Best Whitewater Rafts For Fishing – Better Positioning In The River

Fishing rafts and whitewater rafts are basically one and the same.

They offer boaters a thrilling and exciting way to fish rivers and experience whitewater rafting.

Rafts also are much safer than boats not specifically designed for serious whitewater use. They are incredibly resilient and difficult to swamp even if they overturn or suffer a puncture. Furthermore, inflatable rafts are a lot more stable than your traditional or inflatable kayak, or a log raft.

So how can you know which raft will perform for your rafting needs?

Here Are the Best Whitewater Rafts for Fishing and This Is Our Top Pick

13 Foot Saturn Inflatable Whitewater Raft

Why is it better than the rest?

Best Whitewater Rafts For Fishing – Better Positioning In The River 1

5 Best Whitewater Rafts For Fishing

With that in mind, let’s now take a closer look at our contenders.

Let’s dive into the specifics and review each fishing raft individually. You can use the list below to jump and review specific models, or you can read along and go through all the information.

Best Overall: 13 Foot Saturn Inflatable Whitewater Raft

The top choice for fishing rafts is the 13 Foot Saturn Inflatable Whitewater Raft.

Treading a fine balance between affordability, portability, and maneuverability, this self-bailer continues to exceed users’ expectations.

This 13-foot fishing raft is a well-crafted boat that earns its keep on rough water and smooth fish-filled runs.

With enough room to comfortably carry 8 adults, a well-balanced layout, and solid construction, this is a solid class 5 river raft.

The 13′ length and 6’5″ width are enough to punch headfirst into big whitewater. But, the raft can also access water that might be inaccessible with a deeper riding 14 or 15-foot raft.

The width is well suited for fly fishing rafts that need to sneak through tight constraints of river canyons and boulder-strewn runs seeking big trout.

Leafield C7 valves provide for quick inflation when you get to the water. A blast inflator pump will help to inflate the raft quickly and bring the air deck floor up to the proper rigidity. Sadly, it doesn’t come with such a pump, which you’ll have to purchase separately.

The raft is equipped with long waterlines, large tube diameters, and broad beams to make this raft one of the most stable fishing rafts on the market today.

Durability is greatly enhanced with a 5-layer PVC floor, which provides a super rugged surface when slamming around in the rocks and skinny water you’ll find during certain seasons.

The reinforced floor design provides over 2.4mm of protection where you need it. That is a huge benefit when you need to focus on targeting hungry trout and bass. Put your mind at ease without having to worry about every rock in the river.

Standard features of the 13′ Saturn Whitewater Raft are 2 removable thwarts, 12 exterior D-rings including 4 angled D-rings for better frame strapping, rubberized handles for easy carrying, chafing protection on the top sides of the exterior tubes, 1 repair kit, carrying bag, and a 3-year warranty.

The 13 foot Saturn Whitewater Raft has a reliable design and proven track record for safety. Rest easy knowing that the raft features four exterior air chambers, an inflatable drop stitch floor, and two more air chambers within the removable thwarts.

These multiple air chambers help to provide a safe return to shore in the case of an accidental puncture. Another great feature is the rubber strake which provides a thick protective layer surrounding the exterior tubes.

PROS

  • Leafield C-7 valves
  • 8 Passenger capacity
  • 7 Air chamber design
  • Self-bailing drop stitch inflatable floor

CONS

  • Does not come with an air pump

EXTRA FEATURES

  • 5-layer PVC floor
  • 2 removable thwarts
  • 6 exterior D-rings for frame strapping

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Length: 13 Feet
  • Color: Blue
  • Air Chambers: Seven
  • Self Bailing Floor: Yes
  • Frame Capable: Yes

NRS Outlaw 140 Self Bailing Raft

NRS has a truly incredible reputation. They’re being sung high praises in many fly fishing guides and rafting guides, with the majority of users recommending their rafts and raft frames.

In fact, the frames, in particular, are so popular that many raft manufacturers recommend pairing their rafts with them.

Among the rafts produced by NRS, the Outlaw 140 has a super solid track record for multi-day trips and tackling big waters.

A 7-foot-2-inch width provides carrying capacity for lots of gear and stability, while still remaining small enough for technical whitewater.

The wide-ranging capability of the NRS Outlaw 140 has brought it to be considered by many to be the all-around best fly fishing raft on the market.

As a stand-alone raft, the Outlaw 140 carries up to 8 or 9 paddlers with an optional third thwart. For angling, adding a fishing frame will obviously change that arrangement.

For serious fishing excursions, the fishing frame transforms the raft into a laser-focused fishing machine.

Twelve stainless steel 2 inch D-rings provide plenty of tie-down points for the frame and additional gear. And the removable thwarts open up the floor plan for coolers and all sorts of gear.

Super heavy-duty 2000 denier PVC tubes make the Outlaw ready to take a punch and keep paddling. Three main tube air chambers help keep things afloat in the event of an accident. In addition, two more air chambers are located in the removable thwarts. 

This raft, however, is not suitable for strong and fast rafting. It will accommodate you up until Class III but remains a great choice for calmer waters and fishing.

The raft comes standard with a repair kit and a 3-year warranty.

The last air chamber is the ultra-rugged 4-inch-thick 4000 denier PVC drop-stitch floor. The floor insert inflates to a rigid 8-10 psi, providing a stable standing platform and giving the boat a stiffer wave-punching ride.

In order to get the floor properly inflated to provide a rigid structure, you will need a high-pressure pump.

The Outlaw 140 weighs in at 153 pounds. With rafts of this size being pretty awkward to wrangle, an extra set of hands will be helpful with loading and unloading the raft. The four carry handles really help in controlling the raft while you are carrying it to the water.

River guides suggest partially deflating rafts whenever possible to facilitate easy transport from one area to another. And if you keep some air in the raft, it will allow for easier re-inflation at the put-in.

The Outlaw 130 features Leafield C7 Valves that make for really easy inflation/deflation of the tubes, thwarts, and floor.

PROS

  • Heavy-duty tube and floor material
  • Frame wear patches on top of the tubes
  • The BAT (Batten Attachment Thwart system)
  • 5-year retail warranty, 3-year commercial

CONS

  • Doesn’t run well on fast waters

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Top-quality Leafield C7 inflation valves ensure trouble-free performance
  • High-pressure hand pump required to fully inflate the drop-stitch floor
  • Includes repair kit

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Length: 14 Feet
  • Color: Blue
  • Air Chambers: Six
  • Self Bailing Floor: Yes
  • Frame Capable: Yes

Aire Tributary Twelve HD Self Bailing Raft

The Tributary 12 HD is an excellent choice for the fishing fanatic or river guide. It is stable enough for a family adventure, but also agile enough for a small 4-5 person paddle team.

And for fishing guides, the slightly down-sized dimensions of the Tributary 12 give the raft nimble mobility that you won’t find with larger rafts.

Aire has a top-notch reputation among river guides and whitewater aficionados. In fact, they manufacture the tubes and urethane air chambers for a number of other well-known raft companies because their products are so exceptional.

Aire rafts are built to take on challenging and technical water, but the overall comfort and quality of design really show during long days on the water and fishing expeditions.

The Tributary 12 excels on small, tight rivers where larger boats wouldn’t dare to go. Which means it needs to be rugged enough to take bumps and bangs in rougher waters.

The beefy 42 oz. 2000 denier PVC construction is well prepared for the rigors of whitewater rivers.

The outer shell and inner urethane bladders sport welded seams that take durability to the next level. The main tubes contain three air chambers which provide a good safety margin in case of an accident.

The tubes are also zippered to allow for easy access to the bladders in case repairs are needed.

Aire integrated cam straps to install the two thwarts, which allows them to be moved anywhere along the inside of the boat. Or you can remove the thwarts to open up the floor for storage and install a rowing or fishing frame.

Ten D-rings are available for tying down frames and gear. The lace on the floor bails water quickly.

Mobility in and out of the water is a big plus. With a weight of 104 pounds and a length of 12 feet 4 inches, the Tributary 12 HD is much easier to handle out of the water than larger rafts.

Four carry handles located around the boat make moving the raft a snap. Leafield B7 valves allow for easy inflation and deflation.

The Tributary 12 HD is a fairly unique size among river rafts, while still boasting a carrying capacity of 1200 pounds. Its affordability and maneuverability make it well worth considering if you are in the market for a whitewater or fly fishing raft.

While Aire rafts are fun and tough, they are also built to withstand the rigors of regular river use. The Tributary 12 HD comes with a 5-year warranty.

PROS

  • Maneuverable
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible thwart placement
  • 5-year retail warranty, 1-year commercial

CONS

  • Somewhat complicated thwart installation

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Lace-in floor bails water quickly for a safe ride
  • Three main tube air chambers provide a safety margin in case of an accident
  • 10 D-rings for the frame and gear tiedown, and four handles for an easy carry

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Length: 12 Feet 4 Inches
  • Color: Dark Blue
  • Air Chambers: Five
  • Self Bailing Floor: Yes
  • Frame Capable: Yes

BRIS 13 Foot Inflatable Whitewater River Raft

The BRIS 13 foot River Raft is an incredible value among this class of rafts. With an 8-passenger capacity for a little over $1000, this raft allows you to experience river adventures at a fraction of the price of other rafts.

BRIS rafts don’t have the long-standing reputation of other manufacturers such as Aire, but, regardless, customers rave about the quality and capability of this raft.

The main tubes are constructed with 2000 denier high-quality PVC with a 1.2mm thickness. The bottom is also made from heavy-duty 1.2mm thick PVC with a 140mm wide rubber strake around the bottom of the main tubes.

Full-length side strakes provide an added layer of protection against abrasion and damage. The main tubes contain four individual chambers for a good safety cushion in case of an accidental puncture.

The removable 140mm drop-stitch inflatable floor is a self-bailing design with bailing holes around the perimeter. The tubes are equipped with pressure release valves to resist over-inflation.

The BRIS 13 foot Whitewater raft weighs in at 128 pounds, which is about average for a 13-foot raft. BRIS provides soft lifting handles with one at the bow and stern, and two on each side. Loading and unloading the raft won’t be a problem.

For fishing and rafting frames, BRIS provides additional frame rub material topside of each tube. And to strap down frames and fishing gear, the BRIS 13 Foot Raft offers 10 D-rings around the perimeter of the main tubes.

The raft comes with 2 thwarts, one set of oars, a foot pump, a carry bag and repair kits.

PROS

  • Excellent price point
  • Included accessories
  • Premium quality materials
  • Comes with foot straps for added safety

CONS

  • Glued seams don’t seem durable

EXTRA FEATURES

  • 30 Days money-back guarantee
  • Removable high-pressure drop stitch floor
  • Safety valves prevent over inflation in tubes

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Length: 13 Feet
  • Color: Green/Blue/Yellow/Grey
  • Air Chambers: Seven
  • Self Bailing Floor: Yes
  • Frame Capable: Yes

NRS Otter 130 Self Bailing Raft

Among the many reputable NRS rafts, the Otter 130 stands apart.

All NRS Otter Series Rafts are made to outfitter-grade standards.

Fishing and rafting guides don’t hesitate to recommend this manufacturer’s rafts. And the Otter 130 is the most popular raft in the Otter Series.

The Otter 130 has a bomb-proof reputation and construction. And at 6 feet 2 inches wide the raft is ideal for both narrow streams and big water. Bigger rafts may have slightly more carrying capacity, but the Otter 130 makes no sacrifices in stability.

The Otter 130 can take you where no drift boat can. Larger rafts will either be too wide or drag the bottom and be unable to pass shallow and skinny water, whereas the Otter 130 rides great even while fully loaded for a weekend trip.

As a stand-alone raft, the Otter 130hold up to 8 crew members. Adding a fishing frame brings the Otter 130 into a class of its own, with an unmatched fishing prowess.

And for serious angling adventures, the HD40 floor armor on the bottoms of the tubes guards your boat against the wear and tear of boulders.

Twelve stainless steel 2 inch D-rings provide plenty of tie-down points for rowing or fishing frames and additional gear. Frame wear patches come standard on the top side of each main tube.

And the removable thwarts open up the floor plan for coolers and all sorts of gear. Though a third thwart can also be added if needed.

Heavy-duty Pennel Orca material is super abrasion-resistant as well as chemical and UV-resistant. Three main tube air chambers help to keep things afloat in the event of an accident. In addition, two more air chambers are located in the removable thwarts.

NRS offers a proprietary BAT (Batten Attachment Thwart system) that lets you easily add or remove thwarts to provide accommodations geared toward both paddlers or anglers. The raft comes standard with a repair kit and a 7-year warranty.

The floor insert inflates to a rigid and stable standing platform, giving the boat a stiffer wave-punching ride. In order to get the floor properly inflated to provide a rigid structure, you will need a high-pressure pump.

And the pressure relief valve regulates the floor pressure during inflation automatically.

The Otter 130 weighs in at 104 pounds, which is quite lightweight for a 13-foot raft. Even though rafts of this size can be pretty awkward to wrangle, the lightweight nature of the Otter 130 really helps with loading and unloading.

And four carry handles really help to control the raft while you are carrying to the water.

All NRS rafts, including the Otter 130 feature Leafield C7 Valves that make for really easy inflation/deflation of the tubes, thwarts, and floor.

During transport, river guides suggest partially deflating rafts whenever possible to facilitate easy transport from one area to another. And if you keep some remaining air in the raft it will allow for fast re-inflation at the put-in.

PROS

  • Outfitter-grade performance
  • Quick and agile without sacrificing stability
  • Heavy-duty Pennel Orca material
  • 7-year retail warranty, 4-year commercial warranty
  •  

CONS

  • No included storage bag

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Welded I-Beam Self-Bailing Floor with HD-40 Floor Armor
  • 4 easy-carry handles
  • The NRS BAT (Batten Attachment Thwart system)

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Length: 13 Feet
  • Color: Blue
  • Air Chambers: Six
  • Self Bailing Floor: Yes
  • Frame Capable: Yes
Table of Contents

Whitewater Rafts FAQ

Green Whitewater Raft

CAN YOU MOUNT A TROLLING MOTOR ON THE FISHING RAFT?

Yes, you can mount a trolling motor on a fishing raft or a pleasure craft.

A fishing raft is relatively lightweight, making it a good choice for trolling motors, which are not overly powerful.

If you were to pick up a 40-pound trolling motor it should provide you with all of the thrust power you will need to get around on your fishing raft.

Look for a quiet operating trolling motor, especially if you are planning on doing some fishing.

Having a range of forward and reverse speeds would also be advantageous.

WHAT IS THE OPTIMAL WEIGHT FOR THE FISHING RAFTS?

The optimal weight capacity of a fishing raft depends on the amount of weight that the raft will be carrying.

Before buying your raft you should tally up the combined weights of the people who will be traveling in the boat, along with all the gear.

Then add an extra twenty percent to give you the minimum weight capacity of your fishing raft.

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR FISHING RAFT?

The first thing you should do to clean and maintain your fishing raft is to use water-based protectants to shield the boat from the effects of heat damage and discoloration.

Wipe off any oil or fuel and apply the protectant every three weeks. Keep the boat out of the sun when it is not being used.

After every boating occasion, you should give your boat a thorough cleaning all over with dish soap and a sponge.

When you have done this, make sure that the boat is inflated at the ideal level. Then look for any scratches or holes and repair them immediately.

CAN YOU REPAIR AN INFLATABLE FISHING RAFT?

Yes, you certainly can repair it.

In fact, you should check your raft after every boating occasion for scratches or holes that require your attention.

You can put patches over holes and scratches that are similar to those used to repair bicycle tires.

It is important to get onto minor repairs as soon as possible in order to prevent more serious problems from occurring later on.

Your inflatable fishing boat should come with its own repair kit. You should get familiar with its contents before you need to use them.

When doing repair work it is critical that you use the type of glue that is recommended by the boat manufacturer. 

The repair procedure is virtually the same for the rafts made out of a variety of materials, be it rubber, hypalon, denier fabric, or PVC fabric (with an important caveat; read below).

If you have an unsupported PVC raft (i.e. one that does not have a layer of fabric protection), you should first clean the affected area with Methyl Ethyl Ketone or rubbing alcohol.

Then cut a patch that is overlapping the damaged area on all sides. Then put a layer of glue on both the affected part of the boat and the repair patch.

Before bringing the two together, wait 3-5 minutes for the glue to become tacky.

Then firmly press the patch to the affected part of the raft. Place a flat weight on top and leave to dry for 12-14 hours.

Final Word

 

If you need a fishing raft that is ready to rock and roll for your next rafting trip, then these raft packages are the answer. Some of these boats do not allow for the fishing frame to be removed.

So if you will need to remove the frame for the thrill of blasting through water for the pure adrenaline rush, then you should consider the Outcast PAC 1300 or 1400, or purchase your raft and frame separately.

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