1st Boat.....ah, Raft

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by FlyFshn'Fool, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. FlyFshn'Fool Member

    Posts: 252
    Where there's water!
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Ok, the time has come to start seriously looking for my first boat. I went back and forth between a hard boat and a raft, but based on the waters I will fish and my future plans, the raft makes more sense. There are things I like better about each, but again, the first boat will be a raft.

    I have looked at different companies, read reviews and read this section of WFF and I have narrowed it down to either the Stream Tech or a SOTAR. From what I have read and having some help from Derek and having him answer some quesitons via PM's, I am really impressed with the Stream Tech boats and accessories. Some say the price is high, but looking at other new set ups, it doesn't seem too bad and that difference won't stop a purchase. It is still WAY cheaper than a Bass boat! Currently, the Stream Tech is in the lead.

    The other option that I am looking into is a SOTAR with a custom frame from Barney Conrads Custom Street (www.customstreetstuff.com). I haven't really heard any bad comments on the SOTAR boats and these frames look very nice! I think these two companies would make a great pair.

    From those in the know, which route, between these two would you take? I look forward to all responses. If it helps, I will be on some stillwaters (which I know won't be easy with a raft) and fishing Colorado, Idaho, Western Wyoming, Montana and possibly Oregon and Washington.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. veilside180sx Member

    Posts: 295
    Hillsboro, OR
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Between those two boats. Sotar all the way.
  3. FlyFshn'Fool Member

    Posts: 252
    Where there's water!
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Any facts or data as to why you feel this way?
  4. FlyFshn'Fool Member

    Posts: 252
    Where there's water!
    Ratings: +2 / 0
  5. Grant Richie Member

    Posts: 95
    Minam, OR
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    Streamtech is a Maravia made boat right? If so, I am biased towards the Maravia made Streamtech boat. We have some Maravia's that are over 20 years old that have been out in the sun all year and abused consistently by bad rowers that are still going strong.
  6. FlyFshn'Fool Member

    Posts: 252
    Where there's water!
    Ratings: +2 / 0
  7. Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

    Posts: 2,341
    .
    Ratings: +1,177 / 0
    FlyFshn'Fool, it sounds like you are trying to decide which truck to buy, Ford or Chevy, and you're planning to buy the truck from the best after-market canopy manufacturer. I'd figure out what raft you want first - size, material, features, etc., then decide on the brand - Sotar, Maravia, Aire, etc. Lastly, figure out who you want to purchase a frame and accessories from (or build your own). You listed some great after-market packages and if you want one-stop shopping, go for it. IMHO, personally, I would recommend buying a frame that can be reconfigured as you get more experience and figure out what your needs/likes/dislikes are and modify it as your needs change or you want to expand the use of the raft beyond fishing. For instance, you may want to do a non-fishing splashy fun float with friends, do a multi-day float/camping trip, run whitewater, etc. and it is nice to have a frame that can be reconfigured for those purposes. Keep in mind that your needs may be different than a guide who only/mostly uses the boat for guided fishing trips with 2 clients day-in and day-out, rarely changing his layout once he get it dialed in. If that sounds like you, a package and/or a welded frame might be for you. If you aren't sure or you see yourself using the boat for a variety of uses, I'd look for non-welded frames using component parts (similar to NRS frame connectors) that can be reconfigured easily.
  8. Grant Richie Member

    Posts: 95
    Minam, OR
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    I would agree with freestone. We began buying NRS frames so we could configure the frames for day fishing trips one day and overnight whitewater trips the next day, or set them up with two dry boxes and one coooler, or two coolers and no dry box, or . . . whatever the customer wants.
  9. Shapp Active Member

    Posts: 222
    Back to the state of my birth (OR)
    Ratings: +37 / 0
    you really aren't going to find much durability difference between current models of Aire, Maravia, or Sotar, and there is only one brand that will fix it for free over a 10 year period if you drop it off your trailer going 60 mph down the road. And there is only one boat that you can fix a 2' tear in under 1 hour and be back on the water at essentially full pressure (not that your chances of actually causing a 2' tear are that good).
  10. Benjy Active Member

    Posts: 309
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +57 / 0
    Rowed a customstreet frame the other day, pretty nice alternative to NRS for sure. Barney is a good guy, he re-engineered the roller bar on my trailer to actually work. I would choose my raft based on where I was going to use it the most and how I was going to store it. On a trailer? Rolled up? Outdoors? Need to cram it in a float plane once in a while? Pack it on a mule? Do you care about customer service? Do you think you'll need to make repairs in the field? Do you intend to set it up with hard floors and casting braces and baskets? Which Sotar model are you considering?
  11. FlyFshn'Fool Member

    Posts: 252
    Where there's water!
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    After a few hours of more research today, Stream Tech is still at the top of the list, Sotar has kind of faded and AIRE is the other choice, with the frame from RiverBoatWorks (link above). I like the Stream Tech and all it has to offer and the AIRE looks like a nice boat, especially with that frame from RBW.

    Regardless of boat, I think I would like to have hard floors in the thing. I think it will make life easier for all involved. To address previous questions from some, this will strictly be a fishing platform. No rafting, no pleasure floats, just fishing and perhaps some longer 3-5 day floats. The boat will be stored assembled 100% of the time and on a trailer so breaking it down is not an issue. Customer Service is always a concern, whether it is needed or not!

    If I had to really narrow down locales, Colorado, Western Wyoming and Montana would probably see the majority of the use. But who knows. I do know that I want a quality rig, that will last and if it cost a bit more, that is ok.
  12. veilside180sx Member

    Posts: 295
    Hillsboro, OR
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I'll admit I haven't rowed a Streamtech, but I've rowed PLENTY of cats. I'm less enamored by the in between I guess...if you want a cat buy a cat...if you want a raft buy a raft.

    I've rowed a few Sotar's and they are great boats. Maravia and Aire both make great boats as well.
  13. Ray Member

    Posts: 340
    Post Falls, ID
    Ratings: +21 / 0
    Aire customer service is second to none. I've heard several first hand accounts of them shipping replacement bladders within a day with just a phone call's notice.....free.

    As a whitewater guide, I've had the chance to use and abuse Aires, Maravias, and Sotars. Maravias (Stream Tech) are by far the most durable of the three.
  14. FlyFshn'Fool Member

    Posts: 252
    Where there's water!
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Good to hear Ray.

    I guess I need to figure out which one offers the best fishing layout and is the best for me and my needs. I really like that fishing frame from RBW but I like the entire package from Stream Tech. The only things I am not sure about with the Stream Tech's are the metal accessory boxes. They seem to be big, bulky and I would imagine heavy.
  15. teerex Member

    Posts: 59
    Yakima, Klickitat, Deschutes
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Second what ray.said re: Aire customer service. Their tracking floor can be a godsend on downriver windy days, when nature tries to blow you back up the river or push you into a bank. If you don't like the floor bladders after trying it, you could just buy and swap in a standard floor.

    Last two words of advice: counterbalanced oars.

    -another (retired) whitewater guide.
  16. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,673
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +850 / 1
    You can arrange an on-water demo with me anytime, and we'll be at the Portland show in February.
  17. Linkj Link Jackson

    Posts: 6
    United States
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I own StreamTech Boats. There is much good advise given in this thread, the best of which is to focus hard on what you want out of a boat then seek the package that provides the best solution for those needs. If it means anything I have owned most of the other boats mentioned here. Some are good, some not so good. None provided what I wanted in terms of durability, simplicity, maneuverability, load carrying capacity, shallow draft, technical white water capability and efficient fishing amenities. That is why I designed the StreamTech line. At the time it was strictly about me and my personal needs. There was no real commercial motivation as I owned a thriving construction company and had no time for a boat business. That has obviously all changed now. I could have chose any of the manufacturers to build my design and chose Maravia because they build the toughest boat on the planet. Of 567 boats sold we have seen only 1 warranty issue. I contrast that with other boats I owned that that went back for warranty issues more than once. Customer service was quite good but the fact that I needed it was disappointing. Price is high with Maravia and that is reflected in the package price, however, there are not several layers of markup in them which makes the package price similar to some of the other packages on the market. I am also proud to say we managed to get everything on the boat made in the USA.
  18. shawn k Member

    Posts: 697
    buckets worldwide
    Ratings: +19 / 0



    What make s you boats different from lets say a maravia diablo or some of their other boats?
  19. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,673
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +850 / 1
    The design - StreamTech Boats were designed to handle more like a hard boat; with a drop-stitch floor and rockered design, but lighter weight and more durable. Here's the Green Drake in action in Nepal -

    http://kavupulse.com/?p=2846

    I choose these boats to guide from and for personal use because they are safer, perform better, and clients love to fish from them. You will too.
  20. Linkj Link Jackson

    Posts: 6
    United States
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Diablo is a diminished tube design boat. It is not the best suited for fishing. Diminished tube designs result in less air for flotation at the exact point where you need it most, the end of the boat. This is where the anchor, the rear fisherman and the oarsman who sits about 25" rearward of center concentrate the majority of the weight on the boat. It results in the tail of the boat drafting deep which will drag in shallow spots and result in reduced maneuverability. The StreamTech line has 20" size tubes all the way around which are oversized for the boat and result in excellent weight carry and distribution with a draft of around 2" loaded with three fisherman. Materials and workmanship are identical in the StreamTech line to all other Maravia boats, however, the hull design is totally unique. The hull has a steep rocker that goes throughout the boat unlike any other boat on the market. It results in vastly improved maneuvering and ability to hold the boat in a current. I hope that answers the question.