Buyers Guide to Inflatable Rafts for Fishing
Rafts for Fly Fishing
rafts are without question the most popular inflatable raft on the
market today. While guides and river running outfits use the larger
fishing and whitewater rafts, these smaller and non-rigid inflatable
rafts are designed for the individual and small family who either
take a multi-day trip on a river somewhere or just want a simple
day float. These inflatable rafts are significantly smaller than
their whitewater and frame raft counterparts. However, despite their
smaller size, they work almost just as well for fly fishing as the
larger rafts does, and, in my own opinion, much more fun to take
down a river - especially one that has whitewater.
Fork Flathead River in Montana is an excellent river to use
an small raft for floating and fishing.
A quality non-rigid inflatable
raft is what the name implies. Unlike the whitewater rafts described
on a previous page, these inflatable rafts are not rigid. What this
means is that when you press your thumb into the side of the raft
(when the raft is fully inflated), you can generally push you thumb
down by around ¾ of an inch. Similarly, when you sit on the
side of the raft, the side will be soft and you will sink down into
the raft a bit.
Most people think that
this softness in these inflatable rafts poses durability problems.
This is not quite true. While these inflatable rafts are not as
durable as the rigid rafts, a quality non-rigid inflatable will
not get destroyed simply because of bumps on rocks, being run over
gravel bars or due to mean encounters with rocks. In fact, the soft
nature of these rafts allow the raft to literally bounce off obstructions.
I've run my soft sided inflatable raft into many rocks and never
yet had a puncture, simply because the raft tends to bounce off
the rock instead of getting hung up on it.
Indeed, the most common
type of puncture in a non-rigid inflatable raft is the "puncture,"
with the puncture generally caused by the owner dragging the raft
across the parking lot or along the rocky shoreline of a river to
put the boat in the water. By doing common sense things like picking
up the raft when out of the water and not dragging the thing along
the ground, the odds of getting a puncture in the inflatable raft
go way, way down.
Yet, sooner or later
a puncture is bound to develop. Happily, a quality non-rigid inflatable
raft is easy to repair. You can easily repair these inflatable rafts
with a supplied repair kit (which can be used "on the water")
to patch it up or, in emergencies, slap a piece of duck tape over
it. A repair made with the repair kit makes for a permanent repair
of the boat, and only requires about 1 hour or so to permanently
rafts are popular because of several factors. The first factor is
their cost. Where a quality rigid inflatable raft can cost several
thousand dollars, a quality non-rigid inflatable raft will rarely
cost more than $400. Secondly, this type of inflatable raft is incredibly
easy to setup. From the time you park the car to the time the raft
is fully setup and ready to go generally takes no more than 10-15
minutes. Setting up a rigid inflatable raft takes significantly
longer and is not nearly as easy. And finally, non-rigid inflatable
rafts are extremely versatile. A good non-rigid inflatable raft
performs well in Class III whitewater, paddles relatively easy on
lakes, can have a small motor attached to it and still make for
a perfect platform for fly fishing on a sedate river.
In summary, a quality
non-rigid inflatable raft gives the angler on a budget a very versatile
inflatable boat that performs well in a wide range of conditions.
And the portability of the boat makes it ideal for the angler who
travels around a lot and lacks the time or the desire to set up
a full sized rigid inflatable raft.
Next Page : Selecting
an Inflatable Raft
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