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Thread: Raft or Cataraft

  1. #1
    Member Cody77's Avatar
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    Cool Raft or Cataraft

    I'm looking to buy a raft or cataraft for fly fishing and float hunting. I want something that I can put a fishing frame in, preferable the outcast fishcat, but a craft that can support the load of a personal gear and a moose on a float trip. Any suggestions? What are the advantages of raft over cataraft and cataraft over raft? Thanks.

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Inflatable Boats for Hunting

    Quote Originally Posted by Cody77 View Post
    I'm looking to buy a raft or cataraft for fly fishing and float hunting. I want something that I can put a fishing frame in, preferable the outcast fishcat, but a craft that can support the load of a personal gear and a moose on a float trip. Any suggestions? What are the advantages of raft over cataraft and cataraft over raft? Thanks.
    Cody,

    This is a huge topic. We've discussed pieces of it all through the hunting forum and the rafting forum. It might be wise to look through the forum archives on this one for some background and depth.

    The short answer is that you will not find a boat that will do it all well, therefore whatever you get will be a compromise. For example, a solo fishing boat needs to be small and nimble, but a boat for moose hunting needs to haul a big load. You're not going to get both in the same boat. Then the pros and cons of round boats vs catarafts is another decision.

    If you were fishing with a friend and moose hunting alone, you MIGHT be able to do it with a 16' cat or a 14' self-bailing round boat. But if you're hunting with a partner you're gonna need the 18' cat or 14.5' bailer. Here are some pros and cons for you:

    CATARAFT PROS & CONS

    Cats are great in a headwind situation because the tubes are aerodynamic. The high bow rise on a round boat tends to get pushed around in the wind. Cats track well with oars and lend themselves well to outboard motor setups. They're superior to round boats when it comes to outboards because there are all sorts of transom setups available, capable of running some of the largest outboards. Cats also have a lot of available storage space, compared to round boats. They're also great in a portage situation because you can carry one tube at a time. With the round boat you usually have to carry the entire thing in one chunk (except round boats with lace-in floors). On the negative side, they're easily overloaded. Folks tend to use the space they have and cats have lots of space. Be careful not to overdo it. A good rule of thumb is that an 18' cat hauls about the same payload as a 14.5' bailer. Another negative of cats is that they take a LOT longer to set up than a round boat. You have several choices when it comes to manufacturers, but the most popular by far is AIRE. They also offer a ten-year, no fault warranty, the best in the business. I would have a look at their Leopard if it were me. I would buy the boat from Alaska Raft and Kayak in Anchorage, as they offer several breakdown frames that are well suited to the flyout trips we do up here.

    ROUND BOAT PROS AND CONS

    Round boats are relatively easy to set up, can be cheaper than cats, and provide a sense of security because you're inside the boat. Cats require a floor between the tubes to accomplish this. Round boats are great on small streams where shoreline vegetation could hang the tips of a cataraft's tubes up and spin you around. Round boats just slide off of those obstacles for the most part. Another advantage of the round boat is that you get a lot of capacity for the length, compared to a cat. Of course on the negative side, there's just not a lot of elbow room, and on expedition trips, you end up with a high gear load in the bow and stern sections. All gear in a round boat must be suspended off the floor with a cargo platform, and a net placed over the top to keep your gear together in the event of a capsizing. Many companies make round boats; but perhaps the best seller out there is the Northwest River Supplies Otter series. I would generally recommend a self bailer. Note that the larger Otter is now also available in a 7' width, which will give you quite a bit more room than the narrower configuration.

    Hope it helps! Good luck on your purchase.

    -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

  3. #3
    Member Cody77's Avatar
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    Default Thanks!!!

    Awesome, thanks so much for your help!!!!

  4. #4
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    Default

    Hey there, in regards to rafts I have'nt gone on a trip in one yet. I do have two friends who own catarafts though. One is a nineteen foot aire and one is a sixteen foot aire. Have been in both on float hunts. I think the nineteen footer weighs about 320 lbs and the sixteen is about 280. they are nice, lots of room for stuff. Have passed by many rafts on those trips and it seems that the guys in them were just sitting on top a mountain of gear. I heard that they will travel in shallower water though. One advantage of cats ( depending how you look at it ) is that they do sit higher so when on a hunt you can stand up on the rowing platform and see over higher brush than on a raft. You can imagine when on the river watching for game you often can't see out of the river channel. We did a float with both rafts that ended up putting us on the yukon where we had a headwind constantly. We ended up tying the raft together ( end to end ) to make it one long raft to help it track straighter. Without doing that we were continually correcting the raft. Wish we had a sea anchor to help fight the wind. Some times the thought of one package as far as the raft is concerned sounds good though. When taking a larger airline to a destination if they send one of your four packages of a cat somewhere else you are bummin.

  5. #5
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Try before you buy

    Cody,

    It might be wise to rent both types of boats before you purchase one. This will give you some hands-on experience and will help you make a good decision. Money well spent. I would run both with heavy loads just to see what you're getting with each.

    Two rental outfits to consider here in the Anchorage area- Alaska Raft and Kayak, and Alaska Downstream. I don't think Alaska Downstream has cats, but you might give Jerry a call on that to make sure.

    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

  6. #6

    Default Cats Cheaper?

    I have found cats to be much less expensive than round boats. The price of tubes VS a raft is what was the biggest price difference for me. The price difference between 16' tubes and a 16' raft was $3000.00 This was only slightly offset by the fact a Cat frame was more expensive $1000.00, to a raft's $700.00 The raft frame is an NRS with Lo pros and the Cat frame was a custom aluminum weld job.

    Other than that I agree in every way what you have said is the difference between Cats and rafts.

    I hate to carry heavy loads in a cat, they wallow and are very slow with a heavy load. However there is nothing more fun to row than a lightly loaded cat.

    Lori

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