What they don’t tell you about owning a raft

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 10.19.18 AMA lot of people have been asking me about my fishing experience with the Stealthcraft Hooligan XL. I’ll start by saying that this is by far one of my favorite fly fishing rafts on the market. The high PSI floor makes it seem like you’re fishing out of a hard-bottom boat and its self bailing feature means you never have to worry about swamping the boat. Storage is limited, but dry boxes house all of our extra equipment and slide nicely under the seats.

Being a first time raft owner, there were several things I wish I would have known ahead of time…

  • Wind is not your friend. Flat stretch? Blown backwards. Fishing the bank? Blown into it. Anchoring? Have fun fishing sideways!
  • You have to wash them… a lot. That high PSI floor I was talking about sits snug into the center of the raft while it’s pumped up. Bugs, sediment, and other river junk also build up in that crevice. Over time this can wear tiny holes in your raft.
  • Buy the nice pump. You don’t want to know how much time, blood, sweat, and tears have gone into pumping up that beast. It’s going to cost you, but trust me, buy the nice pump. (I use an NRS 5″ barrel pump)
  • Catch points. At least half of your casts will snag. You will snag things you didn’t even know were possible to snag.
  • You feel every rock. If the raft bumps a rock while you’re hyper-focused on fishing, you’ll likely be going for a swim.
  • They’re heavy. Not as heavy as a drift boat, but they’re not quite as easy to move around as raft companies lead you to believe. “You can put it on your car!” …Not as easy as it sounds, especially if your car is substantially taller than you are.
  • They’re big. My raft requires a full size trailer and takes up over half of my two car garage.
  • Temperature fluctuations & air pressure. If it’s cold, you might find yourself fishing out of a squishy boat. Keep a K-Pump on hand. If it’s hot, you’ll have to let out some air or you could put stress on the seams.

There are many benefits to owning a raft, which is ultimately why I chose one over a drift boat, but knowing a few of these from the beginning would’ve saved me some headache! Raft owners, do you have anything else to add?



Published by

Taylor Joyce

East Tennessee lady angler specializing in fly fishing on the South Holston and Watauga rivers.

2 thoughts on “What they don’t tell you about owning a raft”

  1. Hey Taylor. Enjoy your blogs and posts. I don’t know why, but I was thinking or was told you were given the raft by Stealthcraft or one of their dealers. If that’s the case, it makes living with the rafts flaws easier to live with. Ever try using a drift sock to see if that would help in windy situations? I bought one, but have never used it.
    I’ve taken a few trips in rafts and can see some advantages of them verses drift boats, but I don’t know any advantages on the SOHO and Watauga. I can see a raft being better on low water on the New River or other rivers with jagged rocks. I can see them and other smaller rafts being great on the smaller rivers like the North Fork.


    1. Haha I definitely wasn’t given the raft for free! I got a little bit of a discount on it but still paid a pretty penny. I have’t tried a drift sock but am tempted to try one now that you bring it up. The only advantage I can think of about a raft on the Soho is floating on low water is much easier because there are so many shallow rocky places. On the Watauga there are a couple of bumpy rapids on the upper section, so I think it’s better for whitewater situations if you aren’t as familiar with rowing…. but drift boats go down them just as well there too.


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