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Thread: Buy Raft? Help!

  1. Default Buy Raft? Help!

    I am looking for some help on purchasing a boat, specifically a raft. I have done a lot of research, I am aware of the pros/cons of rafts and drift boats.

    The boat I am looking at is an NRS Otter 13, with a frame and trailer. I know this boat will not track or row like a hard sided boat, which does concern me. I mainly plan to use it on slow moving rivers, that may have a few class 1 or 2 rapids. Will I find this boat too slow to try to row forwards to cover more water?

    I also would like the ability to put a motor on it. Has anyone ran an raft with a motor on the NRS mount? I am looking at a 5-6hp with an onboard gas reservoir.

    I also work for a fly shop, mainly as a store clerk, but also do some wade trip guiding. Our store already outfits two drift boat guides, but I am considering guiding floats as well. I would just get a drift boat for this reason, but I like the versatility and easy transport of a raft for selfish reasons. Would a raft be able to "compete" with drift boats as far as clients being satisfied with the trip? One of the guys that rows one of the driftboats says he would rather have a raft, but I am not so sure that clients would be as pleased fishing from a raft as they would a drift boat. Opinions?

    Do you guys with rafts really take them places where drift boats can't go (seems to be one of the selling points for rafts) or does this seem to be a plus on paper, but not really that big a deal in practice?

    Lastly, I have my eye on a particular boat, and would love some guidance as far as the price of the boat is concerned. If someone with some knowledge on pricing rafts could shoot me a PM, I'd like to bounce some questions and pricing off of you.

    Thanks,
    JD

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    JD
    Lots of things to think about when buying a boat, there is no right or wrong answer, it just depends on the water you most often float.
    For smooth water floats a drift boat will out perform a raft, mainly because it can easily row back up river on seams. By that I mean that you float/fish through a seam, then pull over on the slow side and row back up river and drift back and fish through that same seam. On rivers like the Grey Reef section of the North Platte it is not uncommon to row back up 10-12 times before proceeding down river. A drift boat will have a hard bottom making it more comfortable for the angler to stand up through the entire float and it usually has lots of rod storage so the angler can easily switch between dries, nymphing and streamer fishing.
    A raft will out perform a drift boat on streams with a lot of rocks, places where a drift boat just can't go, that is why in Colorado you see more rafts then drift boats. Usually a raft is limited on spare rod storage and you will need to get one with a hard floor or the angler will have trouble standing for long periods. A raft will out perform a drift boat on rivers with lots of rapids, say class 4 and up. Lots of pros and cons, only you can decide which is best in your situation.
    Larry


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  4. Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by mcnerney View Post
    JD
    Lots of things to think about when buying a boat, there is no right or wrong answer, it just depends on the water you most often float.
    For smooth water floats a drift boat will out perform a raft, mainly because it can easily row back up river on seams. By that I mean that you float/fish through a seam, then pull over on the slow side and row back up river and drift back and fish through that same seam. On rivers like the Grey Reef section of the North Platte it is not uncommon to row back up 10-12 times before proceeding down river. A drift boat will have a hard bottom making it more comfortable for the angler to stand up through the entire float and it usually has lots of rod storage so the angler can easily switch between dries, nymphing and streamer fishing.
    A raft will out perform a drift boat on streams with a lot of rocks, places where a drift boat just can't go, that is why in Colorado you see more rafts then drift boats. Usually a raft is limited on spare rod storage and you will need to get one with a hard floor or the angler will have trouble standing for long periods. A raft will out perform a drift boat on rivers with lots of rapids, say class 4 and up. Lots of pros and cons, only you can decide which is best in your situation.
    Thanks for the info, I am aware of the weaknesses of the raft platform, but I am still drawn to them just due to their portability. Is the NRS sluggish, even as far as rafts go? I have heard it referred to as a tank, which makes me think it may be a hard boat to row and maneuver.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    Raft portability is a huge plus. I have a drift boat and an NFO Rampage pontoon and when I'm fishing by myself the pontoon is hard to beat.
    Sorry I can't help with the NRS, hopefully someone here will chime in and offer some advice.
    Larry


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    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    I'm looking to do the same. So much out there and hard to decide what to get. But, like Larry says, if you're by yourself the pontoon would be the way to go. What also works for me with the pontoon is I mostly fly to my destination. This would give me portability on the plane too. Just need to make sure the wife knows how to follow the map to the pick up point!
    Kevin
    "Fight like you're the 3rd monkey trying to get on Noah's Ark"

    "Not every day is filled with sunshine. Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue"

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    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by kevind62 View Post
    This would give me portability on the plane too. Just need to make sure the wife knows how to follow the map to the pick up point!
    Kevin: You need to teach the wife to row the boat, then you are free to fish the whole stretch of river, you can always pay for the shuttle! LOL!
    I used to see lots of couples doing that over on the upper North Platte by Saratoga, WY. I thought it was a great idea, but could never convince my first wife that it was something she would be interested in.
    When Rod and I were fishing the Bighorn over by Thermopolis, WY, we bumped into a guy and his 9 year old son using a Flycraft, they swap out rowing duties so each gets time to fish......I thought that was pretty cool.
    Larry


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  10. Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    You are correct in assuming that a raft will never be a drift boat and will never row like one. I've owned several and no matter what they will all feel like a tank compared to a drifty. If someone tells you a puma will row better etc the benefits are marginal at best. It just isn't a hard boat. That being said you should spend your time deciding on the frame you want with a boat. Sounds like you have decided on NRS which is a good boat and everyone has an opinion and a favorite type of raft. I'm not sure where you are located or what type of frame it has on it but take the time to survey your options.

    NRS frame are lightweight and modular, the floors you can add are terrible and their thigh locks are also sub standard but they are cheap and light and work just fine. You can look at other custom frame options that have superior floors, storage options, and fitment for your raft. A well thought out and designed raft can rival a drift boat for comfort and functionality (outside of rowing).

    Finally, a raft can certainly go places a hard boat can't. Depending on your ability to row those places a raft can go can be significant. If you don't backrow through a wave train during higher water in a drift boat you will scoop a wave and sink in a second, just look at what people (guides) are doing on the Green right now. A self bailing raft is nearly impossible to sink on most fishing floats. I've owned several rafts and several hard boats, there are places for both but again, depending on your location a raft will get you far more places unless you are very competent on the oars with a hard boat. A few books to consider for casual reading are Drift Boat Fly Fishing and Float Fishing Strategies both by Neale Streeks who has been a boat guide for years in MT. Sorry for the long winded response, rant over.

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    Buy a Sotar strike.

  13. #9

    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 802flyfish View Post
    Buy a Sotar strike.
    This! Unless you are in the Midwest you are going to want to do whitewater at some point. SOTAR is almost indestructible unless you are in Class 5. NRS will puncture easily going over gravel bars in late season and pulling loaded rafts up on gravel beaches.

  14. #10
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    Default Re: Buy Raft? Help!

    Given a choice I'd go with a 'hard side' boat. Rafts only need a tear and you're cooked. Well, in nice weather, you can pull it out and patch same. With a hard side you realllllly have to hit something hard to even crack the 'plastic.'

    In the front storage area of my DB I keep a small repair kit; friend and I out as he wanted to learn how to row.

    GOD HE WAS A DISASTER LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HAPPEN!! Was hard to get him to grab on to the idea that you row facing down stream. If you don't know the water .... beach the bloody boat and take a walk to figure out where you're going in/shift in mid rapid, adjust as needed.

    Here on the upper Rogue there's really few places where you can't just 'bob-along' with a happy face. Late Summer and low water flows it can quickly become 'Game On' with the oars.

    Below Medford (OR) the water can get real interesting- real quick- in places. Get into the water below Grants Pass and you miss the last take out (you'd have to be pretty dull witted) .... the next option (one exception) is you end up in the Pacific Ocean a day or two later.

    To my point: Hire a guide for a day (or two!) and have him/her teach how to handle a boat. My first go was actually rowing around on a lake; super fast learn just how hard it can be.

    fae
    When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. - Billy Graham"

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