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Thread: Cataraft vs raft purchase

  1. #1

    Default Cataraft vs raft purchase

    Looking to purchase either a cat or a raft to float the kenai and other rivers. Main purpose would be for flyfishing and just floating. I will not use it for hunting. The question would be pros and cons of each, what works better to fish 5ppl + rower? Is one easier to control than the other? I have been looking at some 16-18 used cats for sale on craigs list and alaskas list. Suggestions please!
    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Price range would be perfably no more than 3500

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I am a fan of round boats myself. Simple light weight frame is all that is needed. Both of mine weigh under 100 lbs in boat bags so I can fly them anywhere. Cats are cool, but the frame work is extensive. Round boats haul a bunch of weight for their size. Lots of pros and cons either way, the cat guys can offer perspective on the other side. I wanted a cat at first but decided on a round boat for the reasons listed above.

    I bought two 'used' (brand new looking) Sotars from Goo Vogt at Alaska Wildwater in Anchorage. Got the first, a 14.5' about 4 years back. And received the second, a 10' today here in North Carolina. Got it mainly for the Upper Kenai and solo float trips or shorter trips for the wife and I. The larger boat is my gear hauler and great for extended remote floats. Hard to have one boat do it all in my opinion. I got a 16.5' Ally pack canoe, 14.5' Sotar bucket, and 10' Sotar self bailer. The trip will determine the boat I take.

    My 14.5' is perfect on the Upper Kenai with one on the sticks and 1-2 full size adults up front. It would be possible to put one person in the back as well on the Upper Kenai, but that would be the max from what I have seen on 20 or so Upper Kenai floats. Three is easy, and that is me at 300 lbs and 500 lbs (2 people) in front. So 'normal' size folks would have no trouble with 4 I suspect, but I would consider that the max. On remote fly in trips, one on the sticks, 1 or 2 up front, and all the gear in the back. This would work for up to 14 day trips in my opinion.

    These Sotar boats are incredibly tough. That urethane is really impressive. Saved my butt on a very tough 110 mile float in SW Alaska this Sept. Weather was terrible, driving rain, 50-60 mph winds, etc.. for 8 days straight. The storm that went over us hit Anchorage with 100 mph winds I was later told. River was a debris field and my Sotar looks perfect after the trip. Couldn't say the same for me, cut up, bruised, lost lots of gear, and such, but the boat got me to the take out without any trouble.

    Like I said, they look almost brand new, but at about half the cost. Used my 14.5' on remote float trips and on the Upper Kenai in Sept. Bought the smaller boat recently so I don't need a trailer and more importantly the expense of a rental truck with hitch to pull it. About twice the cost of a standard rental truck from the airport and only available at RV rental place. I can throw the 10 footer in the back of a truck. Give Goo a call and see what he has to sell. You won't find a better person to deal with.



    -Dan



    Alaska Contact

    Dealer: Alaska Wildwater
    Attn: Goo Vogt
    PO Box 110615
    Anchorage, AK 99511

    Phone: 1-907-345-4308
    Email: sotaralaska@yahoo.com

    From...
    http://www.sotar.com/dealers-outfitt...formation.html












  4. #4
    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    If your going to always have 5 ppl + 1 on the sticks you might as well get one of those 18 ft cat. Even then that many people will be hard to fish while on the float. The problem I see with the big rafts is there are a lot of streams you won't be running. Like willow I wouldn't want any thing that big.If some of these people are kids and small ones at that I think the round boat safer to keep everyone inside rather than on top.

  5. #5
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    Hello Dan & Happy Holiday to you and yours,

    Good looking raft, and Goo mentioned you had an interesting outing on a flooded river trip.

    Food for thought on the boat would be to install some more D-Rings (like 2 extra per side) to better secure your row-frame to the raft. More suitable anchoring with more acute angles to the D-Rings will create a much better set-up.

    Now Just to scold ya a bit ... constructive critique:

    I realize that weight is a factor on shipping your stuff up & back, BUT that said --- BAD form on the extra oar set-up.
    A.) The extra single spare oar should be strong side mounted (in this case you should therefore be left handed)
    B.) The shaft should be snug up to the frame as tight as possible (this puts it closest to you, secures well above line of most contacts that may cause damage, and keeps it accessible if ever pinned or wrapped.
    C.) Blade should be toward the stern (conservation of motion and time savings --- Think drawing a sword from scabbard or pistol from strong-side hip holster)
    D. Use dedicated straps to secure spare oars and not the same straps that secure row-frame to raft!!!

    Cheers!
    Brian


    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    I am a fan of round boats myself. Simple light weight frame is all that is needed. Both of mine weigh under 100 lbs in boat bags so I can fly them anywhere. Cats are cool, but the frame work is extensive. Round boats haul a bunch of weight for their size. Lots of pros and cons either way, the cat guys can offer perspective on the other side. I wanted a cat at first but decided on a round boat for the reasons listed above.

    I bought two 'used' (brand new looking) Sotars from Goo Vogt at Alaska Wildwater in Anchorage. Got the first, a 14.5' about 4 years back. And received the second, a 10' today here in North Carolina. Got it mainly for the Upper Kenai and solo float trips or shorter trips for the wife and I. The larger boat is my gear hauler and great for extended remote floats. Hard to have one boat do it all in my opinion. I got a 16.5' Ally pack canoe, 14.5' Sotar bucket, and 10' Sotar self bailer. The trip will determine the boat I take.

    My 14.5' is perfect on the Upper Kenai with one on the sticks and 1-2 full size adults up front. It would be possible to put one person in the back as well on the Upper Kenai, but that would be the max from what I have seen on 20 or so Upper Kenai floats. Three is easy, and that is me at 300 lbs and 500 lbs (2 people) in front. So 'normal' size folks would have no trouble with 4 I suspect, but I would consider that the max. On remote fly in trips, one on the sticks, 1 or 2 up front, and all the gear in the back. This would work for up to 14 day trips in my opinion.

    These Sotar boats are incredibly tough. That urethane is really impressive. Saved my butt on a very tough 110 mile float in SW Alaska this Sept. Weather was terrible, driving rain, 50-60 mph winds, etc.. for 8 days straight. The storm that went over us hit Anchorage with 100 mph winds I was later told. River was a debris field and my Sotar looks perfect after the trip. Couldn't say the same for me, cut up, bruised, lost lots of gear, and such, but the boat got me to the take out without any trouble.

    Like I said, they look almost brand new, but at about half the cost. Used my 14.5' on remote float trips and on the Upper Kenai in Sept. Bought the smaller boat recently so I don't need a trailer and more importantly the expense of a rental truck with hitch to pull it. About twice the cost of a standard rental truck from the airport and only available at RV rental place. I can throw the 10 footer in the back of a truck. Give Goo a call and see what he has to sell. You won't find a better person to deal with.



    -Dan



    Alaska Contact

    Dealer: Alaska Wildwater
    Attn: Goo Vogt
    PO Box 110615
    Anchorage, AK 99511

    Phone: 1-907-345-4308
    Email: sotaralaska@yahoo.com

    From...
    http://www.sotar.com/dealers-outfitt...formation.html












  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_russ View Post
    Looking to purchase either a cat or a raft to float the kenai and other rivers. Main purpose would be for flyfishing and just floating. I will not use it for hunting. The question would be pros and cons of each, what works better to fish 5ppl + rower? Is one easier to control than the other? I have been looking at some 16-18 used cats for sale on craigs list and alaskas list. Suggestions please!
    Thanks!
    Hello ak russ,

    Best practices with regards to this kind of inquiry (or uncertainty) is to try not getting sucked (or suckered) into a used whatever until you familiarize yourself some more along the lines of what you are realistically looking for. You posting the question is a good starting place... now seek expert help, see what others are using concerning what you already described here, then try some of the catarafts and rafts (demo, rent, go guided, ask to borrow or go with somebody). These strategies will more often put you into what you'll use, and like vs. the someone else not quite right.

  7. #7
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips man. I appreciate it. Happy holidays to you as well.



    -Dan

  8. #8
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_russ View Post
    Looking to purchase either a cat or a raft to float the kenai and other rivers. Main purpose would be for flyfishing and just floating. I will not use it for hunting. The question would be pros and cons of each, what works better to fish 5ppl + rower? Is one easier to control than the other? I have been looking at some 16-18 used cats for sale on craigs list and alaskas list. Suggestions please!
    Thanks!
    I do the upper Kenai a fair bit (though not nearly as much as some here), and my guess is that you're going to do most of your fishing from shore (wading), and using the boat for transportation. It would be a challenge to fish five people out of the boat without someone getting hooked in the ear or nose...

    But not to worry. Most folks fishing the upper river do the same; they float to a hotspot and pull the boat up on the bank and fish while wading. Works great for sockeye and also for rainbows and dollies, though the latter is getting more an more specialized, with more anglers realizing that they can scratch their "fish itch" with the abundant sockeye salmon runs and bring home some really superior and healthy food for the table to boot! The Kenai (along with many other river systems up here) is going more and more to a protective posture concerning rainbows and dollies, but that's another topic.

    Back to the boats... Brian has some great ideas concerning renting / begging / borrowing or whatever. Excellent strategy before making a purchase decision. Some shops will credit you all or part of your rental fees toward a purchase if you commit within a certain time frame.

    Pros and cons of round boats versus catarafts: I'm basically lazy and I don't want to type it all over again, so I suggest taking a read through our Inflatable Boats section (don't forget to click on the links in the menu on the left-hand side of that page; that's where most of the content is. We have entire pages on round boats and catarafts, plus a lot more. We have built up some content in there (though it's never really done). I think it will be helpful for you. One point I would make though: If you're talking five people plus oarsman, you're going to be crammed into a round boat, but the cat will give you more room to spread out. Unless of course you go with a larger round boat, up to and over 15' in length. Somewhere along the way you'll probably want to do some overnight trips too, so you'll need room for a tent, stove, etc. I would suggest a cataraft in the 18' range. The 16-footers are too small for this size of group (and you have to plan on maximum loads), IMHO, unless you go with one of the "fat tube" boats like the NRS Kodiak Cat or the AIRE Lion series.

    Side note: If you're planning to fish the upper Kenai and you've never been there before, you'd do well to grab a copy of Gunnar Pedersen's book, "Fishing Alaska's Kenai River". We have two copies left in the store and I heard a rumor that it might be going out of print...

    Much more to say on this, by the little lady is bugging me to take her out to the movies. Best offer I've had all day, so I'm outta here!

    Keep 'em coming though. Good questions!

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  9. #9

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    Brian,

    Many thanks for the spare oar advise - particularly the part about the proper direction of the blade. Thanks.

  10. #10

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    I think you are looking in just the right direction for 16-18' cats. 5 people on a 16' cat is packed. You can put 7.... not very comfortably.... not that I've done it or anything.

    That many people, and fishing, lots of landing and such, nothing is going to beat a cat in maneuverability. Round boats don't draft quite as much and are good for hunting smaller rivers with less people, but for your use, I think a cat is just the ticket.

    Keep your eyes on craigslist/alaskaslist, 3500$ is about the bottom range of quality used cats you are going to find.

    And if you are really looking to put that many people on there, look at 26" tubes to be your minimum. The "fat cats" michael had mentioned with the 28" tubes are the way to go with heavy loads. We had a 17' cougar, double pontoon boat, and while it did good with loads... the "buttcrack" getting stuck on rocks is a pain, so I like the single big dimension tube cats.

  11. #11

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    Brian,

    Just to make sure I understand, would you mind please verifying the reason for the orientation of the spare oar?

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon77 View Post
    Brian,

    Just to make sure I understand, would you mind please verifying the reason for the orientation of the spare oar?
    The point is to make sure the oar can be deployed quickly, but not to leave it dangling where it can become caught on things. As to whether it should be rigged blade-toward-bow or blade-toward-stern, it's personal preference.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  13. #13
    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon77 View Post
    Brian,

    Just to make sure I understand, would you mind please verifying the reason for the orientation of the spare oar?
    There are a lot of different ways to float a river, but I always have the blade pointing toward the stern. In an emergency you don't want any wasted motions. Moving water is powerful, and it is a lot easier to grease the oar up and into the clip than to risk the current.


    When I am running the rowdy stuff, I have my oar strapped where I can reach it quick-style.



    On the mellow stuff, we strap the oar out of the way.

    -Josh

  14. #14
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    Ak russ- Also take into consideration if your are going to leave it on a trailer assembled or not. If not there is a little more assembly time at the luanch and take out on a cataraft compared to a round raft. Aswell as depending on what floor you decide to go with in a cataraft can add a fair amount of weight to your total pakage. That being said, any boat you throw five people in isn't going to be an easy row. I believe that in a weighted down boat a round raft handles better than a cataraft on the sticks. Now since its a kenai boat..........a cataraft makes for a great fly fishing platform...they are nice and stable and can be modified to do just about anything it just comes at the cost of weight. And at that point you can throw a motor(upto 50hp for the kenai) to help get you across skilak lake.

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