Pontoon Boats: Most Bang For The Bucks?

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Shhhhh, don't tell anyone

but I used to own outcasts before the Steelheaders came out on the market. I had the fishcats (alot older ones with the huge outcast/fishcat round symbol in middle of boat) and the pac series as well. They are decent boats. But, they are different as you step up. They do have heavier handling capacity, though when I owned them they used the same frames. But they have upgraded the frames a bit. Now you have a couple different pac series. The Pac 9000 series is a much better boat, with better tubes. But personally, if I was going to spend the price on that boat, I'd pay a bit more and get a Steelheader (the original 9' Steelheader). Almost same price, and tubes/frame made locally here in Woodinville WA. Like Bob said, looks stronger. And it is. Plus heavier handling capacity (600#'s for the 9' model, 1,000 for the 10'). Plus heavier tubes, about heaviest in the industry (strength, not just weight lol).

I will admit, my little 8' Fishcat I had was a great little boat for just running hole to hole. Never complained about it. For it's purpose, was great. But I was always trying to retrofit it so I could stand up and fish (don't try this at home lol). Great lake boats and for those wanting to just float. I wouldn't turn my back on them at all. Kept one for years while I had my steelheader as a backup/lake boat. Mostly for the fins aspect so I could kick around while fishing since I didn't have a river current pulling me downstream to next fishing hole.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
I think the newer "Pac" models are all much better and more durable, higher capacity etc. But check out Jerry's answer, (steelheader69), because he's right on target.
I just purchased a ODC Sport made by Creekside at GI Joe's last weekend for $249 and proceeded to take it on a ten mile drift down the Green. I got myself in a pretty hairy spot near the logjam and I'm tellin ya, this little boat was a champ. I got stuck on a log (rookie skipper)with a huge sharp branch stabbing the side of it and the river slammin me, and there was no damage ( a hole and I was toast). I ended up having to throw her on my shoulder for a couple hundred yards thru the forest back to them main river and the 50lbs came in pretty handy. Super easy to put together and breakdown. I might be more inclined to fish more lakes next time, but a river like the Green was a blast!!!:beer1

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew

Sorry couldn't let this one go. Although the Green may seem very tame, it is not! There are sweepers, logs and car bodies that can really screw up a float. You are fortunate that we didn't read about this in the "That's to bad category.". You mention rookie mistake, nope, just plain dumb.... I expect to take heat for the last comment, so be it, just want to keep people safe.
Hopefully, you had a life vest on, makes recovery easier....

I have a Water Skeeter rated for class 3 water.
Have taken down the Wenachee from Levenworth to
the county campground.
also use it in Pass lake ect.
The rod holder is not very good.
Pockets are a little small,made new ones and velcroed them on. Anchor system is ok.Seat is great.
All components are quick connect.
Check them out at Oregon fishing .com:thumb
I agree it does depen on what you are planning to use it for. If you are looking for one that is river rated and does great on lakes you should check out water skeeter. If you and a buddy are both getting a boat there newest version of the "River Tamer" has the ability to hook up with another river tamer so one can fish while the other guides down the river.
Seems it hasn't been brought up yet but how do you also intend to transport the boat? I have an SUV for my PAC 800 and it goes fine on the top or broken down inside.

Jerry can better attest to this but it is my understanding that the Steelheaders by Skookum are rather large and warrant a trailer of some sort. Please confirm if I'm wrong.

Just thought the transportation thing is another key to remember.



Active Member
the watermaster weighs only about 26 lbs. that is about half a pontoon. it also fits in a bag with straps for backpacking. the big disadvantage is it has no anchor system. also if you are oaring into the wind you will get wet. it costs about $1000. i paid $500 about 10 years ago. it is not worth more than 500. abel copied it with one minor change and they want $1200 which compares to paying $695 for a fly rod. hope this helps.

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Ah, no. Only the BIG ones should use a trailer (they have 14' steelheaders). But the 9' boats are same size/width as outcasts and the likes. But, all of these boats can be broke down and put into back of a vehicle (my old steelheader fit in the trunk of my old Mercury Comet taken down lol). What's easy to do if you have a smaller SUV, is to just deflate the tubes still attached. Then pull out when you get to the river and pump up. Only the bigger boats (steelheader II/III which are 12 and 14') need to possibly be trailered. But hey, I put my 16' Aire custom cataraft on the roof of my full sized blazer. lol. I should post pics of it.


"Chasing Riseforms"
I just bought an OUTCAST PAC 900 yesterday from WATERS WEST in Port Angeles. He has a new shop in Gardner (25 miles from the Hood Canal Bridge). Sale for $899.00!!!! Last years model I believe. 1300 Denier.


Rich Layendecker
I will share my experience. I have a boat with 8 ft pontoons and have used it on the Sky, the Skagit, the Yakima, other rivers and many lakes. I would advise against 7 ft pontoons for rivers. A prime consideration is how will you transport & store it? Mine fits INSIDE my Explorer SUV with the rear seat down and some air let out of the tubes. Very convenient being inside for both security and avoiding lifting it on top. I worried about the ability to take it apart quickly since it uses nuts and bolts and no quick release. I doubt I take it apart twice a year and then only we we want to put three boats into the back of the Explorer. Since I never take it apart storage is easy: it hangs on a couple of 2x4s sticking out of the garage wall. Just lift it off the wall and slide it into the back of the SUV.

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
I will add this since Ral brought it up. If you have a take down frame, you would be best advised to take it apart a few times a year and treat the seams with bag balm or similar type solvent. Especially on a steel type frame. If you don't, the time you will want to take your frame apart, it will NOT come apart. I think I took mine apart at least 7 times a year and rewaxed up the connecting pieces. If by chance you have a boat that uses bolts, check and see if you can use quick release tabs to replace them. Like the pins people use on their trailer hitches and the likes. If they work, substitute them. They work great and with the rounded piece that swings around helps lock it down. So no worries about it popping off. But this is ONLY if you have a takedown frame and plan to pull it apart. I've seen guys who have literally WELDED their tubes together on their frames from dirt, grit, and rust on some frames from leaving them put together. Especially wet. Just an FYI for those out there with takedown frames. Even aluminum can do this, so just a warning. That grit can act like cement over time.


Born To Flyfish
Versa Vessel-Great

I own a pontoon boat made by "Outdoor Engineering" it's called a "Versa Vessel".... I looked at a lot of them before I bought it.. Some I saw were nothing more than a glorified kick boat. I can truley say that it is of the highest quality... I am surprised that they have not become main stream yet....

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