What is (your opinion) the optimum length?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by bengal31, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. bengal31

    bengal31 New Member

    Hey guys, I'm looking at getting a raft soon and I'm curious what your opinion is on the best length to get.
    Upto three people, Large rivers but the capability of floating on skinny rivers as well.
    I hope I didnt leave out anything. I'm not looking for science just a few opinions. Shouldnt be to hard to come by a few of those I hope :)
  2. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

    I have a 14" Sotar that I bought from Jergans on this website last year. It has a fishing frame and will fish 3 easily. I also take off the fishing seats and thigh braces and use it for whitewater rafting. It is cabable of class 4+ rapids with the right guy on the sticks.:eek:I have a friend/fellow rafter who has a 16' it is great for a big group but it is hard to row not nearly as maneuverable and is a bugger to get to the river. The Sotar only weighs in at about 125# maybe 150 with the frame. My wife and I can unload and get it in the water even at some of the difficult launch spots. This is important to me.
    Remember a 14' overall length and 80" wide is not very big inside when you have 20" diameter tubes. It is not like a 14' driftboat. I looked at a 12' raft at a show the other day and it is tiny inside, too small for three for sure.
    PT has a great raft for sale check with him.
  3. patrick barta

    patrick barta Love'em - N - Leave'em

    I have a 15' supercat by the riverman boatworks in OR. I love it. We've done the Deschute several times, The Rogue, Main fork Salmon. Three of us are floating the Smith with it the end of April. I highly recommend

  4. tomc

    tomc Member

    Jesse is right, the 14' Sotar is a fine raft for many uses. It rows really well in "my opinion" for the size with ALL the gear needed (beer wine and of course CACHACA) for four days with three guys. But, you asked about skinny water? the 14' Sotar may be bigger that you might want. Oh hell, you need two boats now:beer2:
    Just doing my part for boat builders:thumb:
    Tom C.
  5. ryan6f7

    ryan6f7 New Member

    I own a 13 foot NRS and with the frame in its perfect for three guys and it can handle smaller waters as well. I use it primarily on the yakima and i love it
  6. TrappedinCO

    TrappedinCO Help! I'm trapped in a landlocked state.

    A 14' self bailer is the 9-foot 5-weight of rafts.

    And length is important, but keep in mind width and tube diameter, too. Those are probably more important parameters. A 13-foot Aire Super Puma is a totally different critter than a 13-foot standard Sotar.
  7. Christian Brewer

    Christian Brewer Super Slacker

    TrappedinCO, can you explain what you are talking about. I know the shape of the rafts are different, so I'm guessing that really effects the handling in the water. What would be the pro's and con's of each design?

    I already have a pontoon that I use all of the time, but have been toying with the idea of a raft for those multi-person or multi-day floats.

  8. Ray

    Ray Member

    The outfitter I work for has a fleet of Maravias, and the 13' Spider is perfect for what you need. It'll handle skinny water, but I've run many class IV rapids with it. It's one of the lightest boats on the market, yet is one of the toughest. Here's some skinny water we ran:
  9. TrappedinCO

    TrappedinCO Help! I'm trapped in a landlocked state.

    The 13' Super Puma (and the Maravia Spider) are narrow, diminising tube boats. This means that the tube at the bow and stern is a smaller diameter than the tubes running along the side of the boat. This translates into a boat that isn't quite as well suited for a guy sitting behind the rower on the stern tube. When you see a Super Puma with a large guy on the back tube, it pretty much kills the trim of the boat. (Although, I suspect that the Maravia Spider is a bit better with someone on the rear tube because Maravia gets quite a bit of rigidity out of their so-called Class VI fabric...but you pay a lot for this). The pros would be you can fit that narrow boat into stuff like the above photo shows - nice picture!

    A more traditional 13' boat will have a constant diameter tube and support the rear angler better. They will also be (necessarily) wider to accommodate the constant tubes.

    14 footers can also have the same trade-offs, as there are constant diameter and diminishing tubes in that length, as well.

    I'm not saying Pumas and Spiders aren't great boats - they are a ton of fun and can handle big and/or technical water very well, especially when loaded properly. However, rafts setup for flyfishing have the odd constraint of having someone occasionally sitting on the back tube, which can affect the handling and trim of a boat.

    It just boils down to a couple trade-offs here and there - some big, some small. For a 13-foot flyfishing boat, a 13' tan (its cheaper) standard Sotar with a Cambridge fishing frame would be my choice for a good all-around boat that won't break the bank (check out the Sotar hotsheet online). For longer overnight trips, go with the 14-footer. But now we're really getting into my opinion, so I'll spare y'all.
  10. prosopium

    prosopium Member

    that boat looks like a dream to fish out of:rolleyes:

    a 14 foot raft is probably the best fit. ive fished out of a 13' with three people and it wasnt much fun. its only 1 foot but its a big difference. you probably wouldnt want much bigger. I have a fourteen and have done a lot of 'skinny' water in it with no problems
  11. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

    Here are a couple of pics of my raft. One with the fishing frame on and one in the whitewater.

    Attached Files:

  12. Ray

    Ray Member

    We have the same frame for the Spider. The only difference is a seat cooler instead of the rodeo chair. I have to store the beer somewhere.
  13. Christian Brewer

    Christian Brewer Super Slacker

    Thanks...that's good info.

  14. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    That's a great whitewater pic Jesse. Thanks for sharing.

  15. bengal31

    bengal31 New Member

    Wow guys thanks for the information. I'm kind of going back and forth between the Maravia and the Sotar now. I'm one of those people that If I'm going to spend the money I might as well get what I consider the best.

    Jesse, What frame is that on your raft?
  16. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

    The frame is NRS.
  17. Ray

    Ray Member

  18. Jon Bial

    Jon Bial Chasing the Magic

    I own the Mariavia Spider with a Downriver Equipment frame.

    It's a two person boat if you want to go on overnighters. For day trips, taking three is a fine option. If you have trips with buddies with other boats, you don't want the large raft anyway, because it will get loaded down and rowing it becomes a chore.

    I've fished out of drift boats and other rafts, so I have some basis for comparison. Fishing out the stern of a maravia isn't like doing so in a clack, and I generally put the lighter and hopefully better caster in the back.

    My bud has a Sotar that is a larger than the maravia, but I wouldn't trade for a couple reasons.

    First, the spider is easier to maneuver and lighter than the sotar. We've hoofed the boat down the Revenue Bridge put in on the Sandy, yanked it out on the side of the road on the Yakima. Fun? Not really, but easier than the sotar, which is bigger, less stiff and more awkward.

    Second, there is huge difference in the floor. The maravia drop stitch floor is solid and I can stand up on it without the trampoline feeling.

    Here is a series of pics with the Maravia, I know it's a well trodden story, but I never mastered importing photos. It made it without a scratch.

    As for durability, I don't think you can beat Maravia, but with proper care, a raft should last many many years.

    One tip, instead of using rope around the raft, use webbing, it catches fewer hooks.

    Of course, if the choice is me row my boat or my buddy's boat with him on the sticks, I'm happy to ride in a sotar;)

    Happy boating,

  19. creekx

    creekx spent spinner

    I previously posted this on a similar thread:

    I've owned an Aire Super Puma for about 9 years now. Its a GREAT boat for two, but it is marginal with the third fisherman in the aft seat - as others have mentioned. It's okay with three on big rivers (Clark Fork, Missouri, etc.) but on smaller/swifter streams, the person in back limits maneuverability. Also, not much room for stuff with the guy in back.

    Where the boat really shines is with two anglers on rivers like the Bitterroot, which have lots of narrow channels, deadfalls, etc. The narrow width also means you can use shorter oars, which helps a lot in tight spots.

    In short, I'd give it an A+ for 2 anglers and a C for 3 anglers. 13 foot may be sufficient for three in a standard (wider) raft design, but if you want room for gear, and don't want the aft fisherman's knees in the rowers back, 14 foot may be a better choice...

    BTW, the Maravia Spider design is a copy of the Super Puma hull.