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Thread: New to rafting

  1. #1
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    Default New to rafting

    I am looking at getting into rafting. I live in Fairbanks and plan on rafting rivers from the North slope to Kenai Penninsula. My initial reason for rafting is for hunting. I figure if I have a raft I will probably use it fishing and for some family outings. Does anybody have any recommendations for rafts.

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    Member AK Tubes's Avatar
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    Default Personal thing

    I think it's a personal thing. For hunting, you'll need load capacity. So you're looking at at least a 16'-18' cataraft, where you could carry similar loads with a slightly shorter self-bailer. A cataraft wil be easier to handle but draft more water in most situations. Catarafts are easy to break down and fly out. Another thing to consider is being prepared for white water. There are some boats out there that offer huge payload, but don't have a lot of rocker to tackle waves and quick maneuvers. Just find out what kind of water you'll tackle and find the comprimise. Take plenty of gear as it's better to have it than to want it.

    I have a small cat that is set up strictly for fishing so I'll leave more of the details to the more seasoned float hunters out there, but those are my $0.02. Whatever road you take, I know you'll find it to be some of the most rewarding adventures available.

    -Tubes
    ...been on a search to top my 30x18 rainbow for 13 years now...I guess it's game time!!!
    13' Aire WildCat, 9' 7wt SAGE RPLXI, 10' 5wt SAGE XP, .300 RUM Zeiss 3x9 when all else fails

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    Default

    Thanks, for the information. I was under the impression that catarafts were a little more difficult to manuever for new rafters. Is this not the case?

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Thumbs up contact

    Mike Strahan on this site. He is an expert on float hunting and rafts and has a book out also. Great guy and a weath of information. He would be more than happy to help you im sure
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Default

    I think cats are easier to row most of the time, beginner or not. They generally row faster. Although if you load them down they turn slower, and it's easy to overload them. Cats are also more stable and punch holes better, and therefore more forgiving of some types of dumb moves, as well as dumb choices in rivers to run.

    Round boats are easier to load, and set up faster & easier as there frames are simpler to assemble and quicker to strap on. But cats break down into smaller pieces and make loading into small airplanes an easier job. Round boats pack heavier loads and/or draft less water. They spin faster when fully loaded, but they are harder to push after you get them pointed in the right direction.

    Cats are usually fitted with comfortable seats, and with round boats the passengers usually sit on the sides or thwarts, so cats are often considered more comfortable. But seats can be added to round boats as well, and you are less likely to fall OUT of a round boat than you are to fall OFF of a cat boat. For that reason I think round boats are better for family outings.

    Horses for courses. Take your pick. Whichever you choose, after a season of use you will most likely believe it to be the best choice you ever made. It's hard to pick wrong.

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default If I could choose just one-

    If I could choose only one inflatable boat for float hunting, it would probably be the AIRE Cougar, for the following reasons:

    1. HUGE load capacity. AIRE rates it at 1,836, putting it right in the sweet spot for two guys and two moose.

    2. Low profile. The boat gets its huge lift from having twin tubes on each side, but the tubes are 18" diameter (compared to the Leopard's 26.5" tubes). This drops the entire rig closer to the surface of the river, giving it much less wind resistance in an upstream headwind situation. Many of our rivers flow through open exposed country where wind is a huge issue. Larger boats tend to be blown around quite a bit, so the nod goes to the low profiles when you can get them.

    3. Outboard use. Because it's a cat, the Cougar is easily fitted with a transom for your outboard. I've operated them with 25-horse outboards, but for hunting an 8-horse kicker is all you really need to double your downstream travel speed. The ability to move fast opens up many more rivers for hunters who, because of access issues, would not have had enough time to float some of the longer systems.

    4. Space. You quickly run out of room in a round boat, but a cat gives you tons of room to spread out. This is very important for meat care, by the way. Being able to spread those meat bags out helps the meat to develop and retain a hard glaze on the surface, which is critical to preventing spoilage.

    There are many other considerations, but these are some of the reasons why I, if forced to choose only one boat for float hunting and fishing, would go with the Cougar.

    Now, a word about availability. AIRE used to produce two twin-tube boats of similar design. The Panther was a 15-footer, and the Cougar was a 17.5 footer. Both had the same tube diameter. But because so much attention shifted to the Leopard and the Lion, both the Panther and the Cougar went out of production. Last spring AIRE made a limited number of Cougars for Alaska Raft and Kayak here in Anchorage. My hope is that the Cougar makes a strong comeback. I started my float hunting career on a Cougar and it has always had first place for me.

    You won't find the Cougar on AIRE's website, but I would bet if you called Alaska Raft and Kayak 1 (907) 561-7268 and asked for Mark Cohen (the owner), he could hook you up.

    I'll attach a photo for those interested. By the way, I would not recommend the frame in the illustration, for float hunting. Other more compact options are available that work better for float hunts.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
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    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/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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    Default

    Another plus for the Cougar is that the frames are simple. There is only little drop required between the tubes as the center area is fairly narrow, and the tubes are small, so you don't need end yokes and large drop bars. This also makes them easier to assemble as well. I prefer a drop of several inches for the foot bar on my Cougar, but that's about it.

    I did not know that the Cougar was even available. Nice to know, as this has been a good boat for me over the years. It's not the best extreme whitewater hole popper, but is a great boat for gear hauling and camping. I did push it down Sixmile a few times, and will take it down Lion's Head again this week, and I know they have been used in the Grand Canyon quite a bit, so it can be pressed into service when needed. But I think Michael is right, it's a very good choice for hunting (and fishing). The dual tubes keep the boat floating in shallow water too.

  8. #8
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Great information

    Mike and JIm as always great informaiton.

    Zebra10 if you would like to see the difference in what Mike and Jim have been telling you fell free to stop into our shop. I have a 17ft Cougar on the floor form our rental pool. You can also go over the ins and outs of the boat as well as look at all the options AIRE or NRS have.

    If I remember correctly Mark had one left in Anchroage as well.

    Richard M. Mousseau
    www.bluemooserafitg.com

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    Default

    Thank you gentlemen. I will be sure to consider the Cougar when I decide to make my purchase.

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