Inflatable Pontoon Boat vs. Kayak and Brands for Both - Fly Fishing Forum
Inflatable Watercraft Rafts, pontoon boats, kickboats, etc.

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Old 03-26-2003, 09:47 AM
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Question Inflatable Pontoon Boat vs. Kayak and Brands for Both

Greetings,

I hope to be in the market for a fishing platform in the the not-too-distant future, and I'm having trouble deciding on what kind of boat to get. I was thinking of getting and inflatable pontoon boat or a kayak. I'd like to get something for $750, or less. Based on what little I've read in this forum and others, I'll probably need one of each.

I would like to do some river drifts. The rivers I plan on drifting don't have too many rapids. I'm definitely not interested in any whitewater runs, at least not yet. I'm 6'5" and 215lbs, and I feel like my center of gravity is too high for canoes. I'm not a terrifically experienced boater, and I was wondering which would be safer and easier to fish from. I've heard some smallmouth fishermen like kayaks, but pontoon boats seem like they might be easier to fish from. Any thoughts on brands? Columbia seems to have a decent pontoon boat that seems fairly wide and long with 1200 denier pontoons. How often is leaking pontoons a problem? How easy is it for two big guys to fish from one of those 2-man pontoons? Has anybody flipped a one-man pontoon?

As for fishing tidal rivers, creeks, and inlets around the Chesapeake Bay, are there any thoughts about open vs. enclosed kayaks, and which brands to look into? Again, stability is fairly important to me.

Thanks.
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Old 03-26-2003, 10:34 AM
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Adrian Adrian is offline
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Welcome aboard!

I think the answer to your question is "It depends".

I've never fished from a pontoon boat, although there are a lot of folks here who have! I can imagine the added stability and onboard space would be a big advantage for the inland type of fishing you describe. When you get into the coastal regions then wind becomes a big factor and I'm not sure how pontoon boats behave in a heavy blow - factor in strong tidal currents as well?

For access, stealth and seaworthiness, kayaks are hard to beat. I bought one last year and I really enjoy the freedom it provides - not the ideal platform to fly cast from but you get used to it.

Check out the Yak attack and Inflatable boards - there have been numerous dicussions on the relative merrits of each type of craft.
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Old 03-26-2003, 11:37 PM
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Steelheader69 Steelheader69 is offline
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Talking You need alot of boats

For your situation, you're pretty much in need of many boats. Actually, it really comes down to price range. From your price range, you're not going to find a good stable cataraft/pontoon boat for two guys your size. You will find one man boats that you'll be testing waterlines though (most in that range only have a 250-300# range capacity). It sounds like you need some sort of sea kayak for the bays, and a cataraft for the rivers. But here's another scenerio for you. Now, I know this is an inflatable section, it will help you out. Why don't you look into a driftboat? You can find used ones (at least here in WA) for a bit more then you want to spend. But it will be money well worth it in long run if you want to take multiple people. I am a diehard whitewater guy. I love my catarafts. But I wouldn't want to take one out in the salt. First upkeep on the frames would be terrible due to the salt. Second, the hull design on them are meant to run with current and oar you through, not cut water like a V hull boat will. A minidrifter driftboat will let you take one extra person and still be small (around 12') and still handle rivers, lakes, and bays. You can row and make ground. Plus, it's small enough to throw in back of a truck and move by yourself. I know they run a bit less then full sized driftboats. Prams are another option too, but I like the cutting ability of the minidrifters. As I said, I'm not sure if you'll be able to find what you need on the east coast. I know availabilities here in the PNW.

To sum it all up. You sound like you want a boat that handles two. I wouldn't fish from a two person kayak. LOL But that's me. A two man cat will be sluggish compared to a V hull in salt. So best bet is to save up the extra cash and buy a used full sized driftboat or a mini drifter. I know the mini's are nice. Just a downsized driftboat. Usually only for 1-2 guys. Great little boats.

I wanted to add. If you do decide on a pontoon boat. Stay away from stitched seam boats. You want boats that have a welded seam. When it comes to frames, they are all pretty much the same on the boats out there except the higher end models that you can't buy in stores/magazines.

Last edited by Steelheader69; 03-26-2003 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 03-28-2003, 10:57 AM
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Couple more questions

Thanks for the input, guys. I didn't see the previous thread about catarafts vs. pontoons. Steelheader69 mentioned that I should stick with welded seams. Do stitched seams blow out or have durability issues? It seems like the price for a welded seam 'toon is about twice that of a stitched seam one, at least for the Outcasts.

Thanks again.
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Old 03-28-2003, 05:30 PM
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Thumbs down Yes, serious issues

The problem with stitched seems is the stress. Your tubes will always have some sort of stress on them. They inflate/deflate depending on temperature and barometric pressures. I sent my old outcast back twice for blown out seems. I was very good about watching tube pressure too. Just takes a few minutes to overload them. Your bladder will be fine, but overall you'll lose the material keeping your boat together. Bad bad thing. Unless you like to swim too.

As I've said, and if you see enough of my posts they'll all ring true. With these boats, you get what you pay for. Usually the tubes are the majority of the cost. If you pay $500, you get a $500 boat. Rarely do you get really good deals buying brand new, unless materials are lower end. Plus, a good boat will keep it's value. I bought my original Steelheader for $1300 around 8-9 years ago. I sold it for $1100 a few months ago (am upgrading boats, LOVED it, just changing directions). How many cataraft type boats can you buy and resell a few years later for virtually no loss? Most outcasts/bucks you lose money instantly. Usually you have a few grades of boats. Bladders/stitched. Bladders/sealed. Bladderless/sealed. The bladderless sealed are your most expensive boats and the best you can buy. There's only one maker of non bladderless/sealed, and that's Aire. But they make their boats top notch. They also contract out and make Outcasts, but they are not the same boats. And, they only make the Pac series. The lower end stitched boats are made somewhere else. Say it this way. A 10' set of tubes from Outcast will run you about $800 max. A 10' of good whitewater tubes (say Sotar) will run you about $1700 a set. Now, that's tubes, NOTHING else. You get what you pay for.

Last edited by Steelheader69; 03-31-2003 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 03-30-2003, 06:38 PM
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Bladderless and Sealed Pontoons

Steelheader, you said that "The bladderless sealed are your most expensive boats and the best you can buy." That is good information because my Bad Cat pontoons are bladderless and sealed.

You also said that "There's only one maker of bladderless/sealed, and that's Aire." That must mean that my Bad Cat pontoons are made by Aire. Cool. :hehe:

Have you been to Skookum and seen them make their pontoons? Rumor has it that Skookum builds their pontoons but could you ask Bill at Skookum who makes his pontoons?
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Old 03-31-2003, 01:25 PM
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LOL River

Actually, I may have misspelled that, Aire is only top notch maker of tubes that have bladders and zippers. Most are crap. Your boat was NOT made by Aire. The only way he could get tubes made cheap enough by them is to buy in SUPER large quantities. I doubt he had $100k to invest on enought tubes to make them as cheap as he does (your boat company).

I know about Skookum rumour. I'm not going to say it's totally unfounded, since I don't work there and have only heard the rumour myself. But, I've seen his production plant, and he has employees that build his boats for him. Heck, I was there on final preparation of my last Steelheader I bought from him. Unless he ripped it apart really quick to make it look like he was building his boat and resealing as I showed up. He may outsource when he's running behind since he's in high demand. I have no idea. But, I'll tell you this much. I have an idea who's telling you these rumours. Remember an owner who sells his product my lamblasting others shows company integrety. I know he does make his tubes here in WA, and have seen it. I've never once seen/heard Bill lamblast a competitor. He doesn't need to, he builds a good boat. But, I don't like companies that get into market and copy another product so blatantly. If you noticed that there are boats that are alike, guess who was building theres first. It's easier to copy and defemate then it is to build a better boat on your own feet. I've only told you facts that I've heard straight from horses mouth. I don't take heresay of that caliber and toss them out lightly. But, it the tubes are good, I wouldn't mind buying overseas. Depends on how they were made. How many of you own cars from overseas? Rods? Reels? So, believe me when I tell you this, Bill is a good guy, honest, and forthright. He only gets angry when his name is used to promote his product. A company you've bought from has done this. That is low class businessmanship. Plain and simple. (Geez, I oughtta just work for Bill, I've spent so much time dealing with his products. LOL)

Lastly, just because a product IS bladderless and sealed doesn't make it the best boat either. I'm just saying your better boats are USUALLY made that way.

Last edited by Steelheader69; 03-31-2003 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 02-09-2006, 07:45 AM
tls865 tls865 is offline
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mini drifters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelheader69
For your situation, you're pretty much in need of many boats. Actually, it really comes down to price range. From your price range, you're not going to find a good stable cataraft/pontoon boat for two guys your size. You will find one man boats that you'll be testing waterlines though (most in that range only have a 250-300# range capacity). It sounds like you need some sort of sea kayak for the bays, and a cataraft for the rivers. But here's another scenerio for you. Now, I know this is an inflatable section, it will help you out. Why don't you look into a driftboat? You can find used ones (at least here in WA) for a bit more then you want to spend. But it will be money well worth it in long run if you want to take multiple people. I am a diehard whitewater guy. I love my catarafts. But I wouldn't want to take one out in the salt. First upkeep on the frames would be terrible due to the salt. Second, the hull design on them are meant to run with current and oar you through, not cut water like a V hull boat will. A minidrifter driftboat will let you take one extra person and still be small (around 12') and still handle rivers, lakes, and bays. You can row and make ground. Plus, it's small enough to throw in back of a truck and move by yourself. I know they run a bit less then full sized driftboats. Prams are another option too, but I like the cutting ability of the minidrifters. As I said, I'm not sure if you'll be able to find what you need on the east coast. I know availabilities here in the PNW.

To sum it all up. You sound like you want a boat that handles two. I wouldn't fish from a two person kayak. LOL But that's me. A two man cat will be sluggish compared to a V hull in salt. So best bet is to save up the extra cash and buy a used full sized driftboat or a mini drifter. I know the mini's are nice. Just a downsized driftboat. Usually only for 1-2 guys. Great little boats.

I wanted to add. If you do decide on a pontoon boat. Stay away from stitched seam boats. You want boats that have a welded seam. When it comes to frames, they are all pretty much the same on the boats out there except the higher end models that you can't buy in stores/magazines.
how much do the mini drifters run for ,i live on the east coast,what material are they built from alum.or high impact plastic,what is a good brand that is reasonable in price,thanks chris
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:26 PM
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Like others have said, pontoon boats and especially the larger catarafts do not do well in windy still water. They (the good ones) were designed for moving water. The cheaper, do everything type, do nothing realy well.

For a personal watercraft, most guys fishing salt water bays favor sit on top kayaks & wet suits. You can sit sideways. hanging your legs in the water, or straddle them when casting/fishing. There are some that have out riggers. And I've seen some cat toons. These are all hard boats, not inflatables.

Some of those things like you see at Bass Pro shops where two guys are bass fishing out of a ten foot long plastic cat boat with pedestal seats & powered by a trolling motor may be OK for a backyard pond, & one guy fly fishing. Two guys? Not fly fishing. Salt water? Not me baby.

The sit on top kayaks are not that popular for river use. At least not in the PNW. East coast? I don't know. You may be better off with multple boats. One for the salt, one for rivers, one for stillwater.

Myself, I prefer a float tube for inland still waters. Someone your size might look at a Fat Cat. Kind of a hybrid float tube catamaran. The problem I've found with kayaks and pontoon boats, any boat for that matter, fly fishing still water is the propulsion system. Oars and paddles require both hands. Which means put the rod in a holder. And the higher profile is more suseptable to being blown around by the wind. You have trouble working a shore or weed line, working oars/paddle and rod all at the same time. Float tubes are cheap, low maintainence, throw in the back of the truck/suv, up close and personal. While sitting in a float tube you will see things that you never see from a boat.

For moving water and the salt bays you might consider a drift boat. Maybe even with a small motor which you can always add later.
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