SmithFly Raft Rentals
If you looking for the best way fish some skinny water by boat around Bozeman, The SmithFly Big Shoal Raft is your best option. During the past couple weeks Collin and I have had the chance to test this “mini raft” and have been seriously impressed with its performance.
The idea behind this boat is to comfortably float three people while two people fish; one in front and one in back. Drift boats and standard 14 and 15-foot rafts can do this as well, but are not as maneuverable and can not navigate through the smaller river channels like the SmithFly. I’ll go over some of the great features of this raft.
Personally, I don’t care to fish from a raft. They are sluggish in the water; rigging them with gear is a hassle. The floor is always wet and not very stable. Personal items always get lost in the bottom of the boat. Fishing lines and gear seem to get tangled in the frame; etc. etc. The SmithFly has solved these issues. It has hands down the best floor in the industry. It has a drop stitch floor with a hard foam pad on the top and almost a seamless integration with the surrounding tubes. This makes moving around in the boat easy and comfortable, even in bare feet. The boat is self-bailing but there is never any standing water on the floor unless it comes over the top of the tubes. Even then it drains and dries quickly. The Frame is one solid piece, making it very rigid and minimizing “catch points.” Even though the raft is relatively narrow it is extremely stable. Standing on the side tubes will not tip this boat. Whitewater is no problem either. I wouldn’t take it down a class-5 rapids, but it can handle more that a drift boat. The smaller size is an advantage also because everything in the boat is close. Fishing equipment and beers are easily passed between passengers with minimal shuffling. It can handle almost any water that comes its way. But it has the advantage of being narrow and floating high in water making it much easier to navigate smaller rivers and side channels. Overall we love this boat.
A couple things we don’t like…
The oars. They are Sawyer SST oars, but they are a little too flexible. You get used to them after a while, but they do not instill confidence and are definitely not a strong as larger oars found on larger boats. One other downside is NO CUPHOLDERS. Finding a place to put a drink is hard. If you have a cooler that has drink holes in the top that would help. Honestly though, the boat is stable enough that you don’t need them. Resting beers on our Canyon 55 cooler (which by the way fits perfectly in between the main tubes, and under the front seat) for about 20 miles in total we had zero fall off or overboard.
One of the best features of this boat is that you don’t need a boat launching site. At 125lbs dry this boat can be picked up and put in the water almost anywhere. Check out the video below of Collin and I putting in on the lower Gallatin River near Manhattan. It was a fishing access site, but there was no boat launch. So we carried the boat about 100 yards to the water and were able to float a section of the river that most don’t. Handles are plentiful around the out side making moving it easy from any side.
Ruth tried her best to get the large stick out of the way for an easier launch. 🙂