I have owned several frameless and framed inflatables. Outcast, Scadden, Watermaster and SeaEagle. Outcast and Watermaster are the best construction and the best Customer Service. I had 2 Scadden boats and it was hit or miss on quality and Customer Service (too much one man show?) -- but has the most innovative concepts.
As you are finding out, you will be hard pressed to find one frameless that is suitable for all fishing types, so really qualify where and how you will use it and buy used if you can-- so when your mind changes about what you need, you won't lose too much money--- or end up with too many boats (are there really too many?)
All the inflatable manufacturers will be at ISE- Sacramento in January and Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show in March. Spend a lot of time talking to them before you decide. And try before you buy- Kiene's is an Outcast dealer plus ask on the forum.
My thoughts on Frameless boats for different uses:
FLATWATER WITH A MOTOR- SeaEagle PRO 285fpb- a 9ft "U" inflatable with hard floor, so you can easily stand to cast/fish and the best motor mount available. A real fishing boat. Plus optional raised, swivel, folding seat like a real boat has will be appreciated after a long day on the lake. I have used one on 7 N Calif lakes plus on Lower Sacto (with motor), Yuba and Feather low flow section. Slightly rockered front so it moves well with a motor. Their PRO Series are among very best manufactured boats- you can load it down with every fishing accessory you need. Scadden and Outcast seem to have copied the SeaEagle motor mount, but neither is as strong. Set up time is same as other frameless-- but you could add fish finders, anchors, multiple rod holders, motor, batteries, etc etc etc-- and use a dolly to move it fully loaded to/from the water.
FLATWATER WITHOUT A MOTOR: Outcast Scout or Scadden Escape or Carbon Predator-- if you want a more maneuverable float tube where you can use fins or oars and that will also handle some minor moving water like the Yuba or Feather Low Flow Section.
Side wind on flatwater will push any inflatable around and head wind or dead water make any inflatable a pain to row or fin. You can use Scotty glue on mounts on either brand for rod holders or anchor.
MOVING WATER- DAY TRIPS: Class II or less. Outcast Stealth Pro or Scadden Predator or or Scadden Assault X. Like other posters have said- talk to Dave Scadden at ISE or Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show before you buy a Scadden product... PLUS 95% of people should not be near Class III or higher water while wearing waders and wading boots. So Dave's claims that his boats are Class IV capable always make me shake my head. You should also look at the front bottomless kayaks: Outcast Commander and if Scadden still has one. The bottomless kayaks are good if you just want to get from point to point fast and not fish from the boat.
MOVING WATER- MULTI DAY TRIPS: if not framed, then Watermaster Kodiak with or without the removable bottom (my present boat) You can load this up with tons of camping gear and run most water. Quality construction. Motor mount is strange design which I would not use. Scadden's Assault series with bottomless front is similar design- the XX can be set up for single or double use and carries a decent load. Scadden uses rockered ends to make his rafts a little quicker but worse in wind. Flat style raft like Watermaster puts more of the tubes in contact with water, so it rides higher in whitewater, not so quick side to side and a little better in the wind-- most large rafts are flat tubes-- but row both kinds to see which one fits your style and your use. Neither brand has a motor mount that instills confidence, although Scadden is better design. Dave told me that some of the Scadden frameless Assault models (Assualt XX ?) can use Scadden Dragonfly (?) frames- so you could have both in one boat, but verify that is true. Outcast Striker is great for 2 people...either day use or multi-day use-- not too enjoyable as a single user boat.
Good luck and let us know what you decide.
Last edited by JayDubP; 01-12-2019 at 12:09 PM.
Really appreciate your input, super helpful.
I want to use the boat for Stillwater and occasional day river floats (LS and LY).
Typically in Stillwater I like to anchor or drift sometimes with drogue.
Due to a bad knee I don’t kick.
Typical still waters are Manazita, Baum...like to try others and Fall River with minn kota.
As you say not one idea boat but you ve given me other food for thought. Including the sea eagle as assume I could use scotty anchors.
Will let you know where I land.
Steve, if you are still looking. I received an email from SeaEagle today about a new inflatable for motorized flat water. It is a l"flat" pontoon with a raised swivel seat. In their promo they show it powered by both a Honda gas outboard and an electric. Price point is reasonable. Look at their "Pro" package.
Here is link: https://www.seaeagle.com/FishingSUPs/SUPCAT10
I’m leaning towards frameless pontoon for lakes and some river stuff but will check this out
I have the Outcast Stealth Pro.
The Good News: Lightweight and easy to set up.
The Not So Good News: You're sitting low in the water, so if you want to get someplace in a big hurry, it's not gonna happen. Even with upgraded oars. Framed boats are better from that standpoint. Pick and choose your river water carefully. I don't float the Lower Sac when flows are over 8,500 CFS.
I wouldn't recommend a frameless pontoon boat for Fall River. Get yourself a pram for that water.
"Radiate, radiate, radiate far and wide as the lines of latitude and longitude on a globe."
- John Muir
Watermaster is the only way to go!