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Rocky Mountain Range Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Post fishing reports, ask for information, discuss this area...

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Old 01-04-2013, 11:53 PM
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Default Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Hey everyone, I'm looking into buying a raft and don't really know where to start. I wouldn't mind finding something used for the right price if anyone is selling, but am not opposed to something new. I have been searching online and on craigslist but haven't really found much. Does anyone know of any companies that sell pre-fabricated rafts specifically for fishing besides Outcast or will I have to buy a frame and raft separately? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

If you can get to the Denver fly fishing show, it is this weekend at the Merchant Mart, then I think it is the Intn'l Sportsmans Show the weekend of Jan 18 in Denver.......you will see lots of choices there. You might also look at Dave Scaddens NFO boats which are top of the line.
North Fork Outdoors
NRS sells rafts and frames, but I think you have to buy separately, but not sure. Boats & Inflatables at NRSweb.com

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Old 01-05-2013, 09:56 PM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

before dropping a bunch of cash consider a few things...First and foremost, what are you fishing for and where. I have owned a two man pontoon, which was great for Upper Colorado small rivers. I have a NRS raft now...which is great for floating Montana rivers. I also own an inflatable Kayak...which is great for rivers.

So before spending the money consider the purpose.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:17 AM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

I owned a raft for a few years before making the transition to a drift boat after I moved to a more drift boat friendly area. A shameless plug for RM Rafts in Colorado Springs- those guys will hook you up! Saturn makes a solid raft and I put 100+ days on mine with not even a hint of a leak. Don't worry about the whole PVC/Hyphalon debate if you aren't planning on opening a rafting outfit and being on the river 150 days per season.

I managed to setup my raft inexpensively by going with a 13' Saturn and adding an NRS frame. The NRS frames are a bit pricy, but they are fantastic because of how customizable they are. They are also extremely lightweight and durable aluminum, which I loved. I beat the heck out of my raft and it was in great shape after 3 full seasons.

In short, do your research and stay within your budget. There are a ton of great boats out there, but don't overspend. It can be done on a tight budget, and raft trailers are easy to find on Craigslist if you go that route.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:33 AM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Hi Greenback Guru:

I've been just researching that.

First, I learned that rivers have "classification" from I (one) the slow easy, to VI (six) wild and rough.

So if you get something to drift in, learn of its rating.

My final decision after a week of research and dialogue with fishermen, was to get a Pontoon float tube, and row around in that.

My other option was a Kayak Hybrid, and you can find lots of models available to fit your budget. The auction sites sell lots of these things and your searches should be lots of fun.

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Old 01-06-2013, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Definitely do your research as there are a few things to consider, the first being whether a raft or a drift boat would better suit you. I spent months researching a raft before finally deciding Id be better off with a drift boat. There are a few different materials used in rafts and they each seem to have their advantages/disadvantages. One thing to watch for is whether the seams are welded or glued, glued being found on cheaper boats(Saturn is one that comes to mind). Alot of the less expensive boats(Saturn, Rocky Mountain Raft) are made overseas while the more expensive(higher end?) rafts like Maravia and the NRS Otters are produced in the US. That may not be a consideration of yours but personally thats important to me. The top of the line rafts seem to be from Streamtech (streamtechboats.com). This is a whitewater capable boat using a Maravia built raft. The whole thing is designed specifically for fishing, unlike almost all the other "fishing rafts" being sold. Another thing to watch for is whether the frame is steel or aluminum. Like most things in life you get what you pay for so do your research and make an informed decision you wont regret.

Im not a fan of the Outcast rafts because they use an air bladder within an outer "shell". While I havent seen the Outcast PACs up close I do have a two man pontoon with a similar bladder/shell setup and consider it a huge pain to make repairs should you need to. Inner bladders mean zippers to access the bladder and the zippers allow water between the shell and bladder. Also, grit such as sand tends to slow zipper function.

There are quite a few companies offering fishing rafts. Some that come to mind are NRS, Jacks Plastic Welding, Star Inflatables, Rocky Mountain Rafts, Saturn, and Streamtech among others. Streamtech gets my vote and is what I was going to get before deciding on a drift boat.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:05 PM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Thanks for all the imput! I am going with a raft for a few different reasons. Mainly they have a solid closed floor, which is why Im not going with a cat. The other reason being that I owned a drift boat for a few years and had a few hairy moments on the river with it, I do live in Colorado after all LOL! I really do like the Salmonfly by Streamtech but its a bit out of the budget @9,000 dollars. I think after a ton of research I May buy the San Juan frame by Downriver and put it on an Aire Super Puma or something similar. That project should fall in the 5,000-7,000 dollar range depending on how fancy I want to make It.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:37 PM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenback guru View Post
Thanks for all the imput! I am going with a raft for a few different reasons. Mainly they have a solid closed floor, which is why Im not going with a cat. The other reason being that I owned a drift boat for a few years and had a few hairy moments on the river with it, I do live in Colorado after all LOL! I really do like the Salmonfly by Streamtech but its a bit out of the budget @9,000 dollars. I think after a ton of research I May buy the San Juan frame by Downriver and put it on an Aire Super Puma or something similar. That project should fall in the 5,000-7,000 dollar range depending on how fancy I want to make It.
One thing about the Salmonfly is that those are some big tubes with a pretty severe kick. If you are on slow water where wind is an issue that can have a big impact.
My first raft was a 14' Odyssey bucket boat. The tubes were 18 or 19" and gave the raft a pretty low profile. It was by far and away the best 14 foot or larger boat for dealing with the wind than any raft or drift boat that I've been in.

One very important aspect about rafts compared to drift boats (in my opinion) is that they go ANYWHERE. From big whitewater to really small, tight streams where you have to carry the raft in or break it down and carry it and then put it back together on the river. You can portage them easily as long as they aren't too big.

A Super Puma will handle good sized whitewater and get into some very small rivers.
Stream access in Colorado probably prohibits taking advantage of some of those perks but if you ever come up to Montana or Idaho you can take full advantage of a raft that size.

I have a DRE frame on my latest raft, a Maravia Williwa 1. It has the San Juan frame with a bunch of extras.
DRE's anchor system is perfect. I love it compared to the NRS. It won't slip ever and the rope is inside the tubes for the most part so it's out of the way.

If you go with DRE you are going to want to figure out cooler placement and most likely what kind of cooler so they can make a perfect fit. This is REALLY important if you want a good sized and quality cooler and something to consider in advance of ordering the frame. Some aspects of the frame won't be adjustable and you may not be able to fit the cooler you want in the future if you can't afford it now or don't already have one. You may decide you want an Engel or a Yeti down the road.
Canyon makes some good raft coolers that are a little cheaper (if they are still around).

The same goes for a dry box. They can custom make them any size but once you order it you'll be stuck with it.

Here's a shot of my boat on it's maiden voyage.
Click the image to open in full size.

I ended up moving the dry box to under the captains chair and I bought a Yeti for under the front flip seat. I had to move some frame parts around and modfy the flanges that the dry box sits on to make it fit. I had to get the flip seat cut and rewelded to fit the Yeti in. Had I figured this all out before hand I would have saved myself some money and some headaches but it all fits like a glove now and I'm very happy with it. It could end up being the last raft I own.

I can't say enough good things about Maravia. I definitly prefer them over NRS for the floor alone. It's drop stitched and flat and when inflated it's super hard and stable. You can easily stand on it.

If you end up having a stand up for the Puma you might consider the no-snag handles you see on the front of mine. They really work well and are a vast improvement over the posts you see in the back.

Also if you are going to get a front standup you might want to spring for a floor. They show one in the picture for the San Juan but if I recall correctly it's extra cash.
Also the distance from the floor to the stand up bar is critical.
My standup bar was a bit too high for shorter people and I ended up modifying that after the fact which was a pain. I raised the floor by cutting the tubes to the floor by 3 inches. That was something I think they should have considered or noticed as they had the raft and custom fit the frame but whatever, nobody's perfect.

I realize I'm going on forever here but since DRE does custom frame fittings these are some serious heads up. I absolutely LOVE the final result. It's a good sized boat but I wanted something that I could do long river trips on in comfort yet still keep the overall size at 14' so I could seriously fish.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have. The guys at DRE do a great job but they sort of expect you to have it together when you order.
They may have a set plan for Super Pumas so some of this might not be an issue.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:01 AM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Blackbugger: Very good info. Would you be willing to divulge the total cost it took to build the raft in the pic? With frame/seats, floor and all? Thx.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:00 PM
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Default Re: Float Fishing Colorado/Wyoming

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4peace1piece View Post
Blackbugger: Very good info. Would you be willing to divulge the total cost it took to build the raft in the pic? With frame/seats, floor and all? Thx.
The initial frame was the San Juan;

3 bay rowing frame
oar towers
kick bar (to put your feet on when rowing)
front standup with horns
poly deck
anchor system with swivel seat

That all came to $1874.95

I opted out of the front poly deck and got the front flip seat so I could stick a cooler or dry box under it. some people mount a chair on a strong cooler or dry box. I wanted to be able to take a cooler or dry box out with out a seat on it.
this seemed like a good solution but I should have worked out the logistics better before I ordered it. I told them to put the dry box in front (another custom piece made to fit) and I should have had them put it under the captains seat.
You end up going into the cooler a whole lot more than the dry box and the rower doesn't want to have to deal with that.
That meant that the cooler needed about 3 more inches up front which meant the flip seat bracket needed to be 3" longer hence the re-weld.
The captains chair, which also flips, couldn't really be lengthened or shortened so I had to lengthen the flanges for the dry box so it would properly rest on the rails.
Had I figured that all out before hand I would have saved myself some work.

I changed the horns out for no-snags.

I got the deluxe swivel seat for the front which was a waste of money. Super uncomfortable, makes you feel like you're going to slide out of the seat and I hhad to take that apart and carve the foam into more usable seat, everyone made a point of telling me how much the front seat sucked.
I should have just gone with their regular seat which is far more comfortable and cheaper.

Dry box.

The anchor system was upgraded to 2:1 ratio. Just an extra fitting so the rope goes through a pully attached to the anchor and makes it easier to pull up (girlfriend)

Diamond plate floor for the front ( no floor in back, just the raft floor)
The floor and the dry box were spendy at $400 and $490 apiece.

Rear stand up and horns.

Stripping basket.
I was dubious about this piece but thought I would spend the money as long as I was spending money trying to make the best raft setup I could think of.
I'm glad I got it. It works great casting to river right, front and slightly river left.
If you turn 90 degrees to the left facing the bank it's useless, you just drop your strips onto the floor.
It is also handy for setting your fly rod in and whatever else you need to throw in the raft in a hurry, fly boxes, beers, gloves etc. I'm surprised how convenient it is for throwing things in
including the net with a fish in it if you have a difficult hook to get out.

I bought the Maravia through DRE since they needed the raft to fit all the pieces the way I wanted. It's all custom bent and welded to fit perfectly. The front stand up should have been shorter as I said before but that was the only issue.
They called me several times to ask questions about how I wanted certain things.

So, the raft was $5419.00

The San Juan was $1874.95

Shipping was $300.00

All the custom stuff was $1579

Total of $9173.00

WITHOUT oars, cooler, anchor..I think that's it.

Another cool thing about that front standup is that if you unstrap the bar from the raft and remove the casting basket bracket (allen wrench, less than a minute), the whole thing folds back into the rowers space. It fits perfect and is out of the way and under your feet if rowing. Perfect for sitting and casting hoppers and salmonflies.

I've also bought some poly deck and cut pieces to add flat space to set stuff on either side of the rower seat and front seat. I also made recessed drink holders in those pieces. They are held on with heavy duty cable ties.
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