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Thread: Cat in Low Water

  1. #1
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    Default Cat in Low Water

    Hello all, I have a question on using a Cat in low water. How much water do you need to float a Cat the size of Aire's Leopard? I was floating a river moose hunting in Sept and I came on a pair of guys who had hunted this particular river for many years. They had a Leopard and were kind of smirking as I pulled up in my raft. They asked how it was handling the low water. I then asked about the Leopard and they stated they only needed about 4-5 inches when loaded with a moose, and a bit more when they had 2 moose loaded.

    I don't have any experience with cats, but it seems most discussions here and what I have read in the past indicate that you need deep water to use a cat.

    Any help you can give will be much appreciated.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Question Huh?

    Moose44,

    I'm not sure why the cataraft guys would be smirkin at ya. My 18 foot AIRE Leopard clearly rides lower in the water as compared to my 15' 9" AIRE D Model, with the identical same load in both. I like loading and unloading the cataraft out of an aircraft only because the parts-the tubes-are lighter. I like floating in the "round raft" with its self-bailing air filled floor because I don't have to get out and drag as much.

    If they were smirkin at ya, I think it was just 'cause you had discovered and invaded their personal paradise where they had hunted alone for those many years.

    Dennis

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    Default

    I have a Aire Leopard and have use it for several years floating for moose. I would say load with 2 people, gear, and 1 moose you would need 9" of water. I have had to drag mine numerous of times. If I had the water I would choose my Leopard over a round raft any day.

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    Cool More Huh?

    450Hunter,

    What do you mean?
    If you had the water you would choose your Leopard over a round raft any day? Why?
    If the water is deep, does it make a difference which style boat your have?
    If you had deep water is your Leopard easier to turn?
    Does a Leopard with 26.5 inch tubes "wind vane" less than a round bost?
    Are you saying you believe your loaded Leopard floats highter on the water?
    Do you mean your 18 foot Leopard would handle a big load better than an 18 foot round boat?

    Or is your comment similar to... I like my Dodge Ram pickup more that a Chevy Silverado pickup?
    Both trucks carry stuff.
    I like my Ruger more than a Winchester?
    Both brands of rifles kill stuff.

    Do you have experience with both types of rafts? Which, in your experience, floats higher in skinny water when loaded?

    Or were you the guy on the moose river that smirked at Moose44?

    Of course, both types of boats are super for same/similar purposes.
    And they have some differences. Like my cataraft handles a motor better than my "round rafts".

    Dennis

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    Smile Cat Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose44 View Post
    Hello all, I have a question on using a Cat in low water. How much water do you need to float a Cat the size of Aire's Leopard? I was floating a river moose hunting in Sept and I came on a pair of guys who had hunted this particular river for many years. They had a Leopard and were kind of smirking as I pulled up in my raft. They asked how it was handling the low water. I then asked about the Leopard and they stated they only needed about 4-5 inches when loaded with a moose, and a bit more when they had 2 moose loaded.

    I don't have any experience with cats, but it seems most discussions here and what I have read in the past indicate that you need deep water to use a cat.

    Any help you can give will be much appreciated.
    CataRafts having larger diameters plus lengthy waterlines (like the AIRE 18' LEO) can float quite the expedition-size load in shallow, narrow, steep, and technical waters.

    So much of what you are asking in terms of draft depends on factoring the total weight, how the weight is distributed, character of the water, and who's drivin' the Cat.

    If what you are saying is (or other past thread discussions relate) that you need more depth in the river or creek to float a Cat than the more conventional shape rafts... My answer is NO. River features, route-finding, timing, and strategy most often come into play here, many cases irrelevant to the size and type of rafts. That said - Please do not misunderstand my answer and the reasoning behind design features that are indeed preferences over one scenario to another.

    Now - about the guys saying 4"-5" with one moose and a little more with two moose:

    It depends on how big the moose is/are, the bigger the moose the heavier it is/they are!!! Joking w/ ya a bit here... but true is it not?

    What are they saying?
    2 guys (let's say 200LB/guy) 400lbs

    Do they have gear and food along - what kind, for how many days and how much...?
    No Idea... but just for averages let's estimate with boat and all they got into the field with a total of +/-1000 pounds

    --- the LEO fully-equipped is gonna weigh in at 275lbs so subtract some of that weight as they get to the river and assemble the raft ---

    --- say they steak & egg it with 100 pounds food, fuel, & cooking gear ---

    --- say they have 50-75lbs/guy gear @100-150lbs ---

    --- toss in 40-60% yield on a 1200-1600lb moose... 800-900lbs of meat plus whatever trophy... so let's go 1000lbs for simplicity ---

    Do the 'rough' calculations here and we arrive very near maxing out a 14' self bailing raft getting poor handling and slugging draft, w/ no real space to spare at all. The 14' in this case is not the 'ideal' raft for this venture... a 15'-16' is more suitable and an 17'-18' isn't out of the picture.

    However, this picture is very doable and comfortable spread out nicely on the 18' Cat.

    Now having this first moose, gear, and guys aboard... try to add another 800-1000 lbs. of dead weight. We still appear to have space so here we go why not --- OOPS you have just gone to near Maximum reasonable load on the 18' Cat. Draft will be substantial! Expect right at to slightly over the floor & drafting water to the D-rings!!! Do the visual here & you see that it is not 'just a bit more' than 4"-5" draft. The two moose thing is doable for certain in the 18' cat, but not pretty and downright very sluggish. Simply use enough boat or boats in this scenario, (or) have a good game plan, and it's a good practice to be atop that strategy by some sense of familiarity when at all possible.

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    Default

    I think the cat moves faster on the water while just floating. A river that I have float for moose several times which has been floated with both my cat and parnters 16' raft the cat seemed to be faster just floating down. We were able to knock several hours of floating time off with my cat.

    The cat has more room to put your gear and moose. Plus you can also run a motor on it with no problems.

    I think you have less wind drag with the cat and you can straddle alot of rocks that are just sticking out of the water that the round boat would get caught up on. Also I think the cat steers easier in the water. But I have never had 2 moose at one time in my cat. I have had 4 people, 3 caribou, and gear in my Leopard before on one hunt.

    And last....yes I prefer a Dodge!!!! Do they even make another real truck???
    Winchester over Ruger!!!!

    I don't remember laughing at anyone on the river but if the guys he is talking about told them where a 60+ moose had been hanging out it could have been me. I did ask some guys how their round rafts were doing.

    So go ahead and fire away now because this is just my opion.

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    Default What A Drag

    My only rafting experience is in rented, 12 foot traditional rafts and our 18 ft Aire Leopard (an early model).

    In both cases, low water required LOTS of dragging. I don't think we can float (3 hunters, gear, & 1 moose) through shallow water. Minimum is probably in the 9 to 11 inch depths. In fact, on our last Birch Creek float, we opted not to shoot moose and took a couple of caribou so we didn't have to drag quite as much. Not a lot of fun.

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    Thumbs up Smirking

    moose44,

    After receiving a few responces, each from us experts, the moose hunters were clearly smirking only because you had discovered and invaded their personal moose paradise.

    So now, you need to return next year with 19 friends and 10 rafts. Five "round rafts" and five catarafts. Through your detailed notes you can, please, report back to us concerning your water speed, necessary water depths, and turning agility, and smirking. So bring a GPS, a 12 inch ruler, and a video camera. Rugers and Winchesters are optional. Pull them catarafts-on-trailers with a Dodge Ram!!!

    moose44, 450HUNTER, Brian R, Phil...what color raft floats highest in the creek, turns fastest, floats faster than the current, and carries the most stuff?

    Dennis

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    Default

    AlaskaTrueAdventure,

    I can't believe you had to ask that question!!!!!!!!!! The answer of course is my "Green Leopard".

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    Default Cat

    All, I appreciate the expert responses, it was enlightening for someone who has zero experience with a Cat. I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something with the Cat. Someday, I may own one. It seems like there are some great prices from what I've seen on CL.

    This particular river I hunted seems to go from very shallow to deep in short order and vice versa. Many times, the water was barely ankle deep. Most places we camped, I could/did easily cross the river to hunt the other side. I was specifically warned not to take a Cat as I would probably spend a lot of time dragging. I was definitly surprised to see one in there, and more so about how little the draft was for those folks. Maybe they were a bit agitated at me hunting the river. That's ok, but they weren't hostile and told us a bit about the river and the area. I wasn't planning on hunting near/around those folks, there is just too much country to camp near another party and ruin the experience for both parties. We ended up finding our own honey hole a few hours downriver. I'm looking forward to going back to that area next year.

    Brian, 275lbs for just the frame/tubes? All I can say is WOW! No wonder you need deeper water on average than a round boat. Now I understand Phils comment about "not a lot of fun" dragging a Cat.

    Phil, I had to drag my round raft several times this fall with a Moose and our gear. It wasn't fun and mine was way lighter than a loaded Cat. I can only imagine what you went through.

    450, no, the guys we talked to did not mention about where a 60+ had been hanging out. I would love that sort of info. They did mention that they have seen moose in the past that were 60+ and have taken several that size.

    Dennis, unfortunately, I have no Ram to pull my little round boat, only a lowly old Ford. I prefer Winchester to Ruger, and I'll go with tan that turns/floats the fastest and carries the most stuff. Count on detailed test notes next year :-)!

    Thanks guys!

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    Default 1/5 of trip

    Yep, the entire Birch Creek float is 105 miles (from public put-in to public take-out). Of that, we probably dragged our cat about 20 miles. Like I said - not a lot of fun.

    But when the creek is full, you never have to drag a cat even 1 inch. If just a float - it can be done in 3 days - no hunting though.

    Phil Stewart

    ps. I've personally done this float twice - once with water & once without. When you plan a year in advance - you just have to take your chances. The year without water was 2004 so we had plenty of smoke to make up for the lack of water.
    Last edited by Phil; 11-18-2009 at 08:53. Reason: poor typing skills

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    Default 20 miles!!!

    Phil,
    Anything close to a combined 20 mile drag, without a wasted raft bottom, is a terrific indorsement for that raft manufacturer. So while I do not want to drag any boat anything close to that distance....that raft was a _________________________. (Insert product name. Color is optional.)

    dennis

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    Default Cat

    The raft is an early version of the Aire leopard (blue in color) and we did have to have some exterior repair work done. The tube kept it's air and the raft is fantastic as far as I'm concerned.

    We have used it on several (maybe 5) floats and it has never let us down. Of course we have always managed to keep bears away. No raft (as far as I know) will withstand bears using it for a chew toy.

    And I will stand by my claim that we dragged it close to 20 miles - not all at once.

    Phil Stewart

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    Default A coupla things-

    A lot has been written about this here already, so it might be wise to have a look at the archives.

    Generally I prefer catarafts for the following reasons:

    • Better tracking.
    • Better performance in headwind situations.
    • Better performance with outboard motors.
    • More room to spread out.
    • Game meat keeps in better shape (because you don't have to pile it up).
    • Easier to portage .You can backpack one tube at a time if you have to... with the round boat, you have to carry the whole thing in one load (except for the lace-in floor models...). The ease of carry also applies when you are shipping it, and loading it in and out of small aircraft. Cats are much easier to handle.


    In my experience, an 18' Leopard drafts about the same as a 14' self-bailing round boat with similar loads on board.

    The cons of round boats are, in my opinion, as follows (as it relates to float hunting):

    • Cramped space.
    • Hard to maintain low center of gravity (needed to avoid capsizing in a broach situation).
    • Poor performance with outboard; they're just not designed for it.
    • Dismal performance in headwinds. The bow section acts as a sail.


    For me it's far from a "Ford versus Chevy" debate. It's about performance and functionality in field situations.

    That said, there are rivers where I prefer round boats. Generally smaller, brushy rivers. This is because the tips of the cat tubes tend to hang on shoreline vegetation, whereas the round boat pushes around that stuff.

    On the plus side of round boats, here's what I see:

    • Simple frame (cat frames are unbelievably complex by comparison).
    • Everything is contained inside the boat (less likely to lose items between the tubes... er... don't ask about my VHF radio I dropped in my Leopard..)
    • Cheaper to rig than a cat (generally).



    Lots more to say on this, but as I said, the archives are full of info on this exact topic.

    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.
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    Lightbulb faster...

    450Hunter,
    Another reason that your 18 foot Leopard might have been faster or seemed faster than your friends 16 foot round boat could have been that you were a more efficient rafter, keeping your boat in the faster current more than the "slower" boat. Perhaps the slower boats oarsman nicked more obstacles or pulled back into the slower water on the inside of the serpentine shaped river turns more often than ya-all.
    (...and lots of other variables as mentioned, and not mentioned [like maybe you were pushing forward downstream more, and your competition wasn't...or you were loaded very level and he could have been loaded very unlevel and therefore tracking strangely]...many "fluid" variables...)

    All them boats styles (and all them colors) have their place on the water under a pile of gear...and moose parts.
    I'm afraid to visit Tracy at AK Raft and Kayak...he will probably sell me traveler canoe next.
    Winter sucks.

    dennis

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    Keeping the Leopard loaded evenly makes a world of difference. I bought a cordless 3/8 impact that I use to put my frame together when I do fly-out float hunts. It makes a big difference in how fast the frame goes together plus its not that big/heavy to just put in a dry bag.

  17. #17
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    Default Draft

    A cat will always draw more water than a raft. This is simple physics. A great site to compare tube size vs draft specs is jpwinc.com . That being said I'm still a huge fan of cats for other reasons.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up So....

    alaskawild338,
    So...Best of the best Avatar Picture!!!

    Moose44,
    So...hopefully you gained a few gems of our wisdom.
    So...just like a cross-eyed lover, each of us is in love with our individual rafts regardless of what shape they are or what they look like.
    So... each of us is/was right, for diffferent reasons and at different water levels, or physics, or whatever.

    So...can alaskawild338 scientifically explain the physics to us? (Mikey already has back in the rafting forum archives.)

    So...Mike, you complicate things. Seldom will rational thinking (or being blinded by science[physics]) overcome affection.

    So... I have a problem. I have three different rafts of two different shapes, with a fouth one in yet another shape projected for the near future.....which one to love the most???

    So...This is the type of discussion we get until the ice turns fluid...

    D

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    Default Better idea I think

    Quote Originally Posted by 450HUNTER View Post
    Keeping the Leopard loaded evenly makes a world of difference. I bought a cordless 3/8 impact that I use to put my frame together when I do fly-out float hunts. It makes a big difference in how fast the frame goes together plus its not that big/heavy to just put in a dry bag.
    On the frame I use for fly-outs, I just pulled all the bolts that attach the lopro to the bar and replaced them with pins. I also marked all the lopro's and bar's that that particular lopro fit into with a hole punch. When I get dropped off I just lay the frame out with the matching hole punch pattern, slip everything together, and throw pins in it. It's quick, easy and no tools needed.

  20. #20
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    Default

    I agree with Mike on all of his observations concerning rafts vs cats. The physics of the draft issue is simply that wetted surface area in the water translates into draft depth. If the surface area of a cat and a raft are the same they will both have equal draft taking into consideration the weight of each.
    Yes it is going to be a long winter! LOL!
    "To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world."

    (John Muir)

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