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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking to buy a raft in the next month or so. I live in Whitefish MT. I have a WF Clacka DB now and use it everywhere from the MO, the ELK in BC, to the main stem of the Flathead River. For the most part it will be me and my wife and dog. I want to get a fishing frame for it, dont plan on getting casting platforms as I want to keep the weight to a minimum and have less things to get tangled on. A drop stitch floor would be nice to stand on.



I am not a whitewater enthusiast who will be searching out class 4+ waves. However, I want to be able to handle the 3-4 class stuff if I have to while I'm fishing. Shallow drafting is more important to me as well as not being a wind sail. The wind tends to come upstream on the Flathead and there are some slow sections you have to row through.



I am looking for something that I can use on the upper parts of the NF of the flathead, south fork of the flathead, as well as to fly into Schafer Meadows and float the middle fork for 3 days. I'm hopeful (arent we all) to draw a Smith or Salmon river permit as well. I tend to camp light and have overnighted out of a Skaggen tandem kayak before with her.



I am leaning hard towards a SOTAR Strike, probably 13-6. My budget is right at $10k so I am hoping to find something used and save some money if possible. There are a few complete packages on FB now for 2 different Strikes as well as a AIRE Super Puma that have caught my eye. My buddy has a Maravia Diablo that I could get a good deal on as well. ALso really like the looks of the AIRE 136 DD.
 

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Have you talked to John down at BRO in Missoula? He's guided anglers out of that boat in MT and has it pretty dialed in as far as set up goes. They are having their annual Gear Swap on March 2nd, I'll be there with the trailer and headed up to Whitefish afterwords to hit the mountain for some knuckle draggin' - how's the snow?
 

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The 136DD has similar design goals to the Strike, even though it has a very different looking design. I will be letting mine go pretty soon but loved it. Tons of room inside, and its long flat hull makes it float high in the water so it will do really well for small shallow rivers. I took mine down the Grand Canyon, but I've also used it for day trips and its great for both. I'm not a fisherman, but the only downside I can think of with the 136DD is that its not very tall in the front and so not much for a passenger to lean on when fishing.

SOTAR does make a great raft and its hard not to consider one. They are definitely a bit spendy, but seem to be worth it. Same with the Maravia stuff.

If I'm honest... they are a bit spendy even compared to SOTAR, but after a discussion on facebook with a dude... I was sorely tempted to cancel my order for a 146DD and order a Wing raft. Top of the line Urethane material that will last 3 lifetimes and is super stiff so it is fast, light, and punchy. May be a little overkill for a fishing raft though. At the end of the day, its was gonna be almost twice the price for a Wing vs. Aire...so I stuck with Aire. I may go the Wing route in the future though.
 

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Just call Blackfoot outfitters and ask for John. He invented the strike. Tell him what your intentions are and I’m sure he’ll give you an honest answer on if a strike would serve you correctly..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Have you talked to John down at BRO in Missoula? He's guided anglers out of that boat in MT and has it pretty dialed in as far as set up goes. They are having their annual Gear Swap on March 2nd, I'll be there with the trailer and headed up to Whitefish afterwords to hit the mountain for some knuckle draggin' - how's the snow?
Right now the snow is less than desirable. Its currently raining up there on the lower half of the mtn, high of 31 on top, and tomorrow its supposed to be -30 with the wind chill. Gonna be nasty.
 

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You want to use a raft designed for a fishing frame, and then not use the fishing frame. You will have a boat that neither excels at fishing nor whitewater. Determine your actual goals. If you want a fishable raft that can do class 4 then what you want imho, is just a regular whitewater raft with big tubes and a whitewater frame. If you want to do class 2-3 fishing trips you can get a strike and a full fishing frame. Easy to brace in say, an avon adventurer with a whitewater frame, and its easy to handle class 4 even 5. Overnight river trips often come with regulations which require certain items that might be better carried in a boat with more carry capacity like a whitewater raft. You didn't say but I would consider RMR, NRS, AVON, Hyside, Wing, Sotar, Aire, Maravia. You can use the DB on the easier water and use a whitewater raft for the rest?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You want to use a raft designed for a fishing frame, and then not use the fishing frame. You will have a boat that neither excels at fishing nor whitewater. Determine your actual goals. If you want a fishable raft that can do class 4 then what you want imho, is just a regular whitewater raft with big tubes and a whitewater frame. If you want to do class 2-3 fishing trips you can get a strike and a full fishing frame. Easy to brace in say, an avon adventurer with a whitewater frame, and its easy to handle class 4 even 5. Overnight river trips often come with regulations which require certain items that might be better carried in a boat with more carry capacity like a whitewater raft. You didn't say but I would consider RMR, NRS, AVON, Hyside, Wing, Sotar, Aire, Maravia. You can use the DB on the easier water and use a whitewater raft for the rest?
I have a drift boat for the majority of my fly fishing trips. The more that I think about it, the more that I think the main use of the raft will be for overnight trips with the wife and dog. I will be doing the most of the rowing, so an anchor system would be really nice so that I can stop and fish when I want. She made a request yesterday for a bimini top because she cant handle being in the sun all day. So that might put some limitations on the fishing frame.
 

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All those pieces including a bimini are modular, you can add or subtract depending on your trip. You can also just do an umbrella holder which is literally one fitting. A strike is great for fishing. IMHO that’s it, a whitewater raft does a lot more if you’re looking for that. Check out the hyside max 12, don’t have one but it’s small, light, and offers some cargo room. Might be great for two people and give you more room than a mini max. Big fan of hyside and their smaller boats. Save money and buy an RMR which will cost you some weight and be pvc if that matters to you.
 

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If you have a line on a Diablo for a good deal, it's a no brainer. It's just about perfect for what you are asking for. Absolutely doesn't give anything up to any boat listed and does most stuff better (other than rolling and storing).

You can have it all with frame set up. Not too hard to have a frame that quickly converts from decent fishing frame to multi day, including the bimini.
 

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I rowed a Sotar Strike (14 '6) up until this last summer when I finally moved up to a 16", wider boat to better haul my family of 4 + gear. For the first year, I would say I primarily used it for fishing with 2-3 multi-day trips per year. As my family started to really enjoy whitewater trips and I became more comfortable rowing I found myself on a lot of multiday trips. It is a great boat and I ran it fully loaded down lots of class 3/3+ and a few class 4 rapids without any issue (Rogue, Main and Lower Salmon, Deschutes, Grand Ronde, John Day). It had a frame from Montana Raft Frame which easily converted from fishing frame (with front and back elevated swivel seats, anchor system) to a more stripped down setup for hauling gear. I loved fishing out of this boat (though I did a lot more rowing than fishing), and particularly loved taking it on multiday fishing trips. It is great in the wind. The main reason I changed boats was simply the need for more space - in addition to our family of four we were often bringing one of my kids' friends. Fortunately, I sold the boat cheap to a friend with the understanding I could use it whenever he wasn't.

Really what I am saying is I think the Strike would be a great boat for you.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Leaning towards a Maravia 14 foot Willy Willy.

Really like the idea of a drop stitch floor in a fishing raft.

More than likely going to get a 14 footer vs 13.
 

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One thing to look at with the strike is number of chambers. Some only have two in the tubes. Not sure I’d want to run middle fork flathead with a three chamber boat. It is a wet ride in Whitewater but they say to turn it around and run it backwards in the heavy water. As much as I love the strike for fishing, I think I’d look at other options for multi use. Convertible multi use frame set up to take a Bimini.
 

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It’s been updated for 2018. Now has 5 chambers.
I have seen a 4 chamber last year. Didn’t know about the 5. Good call. I was questioning the thought process on the 3 chamber. I realize it has less line catchers but it would suck to get a puncture with some elderly clients and loose half your boat. They are by far my favorite fishing boat.
 

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“NEW FOR 2018! ALL Blackfoot Strikes come standard with FOUR air chambers in the main outside tube! Other standard features include welded I beam floor, standard 10 outside d-rings and 6 carry handles, patch kit and boat bag. Top chafe, thwarts, extra D-rings and other options are available on request”.
 

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if your doing some over nighters and a little fishing why buy something expensive like a Maravia, or a sotar, when a aire or tributary are just as good a boat with the inner liner, more protection from can openers. I have a Hyde contender that i had hyde modify for guiding, when im on bigger water or overnight guide trips iv always used a trib or I've had the aire both great boats. Im selling my trib and live in wf too. if interested pm me
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have decided to get a 14 foot Maravia Willy Willy. I have been talking to Gary from rowframe and he is designing me a frame.

Leaning heavily towards the Canyon Prospector 103 for a cooler.

Sawyer squaretops.

Found a decent used trailer locally that I can make work for $500
 
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