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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.
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We used Dennis Dicksons 2 Outcasts(www.outcastboats.com) which were as I remember Dennis telling me about 7-8 years old and have been used a LOT by Dennis for his guided trips and on-the-river classes. He is happy with their performance.So from the git-go our crafts were inflated, carried to our put-in on a trailer behind the truck, and were always ready to go. That's the professional mode and would not be what I would do. I have a rack atop my car and since I have to travel 300 miles up to N.Carolina to trout fish, I have decided not to put my WM there or the Outcast because traveling the highway at 65mph would make me uncomfortable---atop the car they would not be very aerodymamic. Either would be broken down, put in my trunk, and re-assembled at the fish site. Where small distances are concerned---back and forth from the stream to the motel--I would put the 28lb. WM or the 55lb Outcast atop the car. The WM can be partially deflated and put in the trunk of the car; the Outcast frame can be broken down into four parts and carried with partially de-flated pontoons in the trunk when on the highway. Now please understand, I do not own an Outcast(OC), but from what I understand about the construction of the Outcast, what I suggest is doable.
Now I am going to be more positive about what I said in the first post--I LOVED the outcast: it's FIRM BACK seat was very comfortable and with it and the metal foot stirrups I could get some real good leverage rowing. You need a good seat to be comfortable. Water-dynamically, the OC is faster, qicker, and more maneuverable. Some efficiency is lost in rowing with the WM since the oars are fixed to the pontoons which absorb some of your rowing effort unlike the OC whose oar system is fixed to a metal frame--maybe not a really big deal, but a factor. Bottom line I have used each enough to know that even if it takes a bit more effort to ready the OC for battle, if I plan to spend 6-9 hours on the water, I want it to be with an OC. I will give here a plug for my guide Dennis Dickson---it was a great three days on the Skagit.
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I have an PAC 900 Outcast, a Kodiak Water Master and a Ford Expedition. Even torn apart, the Outcast takes up a lot of space in the back of the Expedtion.
When I am going on a trip where I am definitely going to float, I take the Outcast partially inflated. If I am going steelheading where I am mostly using a spey rod, and MAY want water transport, I take the Water Master in its bag. I never fish out of either boat. I much prefer to walk the bank and look for opportunites.
I believe tht the WM is the more stable boat for rough water, and it definitely carries more . The OC is faster, has a better seat, a better perch to see what is ahead, and handles better.

Now if we could just get a hybrid of the two!
I was looking at the Dave Scadden pontoons at the San Rafael show and was pretty impressed. they make two that are close to 12' long and appear to be very stable (rated for class IV) as well as two different 9' models. One poster above asked about using a boat in the salt. The Bimini Twist comes with a push pole and oars and has a motor mount. You can stand up in them quite easily (not sure I wold do this in moving water). Looks like a pretty good concept. I expect the bigger Outcasts (made for two) would be stable enough to stand up in also though the Outcasts are more $'s than the Scaddens
Congratulations ElkMCC, you are building superb rafts. The new improvements, such as a highly supportive seat, pointy stern and bow, and superb craftsmanship and warranty support, will be tough to beat! Not to mention a highly competitive price! Now, if only I can get my anchor.....

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.
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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.
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Could you let me know how long does it take to assemble and take down your boat? Do you use a trailer or can the frame etc.. fit in your pickup/car? Also, what is the overall weight of your boat. Up here in Alberta, the streams are sufficiently small (most up to level II rapids), that Water Master is as much of a boat that you will ever need. Also, I fished from the WM on the Bow river without any problems! Not to mention set up time (5 minutes) and takedown time (10 minutes) and awesome portability (since WM does not have a frame).

Based on what you wrote it seems to me that your style of boat is significantly more expensive, whenb compared to WM. Am I correct?
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.
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Have you ever had a need tp porage your raft due to obstructions in the river (i.e. log jams etc..)? Do yu have to take your boat down and reasemble?
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.
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