Pontoon Boat quandry [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Pontoon Boat quandry

09-19-2003, 01:26 PM
Looking to buy a pontoon boat of some sort with the following criteria:
Primary rivers - Yakima, Skagit, Sauk, Stilly, Skykomish, Snoqualmie
Typically day use but may want to overnight with a tent and other provisions, ie...beer cooler!
Have never rowed one or been on river with one.
Have an Acura SUV so needs to be portable and easy to assemble at the put in.
Will primarily anchor and get out to fish but it would be nice to fish from it, can you do this?

Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

thx in advance.

09-19-2003, 01:46 PM
With your better boats, you can anchor and fish from the boat. You'll get buy quite well with the higher end boats (you'll be paying around $1200-2000 depending on models/brand).

There are plenty of boats on the market. Steelheaders, badcats, xstremes. Take a look and choose from there.

Myself, I go with the Steelheader models all the way. Why? Because they've been around longer, have an awesome warranty, are pretty much copied by the rest, and boats are much better built. At first, appearances are the same with these boats, but if you get down to the construction aspect, the Steelheader is built with better materials. Plus, most of the others are made overseas in china (tubes and frames). The steelheaders are built here in WA. I've checked out the rest, and still stick with the Steelheaders, though they are a bit more expensive (mostly because of the way they're built, much stronger).

Plus, the Steelheader has a take down frame that fits into a nice bag. Not super small, but size of a suitcase or so. Plus, had a tremendous carrying capacity capared to the rest. The 10' Guide model steelheader is the best all around boat to get. Lots of weight carrying capacity and extremely stable to stand up and fish out.

09-19-2003, 06:13 PM
Who makes the steelheader, where to look at/obtain one?

Appreciate the insight.

BTW - Every flyshop I go into pushes Outcast and Bucks Bags. Why? Are they reputable?

09-19-2003, 07:46 PM

I was looking around too, off and on, about 6 months ago, and after reading a lot, on this board and elsewhere, and stopping by shops looking at Bucks and Outcast, among others, went with the steelheader. No question that Bucks and Outcasts make great boats, and guys that fish with them swear by them. I went with the steelheader, though, in part b/c they're built like tanks, and I know I'm going to be doing this for a good while, and hate more than anything else buying twice. Anyway, got the Osprey 10ft. A little more expensive, but I'd figure out exactly what each boat costs (make sure you know exactly what's included), then go compare for yourself.

09-19-2003, 10:29 PM
Ok, now I'm interested in Skookum boats. Checked out the website..where can you see these in person? Do any shops carry them? I definitely have to see, sit in, and disassemble/assemble one before I purchase....also, how much is the Osprey 10footer?

thx again to all for the info and keep it coming.. the more educated you are, the better you can form your own opinions as opposed to that of the fly shops'.


09-19-2003, 10:35 PM
Hey check out watermaster, http://www.kickboat.com

Now what about our hyperlink policy? They are now a proud sponsor!

Great products, I can't wait to check out the 15 # packable!

Banner and direct hyperlink will be ready shortly.

09-20-2003, 02:43 PM
I assume the policy is not to include hyperlinks to non-sponsors, so happy to edit it out of my post.

Airedale, the skookum 10' (with the big 19" pontoons, anchor package, 7.5 foot Cataract breakdown oars (accept no substitutes) will run you about 1700. But note that those tubes are very tough, thicker than just about anything else you can buy (no bladders). Stores don't sell them, though depending on where you live, you could probably find someone who has one and would let you take a look. I live in Portland, but there are plenty in WA, and Bill's place is, or at least was (if he hasn't moved everything to Bend yet) in Woodinville, WA., close to Seattle. I bought mine sight unseen, I have to admit. You could go with the smaller pontoons, which takes about $200 off the price (I think, but check). Once you put them together once, you can pump up the the tubes, and assemble the whole thing in about 15 minutes (faster if steelhead are rolling). The Outcast 8s and 9s are probably lighter and easier to portage; it just depends on what you want. Good luck.

09-20-2003, 02:56 PM
Thanks for being concerned about the policy. It's much simpler than that - we figure since there is good information to be shared, we don't prohibit direct hyperlinks... we just ask that the linker follow up with the promoted company with an email in his/her own words letting them know about us and suggesting sponsorship to highlight their products in our community. This also lets us remain fair to our existing sponsors who are the life blood of the site.

CC: sponsorships(at)flyfishingforum.com so we can follow up and give you credit if the company comes on line with us. That's it!

09-20-2003, 03:12 PM
I'm lousy at looking for fine print, so I always err on the safe side. (Had my first beer at 31, and never go faster than 45 on I 84). Anyway, thanks Juro, and I'll write Bill at Skookum.

09-20-2003, 08:48 PM
AirDale, I have owned just about everything that floats and as a boat of choice in the small inflatable's I choose the Water Masters they are the simpelest and fastest to set up and will handle all but the most "Foolhardy" situations with safety and comfort.
In my opinion the single most important function of the WM's that is the least advertised is how simple they are to just stand up and walk down a run casting overhand or Spey without ever leaving your boat it just hangs around your waist, knees or ankles depending on the water depth. So you never have to make your way back up the pool to retreive your boat and gear. This is really nice when a mean spirited Grizzly takes exception at your sharing his or her water!
Juro sounds like I have to buy another WM, that light weight you are refering to at my age makes it a no brainer I'm sold where do I sign? I did not find a reference on the Sponsors Website for the light one, give me a clue mon.

09-20-2003, 10:18 PM
Our sponsor shop Rod Builder's Workshop carries them and Smitty swears by them. He's pretty particular about the gear he uses but he uses these all over the country when he's hunting or fishing.

I have been looking for something very light to use for fishing certain flats where wading is risky due to extreme tides. Something like the 15 pound unit they talk about would be too easy to carry to resist trying. The problem is when the tide goes out you have to walk 3/4 mile to water sometimes. When it comes rushing in it brings hordes of hungry fish, but you have to then get back to shore somehow. Something that is very light and packable for a little ways would be key to this fishery.

It's the one they haven't put pics up for yet... the "bruin" I think? Curious to see what it looks like.

09-23-2003, 04:34 AM
I think the key is to figure out what you want out of a boat. For myself, I like the watermasters. Not a bad boat for portability if you simply want to get out and fish. But I want my small boats as small driftboats. Something that will handle hard water, yet I can anchor up and fish from the boat without wobbling or getting out. My main purpose is a smaller rendition that I can pack down and toss in back of a car if needed. Why I went with the Steelheaders. After years of fishing float tubes, cheaper pontoon type boats, and the likes, was nice when a true whitewater grade cataraft came on the market. Was actually about to build a pram, or look into a mini drifter. But, got me really hooked into catarafts (when it was mostly a whitewater thing back then lol)

09-29-2003, 03:04 PM
OK, a few more rookie boater questions:

1) Do most people wear some sort of personal floatation device like one of those low-no profile neck 'thingys' that you can pull a cord and they inflate or is this overkill? Any brands or models you might recommend?
2) How about rod holders on a pontoon boat? I probably want to bring a dry rod and a nymph rig. I have seen two kinds on the market, Scotty's and Float n Tote...any experience?
3) Also considering adding a "Launching Gear" to a 9foot boat for portability. Any experience with these stowable wheels?

Thk you all for the sage advice. I love these boards as they sure help educate you prior to purchasing useless things and alleviate buyer's remorse!!

Fish On-----

09-29-2003, 05:38 PM
Here's my .02.

I used to do volunteer swiftwater rescue. I had to be certified to do it, and was a thankless job most of the time. I found that I would NEVER rely on anything mechanical when it came to vests. They have been proven to be effective, but there's none that are 100% effective. Do you want to risk your life on something that may/maynot open? The self inflatables, stay away from. I've been flipped out of alot of boats (luckily, I have yet to flip one of mine knock on wood). The last thing you have on your mind is pulling the cord. The auto inflates are ok. But same thing, I don't trust mechanical things. Has to be so wet before it inflates. So not sure how much water it'll take to inflate. Only takes half a second for a hydraulic to pull you under. When one does, a quick inflation won't help you get out of it. Have pulled dead people out of hydraulics with high floatation life vests on.

Personally, I'd go with a kayakers type vest. Gives you plenty of mobility to row, and also the floatability you want if you dump the boat. You can find them at some whitewater shops online, can give you links if you want. I still get paper catalogs from most, since to this day I still do some ordering from them. But they do come with a higher price tag. But you won't be sorry in long run.

Onto wheeling. They do have wheels out there that bolt onto frame. The best one I've seen out there escapes me namewise. But I know they make them for the Outcasts, Waterskeeters, Steelheaders, and a couple others. You don't have to disconnect the wheel and remount off the water. It simply pins, and unpins to move it. You can contact me for link to steelheader, he can lead you where to buy them (think he sells them too). I may get them. But I can normally, when healthy, carry my 16' cataraft on my back (300+#'s), so any of the smaller 9-10' boats are normally no sweat. But we'll see once I'm healed up. LOL. Am a bit out of shape backwise. :hehe:

Think I covered them all?

09-29-2003, 05:41 PM
Actually, I don't like ANY rod holders that strap around tubes. I don't like anything in that water except the hull of the boat. I normally buy the rod holder I like, then buy the adapter piece that mounts to any sized railing from Cabela's. I have them on my big cataraft now, and have had them on all my small catarafts. Great devices. I think they redesigned them. So have to order one or two to check them out.

When you get your boat, let me know. I can show you some ways to setup lay down rod holders too. I usually buy Danielson or Berkley rod holders (the verticle types that hang on wall with hardplastic with foam inserts) and mount them on the boat laying flat. This way, your rod sits steady and secure. Plus, no scarring of the rod with the material. Great for rods you don't plan to fish.

09-29-2003, 08:06 PM
Sotar made in Grants Pass, OR. Mike Parson's just picked up his a short while ago, and it looks like, short of an RPG round you couldn't sink this thing.

Set up for two folks, gear, and several days on a river.

09-30-2003, 11:21 AM
Steelheader (or others): What do you do for spey rod holders for on a pontoon? I fish with a 15 footer in winter, so I'll probably break it down in b/t runs (unless you've got a better idea), and lay it along the tubes somehow, either in some modified pipe insulation "donuts" I've cut or ... something else. I'd be glad to have the info. too on what you do for regular rods. Trying not to reinvent the wheel, and thanks for your--and anyone's--help.

09-30-2003, 03:19 PM
the regular drift boat holders that rotate/click into place. They're held on to the frame with a clamp rather than screwed through the metal frame.

When you pop out the rod holder for transportation the small insert ring for the holder isn't in the way. Given you can 'lock' these into place in a 360 degree config. you can have the rods (full speys) pointing up/down/across (that choice would be anyone's guess). etc.

09-30-2003, 05:45 PM
I run my 16' cataraft, so can leave them in one piece. :D :hehe:

Actually, I had some float rods that were about 11' long that I ran on my 9' Steelheader. Thing is, NEVER EVER leave a rod together that extends beyond the lengths of your boats. It only will cause trouble. Also, you don't want a rod sticking straight up. You can do this on lakes and such, but a big mistake for river running. Especially if you buy full rockered hull boats like the Outcasts/Bucks Bags. There will be times, especially on corners, you'll have overhanging brush. One quick turn and "snip" goes your rod tip. Also same thing about extending beyond length of tubes. Just that one inch over could be enough to damage the tip or ferrule of your rod. Have seen this many times in both situations. My friend mostly fishes speys now. About 4 years ago he got his first cataraft. He copied my laydown rod method I think I described above. He could fit the rod in two pieces within his boat diameters. Basically, he would just take the tip section off and fold. I put those Danielson or Berkeley rod holders that mount on your wall. I think it's the verticle one's. Basically has two pieces that are identicle (one has a foam insert, then a hard rounded bottom for butts to fit in, you don't want that one). Simply take these rod holders and mount them across the side of frame. Depends on boat, you have to do some modifications. In end though, your rod will safely sit in tight soft foam padding. Just a quick pull up, and put the tip on, and you're in business. I wish I had my old boat. I have my 16' ripped apart and refinishing to sell it. But had the holders on it as well.