13' or 14' raft

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Chedster, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. I'm looking to buy a new SB raft in the next few months. I will be outfitting it with the NRS fishing frame for a max of 3 people. I'm having a hard time deciding between a 13' or 14'er. For those of you that have a similar setup, any advice would appreciated.
  2. What water type and what rivers/areas? Will you need something more load bearing or more nimble? Will it be for three big doods all the time, or only on occasion? Will it be for very long trips needing more gear storage and capacity? Will it be for family floating where young children are involved? Each of these thoughts would influence my consideration of the following variables:

    The 13' boat floats 1320# and the 14' boat floats 1600#, according to the specs. There is only a 2" difference in width, and 12" difference in length. The waterline difference is 14", but if you look at the rise for the bow and stern you'll see the 13 is more rockered with more rise as compared to the 14. I think both of those boats would be great. I have a 14' cataraft and wish I had the additional floatation of the inflated bow/stern sections and floor. I do love the open floor in my cat's rowing area, but the extra floatation of the floor/bow/stern would be cool. I've fished out of 13 and 14 foot rafts and had a great time in each. My novice rowing skills likely would favor the more maneuverable 13' boat with more rise fore/aft, but currently my two children are small so this boat would be a great multi-day float trip boat for us. I know a few really skilled rowers that favor the larger boats and minimal draft so they can go nearly anywhere in any flows. They have the skills to row these slightly less nimble boats in any situation. Your rowing skills may impact your preferences.

    How will you be configuring your seating? Will you have seats mounted on cross rails or atop dry boxes/coolers? When I first put my cataraft together I went with seats on rails. I hated the lack of storage, so I then went to bays for inexpensive dry box type containers and a cooler for my rower's seat. I'm currently considering moving my rear seat rearward onto create a bit more space and adjustability between the three seats, but doing so will benefit for linear space and sacrifice rear seat box storage.

    Best of luck. I really enjoy trying to put a well thought out boat together. Maybe it is time for me to buy another boat too! (hope the wife does not read that one!)
  3. Thanks Mumbles, gives me a lot to think about. It will be used in OR, WA, AK and who knows where else. Some days it may be loaded with three big dudes, others it will be only my wife and I. I like the idea of the NRS fishing frame because of the mounted seating and the ability to remove it and use coolers/dryboxes as seating. I have yet to float/fish outta a boat with the NRS setup so I need to find a buddy with one before I pull the trigger.
    teerex likes this.
  4. Chedster,

    If AK float fishing is in your plans, your rowing frame is a more important choice than the 13 or 14' raft. Both rafts roll up well enough to put in a Beaver float plane, but a frame that breaks down into a very compact bundle is an extremely important consideration. I've done a couple trips with a friend who brought a 14' Aire, and getting the frame in the aircraft had the pilot cussing like a muleskinner both times.

  5. I can't speak to all of the NRS frames, but my cataraft has an NRS Retro frame. As far as breakdown, as Salmo_g suggests, that makes sense if you will be transporting it in any way other than on a trailer or roof top. I've moved my frame on my SUV roof with the tubes rolled up and insidee. My retro frame does break down, but likely not enough for airlift. My long side and drop down rails do separate into two pieces each, so this is better than having them one piece. If you want to see some photos of my fram and how I've used it, sent me a PM with your email address.. Of course frames for a cat are a bit different than those for a raft. Hopefully the raft gurus will chime in because there are a few here that use them exclusively and know all the details about them.
  6. 14' SDP from Aire- rows like a 13' boat-narrow enough to be sneaky, but long enough to accommodate 3 big anglers, or a bunch of gear for 2-3 people. Great in late season applications, fun in big water. This is the best of both worlds if you can't have a 143R and a PUMA. If you haven't guessed I'm an AIRE man- although I'm really intrigued by the NRS revolution boats- light and durable sound like a good combination! Maybe a 13.5' Kingfisher Revolution might be what you want?

    This is my SDP rigged for fishin':
  7. If you're having a tough time deciding, check out the NRS E136. I have an 2010 NRS E136 with the full-monty NRS frame And it works perfectly for my needs. The NRS E136 is kind of a mix between a 13 and a 14 footer- 13.6 feet long, but 6.6' wide (the width of many 14 footers) it also has a ton of rocker and 20" tubes (the size of a 14 footer). It has been an awesome boat. super stable like a 14 but super maneuverable too. the boat before this one was a 15 year old Hyside 14.3 footer. I really don't notice the smaller capacity very much, and with good collapsible gear, I can hold just as much stuff (Folding groover vs 5 gallon buckets etc, woodland power stove vs camp chef) The 14.3 hyside is one of the great boat designs, but I like everything about the E136 better.

    If you are rolling the boat to store/transport it (as I do) I'd go with Hypalon boats like NRS, Hyside, Avon etc as they roll better and smaller. I had a trib 9.5 before, and it was a pain if you are rolling it each time. the inner bladders and floor never really dry out, and when they are wet (always) they seem to shift around inside the raft when you roll and unroll alot. a few times a year I would have to unzip the bladders at the put in and rearrange the bladders in the PVC shell to remove twists and creases in the boat. Too much of a pain for me, but I do like AIRE boats alot if they live on a trailer. pump up really stiff, bomber, and you can stand and fish from their stiff inflated floors. Definately learned not to use a deflator with AIRE boats as that seems to exacerbate the problem as the bladder deflated away from the skin of the boat.
  8. Thanks for the info. Found a dealer here where I can take a look at some NRS and AIRE boats. The boat will be stored/transported on a trailer so I'm not worried about roll ability.
  9. I would go with the bigger raft. It will give you more capacity and the maneuverability is more a matter of not overloading. Plus, a longer raft will put more distance between your casters. Before I floated much I thought the smaller rafts would be easier to get down the river in low water, but after rowing both 13 footers and 16 footers down the Grande Ronde in late summer (rock dodging contest between Minam and Troy), I would take the larger 16' raft anyday. My wife and I have NRS fishing frames for our 13' and 14' rafts if you wanted to come all the way to Minam to see the difference and try them out. But I would wait until the weather improves a bit. The rivers have been a bit icy and all the rafts are put away right now.
  10. Given you are comparing the same brand and style of boat to one another (i.e. 14' Aire round boat to 13' Aire round boat, or 14' super duper puma to 13' super puma, or 14' NRS Otter to 13' NRS Otter) , you won't notice much difference in handling or role size for a 13' vs 14' raft, but the 14' boat will hold a lot more stuff. Therefore, i would always go bigger. Go for the 14' of your brand of choice. Get what ever frame you like. You can always make a cheap compactable frame for the odd alaska trip unless you are going there all the time for fly-in. You probably won't take your own raft anyway if you live in the lower 48, cheaper to rent up there than fly or ship all your stuff unless you are driving the boat.
  11. There is a good reason that the 14 foot boat is pretty much the standard issue boat for most outfitters. Not too big, not too small, just right!
  12. Im currently running a 14' Super Duper Puma with the NRS Frame....wishing I would have got a 16' boat now. 3 people with gear make for a very sluggish, heavy boat. For just me and one other person, It cant be beat. I will personaly only but Outcast/Aire boats. I dont want a glued boat ever again.
  13. If you think a 14' raft with anglers and gear is heavy, a 16' boat will be heavier solely on the additional materials used. When you start trying to adapt a whitewater boat for flyfishing, especially when going above 14 feet in length, you are compromising performance for storage, and you'll end up with a tank on the water, unless of course performance isn't one of your goals.

    We've tried rafts in the 14' length and it's why we have 13 and 13'6 now. Oh, and buy 100% American, not made in China.
  14. No offense, but I personally couldn't disagree more. A 16' raft weighs 23 pounds more than a 14' raft, not much weight difference considering the step up in tube size and load capacity. I suppose everyone has their own preference. Again my own preference from rowing both would be the larger.

  15. You're the exception, Grant - we're both rowing Maravia's. :)

  16. Which model are you using Derek? I have no idea what your uses are, but I am sure if it was a strictly day use fishing boat, I would go for a 13' or 14 footer. The river you row on probably plays a big role as well. I personally thought the 13 footers would be easier to get through low skinny water until I rowed with both 13 footers all the way up to 16 footers. But I proved myself wrong, the 16 foot long 7'6" wide Maravia Typhoon handles better and gets over shallower gravel bars given the same load as a 13' 5'9" wide Maravia Spider. Don't get me wrong, I love rowing the Spider for day trips, but given the choice for a multi-day trip in low water by myself or with my three boys and three dogs loaded up I would definitely take the 16' boat in either scenario. Plus a 16' raft gives three boys more room to cast.

    Do you think they are happy to go steelhead fishing?

    Whoops, I guess that one didn't have a raft in it. Oh well, I like it anyway.

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