So, like many others on the forum over the years, I have questions about rafts that might be suitable for fishing and (also maybe as a paddle boat). I asked a fellow forum member, Steezn290, about the Maravia Spider he sold last year. The responses he provided were very in-depth and thoughtful and I suggested it might be nice to post his responses on the forum. He was fine with me sharing. This is a pretty lengthy message, but I’m sharing in hopes it might help others along the way. Figured if Steezn290 invested the time in writing, he might as well have others benefit as well. ------- In my original message to him, I asked, “Was curious what your opinion was of that model [Maravia Spider] and what raft (if any) you replaced it with. If you didn't replace it with raft, but were to do so now, what would you buy?” Steezn290 - reply Well once I left Montana and wasn't guiding it didn't make sense to pay for a truck, gas, higher insurance, and indoor storage for the boat. That being said when I sold the boat I replaced it with a couple one man rafts so I could fish and float at the same time. I really love them because I no longer have to row others down the river while they fish. I get a lot more fishing in! Anyways I have rowed boats from all makes and models (aire, nrs, hyside, maravia, sotar, Saturn, odysee) and I really wish there was a way for everyone to do that so they actually know what the reason is for suggesting a high end boat. They are just flat out better than the cheap saturn, odysee and Montana inflatable boats. Plus they will last twice as long. Anyways, before I can really make a suggestion on which boat I would suggest it really depends on how/where you plan to use it. -What rivers do you normally fish? (ie- big water where wind can come up you want a wider and lower boat (slower boat). Small water you want a skinnier boat that is more maneuverable) -What type of rapids are on those rivers? (ie- big rapids you will want a faster boat that can carry more speed into a standing wave.) -How many people do you normally fish with (by yourself, you and another, or 3 people)? (ie-what length boat would be best to spread out the anglers) -Multi day or single day trips? (how many days and how many people on those trips) (ie- if your doing 3 people overnight floats regularly you need a longer boat for more storage and to help keep everyone comfortable and not feel cramped.) -Are you planning on storing the raft inflated or deflated? (fyi-inflated is so much easier but some people deflate 6 months out of the year.) -Do you want to stand and fish or sit and fish? (ie- does the front of the boat need to be wide enough for a platform) (fyi- sitting and fishing sound strange in a boat but it is the best and only way in my opinion. Sit back and relax) -Lastly, are you planning to guide out of the boat? --- Poff - reply Thanks for your replies and perspective on changing to one man rafts. Our local rivers (the ones big enough for a raft) are tailwaters most suited for day trips. Lots of lakes here as well. Not looking to guide professionally, just to have an option to cover more water than from shores with little public access. Would love a drift boat, but don't have space to store it and don't want to mess with a trailer. I realize it will be a pain to deflate raft and store the frame, but it's what I have to work with at this time. Almost no rapids on the local tailwaters. Would like to be able to fish with two others in the boat with the rower. Also would like the flexibility to use as a paddle boat. I've fished several days in rafts in Montana from a sitting position and found it to be quite reasonable and relaxing. The rafts were normally stiff enough that the occasional stand and cast was fine if needed. Casting platforms sound nice, but I can imagine more places to tangle fly line, more weight, more frame to assemble, etc From past experience with outdoor recreation gear, I also consider the resale value of my investments down the road. Steezn290 - reply Well because you are inflating and deflating the boat that takes Maravia and Aire out of the picture immediately. The only reason I say this is Maravia boats are made out of a super heavy duty material that is stronger and tougher than any other on the market. This material is so tough that it makes folding the boat no fun and the material can get damaged over time in a folded position. Aire boats have a bladder system. I don't like bladders because when they are deflated they can shift and make filling up very difficult. That leaves two companies in my opinion worth buying (for you). Sotar and NRS. NRS makes a quality boat and the Otter 130 would be a good boat that works well with a fishing frame and 3 people. This boat would be better suited for large rapids than the other boat I will suggest. This boat is one of the most popular fishing rafts on the market for a good reason (affordable, layout, versatility). This boat will not hold its value as well as there seems to be NRS' and Outcast (aire) coming up for sale more often than any other boat. The boat that I think is best suited for you and use on tail water is the Sotar Strike. This boat is low profile and rides really flat. It keeps the boat low and out of the wind. Wind is a rafts worst enemy and the strike is the best boat for it. This boat is not designed for large rapids but will run them just fine if you know what you are doing. The boat is top to bottom designed for fishing and that is why this boat is so great. The boat comes in 3 different sized and I would suggest staying away from the small model with 3 people. The middle is probably all around the right boat. Large would be great for multiple overnight trips. The resale value of these boats are really high compared to most other boats on the market. FRAME: For a frame I have always been on an NRS frame. They are great frames but since they bolt together they are not always the easiest to work with. I'm assuming there is a frame on the market that slides together easier for day use but I'm not 100% sure. Do some research and I hope you can find something that is super easy and quick. Here is a quick list of how I would rank the brands based on important aspects: Durability: 1. Maravia (leaps and bound ahead of other companies) 2. Sotar 3. NRS and Hyside 4. Aire (plus side on Aire is if you destroy a bladder it is cheap to replace compared to the entire boat) 5. Cheap boats: Odysee, Montana Inflatable, Saturn, etc. Resale Value: 1. Maravia and Sotar 2. NRS 3. Aire and Hyside 4. Cheap Brands Purchase Value (used) (ie. The best used boats for your money... Deals) 1. Aire 2. NRS 3. Hyside 4. Maravia and Sotar White Water Boats: 1. Maravia (they do make slower boats as well but they have great high rocker boats for white water) 2. Aire 3. NRS 4.Hyside Flat Water Boats: 1. Maravia and Sotar 2. NRS 3. Hyside and Aire Foldablilty: 1. Air (but if bladder shifts pain to inflate) 2. Soatar and NRS. 4. Hyside 5. Any other boat on the market 6. Maravia Floors: 1. Maravia 2. Every other boat on the market. Overall: (based on reviews, popularity, and what I have rowed) 1. Maravia 2. Sotar 3. NRS 4. Aire 5. Hyside 6. Cheap Boats If you do your research 90% of people will say the best boats on the market come out of Maravia's and Sotar's factory. Every other boat has similar construction and can be hard to compare. The reason why I like Maravia is that I kept my boat inflated and they have a line of boats that is much larger than Sotars. They are more durable and last forever (I know someone who is still fishing out of a boat with 20 years on the rubber). But my opinion is because SOTAR makes the right boat for you. The Sotar strike is the way to go. Great boat. Durable. Great Resale Value. Foldable. Great in tailwater style rivers. Can handle big water safely. Great construction with a quality product. 10-year warranty (matches Maravia)! Hope my experience has helped give you some insight into what boat might be best for you. If you have any other questions feel free to ask. Sorry about writing a book. Poff – reply This was super helpful - I will review your comments more carefully. I think it would be great to post this information on the forum so others could benefit as well. Thanks again and I look forward to re-reading your information. Steezn290 - reply Feel free if you want to write something up or quote me that is okay. I will for sure comment. Keep in mind most people are very bias to the boat they own and haven't had the ability to row many different boats like I have been able to. The fact is every boat company makes great boats (except the cheap brands) and you won't be disappointed any way you go. There are just reasons to buy one brand over the other depending on the initial questions I asked. Let me know what you decide and lastly don't skimp on the oars you get. They are a very important part to boat and not every model is the same and not everyone has the same preference. You get what you pay for (minimum I would spend on a pair is around $500). I personally like the flex and feel of a wood oar but composite will hold up much better. I prefer the SAWYER Square Top Shoal Cut oars but know many people that prefer the glass oars. It's all preference but you really do get what you pay for. Poff – conclusion – just another thanks to Steezn290 for being willing to share his experience. Hope this helps someone else along the way as well. I hope others will comment and provide additional wisdom and/or insight.