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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm planning to buy a SOTAR cat for multi-purpose use. Feels like 15' is about the right length. But I'm a bit torn on the shape options. I haven't owned a cat before, but have rowed them. Just wondering if folks see much difference in performance between the ST and the Legend tube shapes? Catarafts

We don't do a lot of 3-day-+ trips, though this boat may get down a longer trip if I get a permit! But we run a lot of class IV, some class V. We will use the boat on day trips and multi-day trips, so I wonder if I will want two separate frames.

I'm also debating tube diameter; 22" vs. 24".

I'm leaning towards the more standard-looking ST. I like the long lines, and seems like it'd be easier to load/pack, etc. without the upkicked ends in the way.

I wonder if the Legend, with curved ends, won't be more appropriate for the harder trips? I'm thinking of South Fork Salmon or Illiinois, for example.

I don't have much interest in the SL.

I think Aire, Maravia, and Wing make very fine boats. But I've been a SOTAR fan since I started boating so long ago. And I like the folks there.

Happy to hear your genuine opinions on the performance of these designs and cat tube shapes in general.
 

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I have a 14' wave destroyer. Big fan of smaller cats with a lot of kick, they seem to handle bigger holes better. That being said I would lean towards the legend and at least 24" tubes if you want to haul some gear. As for the frame, for what you described you might consider a sport frame and removable cargo modules.
 

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Over the years I've used and owned a variety of cats-starting back in 1993 doing guide training trips on the Upper Animas and Piedra using Jacks Plastic 16'ers. I've owned 2 16' Aire Jaguarundis 1 14' Aire Ocelot, and now I own a Sotar Legend 12'6 w/22" tubes.

It sounds like for your needs, a 15' Sotar ST cat w/24" tubes would be perfect for all around use. If you're leaning more towards class 4-5 stuff, consider the 15' Legend-its a big cat-might not track as well as an ST due to the increased rocker...

My 2nd generation Aire Jag was similar in design to the Sotar ST cat-with continuous curve tubes and moderate rocker. I took that boat on many different rivers: the Salt, Upper Kern, Upper Animas, Piedra, Taos Box, Grand Canyon, Cataract, Dolores, San Miguel, Arkansas, Lochsa, Selway... super versatile design-not too big, not too small-the Jag had 24" tubes and they worked well. IMO, a cat is more forgiving than a round boat and generally out-performs one in all but loaded, multi-day trips like the Grand.

My Legend is a great little boat, but like you mentioned, it is more of a class 4/5 boat. I've done 8 trips with it so far on the South Fork Salmon-ranging in flows from low to medium/high flows. The boat punches and floats up over giant breakers and holes exceptionally well. In comparison, my old Ocelot would sub out more in the bigger, steep drops and then require precious seconds to resurface and become maneuverable. I use a Payette River Equipment frame with it and also have a trailer frame. I've done the Selway, MFS, along with simple overnighters on class 3,4,5 stuff around Colorado.

Hope that helps- cats are great-especially for shorter trips- enjoy the quest- always exciting getting a new boat!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Great advice, and ideal from a guy who's got the gear. Thank you!

I have a 14' wave destroyer. Big fan of smaller cats with a lot of kick, they seem to handle bigger holes better. That being said I would lean towards the legend and at least 24" tubes if you want to haul some gear. As for the frame, for what you described you might consider a sport frame and removable cargo modules.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Amazing, thorough advice right here. I really appreciate this, and it's precisely the reason I asked, being new to the cat game.
From video I've seen, looks like South Fork Salmon is the perfect multi-day cataraft test piece.
Thanks so much!

Over the years I've used and owned a variety of cats-starting back in 1993 doing guide training trips on the Upper Animas and Piedra using Jacks Plastic 16'ers. I've owned 2 16' Aire Jaguarundis 1 14' Aire Ocelot, and now I own a Sotar Legend 12'6 w/22" tubes.

It sounds like for your needs, a 15' Sotar ST cat w/24" tubes would be perfect for all around use. If you're leaning more towards class 4-5 stuff, consider the 15' Legend-its a big cat-might not track as well as an ST due to the increased rocker...

My 2nd generation Aire Jag was similar in design to the Sotar ST cat-with continuous curve tubes and moderate rocker. I took that boat on many different rivers: the Salt, Upper Kern, Upper Animas, Piedra, Taos Box, Grand Canyon, Cataract, Dolores, San Miguel, Arkansas, Lochsa, Selway... super versatile design-not too big, not too small-the Jag had 24" tubes and they worked well. IMO, a cat is more forgiving than a round boat and generally out-performs one in all but loaded, multi-day trips like the Grand.

My Legend is a great little boat, but like you mentioned, it is more of a class 4/5 boat. I've done 8 trips with it so far on the South Fork Salmon-ranging in flows from low to medium/high flows. The boat punches and floats up over giant breakers and holes exceptionally well. In comparison, my old Ocelot would sub out more in the bigger, steep drops and then require precious seconds to resurface and become maneuverable. I use a Payette River Equipment frame with it and also have a trailer frame. I've done the Selway, MFS, along with simple overnighters on class 3,4,5 stuff around Colorado.

Hope that helps- cats are great-especially for shorter trips- enjoy the quest- always exciting getting a new boat!
 

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I have and row a 15'6" elite st sotar 24' tubes. I love it. It has been on just about every run in the western US. Just did a 8 day Main salmon run and never touched a pump. 14 years old and it is so stable (or lucky) that it has never been on its top. It is fun to row when not the main gear boat with 2 or more passengers. photos of GC attached.
Grand Canyon 2010 265.jpg
Grand Canyon 2010 275a.jpg
Grand Canyon 2010 277.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wonderful pictures and huge holes!
I'm going to go a little smaller as our California rivers are lower volume.
Still, I am psyched about getting a cat. Thanks!

I have and row a 15'6" elite st sotar 24' tubes. I love it. It has been on just about every run in the western US. Just did a 8 day Main salmon run and never touched a pump. 14 years old and it is so stable (or lucky) that it has never been on its top. It is fun to row when not the main gear boat with 2 or more passengers. photos of GC attached.
 

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I have always had a cat. I started with a 14' Jack's Plastic. LOVED that boat. Big tubes and easy to handle but a bit heavy. I then went to a 16' Aire Jaguarundi. I very much enjoyed that boat and it made many trips down Hells Canyon, Main Salmon, Middle Fork, the Yampa, etc. I have a 16' Aire DD round boat for family trips. I decided to get rid of my Jag and get a light cat for teaching the kids and for my crazy spring runs down the Middle Fork. I was leaning toward SOTAR. Great boats. I ended up going with a 14' Aire Wave Destroyer instead. I don't need to list my reasons but it doesn't have ANYTHING to do with Aire vs SOTAR as I feel both are awesome and you cannot go wrong. Before going with the Wave Destroyer I was leaning toward the Legend.
One thing that I do with my cats is maintain two frames: One NRS frame so I can pack a few more things when necessary and one "play" frame for the spring trips and the kids to train on. I can lift the Wave Destroyer up and put it on my trailer without any help when the play frame is on it. The NRS provides more flexibility and carrying capacity but it is heavier and I have to drag it onto the trailer.

EDIT: Thought I would throw a gratuitous picture on of Pistol at 5.8'
Middle Fork 2020.jpg
:
 

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I like this thread. I own a 2004 14'x23" Elite SP (same as the ST but in the limited edition tan color) and a 2015 12.5'x22.5" Legend. Both are great boats. The 14' SP shines as a multi-day rig for just me or a day rig with a passenger, or two. Class 4 is no problem. The 12.5' Legend is my solo play boat and go-to boat as long as I don't have to carry too much. It does easily carry enough gear for shorter multi-day trips without losing its sportiness. My frame for the 14' SP is longer (2 bays behind the rower's cockpit) than my frame for the 12.5' Legend (one bay behind the rower's cockpit). A sport frame with a trailer frame is a great option for cats.

Both of these cats are the "standard" Sotar tube diameters. Personally, I don't see the need to upsize the tube diameter. If more capacity is needed, get one that is longer (just my opinion). For multi-day trips with a passenger, a 15.5' version of either style would be the ticket. A friend of mine had the SL cat and wasn't a fan.

Zipkruse, before buying, I suggest calling Ted Day at Payette River Equipment (PRE). Ted has worked closely with Sotar on tube design and will give you the low down on tubes and help guide you toward the appropriate cat for your needs. Like dgoods, I run PRE frames. Ron at PRE builds a great frame, custom made to your specs. I have no affiliation with PRE; just a fan.

I think that an ideal all-around Sotar cat would be a 14'x23" Legend. Not as sporty as the 12.5', but more carrying capacity. Dial in a sport frame with a trailer frame and you are set for day and multi-day trips. I am attaching a few pictures for comparative purposes.

Stacked 14' SP and 12.5' Legend
61222


14' SP rigged on a multi-day San Juan trip.
61223


12.5' Legend rigged on a multi-day Cataract Canyon trip.
61224


12.5' Legend ready to get wet on the Upper Animas.
61225
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Loved your photo and terrific advice. I was thinking of getting two frames, as well, or a modular with separate pieces. Love the idea of a day frame and extended trip frame.
I was considering the Aire, which seems cheaper. But I've always hated the idea of the zippers and bladders. Seems unnecessary when no one else uses them.
Wonderful advice, all! Thanks!

I have always had a cat. I started with a 14' Jack's Plastic. LOVED that boat. Big tubes and easy to handle but a bit heavy. I then went to a 16' Aire Jaguarundi. I very much enjoyed that boat and it made many trips down Hells Canyon, Main Salmon, Middle Fork, the Yampa, etc. I have a 16' Aire DD round boat for family trips. I decided to get rid of my Jag and get a light cat for teaching the kids and for my crazy spring runs down the Middle Fork. I was leaning toward SOTAR. Great boats. I ended up going with a 14' Aire Wave Destroyer instead. I don't need to list my reasons but it doesn't have ANYTHING to do with Aire vs SOTAR as I feel both are awesome and you cannot go wrong. Before going with the Wave Destroyer I was leaning toward the Legend.
One thing that I do with my cats is maintain two frames: One NRS frame so I can pack a few more things when necessary and one "play" frame for the spring trips and the kids to train on. I can lift the Wave Destroyer up and put it on my trailer without any help when the play frame is on it. The NRS provides more flexibility and carrying capacity but it is heavier and I have to drag it onto the trailer.

EDIT: Thought I would throw a gratuitous picture on of Pistol at 5.8'
 
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