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Thread: One Man Cats for remote drops

  1. #1
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    Default One Man Cats for remote drops

    I am looking to pick up a one man Cataraft for use in drop off fishing floats using float planes. I have started researching this but am having a hard time making a decision due to the amazing variety of materials, options and mostly....prices. They all look generally the same but why are some $2000 and others are $250 and where does the point of diminishing returns begin? If this has been covered in an archived thread....just point me there but other than that, all suggestions are welcome.
    To offer more detail, I am looking at doing Bristol Bay rivers....so, little whitewater, little exposure to big water and wind, I plan to pack light but still want some cargo options. I'm not worried about fishing from it...that's what gravel bars are for. Mostly I need a sturdy and rugged boat. Other floats I've had out here have had a fair amount of dragging and I don't want to chince on this aspect and end up with a flat 40 miles up a river. I'm an experienced floater but have largely used round rafts in groups and am looking forward to some solos or with a buddy that has a one man as well.

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Small Cataraft Recommendations

    You might try the Outcast series. Solid construction and will last you a long time. There are numerous frame options, and both vendors make light-weight frames that will work with these boats.

    These boats are made for AIRE, but wear the Outcast label. They use very similar construction to the AIRE boats, but the materials are lighter. Do not expect them to be as rugged as an AIRE. If you want that in a light boat, you might consider the AIRE Wildcat. It's 13' long and the tubes weigh 59lbs. I'd consider this boat a good cross-over from the small cats to the biggies though. It might be more boat than you want. Still, you get that 10-year, no fault warranty AIRE is famous for.

    Hope it helps!

    -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/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  3. #3
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    Default Good start

    I'll check those out, the 13 footer sounds a little large. With increasing charter costs out here, I am looking to do this via a speedy little 185 (versus, beaver, goose etc) on a solo or with a buddy, so weight and bulk are very large concerns in my choice. What I essentially have in mind is packing like a backpacker...but floating from hotspot to hotspot.

  4. #4

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    Yeah, I'd steer far clear of the low end stuff if you are doing remote floats or any floats for that matter. A $250 one is usually just a fabric over a vinyl bladder. Vinyl bladders are not very durable and are prone to developing pinhole leaks along seams,ect. An outer fabric is just crap for a boat too. The next step for the less expesnsive ones is a pvc material over vinyl bladders. Better but still vinyl and still prone to problems. I wouldn't recommend them but with very light use they can work. You'll be replacing them sooner then if you just bump it up and bite the bullet for the high end stuff which will easily last a decade or two for most private boaters.

    The better, more durable and higher end ones like Aire or Outcast are made from thicker PCV and have bullet proof urethane bladders inside and will give you lots of years of trouble free service. Do your self a favor a spend the extra $.

    You can also look at cat tubes made from hypalon. As durable or even better then PVC. NRS,Hyside makes good stuff. The material is strong but more suple/pliable than PVC which I prefer for rolling up/ packing. Less prone to cracking in colder temps than PVC too. Though they don't make super short tubes that it sounds like you are looking for.


    Remember, when buying just one raft/cat you have to look at all it's uses and make compromises accordingly.
    Last edited by indyjones; 02-09-2007 at 21:47.

  5. #5

    Default

    With the weight and plane restrictions you've imposed...have you considered a tandem inflatable kayak? Gear in the back and just need a break apart paddle. Very light, fairly cheap.

    The tandem NRS Bandit only weighs 24lbs yet strong due to urethane coatings. $895

    Something to think about anyway.

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Rubber boats

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    I'll check those out, the 13 footer sounds a little large. With increasing charter costs out here, I am looking to do this via a speedy little 185 (versus, beaver, goose etc) on a solo or with a buddy, so weight and bulk are very large concerns in my choice. What I essentially have in mind is packing like a backpacker...but floating from hotspot to hotspot.
    If the 13-footer is too big for what you're doing, you'll also want to steer clear of the rubber boats Indy mentioned as well. Though rubber does fold into a smaller package, the smallest one Hyside makes is 12.5 feet with 19" tubes, and the smallest made by NRS is the Rivercat, at 14 feet. Both boats are in the same league as the Wildcat I mentioned earlier. They will haul a fairly good sized load, but it appears that you're looking for one of those small personal catarafts designed for fishing and a light gear load? In such cases it often works to think like a sheep hunter or other minimalist. Naturally, you're talking one boat per person-

    I would gladly float the Goodnews or any of several other blue-ribbon Alaska trout rivers in such a boat.


    Good luck on your search!

    -Mikie
    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

  7. #7

    Default you get what you pay for

    Indy is right. I have a fishcat cougar (outcast) the bladders are vinyl and they pop holes for no apparent reason. The boat was $500- not dirt cheap but spendy for a pool toy. I bought it at Alaska raft and kayak and they said it was the boat to have. They have been great about sending replacement badders but it would be nice to float with some confidence-Buy a better boat.

  8. #8
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    Default Missing Link

    Thanks for the info, ideally what I want is the strength and durability of the hypalon rafts I've used....just smaller (and less expensive,,,silly me) but I hear ya on what Strahan and Indy are sayin. I definitely don't intend "light use" for this thing and if most of the low end ones are that big of pieces of junk....I will definitely steer clear. SO, so far we have the Aire and outcast boats, and I like the looks of em....still coping with the price tags...but definitely don't want to be 30 miles from the pick up with a cruddy bladder that won't hold air. Are there other brands for me to expand my search to?

    I've repaired lots of hypalon stuff, but how are these pvc and other bladders to work on in case of a blowout?

    Indy, thanks for the kayak suggestion, I'll flesh that one out too.

  9. #9
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    Default

    I would second the 2 man inflatable kayak suggestion. They will pack everything you need and then some. They are also light, easy to setup, and surprisingly stable craft. I've done multi day self supported trips with the one man versions, but I was pretty tight.

    Another option are the one or two man pack cats, that are not much wider than the inflatable kayaks, but sit up a bit higher. They are lower and narrower than the more common fishing type you are tailking about. Usually you still paddle them with a double bladed kayak paddle, but I have seen them outfitted with oars. Jacks Plastic Welding sells a couple sizes of their Cutthroat that seem to be popular. They also sell a nice 10' fishing cat http://www.jpwinc.com/

    In any of these typ boats you will get wet up to your waist if there is any chop at all, so you will need to wear a drysuit or at least chest waders.

  10. #10
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    Cool $250 vs. $2,000

    Any time your planning a back country float trip in Alaska it is always a good rule of thumb to ask your self the question, what are the chances that this thing will (raft) will get damaged and can I fix it.

    I own an inflatable rental business in Kotzebue as well as being a float enthusiast and my thought is more is usually more. I just donít believe it is a good to cut any corners in our great state; it just doesnít let you recover from poor planning. Ask around and see what is being used by the pros, as they canít mess up very often.

    I canít speak to personal Cats but in all other inflatable it is always a good idea to buy the best you can afford but ask yourself how often will I use this new toy? Is it more cost effective to rent rather than buy? Do I want to do all of the maintenance that a raft requires?

    A friend of mine wanted to buy a new raft and asked me what I thought. My response was very simple; how many times have you gone rafting in the past 5 years and how many times do you think you will go rafting in the next 5 years. It became very simple math. The only raft trip they had ever taken was with me and it was in one of my rentals, so they thing its cheaper to rent my equipment than it is to buy.

    Good Luck!
    Walt
    Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
    Kotzebue Alaska
    www.northwestalaska.com

  11. #11

    Default

    I am a member of a whitewater assn. in Spokane, Wa. many of the members of the club run SOTAR 12-14' cats with stainless frames, they are light and way strong. Sotar makes a deal on its tan color material and the lexatron is a very durable material. I know quite a few of the guys that run HUGE water in the small cats, as for load cap......well ya get one or the other....small and light or big and beefy. Sotar has made many of the boats in the club to custom specs.....number of chambers, rocker,color,valves,rings......it is all up to the buyer. If you are looking at a one man cat I would seriously call em' as for a sportsman wharehouse special...I have one in my rafters destined for the dumpster.

  12. #12
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    Default Pac 1000

    Take a close look at Outcasts PAC1000. It's a very well made boat 10 year warranty just like the big rafts. Not too heavy either. Dave Scadden also makes a similar model.

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    Default

    Another option is the Watermaster http://www.kickboat.com/ From the description of what you are looking for in a boat I don't think you could do much better. Heard nothing but great things about these boats.
    Take care,
    Chris

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    Default Ya know, it's funny....

    when you have an answer in mind....but you are just hoping someone will say it so it seems right. I've checked out most of the suggestions above and laughed out loud when the cougar was mentioned as a loser....that was my answer I was hoping to hear. I guess I'm tryin not to choke on the price tags of the beauties you guys have suggested but I certainly understand the reasons that it's important. I wasn't more than a month away from shippin in an outcast boat....but I guess it's time to start lookin at other options. Thanks to all replies, you've edgumacated me (to my chagrine)......So, anybody got a used tandem NRS Bandit they wanna part with?

  15. #15

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    Sent you a PM on good places to look for some used stuff. Good luck.

  16. #16
    Member mski's Avatar
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    Default

    i am running a ten foot skookum, very heavy duty pvc, tough frame, rub strips and four chambers, at only 50 or so pounds, pricey, but you get what you pay for, do a search on them or email me for a pic

  17. #17
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    Default

    I use:
    Outcast Trinity: walk-in lakes, lightweight, compact, quality material
    Fishcat Cougar: drive-in lakes/river class I, anchor ability, shallow draft, best in wind
    Watermaster: walk/drive in river class I Ė III, fishing position control, quality material
    Aire Puma: serious 10 day solo wilderness float, 4 night 2 person minimalist trip, 2 night 2 person all toys fishing excursion.
    One rig doesnít do it all well. Pick the platform design that youíll use the most Ö start there Ö AND USE IT! Donít look back. Youíll end up with more toys. I did. Now I also have 6 canoes and a jetboat.
    PS. If there was a fire in the toy shed out back of the house Iíd grab the Watermaster first



    Over the last 13 years my experience is in 11-14 foot rafts in SW Alaska, Yukon tributaries and remote north slope windy tundra rivers. Been using a Puma for the last six years. Can see no downside for my temperment of just one other heart beat on board, true wilderness landscapes, and intimate rivers with no motorboat traffic. Two+ week fly-in/fly-out trips all across Alaska 3-5 times a season. If we get headcore lite we can actually fit it all in a Cessna 185 ( ... read that much cheaper than a Beaver).

    Friend and i are leave-no-trace, obsessive flyfishers with too many rods. I find the Puma the closest feel to fishing in a drift boat while fly-in-able and riding on air and out of cold water. I have frame setup including anchor set up interchangable with a third seat.,) Lotsa rigging options depending on why, where, how many, and so what. It is just right for 2 people on a 2-3 day fish with all the toys and decadent comfort gear. It is the penulitimate 2 person go lite 2 week tripper for small/medium rivers in AK. It's fine for a three person day trip. If you are going to overload ... don't. Or use Super Puma (friend's boat). But NOT near as quick and nimble. You'll appreciate that on small sweeper waters. Puma has the added bonus of being an outstanding white water paddle raft ... And I can also take just myself on a successful moose hunt with no worries (as opposed to my pakcanoe).

    If it was just me that i had to take care of (friends in their own toons on my preferred small rivers) ... i'd use the Watermaster with 3-5 mil neoprene waders ... i'm getting too old to enjoy being cold! Everybody else wants in my boat for a day because you can easliy and intuitively kick yourself "handsfree" into any river position to catch fish. I definitely don't want in on their toons unless i was on a big bold river with miles to go before the takeout ... then they can test out my Watermaster !

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    Default

    "It is the penulitimate 2 person go lite 2 week tripper..."

    Grayling, according to my dictionary "penultimate" = second to last. Is that what you meant? I would rate the Puma a bit higher than that. I think I would prefer the SuperPuma though.

  19. #19

    Default Skookum 1 man cats

    If you want a bomb proof 1 man cat check out the Skookum boats at "www.steelheader.com". Bill Day, the guy who designed and sells the boats has moved to Redmond, Oregon on the Deschutes River from the Seattle area and is is real good to deal with. Comes with an optional aluminum frame that would be good for fly ins.

    Also take a real hard look at the SOAR 14 and SOAR 16, both can be paddled easily by one man with a kayak paddle, are good up to Class lll water, are light (62 -68 lbs), and require no frame, but can be rigged with 7 ft oars. Work really well with a light weight backpacking type camp (no coolers, one man stove!) and can be flown in and out in one flight They will handle 800 to 1000 lbs). The 16 can take 2 people for 7 -14 days with a canoe paddle each and again a light weight camp with freeze dry or dehydrated food (noodles, rice, beans, and canned meat) meals. Their Pro Pioneer is designed for hunting in Alaska and has a 1500 lb payload, a little big for what it sounds like you are lookin for.

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