Frameless Inflatables: Looking 4 nitty gritty on NFO & Watermaster

I’ve watched video of Scadden and Watermaster inflatable boats/toons on rivers. It’ll be my first H2Ocraft & I question how well they travel on smooth lakes, or into the wind on lakes or upriver. I don’t want to lag behind when my buddies are rowing a framed toon. Of course, I want the ability to travel with decent speed when rowing but I don’t want to be blown about like crazy when the wind is up. I primarily fish for trout, bass, and Musky. Small lakes at home and sm-med rivers when I travel North. Up to class ll when I have experience. (Frameless is my only option: Kodiak, Assault, Renegade, Rampage) Anyone have any advice?

1* I was initially looking at the Watermaster Kodiak and D.Scadden’s Outlaw Assault. I agree they are both good quality but do any of these inflatables present with a good balance between speed and wind control?

* I’ve also started considering Scadden’s frameless toon-style inflatables.
2A* How does the open front compare to Kodiak/Assault as far as boat control when finning/rowing goes? What about fly fishing? I don’t care if I have to climb over a boat.
2B* Is there a risk of running into a rock with the foot bar of the toon style if on rougher water? Does the enclosed model offer more safety in this circumstance?
2C* When considering the Outlaw Rampage (~10”Lx5’W), does it become more difficult to row or fin this larger boat as compared to the enclosed models or smaller inflatables in general? Is this larger boat slower overall?

* the fins from the 2 manufacturers are different lengths. Any thoughts?

*Tearing down the inflatables
3A* How much room is available in the Watermaster vs. the Scadden boat backpacks? Is it similar to trying to cram a tent into its bag or do the correctly folded/rolled boats slide in reasonable well? I assume pump and oars also go into the backpack. Important to me.
3B* I’ve got an idea of packed weights. I’d feel comfortable loading <30# models on my back and occ riding on my mtn bike back to my car. Doable, but is this practical with the Rampage or too awkward? I weigh 145#.

*I believe it will be smart to purchase an anchor system. I’m hoping a collapsible stripping apron that goes around my waist will be approp if I get an NFO boat. Now I'm leaning toward open-ended boats, but don't really know why, even after reading older posts here.
Any answer on any portion of my long list (I know!) of questions will be helpful. Have to buy blind & it's my first 'boat' purchase. Thanks for the help!

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
The correctly folded watermaster kodiak and scadden assult will fit in the bags. The rockered design of the assault makes it more nimble. The flat footprint design of the kodiak makes it more stable. Neither are a framed boat and if you are rowing to catch up to your buddies what the hell are they going so fast for, and do you really want to rush to catch them? I think that both track pretty well. I find the assault a bit easier to control with my fins while my hands are busy fishing on the move. I have not used any of the other boats you reference. I have had two different solo pontoon boats. I sold my fishcat panther pontoon boat to get the watermaster. I sold the watermaster to get the assault. Both of those last three boats were amazing craft. I'm not disappointed with that progression at all, but would have continued to be perfectly happy with any of the three. I have several friends with watermasters and assaults. I don't know of a single one that is disappointed.


Active Member
Given points 3A and 3B, you may also want to consider the new Alpacka Vintage Roe Boat. Weighs 13lbs so you can easily bike with it. The integrated pack has maybe 30L of extra room in it for additional gear. Mine just arrived over the weekend and I haven't fished it yet so can't comment on performance yet. The frame is only 6lbs so pretty light weight tubing, which limits white water capability. They describe it as a flat water boat but I think it will do class I-II fine if you are conservative. I chose this boat over the WM, WS, etc for the light weight which will allow me to self shuttle with a folding bike which I can strap to the front for the descent. Regarding your comment on friends in pontoons and getting blown around, any of the boats mentioned so far will allow you to fin and hold position while fishing wihtout having to touch the oars or drop and anchor like a pontoon has to.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
. . . any of the boats mentioned so far will allow you to fin and hold position while fishing wihtout having to touch the oars or drop and anchor like a pontoon has to.
While I agree with all your thoughts about the Alpacka, I respectfully disagree with your statement above.

From personal experience, I find there's no significant difference between the underwater footprint of a Watermaster and that of a pontoon boat which would cause the WM (or WM-like craft) to be less influenced by wind than the pontoon.

Both types of craft draw 3-4 inches of water when loaded and both have a significant above-waterline profile that can produce a 'sail' effect in windy conditions. (The primary component of that 'sail' being the body of the passenger!) Likewise, in both types of craft, the main thing below the waterline that might inhibit wind-induced motion are the feet and fins of the passenger. In direct comparison of my WM Kodiak and Scadden Skykomish Sunrise, both are just as likely to be blown about on the water.

To the original poster's question though, a significant advantage to the closed-end design of WM-style boats is that one can simply beach the boat and stand up to start fishing. The closed end keeps the boat from drifting (or blowing) away and reduces the need for an anchor.

Kent is right. I have had a pontoon boat, rowed a Scadden, and now I own a Watermaster.
Of all 3- the Watermaster is the best design for what I need.
The pontoon is a vehicle to go from spot to spot- and was easily blown by wind etc.

The scadden seemed less "stable" side to side, possibly due to profile or design.

The watermaster is stable, easily maneuverable and you can fish the whole time on the move.
The scadden seemed bigger when broken down. The WM fist in my vehicle just fine.
The biggest thing for me was the incredible craftsmanship of the WM. It is incredibly well build and from a design standpoint, well thought out for fisherman and fishing.


dead in the water
Watching the guys in Eastern Rises row their framed alpackas, it was hard not to be tempted. Though a framed boat is obviously not what the OP is looking for.

fly dds

Tooth and Tail
I have a Renegade and love it. Had a bucks southfork and loved it till I got a frameless. So much lighter and more maneuverable. I like the renegade for still water cause the open stern allows for easy landing of fish. In rivers the foot rest will still allow u to stand and have the craft stay with you. My bro has a bad cat cataraft and he can haul ass, but I can out maneuver him any day of week. I think its 6 of one and half dozen of the other for framed and frameless. Pros and cons to both. For light river use and still water u can't beat nfo or wm frameless, but for heavy water or multi day floats cataraft styles are only way to go.
Thanks for responses! Some questions answered but more questions surface! -dang- But it's not like I'm not going to store to buy milk w/o trying it.

Mumbles, how much does that Kodiak weigh? did you get the Expedition pkg? I'm very curious about how much effort goes into getting boat and needed accessories into their bags. On NFO video, he shows folding and packing of inflatables into bags, but never adds the oars, the pump, fins, etc., which make the product truly packable/hikeable. If I get it narrowed down to 2 and one packs up like trying to zipper a size 34 pant into a sz 38 body, but the other feels like a sz 30 or 32, I'd go there.
On still water can you realistically stand on the Kodiak and the Assault & fish? It won't happen a lot, but if a boat is packable and I can stand on it to for musky some of the time, I'd feel close to heaven.
BTW, I can't seem to get out of wind this year. Also, I've rowed a 2p framed toon into heavy wind in tstorm & it was a b%$#@. Hence my focus on this. & when on H2O fishing, I will prob be last off. FF is a drug.
So, any specific reason u stick with enclosed models? Other than less ez access, what would you consider any cons? How easy is it to land fish w/o net or get rod tip close to water? Thx for your response! I've seen your others and hoped you would.

Doc & fly-by: thanks & look like quality, but I'm wanting a minimum of 8'length and an open area to fin. Flush oars, too. WS website rocks. I think the owner would easily tell one pros/cons of the boat. I'd certainly have less questions.

Kent, are you saying framed toons and the frameless boats will all be subject equally to being blown around by wind d/t similar underwater ftprint? I just figured weight and rigidity of boat would come into play some way. But I could see how a light boat could be blown about or conversely be rowed more ez'ily. Interesting. I could see the rockered bottom coming in handy.

Pastorbrian: did you own a framed or frameless toon? Row a Scadden frameless? Which Wm do you own? Again, I'd be curious about standing on them to fish in stillwater & how stable they feel when setting the hook, etc. Other than different ways to access boat, ways to bring in fish, and places to load gear, I'm getting a feel that all boats move in water not too differently to make much difference..

fly dds: Was hoping for Renegade owner response! I think a Rampage would be killer! Can stand and fish on it (saw Scadden video), possible could float hole to hole with friend on back & fish the holes. Heaven again! But, it could be too lrg for other scenarios...not to mention packing and manual inflation. Renegade is the lil brother! Prob can't have another sit on back like this. BUT, what are your thoughts of standing on it in stillwater? Can you pack the boat and it's needed (not wanted) accessories in the bag easily? Backpack it a mile or so? I'd imagine a 2day in this, too. Small cooler, small backpack and small tent-strap under net w/ d-rings? Buddy would have the canoe loaded. You guys using stripping aprons? On the framed toon, I had line tangling everywhere & going under the boat w/o the stripping basket. grrrrr


Not to be confused with freestoneangler
If it were me, I'd pick a boat based on quality, performance and features and less on how it crams in the bag. Why? You can get a bigger after-market bag if needed but you won't change the boat, it is what it is. I have an older Kodiak and while it goes back in, it takes some effort. If I were going to carry it any distance, I'd load the whole thing in a proper portage pack/dry bag with thick padded should straps and a regular padded waist belt like the biggest ones by Seattle Sports or Seal Line. I wouldn't want to carry the stock one very far. Sorry, but I've never stood on mine so I can't help you there.

Rick Todd

Active Member
Have you seen the Scadden video with the Rampages and a tent pitched over it for extended outings? My brother has one and it is close to a universal boat. Sure, you wouldn't back pack it, but it works great for two (or three if you get the X5 frame) You can mount an electric on it and not worry about the wind. Works great for fishing by yourself on a river or lake, you can easily stand on it. Once we were at Dry Falls and I looked over at my brother and saw an empty boat. Thinking he had fallen off, I hustled over only to find him taking a nap on the back deck. He said it slept very well! Rick
yes I saw videos, and I'd really love all that you mentioned! It is why I drool when I sleep at night. It's just that I have a tiny house, no basement, a tiny garage with room for mower, a tiny yard, etc. Camping stuff sits in kitchen. Bike in spare br/tying room. Plus, I'd like the opportunity to be able to get to the take-out and take it back to vehicle at put-in w/o killing myself. Yet, the Rampage continues to call to me...... I'm hoping the Renegade might offer a compromise. Assault still not out of pic. Hope to get more feedback, call Dave tonight, and pull the trigger by Monday.
Freestone, you are 100% correct. the boat is what matters & I'm glad you wrote it as it puts things in perspective. However, if they are advertised to be packed-in somewhere, it would be nice if they truly are packable in provided bag with pump n oars. One can buy after-market bag, but it's another added cost &, like most, I'm not rich. Now, a vise is calling. Time to fly some ties. ;)
My WM's fit in the stock bag with oars, pump, seat, fins, anchor, spare dry bag for extra clothes, lunch, and water bottles. I have a Kodiak and a Grizzly. The Kodiak is a tighter fit but not difficult. The Grizzly is better for packing and is fine for walks less than a mile or so. I've used both boats for overnight floats. The cargo deck and large dry bag hold camping gear for a few nights easily. I don't stand in my boats while fishing because I rely on my fins to control my position and like to keep myself pointed at the water I'm fishing. I have used the seat to kneel on while on the water and could probably stand if the conditions were good. I added the optional raft floor for my Kodiak and like it for taking my son out with me. I can stand on it but prefer not to. Hope this helps!