Water Master Kickboats :: Kodiak & Grizzly

Discussion in 'WFF Gear Program' started by Chris Scoones, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Chris Scoones Administrator

    Posts: 3,572
    North Bend
    Ratings: +282 / 0

    Water Master Kickboats

    "The Water Master Grizzly Raft is the boat we built our business on. At 7' 10" long and only 23 lbs. the Water Master Grizzly is a lot of boat in a compact, lightweight package. Constructed of tough 30 oz, 1000 denier PVC fabric for durability and long life. The Grizzly raft's rear tube is slightly larger than the front to help support additional weight on the rear cargo deck. "D"-rings on the front of the raft allow you to load the front of the boat as well for multi-day excursions. Weight capacity is 500 lbs. Easy to transport by car, airplane, pack animal, or on your back. For More information click the heading above for a quick link to the Grizzly Raft page of this web site."

    "The Kodiak Raft Package was designed to meet the needs of our most demanding customers. The Kodiak Raft is larger than the Grizzly, and features a pointed bow and stern that increases stability, weight capacity, and rowing efficiency. The Kodiak Raft features the same hardware as the grizzly and is delivered in the same 7 cubic foot dry bag backpack. They are a few pounds heavier but every bit as compact. To learn more click the heading above for a quick link to the Kodiak Raft page of this web site."

    I love these boats. They track well, are light (no rigid frame), they pack well (I transport them on my motorcycle), are suitable for lakes on up to sub 4 class rivers, have a high weight capacity at 500/700 lbs and they are quick to setup / take down.
  2. Dan Soltau New Member

    Posts: 1,272
    Bozeland, MT - Raleigh, NC
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    On saturday the 11th my dad and i took the watermasters down the yak from bighorn to reds. The assembly is extremely easy and quick. With a good pump you can get these babies going in about 5 to 7 minutes. When you first get into one you realize this weird and dont what to do. So I just stood up in about knee deep water and rearranged and though out the kicking process a little. The fins you use are smaller and are felt soled which you would be able to do without. It takes about a half mile to really get used to kicking one around. But once you get used to it you can fish through pretty much any water. I fished about 95% of the time i was floating. The boats meneuver very well with fins and you can through some chop no problem. If you are in question just slide your feet up onto the foot rest and flip the oars down, this may well be the easiest thing row ever. I had no problem rowing up stream in fairly fast water and you can fit through some tight slots without any problems. I am told that aftera few more trips you do just about anything as you learn little flips and strokes that arent apparent on your first trip. I am fairly convinced that this may be the answer to a one man drift boat where you can fish almost all the time. One thing that is really nice is how light it is, the grizzly wieghs about 20 pound and comes in a waterproff bag that works as a back pack. The boat is lighter than my school back pack! I wouldnt have any problem taking this into back country and floating a wilderness river. One thing that really separates this form the rest is that there is no frame to deal with. After dealing with a 'toon for about a month I am sold on the simplicity of this boat. The smallest one can carry 500 pounds and have been told that is an under exagerration by alaska guides. You could very easily strap your tent to the front and do a camping trip down your favorite river and still be able to fidh the whole time.
    After this trip I am sold on these boats and since my dad and I's drift boat just sold and we have some extra fishing cash we are going to get a couple of these babies. As most can tell I am a student and dont have a lot of money so when i buy something like this out of my own pocket you know is is well worth it. They are pricey little buggers but if you are considering a high end pontoon or even a cheaper one, you need to look into one of these puppies. If you have to wait 6 monthes longer do it, you wont regret it. And during that time i am sure chris will let you borrow the boats. Also, the people at watermaster are awesome. If you cant afford a new one, give them a call and explain the situation and they can work out a deal for a used one. If you try them and are a pontoon owner you will want to sell your 'toon and pick up one of these guys. Try it and you will understand!
  3. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,118
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,401 / 0
    I guess that there is bad reviews on just about anything that is used in the world of Flyfishing. This is my bad review on using a Water Master Kickboat.

    I liked it for the floating around but was kind of disapointed when you had to use the flippers to get around. I kept hitting the back end of the boat with my flippers and that got old after a while. It could be that I'm not use to it wrapping all around you but if I had to go out and buy one to use I wouldn't.

  4. Chris Scoones Administrator

    Posts: 3,572
    North Bend
    Ratings: +282 / 0
    forward for Sky Dunphy

    In early January of 2005 a friend and I had the opportunity to demo the watermaster boats to see what all the fuss was about these new "anti-pontoon boats." My background in floating rivers is somewhat varied: I've floated an array of rivers throughout Montana ranging from the larger Flathead river to small streams where any raft over 10 feet would have to be portaged several times. In these rivers I've taken canoes, kayaks and pontoon boats but never anything that resembled the Watermaster style raft. So not surprisingly, the thought of floating the Skagit River in an entirely unique water craft was premised with skepticism and curiosity.

    When we launched the boats I soon found the rafts to be a new experience. The low-lying, integrated seat platform provides for a lower center of gravity and superior stability than pontoon boats. As we descended the first run I discovered the beauty of the enclosed bow: its ability to track across the river is far better than watercraft without an enclosed design. I could seemlessly go side-to-side across the river's current. It also had an open bottom in the front that allowed for kicking with fins and although I did not use this feature I imagine it would be rather handy for certain trout-fishing situations.

    But that is not to say the enclosed design is not without its faults. When we reached the slower, meandering sections of the Skagit we decided to paddle to speed up the float. I soon realized that the larger "footprint" that allows one to track better also provides considerable resistance when trying to paddle faster than the current. This is where a pontoon beats the raft.

    I do have a few gripes on the seating arrangement. The particular seat I used was not incredibly comfortable. It was a soft-seat that lacked lateral support. I tried out the other soft seat on the Kodiak and found its support to be satisfactory. I imagine the optional hard seat would work well too. The foot and leg rest was a strap strung across the boat near the bow. At 5'9'' I found this to be too far for comfort, even after making adjustments. I also prefer a bit more sturdy place for my feet--one comparable to the metal frame found on a pontoon boat.

    Throughout the day I couldn't help but admire the rugged features of the boat. The raft has no bladders, but two air chambers separated by PVC. These are enclosed by 30 oz 1000 denier PVC--a material I did not hesistate to drag across icy cobble strewn along the shoreline. The sticks are secured by handy oarlocks that allow the oarsman to rest them either forward or backward along the side of the raft. These features simply make one feel safe.

    Another interesting feature that gives great potential to the boat is the larger size of the stern. This of course allows for heavy storage capacity--the Grizzly model holds up to 500lbs. And although I did not take advantage of this because the float was only a day trip, this watercraft would certainly lend itself to a Huck Finn/ Edward Abbey style river adventure for any aspiring explorers.

    At the close of the day I could not help but think that this was the ideal personal watercraft. It has ruggedness, stability (I wouldn't hesitate taking this boat on a class IV) and the ability to carry large amounts of gear. Will this watercraft catch you more fish? No, but it will make you feel more in control and safer on the water. Now if only I had $1100...

    Logan "Sky" Dunphy
  5. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    I think he means the part of the boat you face and you kick under.

    I guess if you tend to kick close to the surface, you'd bump the boat.

    Or, maybe Old Man is just more flexible than we think. Some funny images going through my mind... LOL
  6. Jerry Daschofsky Moderator

    Posts: 7,563
    Graham, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +564 / 5
    I think what he means Chris is he kept hitting the round end of the tubes with his flippers as he was paddling.
  7. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,118
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,401 / 0
    Your all right.

  8. Chris Scoones Administrator

    Posts: 3,572
    North Bend
    Ratings: +282 / 0
    Forward for TomB

    Review: Water Master Kodiak and Grizzly Rafts

    As someone who has had a moderate amount of experience at the sticks as well as some harrowing experiences in various types of watercraft (read: canoeing down the upper Sauk in winter), I am always highly critical and demanding of new watercraft I use. While the classic pontoon boat model complete with metal frame has been tested and proven, I remained skeptical about the more radical design of the Water Master rafts.

    These rafts have no metal or ‘hard’ frame, and instead of being composed of two pontoons, consist of a two semi-circular chambers which come together to form something similar to an elongated inner-tube. Of course the chambers are made of tough-as-nails PVC, and are about double the diameter of an inner tube, not forgetting the seat between the sides of the chamber in the back.

    Another feature I questioned was the ‘open’ forward portion of the raft, which gives the operator the option of using fins in calm water in addition to the oars, or bracing their feet on the support strap in heavy water.

    Well despite my reservations, the appeal of a free demo program, and a raft that weighed less than 50 pounds in its dry bag, easily fitting in a compact car’s trunk, was enough. My buddy and I chose a bitingly cold day in January to test out these rafts on Washington’s Skagit River.

    The day started well, with the assembly of the rafts only taking 5 minutes on the riverbank. We became only more enthusiastic as the day went on. As a first test, I got in the raft and pushed out into some heavy water at the top of a bar where I could easily get out to see how well the raft could be maneuvered. Not only did I have more control than I would have in almost any other type of boat, but the long oars allowed me to actually row upstream!

    Throughout the day my friend and I marveled at the ease with which we were able to avoid obstacles and move across the river. We also noticed the extreme advantage these rafts have over most pontoons because of their buoyancy. The Grizzly is rated for 500 pounds, and the Kodiak 650; more than double what many pontoons are rated for! We had a great day on the water, and as soon as I have the funds, I will definitely be in the market for a Water Master. Attached is a picture of a steelhead I caught that day (the rafts aren’t in the picture because they were 100 yards down the gravel bar). I highly recommend you try this raft for yourself. You will be pleasantly surprised with the ease and quality of use, and with a little luck, you too might get to shake hands with some chrome. –Thomas Buehrens
  9. luv2fly2 Active Member

    Posts: 1,549
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    i have 2 wm's. the first one i bought at propp's in spokanefor $500 and the only color choice was red. later a grey one was added to my collection of toys. they are they thing going. now they have an anchor system and an angled front end so water does not come over when the wind blows. mike w
  10. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0

    I took the kodiak out on a local lake 4 or 5 times over the last 2 weeks.

    At full inflation, the boat fits perfectly in the back of my Dodge Dakota with the tail gate down and canopy door closed. This made time spent at the launch or parking lot much shorter.

    Usually I just parked in the parking area and carried the fully inflated boat, rods, and gear on my shoulder (about 100 yards to the lake).

    I don't have the hiking legs I used to, but even back then, I'd hate to imagine carrying the kodiak more than a few miles (even using the carrying bag w/ shoulder straps). Pehaps the Grizzly would be better suited for such trips.

    I used a high speed electric pump and found it to top off the boat just fine. I never really needed to try the K-Pump. I did purposely stop once about 3/4 of way using the electric to see how the K-Pump handled the rest. Perhaps I was doing something wrong, but I seemed to be gaining little ground after a few minutes and ended up topping off with the electric.

    I wonder if battery size\type has anything to do with how much PSI you can sqeeze into the raft? I have a heavy duty battery and it filled the boat up just fine.

    I really appreciated being able to switch from rowing to kicking so easily. If i was trolling, I could use the rod holder, and row for a faster speed. If I wanted to troll slower, I could kick and hold the rod in my hands (caught more fish this way). For casting dries, the flippers allowed me to manouver or hold steady in the wind while casting to rising trout. I could also quietly stock fish and move in and out of weeds, lilly pads, stumps, docks with ease.

    Maybe my butt doesn't have enough natural padding - but I found the seats to be a little hard after a while. But when set up right, the back support was nice and you could really relax as you made your way around.

    If given the choice, I would definately choose one of these over a pontoon boat for most applications. The ease of setting up and take down is awesome. The carrying capacity is amazing. I even took my 5 yr old out with me one time and he had a blast. When casting, sitting high on a pontoon would be better, but not a huge difference.

    And compared to a float tube, well, unless I was on a back packing trip, my float tube would see very little water if I had one of these rafts.

    Now I just need to try one of these on a river next time. Thanks Chris for pulling this together!
  11. papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    Posts: 2,182
    Camano Island, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +53 / 0
    Finally had a chance to test the Watermaster Grizzly on a small lake close to where I live, and my overall impression of it is very positive with a few exceptions.

    1. Very stable craft. Granted I was in a lake but I will not hesitate to take one down a river, in fact I have reserved them for later in July to do just that.
    2. Quality materials.
    3. Easy to set up and take-down, especially with the electric pump.
    4. Above the water seating is nice, not as high as a pontoon but ok. Still high enough to easly cast from though
    5. Looks good, I had several positive comments from folks, one guy wondered why I had cut out the front floor section :hmmm:
    6. Good oar-lock pins.

    Not So Positive:
    1. Hard seat, I will make an extra closed-cell set pad to use next time. It might not be as bad running a river from spot to spot but when sitting for several hours while on a lake my old rear-end nearly went numb!
    2. Lot's of places to hang up a fly line and I think I found every one of'em. This boat could also benefit from a stripping apron type device (pooling line into the open water right in front of you is ok, but only if you aren't trying to position the boat with the fins at the same time :mad: )
    3. Foot strap needs at least one more ,closer, attachment point. I could not rest my legs on it comfortably ( I'm 5'8") because it was just to far away.

    So overall, I think these inflatables are a good product. I enjoyed my experience and can't wait to try them out on a river. Best of all I caught a very nice 17" Rainbow that fought like heck even turned the boat around a time or two.

    Thanks Chris, for making this available. :thumb:

  12. Ron Olsen Member

    Posts: 236
    Kirkland, WA.
    Ratings: +17 / 0
    Thanks again for the demo program and the use of the Kodiak May 7. Now that is quite a watercraft! My overall impression is very favorable. The set up was easy. I had the best luck with the foot pump, not a big fan of the long white pump, as you had to bend over the boat, and the pump did not "seat" into the air intake. I like my two-way pump, from my 'toon, but it also did not seat into the Watermaster valve. But it was quick work with the foot pump. I guess I need to brush up on the valves; is there a way to stop air from rushing out while you fumble with the stopper? Nonetheless, it was an easy assemble.

    I was surprised at how easy and light the Kodiak was to carry to the water. Easy to grip the handles and just walk it down. It rowed very well also, though not up to 'toon speed, which should be expected with a rowing frame. I would guess it would be great in a river where you are really doing a directional thing, as opposed to getting from point A to Point B. It also moves very well with fins, which is how I got around most of the time anyway. Since it draws very little water, very maneuverable, but susceptible to the wind; it really scoots in a breeze! Very good clips to secure the oars when not in use. Also, great ring locations to secure stuff all over.

    Did not like the rod holder, but again, I guess it would be good for parking a rod while rowing in a river. I have a modified Caddis rod holder (modified to be adjustable up and down as well as side to side, like the Scotty) that also straps over a pontoon, and it worked very well. Also have a tray I have rigged with a pontoon strap. It is the kind that you get at auto parts store designed to fit over the driveshaft hump. Has two drink holders, coin slots that I use for cigar holders, and a tray, to which I have added a foam fly patch dryer. This was very useful, as the Kodiak does not have any pockets, a slight drawback.

    I used the snap straps to hold the second rod, and it did a fine job there. Did not rig an anchor, but this would be a challenge. Not a good place to hook up that I could find, without contorting to the "bow".

    I understand that the seat is minimal to accommodate transportability and packing, but it really is not very comfortable, and gets a bit raw on the rear side. A bit of padding or contour would be helpful.

    Now to the fishing: I was originally concerned about fishing over the inflated end of the Water Master, as I am used to 'toon and u-boat. Not a problem at all. Worked great. And netting was not a problem either. So all in all, a real fishing machine. And it needed to be that day. Rattlesnake was on fire. Fished for about 5 hours, and must have released at least 50 fish. Up to 19", many in the 14" to 17" range as well as the feisty black finned 10"+ planters. Had several nice holdovers, and one Osprey survivor. Ouch, that must have hurt!

    If I did not already have a 'toon, I would definitely be saving up for a Kodiak. I can see that this is a superior river craft, and has a fantastic carrying capacity. Easy to set up, easy to store (I would like to know what the storage recommendations are, and, sorry Chris, what the exact protocol is for getting it all properly folded into the bag....) I will recommend to friends, and will likely get one to replace the 'toon when the time comes. Thanks again Chris for running the program, and thanks to Water Master for sponsoring.
    Ron Olsen, aka Ronbow
  13. luv2fly2 Active Member

    Posts: 1,549
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    as all of you know by now i own 2 wm's and have used them a lot for the last 10 years. 2 things that really stand out; 1. they fit in a bag the size of a suitcase with backstraps, 2. they still look like they are new. i guess #3 they are awesome because i paid $500 for them. mike w
  14. salt dog card shark

    Posts: 2,306
    Edmonds WA / Mazama
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Question: does the raft package come with fins?
  15. Chris Scoones Administrator

    Posts: 3,572
    North Bend
    Ratings: +282 / 0
    No, sold seperate.
  16. luv2fly2 Active Member

    Posts: 1,549
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    i just got back from the john day river on a 3 day float. we had 2 wm's and 4 pontoons. everybody used everything and the wm was the winner. it was in use all the time. for 4 toons you need a trailer . mike w
  17. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    I had both boats for a few weeks in November. Did all day floats on the Green and the Sky.

    My comments in my review above match my experience this time as well. Of note, I did not have the same issues with the K-Pump - it worked like a charm this time.

    I'm further impressed with the durabilty of these boats. Not a sign of wear and tear since I last used them.

    I hooked a big fish on the sky while floating through some deep frog water. The fish started screaming up stream and the current was taking me down. I wasn't wearing the fins at the time, but don't think they would have helped much in that situation. Eventually I had to break it off before I reached the end of my backing (and I had moved into the faster water of the tailout).

    I fished with 2 friends who had little experience floating rivers. One guy had floated the stilly a few times in a toon, but hadn't floated in a few years now. He had a blast and preferred the WM hands down to a toon.

    The other fellow was a retired teacher who had never floated a river. I took him on an easy float and he did great. This was his first real fishing trip and I think it had a positive effect on him since he and I have been fishing several times since and he's getting more and more excited about it.

    Thanks again Chris, for this awesome program!
  18. QHays Premember

    Posts: 168
    Here and There
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    WaterMaster packages actually do come with fins. They also come with oars, a soft seat, a foot pump and rod holder. I have a Griz and a Kodiak, and they're not even in the same league as pontoon boats. These are simply the best single-person inflatables ever conceived of or produced. The bigger Kodiak is capable of running Class IV rapids (witnessed it but never been ballsy enough to do it myself), or keep you comfortable for hours on high mountain lakes. I've floated both boats scores of times on the rivers of western Montana, and have hiked a paired down boat loaded into my internal frame pack miles into alpine lakes (~40 pounds really isn't a big pack for those used to backcountry big-game hunting or longterm backpacking trips). I've done multi-day float trips on the Smith and Bitterroot rivers of Montana and found both boats (put buddies on the smaller Griz) have enough cargo room to hold whatever is needed (including cases of PBR). The complaint of not being able to move the boat effectively with the fins -- try moving a pontoon with fins at all... Anyway, I don't want to rant too much -- Rich and Kevin (at the WaterMaster home) out in Missoula are also super helpful and more than willing to talk about the craft. Plus they fish, and are constantly on the water refining the boats. Nearly every conceivable extra is available, and for those of you thinking about floating them regularly -- I recommend the hardseat bracket for mounting a nice padded boat seat -- really improves the ride. Can't say enough about these boats -- PVC -- lasts forever, really just the best... A couple other things I just noticed rereading the other posts -- WM makes a nice stripping apron to handle the line and a gear pocket mesh clip-on thingy that goes right up front within reach. The anchor mount drops off the back of the boat and the boys at WM will secure a clip to drop and pull it next to your butt on the seat platform (easy to access). Again, the hardseat bracket is irreplaceable and allows mounting of a 'real' boat seat for hours of comfort (or a rowing seat driftboat style). The valves will inflate two ways -- either open or closed, so there's no need to leave the valve open when pumping (no outrushing air). They now make handles to clip on the front and rear to allow you and your fishing partner to haul a fully loaded boat up the bank. I had the WM guys add some d-rings, and bought an ATV cargo net which nicely covers the rear deck. Did I mention that they have camo extras and that these boats are awesome for duck hunting?... I keep adding things -- these boats are built to length for your inseam -- eliminating the need for a closer footstrap. You probably floated the standard version (designed for 6-footers). Shorter versions can be made, and d-rings can be added to standards to allow closer clipping of the footstrap. Last thing to add -- battery capacity does not affect high-speed inflation potential, but the boat will float well when not fully filled. The foot pumps put something like 5-6 pounds in the boats, the high-speeds closer to 3. Some major high-speed systems (shop-style) will put 10-12 pounds in and the boat holds it fine. I find that if the water is particularly cold or I'll be out late and the temp changes it's nice to top it off with the footy. Plus I'm not small and all the buoyancy helps. Conversely the standard mountain morning warm definitely adds pressure. They're awesome boats...
  19. TheShadKing Will Fish For Food

    Posts: 261
    Bellevue, WA
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    Ok, this question may be inappropriate for this thread, but I don't think so. But if you disagree PM me and I'll delete it. Or an admin can do it for me.

    Wasn't last year's death on the Yak (Reinhart to Ringer) in this kind of or an equivalent kickboat?

    In light of that, how serious are these recommendations for Class 4 water, and which class 4 is that ... the international scale that ends at 6, with 5 as often considered unrunnable in a hard boat or the "western" scale that goes up to 10?

    The comment about it being difficult to go faster than the river indicates a potential serious problem if strainers are present.

    I'm serious about asking, not because I want to poke holes in a thread for amusement value, but because I have a 'toon I never use, a drift boat I love, and a float tube I used to use for hiking in (but a mouse just ate a hole in) so I would consider selling the toon and replacing the float tube with one of these.

    I'd do it for sure if it really had a 400 pound weight limit and would work for floating say the JD on a 3-5 day trip in lower water where the drift boat would be iffy.


  20. salt dog card shark

    Posts: 2,306
    Edmonds WA / Mazama
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Shadking, I used both boats, and like them a lot, but view them as a luxurious big brother to a float tube. When all is said and done, they are a one man + raft with the front bottom cut out to allow kicking. A good idea, and versatile, one that allows you to free up your hand to fish. The air champers are big enough to give you stability and security going down a moderate river.

    I would not take them on a river with hard current, sweepers, etc., as mobility is limited. If you took them on a class 4 section of a river with 400 lbs. in it you best have a snorkel, and while they are a very stable craft, you would be like a cork in a tempest. My comparison experience comes from many years of doing class 4+ white water, with canoes, drift boats, and catarafts. Class 4?: might be a lot of fun during the summer if I was 20 years old, wore a wet suit, pfd., and didn't have equipment to watch out for, and had a buddy downstream with a rope and cold beer.

    They are a definite upgrade from a float tube, but much heavier. You're out of the water which keeps you warmer, and can carry some stuff (say, extra clothes, lunch, water, bag with camera extra reels and a spare rod), but I would not want to do an overnight float with it. They would be slowww on the flats, and not mobile enough in narrow fast water with chutes or dog legs with sweepers on the outside turns.

    They have a definite niche they fill between a pontoon and a float tube.