Why dont you see more Catarafts for flyfishing?

This has boggled my mind for sometime, because to me, on paper, it seems like a near-perfect craft. obviously, you lose some storage, and comfort over a drift boat, but the load carrying and whitewatering ability should be superior. Alot of guys run round rafts, but after rowing one, I wasnt that impressed with the handling. In actuallity, it took more effort to get moving, spin, and turn than my alumaweld drifter. I primarily fish with one other person and a dog, and it seems like a cat would make sense. Anyhow, who has experience rowing one? and what is your take on it?

Keep in mind, i am still refurbing my alumaweld, so I will have a hard boat as well.
I just bought a 14' cataraft a couple of months ago because I wanted a small river/whitewater watercraft to float places I won't take my drift boat and it's been one of the best purchases I've made. A buddy and I took it 30+ miles down Rock Creek a couple of weeks ago fully loaded with gear and 2 guys and I couldn't be happier with it. Easy to row, manuever, and tracks real good. Perfect for 1 or 2 people and with a little creativity I'm still able to pack everything I need and want. I'm a big guy (6' 280lbs) and it's a bit cramped, but it's a fair trade for the mobility.
brett, what make of cat are you running? I am +- 285lbs too. And would like to take someone with me most of the time............... I was leaning towards 16' tubes. How does that thing handle in the water?
The thought of a flat floor that rides out of the water is pretty appealing. The floors in the round rafts seem to get hung up, and the are so squishy to walk on.
jc, it's a Jack's Plastic Welding Flyer Cat and it handles great. Compared to the other watercrafts I've rowed, 16' DB and 12' raft, it is by far the easiest to maneuver. I've taken it through some class II/III water fully loaded with 2 people no problems. Unloaded with just me it's glides across the water. Can't say one way or the other about going to 16' but I'm sure there are advantages and disadvantages, i.e. handles more weight but loses some manueverability, that someone else could answer for you. That said I do feel like I could use a little extra space and ability to handle multi-day loads that a 16' might be better suited for.
i saw a few of those jack's and they seem great. i was leaning towards NRS, but could go either way, The trampoline floor seems really cool, and i definitely would want it set up for three to fish, although it would more than likely be two plus my dog.
If you want 3 people as an option I'd go with 16'. Mine says it can go 3 people, but it would be tight. Love the NRS, but I found a great deal on the Jacks. The only real downside to mine is the frame is steel and doesn't break down like the NRS frames.
What accessories do you have? And what oar length? Dry boxes, ect??? Seems like you are pretty happy with it.

What rivers do you fish? Id be willing to row you around on it if youre willing to let me! I just want to get a feel for the cat vs raft
I use dry bags so no boxes, has anchor mount and anchor, honestly don't know oar length but I think they're 8 1/2', nothing else I'd consider an accessory aside from say electric and manual pump, tons of straps, repair kit, and gear bag are all I can think of.

I can do a daytrip on the 11th or 12th of July. I'll PM you with details.


Active Member
for a given length a self bailing raft will take more weight than a cataraft, just somthing to consider. This is a fact not an opinion. I have both a raft and cat, but generally prefer the raft (less rigging time) because i don't have a trailer. Other than really heavy continuous whitewater (about Class IV and over) there is no real practical handling advantage between the two, however, a cat will perform better in continuous heavy whitewater.
Yes, but realistically how much weight will i generally have in the boat? under 700 lbs. So are you saying that a cat 16' cat with 700lbs in the boat has no handling advantages over a 14' raft with 700 lbs in it? because I was unimpressed by the way my buddys 14' raft rowed with just him and I. It felt stable, and comfortable, but i had to really pull the oars hard to slow it down / change directions. This made for tough fishing when we were trying to fish one bank, and then ferry across the river to hit the other bank.

Rick Todd

Active Member
I had a guided trip on the Big Hole several years ago on a 16' Cataraft-not sure which brand, and it was by far the best craft I have fished out of for rocky rivers like the Big Hole or Madison. You can straddle many of the rocks and it turns, ferries and tracks very well. The guide I was with uses his on the Teton River in Idaho and has a put in that requires 200' of rope to rappel the boat down to the river. It is the only type of boat that works well for this, and it is needless to say, an underfished section of the river:)! I have a Dave Scadden 2 man pontoon (11') that is just a great boat for fishing two on a river. (I have a Rays River Dory wooden drift boat 17' for bigger groups.) I think pontoon based boats are ideal for portability, fishability and rowing ease. Rick

Rick Todd

Active Member
BTW-rafts are really pigs to row if you are used to a pontoon or drift boat-just a lot of work to make them go where you want them and stay there! (but a great way to get a great upper body work out!) Rick


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Alot of guys run round rafts, but after rowing one, I wasnt that impressed with the handling. In actuallity, it took more effort to get moving, spin, and turn than my alumaweld drifter QUOTE]

This whole thread is kind of silly, cats, rafts, driftboats all work realy good for fishing if you have the setup dialed in. We have all three in our family circle and some perform better than other in certain situation. I can tell you that my super duper puma (14' raft) handles as good as the 16' aluminum koffler when loaded for an overnight trip with the same amount of gear. When just 2 people in the boat the DB handles better. I can tell you that my 12 cat kicks ass in class IV+ whitewater, but it takes me twice as long to rig. I can tell you that I love all three of these boats for different reasons.

Do you know what brand/length of raft you were rowing? bucket or self bailing? It is very possible you were rowing either a piece of crap or the boat was not properly inflated, or your oars were too short. More people should use a pressure gage. I have been finding that a lot of people are actually under inflating there boat when not using a pressure gage to blow up to the manufacturers specs. This can make a huge difference in performance in either a cat or raft.