Fly-Fishing Watercraft

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Most anglers agree that rafts are more versatile and better in all water types than drift boats. But a drift boat is more comfortable to fish from in less bouldery rivers and lakes, and skiffs are far more useful for flats and inshore fishing. If there are two of you and you want a durable, inflatable option that requires no trailer, the best boat to fly fish from on most rivers is either the Outcast Striker or the NRS Slipstream 96. These boats fit in a truck bed so anglers can get access to water quickly and easily. For solo fly fishing, we recommend the Outcast Stealth Pro, PAC 1000 FS, or any of the float tubes in this collection.

The best size raft for fishing depends on the number of people using the boat and the water conditions. Rafts in the 9 to 12 feet range are best for one angler and one rower; rafts longer than 12 feet can accommodate two anglers, for a total of three people in the boat. Fly-fishing rafts available at Orvis are designed for solo anglers or a buddy fishing trip only. Our inflatable 9½-foot rafts are the best size for fishing with a friend. Our single-sized float tubes, SUPs, and inflatable kayaks are the best for fishing solo depending on water conditions. To learn more about what size raft is best for fishing, listen to Tom Rosenbauer’s interview with NRS inflatable fishing craft expert Mike Dolmage.

Most fly-fishing rafts include some type of lean bar or thigh-hook system so you can stand up to fish, and all of the boats we carry have floors firm enough to comfortably stand on. But not all raft floors are rigid enough to stand on, in which case you’d need to add standing platforms that are fixed to the raft frame. Both the NRS Slipstream 96 and Outcast Striker have lean bars for stand up fly fishing on the raft. The Outcast OSG is a boat-style kayak that allows for standing up as well as fin-kicking.

You can fish on an inflatable SUP, but we recommend using one specifically designed for fishing, like any of the NRS inflatable SUPs in this collection. An inflatable SUP provides the stealth you need when you’re sneaking up on fish, and the wide platform of the NRS SUPs makes them more stable to stand on. For fishing, an inflatable SUP makes a good choice for stillwater and low- to no wind. When winter comes, they store easily in cold temps as long as they aren’t rolled tight in their carry bags, which can compromise the integrity of the materials and seams. 

Inflatable kayaks are good for fly fishing because they’re sturdy and can cover a lot of water. It’s not hard to fish from a kayak if you don’t mind sitting down to cast, and can keep your backcast out of the water. Since they deflate into a compact package for portability, inflatable kayaks are a solid choice for anglers, especially since they are wide and buoyant. They are not easier to flip than hardshell kayaks; in fact, inflatable kayaks are often harder to flip because they have a wider platform. Kayaks offer the advantage of being able to cover more water than an SUP, and they have the ability to carry you more reliably down a river, especially in rapids. The drawback to inflatable kayaks is that anglers must cast sitting down, which complicates matters for sight fishing and mobility. The NRS Kuda is an ingenious hybrid of an inflatable kayak and SUP so you can sit down to paddle, covering water easily, and then stand up when it’s time to cast. We offer inflatable fishing kayaks constructed to the highest performance standards, so there’s no need to worry about a wayward fishing hook popping your vessel. The inflatable kayaks in this collection are designed with tough materials and a puncture-resistant coating to handle the demands of fly fishing.

Standard boating safety means wearing a life jacket (or PFD, Personal Flotation Device) while fly fishing from a boat, and most states require life jackets on boats by law, especially for children. Whenever you plan to go out on a boat, check the local and state regulations regarding life jackets to make sure you’re in compliance. Many anglers prefer inflatable PFDs as they provide safety, while remaining low profile so you can fish unencumbered. 

You fly fish from a float tube the same way you’d fly fish from a kayak except the float tube gives you the benefit of a fuller connection to the water since your lower legs are submerged. Your kick fins propel you in the water, so there’s no interruption to put down a paddle and pick up your rod.

You wear waders in a float tube if that’s your preference or if the conditions are cold and you need protection. Most anglers don’t wear waders in a float tube during warm and hot weather.

There are four types of float tube styles: round, U or V shaped, teardrop, and pontoon. Pontoon float tubes, like the Outcast Stealth Pro, feature a seat between two tubes, resembling a pontoon boat. U/V style float tubes and teardrop float tubes are all shaped like the letters “U” or “V,” with an open front area for your feet and legs, as seen in the Outcast Fish Cat 4 and Outcast Fish Cat Cruzer. The original round style of float tube was essentially an inner tube designed for fishing. The better, more recent float tube types have made the round style more or less obsolete.

Portable Pontoon Boats, SUPs & PFDs for Fishing

Our fly-fishing watercraft collection includes rigs and stand up paddle boards (SUPs) that get you into the secluded, remote areas for the trophies you seek. The Outcast Fish Cats are versatile pontoon boats that offer excellent maneuverability, especially with a compatible set of Outcast Fins to propel you through tight spots. A lightweight rowing frame allows these boats to accommodate plenty of gear for long river excursions. They also feature motor mount plates for stillwater fishing. Discover sturdy, stable inflatable fishing rafts for one or two people. Or, choose the smaller Outcast Stealth Pro for a lightweight boat that can handle larger water. Combining the best features of a pontoon boat and a float tube, the Stealth Pro is suitable for both stillwater and moving water scenarios. This portable fishing boat easily fits into the back of a pickup truck or can be hiked long distances into a remote location. Voted as the International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) Best Personal Watercraft, it’s a favorite among anglers. For other packable options, an inflatable SUP board together with an easily adjustable SUP paddle transports you to hard-to-reach honey holes from your riverside campsite. Combine any of the SUPs in our collection with a fishing PFD to hold your fly boxes and tools, and you’re outfitted for a story-making fishing trip. For solo trips, the Outcast OSG Commander features a combination of the sleek movement of a kayak and the stability of a rowboat. Designed with an open-floor cockpit, this watercraft allows the angler either to strap into fly-fishing fins and kick-propel or fish standing upright in shallow water without leaving the boat. These boats are ideal for fishing freshwater ponds and saltwater bays. Whether floating on rivers or high alpine lakes, our watercraft will separate you from crowded fishing areas and expand your fishing options.