Spey Pages banner

Water Master raft?

19590 Views 29 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Steelheader69
I am thinking of purchasing one of these and was wondering if anyone had any experience with these.
1 - 8 of 30 Posts
Packing down rod is GOOD

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!!!!!!!!!!
See less See more

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.
See less See more
Yeah it could, but...

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.
Here's the guys ad

It's a tote and float

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]>

Hope this helps anyone out there.

I was far from off on my assessment. A true whitewater grade cataraft is as stable as any sort of raft. They are usually made with wider diameter tubes and I can/have stood up on tubes to land fish without fear of falling over. I've even walked around my cat playing a fish on my 9' steelheader. I'm not directly associated in the boat industry, but I've run whitewater boats for over 20 years, mostly in the then new catarafts. Your whitewater grade catarafts are MUCH different then these fishing "pontoon boats". A whitewater grade cataraft has a much higher capacity and rides you higher in the water. You can safely stand up at anchor on even the smallest boats (smallest I've seen is the 9' Steelheader). A pontoon grade boat has a continous curved hull, which at that size of these pontoon boats is great for maneuverability but crappy for stability. You achor one up, it pops a wheelie. You anchor a whitewater grade boat and they stay level, even in the 9' sized whitewater graded boats. I can safely free drift and fish in my Steelheaders. But, you have heavier tubes, heavier frames, and heavier holding capacity. I know you're in the business, so you should know there is a difference. As I said, the WM is the way to go over a pontoon grade boat. They aren't made to fish from, they are made to float in. Even on achor standing up on seat in a pontoon grade boat (outcasts, bucks, scaddens, etc) they are unstable. Like I said, if you want purely a light boat to float hole to hole from, a WM is a great way to go. But, if you want a serious fishing boat, the Steelheader style boats are virtually a mini driftboat (their 9' boats handle more weight then most 12' boats by CDC and outcast/bucks). Plus, they have a bigger footprint in the water, more waterline of course makes for more stability. The only thing that changes is that the WM style boats have tubes all the way around, whereas a cataraft/pontoon boat has front/rear open. But as I assume you've whitewatered, rafts have a tendency to bucket in hard runs. They hit waves like they were walls and usually have to creep over then. With catarafts, they shoot through them, actually cutting into them since there's less resistance on the bow.

I know I'm young, but I've put thousands of ours easily on rafts/catarafts running whitewater over the years. I used to be the bulk hauler boat for some of my whitewater guide friends on multiday trips. I could handle big water with much heavier loads then most of the bucket boats (and SB's). So I know how they handle and pro's and cons. I like the WM's, but they aren't what I'd need for a boat. I like virtually a mini driftboat. I get that from a steelheader, plus the running ability of a cataraft. I've actually hooked fish single man boondogging and set anchor while standing up. I didn't have to brace myself much, for even in DB's you'll get movement on anchor placement. Like I said, WM's are great, and I say better then pontoon grade boats, but I prefer cataraft (whitewater) grade boats. They are a different beast over these pontoon grade boats. I've turned alot of guys over to the hardcore boats. In long run, which you can attest to, you get what you pay for. Very rarely do you buy a whitewater grade boat as cheap as the manufactured fishing pontoon boats. I know the CDC 16' pontoon boat costs LESS then just my TUBES on my 16' boat. But, I can hold easily more then 1200#'s more then the boat in the Cabela's magazine. Shows difference between the grades and stability of the boats.
See less See more
I'd like to add to those wanting boats

We do have an inflatables section over on the main BB. So check it out and ask questions if you'd like. I'd also like to add this. When you look at boats, remember that the cheaper you get, there is usually, and I stress usually something cheapened to build the boat. Alot of the manufacturers out there have their boats built at same factory over in China. Why you see cookie cutter pontoons. Normally all the same grade boats.

When you look at boats, remember that tubes carry most of expense of your boat. Most good whitewater grade tubes that hold serious weight usually will run you about $1200-1500 for 10-12' pontoons ALONE. You run up to Sotar, Wing, and Maravia, look at spending nearly $2000+ JUST FOR TUBES in the smaller 10-12' range. These boats will handle alot differently then the lower end boats that cost as much for whole package that good tubes usually cost. I've run class 5 waters, and have run hard waters with my then class 4 rated outcasts back in early 90's. They did not handle as well as my whitewater boats (which I assume was because of length). I bought my first Steelheader in early 90's when I first saw them out in production. I ran a class 5 with it and it rode almost as well as my big cats, and 500% better then the outcasts. The small rocker hulled boats you'll spend more time trying to keep boat up and up then actually running it.

But, if any of you have any questions or comments, come to the inflatables section.
See less See more
hey Canuck

I can take apart and put together in just around 10-15 minutes each way. They are heavier, the whitewater (class 5 rated) frames and boat weigh in at around 75#'s. But I can haul when I'm not injured around 250-300#'s so it's no sweat for me to lug around. But if you buy the Osprey models, they are only class 3 rated, but only weigh in at around 40#'s. They are heavier, not made to be packing in. That's why I said the WM type boats are great depending on what your need is. I don't lake fish, I only river fish. And most of my floats are right near/on river to launch.

It depends on where I'm going and what I'm doing. I've been known to leave my Steelheader inflated on top of my truck while I'm towing my travel trailer. I never trailer the smaller boats. But, I'll put 12'+ boats on trailer. Makes much easier to just drop in. I have a cataraft trailer anyways, so might as well use it. The 9 and 10' Steelheaders break down pretty small for the way the frames are built. But boat fits easily in back of a pickup truck or car, especially taken down (I've thrown mine in my commuter car, a Subaru Justy).

Yes, they are more expensive. Most steelheaders run around $1400-1700. But you have basically a mini drifter/small driftboat. Safe and secure, easily stand up and fish on the move. No, I don't fish rapids, but I'll boondog on the float. So I'll let oars stay in water and free drift. Then do a controlled mend on line through slot. Plus, alot easier to stand up and play fish around the boat. I've found sitting it's hard to effectively fight, I would normally oar to shore with my outcasts. This one I can anchor up and net from boat (which I've done many times). But, with catarafts, you get what you pay for. A good set of tubes (truly whitewater tubes) will run you about $800-1000 just for TUBES on a 9' boat.
See less See more
yes I have

I've had to portage because of sweepers. Never had a problem moving boat, but as I said, I can toss 80#'s like it's nothing when I'm not hurt.

I do take my boat down occasionally. Usually though I keep my boats inflated in my garage, or at least keep the frames together and tubes half inflated. When I first bought my steelheader, I was taking it down quite a bit. I was doing alot of lone fishing, so would throw a bike in back of car with my steelheader in pieces. Then dump off bike and assemble steelheader at the launch.

I actually sold off my Steelheader recently. I'm actually in process of upgrading steelheaders. I had one of the first generation boats. They're even better now. I'm looking at buying a 10' guide and a 12' Steelheader. I'm in process of selling off my 16' boat with old frame setup, and buying a set of 14' Steelheader tubes for my custom fishing frame (the 14' Steelheader tubes holds about the same as my 16' Aire Ocelots). Pretty amazing, since my 16' can hold up to 1800#'s.
See less See more
1 - 8 of 30 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.