Inflatable advice requested

AZFalconer

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Hi all. Relatively new here, learning a lot by reading instead of writing... I'm in northern AZ, relative novice to fly fishing, but thoroughly bitten... I'm considering a boat given that most of the fishing within 3 hours of here would be much better served with one. Small river/stream, medium lakes. Near shore, slow drift, nothing hard-core. Might want to take a once-a-year trip to WY/MT/UT and fish some rivers but I am NOT a whitewater guy. I'll hire a guide for that.

Here's my criteria and some thoughts...
- Inflatable. Gotta be able to break it down and carry in the back of the long-bed pickup as we'll often be towing the travel trailer. Ideal will be break down into small segments, assemble at a campsite, slide in the bed of the truck (maybe partially deflated if needed), and drive short distance to lake/river and complete the setup. Would probably have a trailer for around home use though. Just tow it down to Bullhead or lake Mohave and launch it.
- Two people can fish. Just me and the wife. But don't want to bang rods...
- Raised seats, 360 swivel. We are both older and have back issues and don't want to do the kayak-type thing.
- Able to handle an outboard up to 5-10 HP.
- Floor we can stand on for casting.
- Durable
- Lightweight. Something the two of us old folks can carry.
- Setup in an hour or less.
- Anchor system.

I'm thinking something in the 10-12 ft range, probably with a frame so we can mount seats, motor, and anchor system, and still break it down easily. Prob needs to be under 5 ft wide to ft in the truck. Don't want to carry a 250-lb boat from the truck to the water. So lightweight and high-tech is good. Pricing is a secondary concern but I don't want to pay insane amounts, either.
Saw the Flycraft Stealth and was intrigued. Looks a bit narrow, though. Ideally I'd have something just a little wider that would allow for movement around the seats but it's pretty close. With the honda outboard package, it looks good. Still want to actually see one.
Was also looking at the Saturn whitewater rafts. Looks like I can add a frame which would allow mounting a motor and anchor system.
Looked at the NRS systems too... find a raft, outfit it with the frame with the features I want.
Saw the Sea Eagle STS 10 which looks interesting, but don't see any way to add an anchor system. I've had enough experience tossing anchors overboard to not want to do that. Worth it to me to have one of the "auto" systems.

So I"m looking for advice, ideas, anything. Not needing to buy now, just doing my research, watching craigslist, forums, etc... Not finding anyplace within a reasonable drive to go and kick the tires on one yet, either.

Thanks!

Charlie
Kingman, AZ
 

osseous

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Hyside MiniMax with frame from Riverboat Works- or a Watermaster 2 man

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Ard

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Hi Charlie,

I'm not going to suggest an inflatable but will share my own experiences with what I have owned. First off 12 to 13 foot isn't as much space as you might think and moving around on any sort of raft or pontoon boat is not for senior citizens, I'm one myself. I had a 2 man 13 foot boat and ended up pulling the front seat and building a cargo deck for the front end. Then I bought a second raft, a 9 foot FishCat Cougar and my wife or whoever was going with would just drift in their own boat.

One thing about me and I know we are all different, I don't like fishing from a boat. I used the inflatables like I use my jet boat, as the means of getting to where I know I can park and wade to fish. My experiences on lakes was that unless there is zero wind you need (usually) 2 anchors so you can stay on track otherwise the boat is moved in all directions by even a slight breeze. That's all good if the water has fish everywhere but it can be tough when you want to focus on an area.

I'm not posting just to be a buzz kill but telling the truth in my own experiences. I used the big raft for a couple years and then the shine wore from the apple and it became a storage issue. Every spring I assembled it and put it on the trailer and every fall I broke it down for storage. Eventually some guy got a steal on Craigslist.

Almost forgot, motors on rafts are not ideal because there is no keel and on a pontoon boat they are almost harder to steer. That and unless you are used to using a prop motor you'll likely be racking the bottom with the prop unless you are ultra careful. Most of the outboards under ten hp have the plastic props but you'll want extra shear pins and an extra prop. If you whack bottom you can actually lose the prop and if you are a few miles from a launch that'll suck.

After all that I'll say this.............. I'd recommend 2 small 8 foot pontoon rafts so you can stack them in the bed and strap them down assembled and aired up. You'll need a 2 stage hand pump for tuning them based on temps sometimes too. AFter the wife learns to row and control a raft she may enjoy having her own ride.
 
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neweracfo

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Check out the Sea Run Bull 10.5 raft from Catchercraft. It can fit in my 5.5' pickup bed and is also very comfortable to row and fish from. Also, the frame is high quality.
 

100954

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Check out the Sea Run Bull 10.5 raft from Catchercraft. It can fit in my 5.5' pickup bed and is also very comfortable to row and fish from. Also, the frame is high quality.
I noticed the floor in this raft is described as a, “drop stitch floor”, is that different from other self bailing floors? I have been considering the Orvis NRS Hook Jaw raft for $3,495. But I like the looks of this raft too.
 

osseous

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I noticed the floor in this raft is described as a, “drop stitch floor”, is that different from other self bailing floors? I have been considering the Orvis NRS Hook Jaw raft for $3,495. But I like the looks of this raft too.
Drop stitch means the floor is constructed like a SUP- and rigid. It is a very desirable feature. Self bailing means whatever design the floor is, it is mounted higher than the waterline, with enough of a gap (or drain holes) between it and the tubes so that water that enters the raft exits on its own.

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100954

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Drop stitch means the floor is constructed like a SUP- and rigid. It is a very desirable feature. Self bailing means whatever design the floor is, it is mounted higher than the waterline, with enough of a gap (or drain holes) between it and the tubes so that water that enters the raft exits on its own.

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Thank you Osseous!
 

neweracfo

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I noticed the floor in this raft is described as a, “drop stitch floor”, is that different from other self bailing floors? I have been considering the Orvis NRS Hook Jaw raft for $3,495. But I like the looks of this raft too.
It is an inflatable floor that allows water to drain from the raft floor. It works pretty well although no where near as sturdy/dry as a traditional drift boat floor. An angler of at least 200 pounds will allow standing water in the raft when standing/casting from the bow FYI. The NRS Hook Jaw looks nice but pricey.
 

Hayden Creek

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Outcast Fishcat 13. Solid casting platform removable, less than 150 lbs., 750 cargo weight, optional motor mount.
Love mine.
 

AZFalconer

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This has been great info so far. Thanks to all who are participating...
I gave Stealthcraft a call to ask about the Hooligan. It's still leading the pack on my criteria. all USA made, too. The guy went out and measured some stuff for me while we were on the phone. I'm pretty impressed; it's not cheap but it's feature rich for me... leaning that way at the moment... Anyone flown the Hooligan?
 

neweracfo

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This has been great info so far. Thanks to all who are participating...
I gave Stealthcraft a call to ask about the Hooligan. It's still leading the pack on my criteria. all USA made, too. The guy went out and measured some stuff for me while we were on the phone. I'm pretty impressed; it's not cheap but it's feature rich for me... leaning that way at the moment... Anyone flown the Hooligan?
i have heard ok things about the hooligan but if you are going to spend that kind of money be sure to check out the smithfly big shoals or little shoals. They have a built in foam pad on the drop stitch floor that makes a more stable raft floor.
 

osseous

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The Saturn with an NRS frame is a better deal, better all the way round

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AZFalconer

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Osseous.... what do you like about the NRS/Saturn combos? I probably need to call them; their website is less than helpful for building out the config I'm interested in...
 

Redrock

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I own a Sotar micro strike for low water fishing. It fits, depending on the frame you select, your requirements excepting the motor. I do not stand to fish so I can‘t speak to that requirement. It is a joy to row. The raft fits fully inflated in the back of my long bed truck with maybe 12”-18” of overhang. I load it and launch it by myself. IMO, you will be hard pressed to find a better built raft than the Sotar. It is, however, more expensive than most of the other options you are considering,
 

osseous

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Osseous.... what do you like about the NRS/Saturn combos? I probably need to call them; their website is less than helpful for building out the config I'm interested in...
NRS frame is whitewater standard, as is the Saturn. Boats built for the fishing crowd are typically lower gauge materials. Full size whitewater oars make a big difference in how much power you can lay down.

My fishing cararaft is a Sotar- If you can swing it, they're top of the line

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AZFalconer

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As I look at rafts with an eye towards a possible custom frame (as in NRS), I see lots of ads for used dinghys or inflatable boats, especially when looking at CL in coastal areas or those with bigger water. How do these differ from the type of raft more commonly used for freshwater fishing? Most of these will have a hard transom and an open back in between the pontoons. I wasn't able to find much info on the subtle differences between these types. They seem to be a good bit cheaper but you know how that goes... ;-)
Wondering if these maybe draft deeper and as such aren't appropriate for skinnier water?
 
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