My wife bought one from LL Bean when they first came out to bad as it was built a little too light with the older style material it started falling apart on the first trip. Good news they of course refunded her money.
The fledgling company that was making them tryed again with better materials and slightly tougher hand holds etc. Kudos a real winner I have had one for 6 or 7 years as have most of my fishing junkie buddies we all like them very much and use them in both still and white water.
If I may be so bold as to suggest you purchase the light weight one with inflatable seat our expierence shows this to be a very good all round boat portable in the extreme unless you call a 25# pack weight heavy.
I purchased my Watermaster raft around 10 years ago (when Dave Inks was involved with the company) and it's still going strong. I've had to patch some holes and replace the original oars (the newer ones are "Carlisle-type" oars that are much sturdier than the originals.
The only "problem" I've had (remember, this is an older model) is that the carrying bag/backpack was a little undersized IMHO and that it took a skilled "folder" to get the thing in the bag. So, these days, I just toss it in the back of the car and go on my merry way.
I'll typically break down my Spey Rod when I"m drifting...there might be more elegant ways of doing this but I'm just a little too lazy to investigate.
LOL. They're great little boats. I'd have to say, if I was debating on a pontoon grade boat or a watermaster, I'd swing towards the watermaster. I've seen quite a few of them. Never floated one per-se, but not much different then the bucket boats I used to whitewater in the late 70's/early 80's.
But I digress. I haven't seen a good way to break down a spey rod for a watermaster (let alone anything under 16'). I saw a guy last year drop his spey rod off his watermaster (luckily he got it before it went to far). Also saw one guy snip the tip (about a foot) off his spey drifting a slot on the Upper Hoh.
But for packability, they're the best way to go in any of these "one man" boats. I prefer to fish standing up from my boats so go a bit bigger. I'd also HIGHLY suggest not running anything above a class II in one. I know first hand you don't want to have any body parts in the water hitting any solid class III+ rapids. I do believe your feet dangle in the water in the watermaster. I know what it's like to post a boat on a rock and obsorbing the shock through the frame. Let alone having your body actually take the shock first hand. OUCH!!!!!!!!!!
Would you prefer a cataraft over the Water Master for winter flows?
I am thinking about getting the Kodiak which is bigger and has better oars and also has a cushioned folding seat similar to a cataraft/pontoon. The Kodiak is about $1,300 similar to the Steelheader cataraft by Skookum. Would it better to purchase a cataraft that is rated for rivers than the Kodiak? There are a few river rated catarafts the are around $700 - $1,000.
I do not plan on using the boat for hike ins, just day trips and maybe 2 or 3 day float trips on smaller rivers.
Spending big bucks on something like this you need to get as much info form folks who have experience.
I'm pretty honest on these things. Don't try to sell you something you don't need.
You know, it really depends on what you want to do with this boat. Do you plan to actually stand up and fish? Depending on the river, high flows are still no big deal (I STRESS depending on the river). If you only plan to float and fish from shore, get the watermaster. You won't need the super expensive one. Just a vehicle from point A to B. But if you want to anchor up, or get up and fish while you're floating a stretch. Then get the Steelheader by Skookum. I've spent many days, especially during the summer, floating stretches of water. I usually free drift and stand up and cast to slots coming up. Plus, if you have a fish on it's easier to play around the boat then being stuck in the seat. You can quickly drop anchor and play out the fish to the boat.
So, if you want what I described above fishingwise, get a Steelheader. But, if you only plan to navigate to next spot, then go with the watermaster. You don't need anything hardcore on most of these rivers, unless you plan to fish really high water (which is normally a conventional fishermen's domain anyways). Plus, most decent fly water is within the realms of most class II's, maybe the occasional class III. I like to hit the UPPER stretches of rivers, normally class III/IV isn't unheard of up in the headwaters. Good luck, just make sure you decide exactly what you want out of a boat before you buy. Easier to by the right one the first time, then have to sell and rebuy. Get's costly that way.
Even a 2 hp would make that baby fly. But for saltwater fishing, you may want the sureness of a gas motor. But, you gotta realize, I used a 40 lb thrust electric kicker and it really pushed my sled around well at 1/2 power. I do believe Bill at Skookum does make a motor mount. But one thing you have to realize. You put a motor on it, you'll have to license it. Just something to consider.
Oh yeah, any of you looking for a watermaster. There's a guy on flyfish.com selling one of the originals pretty cheap. $350 I do believe.
05/13/02- For Sale: Looking at Watermaster? Abel Travel Craft? Save a $1,000 and buy my Tote N Float! Tote N Float was the original; the Watermaster guys cut their teeth at the Tote N Float factory! Hypalon raft, pump, bag (to store the raft) with backpack straps, take down oars, mesh stripping net, etc. Excellent condition! I live in the Seattle area. Really, save $1,000 over the other rafts and buy my raft for $350! [email protected] <[email protected]>
on the steelheader. I am going to get some more info off Skookum.
Right now I am considering going from a trailered boat to something that will fit inside of or on top of the pick-up and this looks like it could be it.
I realize this is an old topic and with all due respect to the previous posters to this thread I did notice a few statements made regarding the Water Master that were misleading or incorrect that I would like to respond to. The Tote & Float was the predecessor to the Water Master but unlike the WM which is entirely manufactured in Missoula, was manufactured in Korea in the 80's. Water Master owns the rights to the T&F but no longer manufactures it. Second, the Abel "Travel Craft" is an unauthorized take off from the original Water Master. The original WM was made for a short period of time in New Zealand in the early 90's until WM opened its factory in Missoula. The abel craft is the NZ WM with an inflatable seat/deck that was utilized to break the patent that WM has on its genuine Water Master. The Abel craft is in no way associated with Water Master Rafts, LLC. Some of Steelheader69s' comments regarding the WM vs the pontoon boat although courteous and respectful are misguided. The WM with its closed bow design is a much more effective and stable craft to fish from than a pontoon style craft. We find that most pontoon kickboat owners use there craft in moving waters to get from point A to point B but rarely actually fish from thier crafts. Also if you compare apples to apples, the WM has a much greater weight capacity than the same sized pontoon craft. Finally, I think that for this class of craft, if it lacks true portability and is difficult and time consuming to put up and take down it lacks the real necessary ingredient that a kickboat should offer. Currently Water Master Rafts is rapidly gaining respect as well as market share and are selling the majority of their crafts to fishermen who have owned the pontoon style kickboats and have discovered the advantages of the WM.
I am also looking for a pontoon boat or some type of craft so that I can cover more water and spey fish. Does the casting platform really work and how stable is it? Has anyone used their spey rod on the casting platform. I'm not sure if I want this feature or just use the pontoon to get to the next section to fish. Any idea how much these pontoons boats run?
Yes, I am the General Manager of WMR although, what I listed are facts and the opinons of our Water Master customers. I apologize if this wasn't clear in my post (we). We, like our customers believe in the WM, we manufacture the WM but most importantly we use our Water Masters.
... the Abel/Water Master style boats require you wear fins. I just use my boats, I own one of each, to get to point A to B. As for taking down the rod, I leave mine up and rigged with the rod tip out past the bow of the boat. I back into the beach/shore on the runs I want to fish.
Sleepy Weasel - If you're looking for a boat for the salt that you fold up and put away, look at Avon/Zodac style boats. They can be car topped/folded and stored in the vehicle/trailered. The Abel/WM style boats don't have floors to stand in and cast. Love mine!!
Dave and anybody else willing to share their thoughts:
I've recently been looking at both the Watermaster and Abel ATC and seriously considering purchasing one of them for the local north coast rivers, perhaps the Sac, and really appreciate this discussion.
Anyway are there significant differences, advantages, or disadvantages between either of these two boats? From what I can see on their respective websites the main difference appears to be the Water Master's ability to accept a molded seat as an accessory.
I did note that Abel currently has a sale price of $900 their on there ATC, which was $1300. If the water master is a superior boat, are it's advantages worth the $200-300 difference in price depending on the model?
Thanks for any opinions or insights anybody might offer. John
...to note about the differences between the two boats: The Abel has the inflatable seat - way more comfortable than the wood seat of the WM, and second, the Abel boat seams to be made of a heavier material that doesn't flex as much as the WM. This means that if you really need to get on your oars you can, but a pontoon may be even better than the Abel/WM style boat. The WM does have better construction re. the front foot rest, however my Abel is an older boat, so Steve may changed that part of his design. That Tote 'n Float would be a great buy.
I'll add my two cents. I bought my WM from Dave Inks in the early 90's and actually fished one Sunday with Dave on the Clark Fork outside of Missoula. Unfortunately I have not used the WM that much but it is a fine vehicle from going from point AtoB. I never fish out of it unless stopped, anchored and standing inside the boat fishing. I feel very safe in that mode; it is not safe to be drifting AND fishing at the same time in my opinion, especially when alone. It will carry a buch of stuff. The seat is not supportive and leads to back strain after a few hours of rowing. When not dangling legs through the bottom, the legs can be put in straps, but again since legs are at same level as ones hips, this position is not comfortable in short order.
I have just finished three days on the Skagit with Dennis Dickson and for the first time used the 8' Outcast pontoon boat---and as Dennis predicted, I would be asking more questions about the boat after the three days than about the fishing. I LOVED the Outcast. 1. The hard seat is very comfortable and after 6-7 hour days my back felt pretty good. 2. The metal(rather than the strap on the WM) foot rest was positioned below my pelvis and was much more comfortable than the WM and I could get much better leverage when rowing. 3. The Outcast is faster and more maneuverable than the WM. I can't imagine spey casting out of either craft. 4. Breaking down my Sage 15' 8wt several times a day would be a real minus with either craft. On the WM the rod would have to be broken down or you would have 5-6' of the rod sticking out the bow(that's 'back' isn't it?) and therefore very vulnerable. Dennis took the butt of the 15 footer and wedged it between the pontoon and metal frame near his foot, then ran the rod near his chair velcroing it to the seat so that the tip rose 5' beyond the bow and about 4-5' above the water line, unlike the WM where the tip would be about 8 inches above the water line. Putting the 15footer VERTICALLY in a rod holder in either craft doesn't seem doable. In three days of fishing with the Outcast the rod was never in danger.
In sum, they are both great boats. I did more enjoy the pontoon boat and especially if ferrying around a long spey rod, the pontoon boat in my relatively brief experience is the preferred craft.
Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion. Were you using an outfitter's Outcast pontoon boat or a friend's, or your own that you had to set up?
The reason I ask is that I'm wondering if you had been using somebody else's boat, which was ready to go such that you didn't have to deal with the 20 - 30 minute prep time, this might effect your perspective.
I guess what I'm trying to learn is that if you had to deal with the relatively minor set upinconvenience of setting up a pontoon boat each on each river trip, would you still feel the added comfort of this style craft is worth the trouble? Or, would your perspective change and you would overlook greater comfort of the pontoon craft and accept the ergonomic short comings of your water master simply because it's more convenient and less time consuming to set up?
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