire bailers, but if you aren't running anything big you don't need to spend the extra $!
 

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super duper puma is a great 3 person fishing boat and will handle overnites for three persons depending on the water you run and how you rig the boat. if you want an angler both front and rear on overnights, then the rower really needs to sit on a cooler (as opposed to a tractor seat) or you will be fighting for space. with a table/drop bag across the front for two people to sit on and the rear for gear, this set up will do extended trips for three comfortably.

i wouldn't waste money on floors and bars for standing up to fish on a super or s/d puma, it is not only unecessary but makes it much more difficult to get in and out. standing is for driftboats and people learning to fish/cast. a puma will take you through places that you can't get a drift boat through and if you don't pile tons of extra frame parts on it, you can carry/drag it in or out of places that you can't get a trailer to.

if your a bird hunter or have dogs, rafts are way easier to get dogs in and out of and the boat won't tip from side to side when two dogs go back and forth-which mine always do.

as a fishing guide i have the luxury of being able to justify owning 3 rafts, 2 cats and a drift boat. if i had to own one boat it would be the s/d puma with an nrs frame because of it's versatility and ease of adjustment.
This is horrible advice, all of it. NRS fishing frames BLOW - their thigh braces hit you in the knee cap instead of the thigh, their oar towers suck, no good place for a cooler (and sitting on the cooler blows). Besides all of that, their "off the shelf" approach to building frames means you'll probably end up with a poor fitting frame at best. As for the whole "forget the floors and thigh braces" advice, again, horrible.

Do yourself a favor and spend your frame dollars locally, there's no less than 5 outfits in the state of CO all building fishing frames that are far superior to NRS in every respect.
 

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... there's no less than 5 outfits in the state of CO all building fishing frames that are far superior to NRS in every respect.
Except cost, most are twice as expensive. Also for those of use that are out-of-staters, shipping cost of those frames increase cost even more. However, I agree that the NRS thigh braces blow, but I have yet to find one that I really "love". Heck I was in a hyde drifter the other day and their lean station thingbobber blew too, hit me just above the knees (5'11).
 

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This is horrible advice, all of it. NRS fishing frames BLOW - their thigh braces hit you in the knee cap instead of the thigh, their oar towers suck, no good place for a cooler (and sitting on the cooler blows). Besides all of that, their "off the shelf" approach to building frames means you'll probably end up with a poor fitting frame at best. As for the whole "forget the floors and thigh braces" advice, again, horrible.

Do yourself a favor and spend your frame dollars locally, there's no less than 5 outfits in the state of CO all building fishing frames that are far superior to NRS in every respect.
i don't disagree that their fishing frames suck. i had one once and stripped it down to a basic whitewater frame with a full wrap thigh bar in the front my rear fisherman sat on the back tube, and it worked way better in that mode than it did in the fishing frame mode.

as far as local frames, i don't think any of them are better than any of the NRS WW frames. they're all too heavy and WAY too expensive, IMO. i look for weight (for carry-ins and ease of rowing on skinny rivers), ease and versatility for setup, and cost. for me, NRS fit the bill for all of these. i especially do not like the DRE frames because they're like rowing a boat full of lead down the river.

and i don't think any of the knee-hook and standing platform bullshit is really necessary if you have good fishermen in your boat and a good oarsman on the sticks. if you want all of that shit, then row a drift boat. it just makes your boat heavier, and the fish can see your fishermen more easily.
 

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I have a 13' SB Vanguard for sale. I like the stiff floor. It makes standing easy and without a casting platform. The stiff floor also make punching through large holes and standing waves much easier, and the 13' is also great on smaller rivers that larger boats struggle on, like the Eagle River. The 13' is also much more stable than the narrower boats like the Pumas, making them better in bigger water. After rowing most all other major brands rafts I just bought another Vanguard. As far as frames go, I like modular frames due to the many different setups I run. Float, Fly Fish, White Water, and Gear Boat, the NRS seems to do it all. I can sell my Vanguard with a NRS basic frame or with a full NRS fishing frame. I'd like to get $1900. for my raft and depending on what you might want for a frame, I can figure something out for you. I have lots of extra stuff so let me know what you need.
Let me know if you are interested. 970/445-7844 Gabe
 

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i don't disagree that their fishing frames suck. i had one once and stripped it down to a basic whitewater frame with a full wrap thigh bar in the front my rear fisherman sat on the back tube, and it worked way better in that mode than it did in the fishing frame mode.

as far as local frames, i don't think any of them are better than any of the NRS WW frames. they're all too heavy and WAY too expensive, IMO. i look for weight (for carry-ins and ease of rowing on skinny rivers), ease and versatility for setup, and cost. for me, NRS fit the bill for all of these. i especially do not like the DRE frames because they're like rowing a boat full of lead down the river.

and i don't think any of the knee-hook and standing platform bullshit is really necessary if you have good fishermen in your boat and a good oarsman on the sticks. if you want all of that shit, then row a drift boat. it just makes your boat heavier, and the fish can see your fishermen more easily.

i agree, standing is for beginners who can't cast. i sold my nrs thigh bar to a rookie in littleton. last i saw he had the thing at his knee caps and couldn't figure out how to use a half inch adjustment wrench. sorry this got turned into a frame debate.
 

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Except cost, most are twice as expensive. Also for those of use that are out-of-staters, shipping cost of those frames increase cost even more. However, I agree that the NRS thigh braces blow, but I have yet to find one that I really "love". Heck I was in a hyde drifter the other day and their lean station thingbobber blew too, hit me just above the knees (5'11).
Well, either buy nice or buy twice. As for out of staters, are NRS frames less costly to ship? Anyone have any idea where NRS frames are made (I'll venture a guess it's not the U.S. of A). Call me old fashioned but I'll pay more for a superior product from a local business any day.
 

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I have found with frames, that with my first boat it took a year or two to figure out how I actually wanted the boat configured, my tall size, gear etc. regardless of the frame company......but my 14' hyside which gets mostly fishing use (it is still pretty tight with four people geared up for a several day overnighter trip) has an NRS frame which is fine and was way cheap!....but I did have Downriver build a front floor for fishing (yes better than the NRS fishing floors, though I didn't have a front floor of any kind before the DRE one) and AAA modified the NRS thigh brace and added "horns"......still a lot cheaper total price than a new Downriver complete fishing frame........though a custom Downriver is "very nice"....every time we go into Downriver, my 13y/o son asks why we didn't get a "cool" Downriver package right from the start [?!$] ......both Downriver and AAA will do modifications to NRS size frame pieces....(remember that DRE typically builds with the larger pipe size than NRS does)......IMHO, Chet
 

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I like my NRS fishing frame. With the purchase of some pipe from NRS, I can swap out the front fishing seat with a straight bar using the same lo-pro's, giving me multiple choices for configuring the front end at minimal cost. When not using the fishing seat, i put the straight bar in and strap down a recretec table over a drop bag- both setups can still utilize the full wrap thigh bar which I think works great without modifications - horns cause bruises and are just another thing to hang line up on. I got my raft/NRS frame as a package deal - it's a lot more expensive to upgrade than downgrade. If you want to set up an anchor system, you pretty much need the stern seat anyway. I don't use a thigh bar in the back, just cast from seated since you are sitting up high. Have fun setting up your rig - that's half the fun of it all. I've seen beautiful custom fishing frames coming out of Riverboatworks and Flyraftfish out of Basalt - really expensive, really heavy, but really cool - just overkill if you're not a guide and making a living out of your raft.
 

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I have a 14' Star (I forgot which model, but its not the Wonderbug) bucket boat and it seams to be the right size. I built a hybrid frame using NRS parts (front and rear seats, footbar, casting platforms and anchor system), t-fittings from frontierplay.com, and I bought 1.6" aluminum pipe from a local metal supply store. If you really want to save $, you can use the frontierplay fittings with galvanized fence posts. I originally built mine that way, then gradually upgraded to aluminum over a 3 year period. Now I'm fully set up with all aluminum and quite happy with it. My rowers seat swings over the top of the cooler and I have a drop bag in front under the front high-rise seat. I use it on the Green, Colorado (Glenwood to New Castle), and lower Gunnison (below Pleasure Park). Great set-up.

I know this is an old thread, but I'm new to this forum.
 
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