Watermaster Vs. Catchercraft Freestone For Rivers

Clumsy Carp

New Member
Has anybody had experience using both of these in rivers, and able to offer an opinion on which is better for use with fins? What I've heard from a couple WaterMaster owners is that with the flat design the WM holds its orientation with little effort from the fins when you are drifting down a run, for example, casting tight to the banks in the summer on the Yak. I like the raised bow and stern on the Freestone for choppy water, but wonder if that would make it want to turn more than the WM. My pontoon boats are notorious for that - they turn on a dime, so it is really a chore to keep them oriented in a fixed direction. I'd rather buy the Freestone, as I think it is a much better value, but it has to do what I want.
 

jake-e-boy

sans caféine
Kinda a framed vs Unframed thread, which has been debated mucho. Personally, framed craft every time. Plus catchercraft is good people and good WA based company, support yocals
 

Panther

Member
I don't own either craft, and I respect both brands...but, for this purpose I would prefer the Watermaster. Awfully tough craft, really hard to puncture it...design has proven itself over several decades. If I am not mistaken, the Kodiak has a weight capacity of 750 pounds, Freestone 300 pounds.
 

SpeyFitter

Active Member
If rivers are mainly your game and you're comparing a framed to a non framed boat I'd go framed every time. Even if there is a weight penalty (which sacrifices some portability - but I don't think there is much of a weight penalty in this comparison) a frame is so much safer and offers a realistic opportunity to swap out a damaged oar with a spare oar in a timely manner, as well as REALLY give 'er shit (the oars I mean) if you have to make critical moves away from potentially fatal hazards. The frame with traditional oar locks really lets you take full advantage of the thrust & rebound of the cataract mini-mags, a frameless glued on pad with pin not so much. Also the frame is much better for affixing and strapping down items generally. It's one thing to carry 750 pounds but if you have few to no lashing points....

If you go this way (the framed boat I mean) I'd get the 1 pc over the 2 pc cataraft mini-mags if you can manage the length with your vehicle (along with a spare).

The whole tracking thing generally depends on a couple things:

- the "rocker" (curvature), or lack thereof, from the centre of your tubes to the ends of the tubes/raft; flat waterlines/boats with little or no curvature tend to track better, curved waterlines from the centre out to the ends tend to be more agile and not track AS well.
- the length of the waterline or "contact" patch in the water (depth in the water has a factor here as well).
 

BDD

Active Member
Schedule a trip to the Yakima and hit the Skwala hatch. You can row both and decide for yourself. I will shuttle. If you like the WM better, I will treat you to dinner at Reds.

And by the way, there is no way there is that much difference in weight capacity between the two. The specs are much closer than that.
 

DanielOcean

Active Member
I don't own either craft, and I respect both brands...but, for this purpose I would prefer the Watermaster. Awfully tough craft, really hard to puncture it...design has proven itself over several decades. If I am not mistaken, the Kodiak has a weight capacity of 750 pounds, Freestone 300 pounds.
Yes they say the Kodiak has a weight rating of 750 lbs, and a white water class rating of class IV.:rolleyes:
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
The Kodiak may have a weight rating of 750 pounds, meaning it will float such a load. I've had mine loaded with about 300 pounds, including me, and that's close to the max you'd want when maneuvering through rapids that matter.

Sg
 

jdubp

New Member
Size of tubes means WM Kodiak must have a much larger load capacity. Freestone has all 14" diameter tubes while WM Kodiak has 20" on ends and 16" on sides.

My experience with Freestone is in a shop and it looks okay, but it is just another framed craft, not much different than an enclosed pontoon. I have had WM Kodiak for 2 years, after a multi-year search and owning frameless U boats and pontoons. Like Sg posted, I would never go beyond 350-400lbs even on real Class II. I just looked at WM webpage and can say I am disappointed that Watermaster is taking a page out of Scadden's book to advertise they can do Class IV- of course an inner tube can do Class IV but 90% of owners of all single user pontoons/fishing rafts should stick to Class I and a few Class II.
 

BDD

Active Member
Size of tubes means WM Kodiak must have a much larger load capacity. Freestone has all 14" diameter tubes while WM Kodiak has 20" on ends and 16" on sides.

My experience with Freestone is in a shop and it looks okay, but it is just another framed craft, not much different than an enclosed pontoon. I have had WM Kodiak for 2 years, after a multi-year search and owning frameless U boats and pontoons. Like Sg posted, I would never go beyond 350-400lbs even on real Class II. I just looked at WM webpage and can say I am disappointed that Watermaster is taking a page out of Scadden's book to advertise they can do Class IV- of course an inner tube can do Class IV but 90% of owners of all single user pontoons/fishing rafts should stick to Class I and a few Class II.
We have never had our Freestone in a shop that I know. And I would have known since I would have put it there. Perhaps you have it confused with another make or model?

The Freestone is 9 feet long, so it is longer than the WM, making up some of the weight capacity in length over tube diameter. It also has an upturned bow and stern, so it will ride differently than the WM, with its flat design. The bottom line is even the largest angler can load up enough gear for overnight trips and feel very safe and comfortable going to through normal rapids with a Freestone. Does it matter if somebody claims the weight capacity is rated for 500, 600, or 750 pounds? Weight capacity by boats is such an arbitrary thing. In order for it to mean much, you would have to clarify it with a standard, such as 4 inch draft with 500 pounds of weight. And nobody making those claims actually does that.

As unbiased as possible, here are the differences between the two, in my opinion. I may have missed some but the great thing is everyone can decide what is best for their respective use.

WM-lighter, more compact design, frameless, comes with own carrying bag for easier transport when deflated, more widely known and longer history, and more "accessory items" and better eye appeal, multi-chambered.

Catchercraft Freestone-Real seat, real frame, real oars, real oar locks, boat, frame (3 different options), all components are all made in the USA, less expensive, true upturned bow, more fly-line friendly, more adjustments to seat and heel bar, welded seams, real (optional) anchor system.

My offer still stands to anyone looking to row a Freestone on the Yakima and try it out for yourself, rather than taking someone else's word for it.
 
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jdubp

New Member
I apologize if I confused your raft with one that I saw at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show. My use of the word "shop" was misleading, I should have said I have no experience with one "on the water". It was not intentional. My entire point was I feel that that larger diameter tubes (& more tube) on the water means a WM can carry more weight. OK, so a Watermaster Kodiak is 8'10" not 9"- but your upturned ends on the Freestone means the WM actually has more tube in contact with the water than the Freestone. I will stand by my observation.

Your point of how much weight is enough is a valid point since most users are not going to load it up with over 350lbs, including their own weight. All I know is that the few times I have loaded the WM Kodiak down, it has not lost much maneuverability and I always felt safe, including once when it was necessary to be a 2 person river raft with around 600lbs.

In your comparison, WM Kodiak has the optional solid floor which makes cold weather use practical and makes the WM a good stillwater craft-- but WM's motor mount worries me so I do not use it with a motor.

HOWEVER I learn something every day. From looking at your webpage, you have addressed many items on my wish list for the Kodiak or items I have added/modified myself.

I am a old, retired dude, but not too old to appreciate change and innovation- and the Freestone has some very attractive features. Will there be any place outside of Yakima where the Freestone can be seen in the next year?

Jim
 

BDD

Active Member
Not that it matters much but I still don't know whether you have seen a Catchercraft Freestone in person or not? Your first post you stated you saw one at a show then your second post you stated you have no experience with one on the water, which potentially gives the impression that you have seen one in person, which almost contradicts your first post. Again, makes no difference to me whether you have or not. I think your assessment about it being an "enclosed pontoon" is pretty accurate. But nobody else is really making it like that so in that regard, it is pretty unique.

I don't think a good working motor mount is a bad thing on the WM. People get too caught up in motor mounts in small personal craft. They are not designed to be packing around a large, heavy battery and another 30 pound electric trolling motor. It detracts from the simplicity, lightweight, and portability of a craft like this. I am amazed at how many people want a motor mount on a 9 foot boat. What is the matter with rowing? Are people that lazy? If you want a trolling motor (the last three comments are not directed at you personally but in general) get an aluminium boat, which is much more suited for that type of fishing. That said, if someone really wanted a motor mount, a framed boat is much better than a frameless boat. I just think it is funny that people will squawk at a few extra pounds a real frame adds to a boat, allowing you to do much more but then want to add 65 pounds extra for a battery and motor when there are already two perfectly good ways to maneuver the boat...with oars or fins.

Same with a floor. If you want a floor, get a raft that is designed with a floor. There are lots of 9 foot rafts available with a floor. But the floorless WM and Freestone are purposely designed without a floor so you can do things that you can't do with a boat that has a floor. People want a boat that does everything but it doesn't work that way. There will be compromises. You have to determine which features are most important to you and the type of fishing/boating and pick one (or if your lucky several) that meet the most of your needs.

I have no idea where you are located so I'm not sure about where you might see one or not down the road. However, the Freestone is light enough that we might be able to ship you one to try it out for a short period of time at a reasonable shipping cost. We have also had customers return boats they didn't like for whatever reason after using it for a full refund. Of course you'd cover the shipping charges.
 
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Runejl

Josh
I chose to buy a Watermaster after owning two pontoon boats because I didn't like having to keep track of all the Pin clips and different parts that were needed to assemble. I found that the time it took to pack and set up were enough to deter me from regular use.

I have enjoyed my watermaster. If the freestone had been available when I was making my purchase I probably would have been tempted.

One Oar has been broken while floating, and I think that the pinned Oars are the major downside to the WM.

I think that if I could design a boat myself it would have
-upturned bow and stern
-be designed to be used both frame less like the WM and framed like the freestone
- possibly have oar mounts like the Outcast OSG Striker so you could operate the boat frame less but not be stuck with pinned oars

Good luck with your decision
 

Chic Worthing

Active Member
WFF Supporter
Josh, you just might be the guy to answer my question. I currently have 3 pontoon boats. All of them are Creek Company with one 8 footer and two ten footers. What advantage is there to a raft like the watermaster over a pontoon boat? I understand that you bought a raft that has few parts and I can see that as an advantage, although to me not a big deal. My pontoon boats stay at least partially inflated and attached to the ceiling of my garage with ratchet pulleys. When I need one, it goes in the back of my truck or in my fifth wheel storage bay (in the case it would be taken apart and deflated - same if I had a raft).

It seems like a pontoon boat would have less drag when rowing. Although that is not a big deal as from my understanding, the main purpose of the oars is the change direction and move away from hazards. I find the pontoons easier to get into and out of although my experience is limited in rafts. I don't see the advantage of the raised bow and stern. Contrary to what BDD stated, the bow and stern has limited contribution to your flotation until they get wet. Carrying capacity is based on "displaced water" and you get that in a limited amount. At least, a flat boat of the same dimensions will have greater capacity given the same depth in the water.

Anyway, fire away, I value your more diverse experience. I am replacing the gunwales on my oldest drift boat today and will be in and out.
 

Runejl

Josh
Josh, you just might be the guy to answer my question. I currently have 3 pontoon boats. All of them are Creek Company with one 8 footer and two ten footers. What advantage is there to a raft like the watermaster over a pontoon boat? I understand that you bought a raft that has few parts and I can see that as an advantage, although to me not a big deal. My pontoon boats stay at least partially inflated and attached to the ceiling of my garage with ratchet pulleys. When I need one, it goes in the back of my truck or in my fifth wheel storage bay (in the case it would be taken apart and deflated - same if I had a raft).

It seems like a pontoon boat would have less drag when rowing. Although that is not a big deal as from my understanding, the main purpose of the oars is the change direction and move away from hazards. I find the pontoons easier to get into and out of although my experience is limited in rafts. I don't see the advantage of the raised bow and stern. Contrary to what BDD stated, the bow and stern has limited contribution to your flotation until they get wet. Carrying capacity is based on "displaced water" and you get that in a limited amount. At least, a flat boat of the same dimensions will have greater capacity given the same depth in the water.

Anyway, fire away, I value your more diverse experience. I am replacing the gunwales on my oldest drift boat today and will be in and out.
A well built pontoon boat is probably better suited for the river than either the Watermaster or the Freestone. I think my Pontoon Boats rowed better than my Watermaster and they were for sure faster on the water. If you live in a house where you can keep the pontoon boat assembled and have a vehicle that can transport it that way then I would stick with what you have.

I had to keep mine broken down and twice forgot a piece causing me to have to abandon my float.

When back rowing in the watermaster, water has a tendency to pileup on the bow, (and I am sure the stern as well) causing the boat to have more drag and move slower.
 

BDD

Active Member
Contrary to what BDD stated, the bow and stern has limited contribution to your flotation until they get wet. Carrying capacity is based on "displaced water" and you get that in a limited amount. At least, a flat boat of the same dimensions will have greater capacity given the same depth in the water.
Not sure where you got the above statement from? I don't recall saying anything about an upturned bow or stern adding to or detracting from weight capacity. In fact, I generally agree with your comment about displacement. I stated the upturned bow will cause the boat to ride differently, particularly in whitewater than a cheaper, flat designed boat.
 

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