NRS Raft Assembly

In Equipment, Flyfishing by rge1960

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I put out a post a while ago now citing that a new NRS raft was on its way to the Troutchaser clan. I had been to the Southern Alberta Flyfishing show back at the end of January where NRS had a display setup in conjunction with Bow River Troutfitters Flyshop.  The new outlaw raft in a 14′ version was on display complete with a rowing frame.  After looking at the raft and asking all sort of questions my wife and I agreed to purchase a new raft but in the 13′ model.  We hummed and hawed about taking possession of the show raft but in the end we really felt that the 14′ model was bigger than what we needed for the water we wanted to float. I worked out a configuration with Chris M at BRT and here is what was ordered:

1 13′ NRS Outlaw Self Bailing Raft 1 NRS Rear Casting Platform
1 NRS Raft Fishing Frame 1 NRS Raft Stern Frame Anchor System
1 NRS Front Thigh Hook NRS 1″ HD Tie Down Straps
1 NRS Y Thigh Bar 2 9′ Carlisle Oar Shafts
1 NRS Frame Casting Platform for Front Thigh Hook 1 9′ Carlisle 2 Piece Oar Shaft
1 NRS Frame Stern Seat Mount 3 Carlisle Oar Blades 6 1/2″ Outfitter

Which all arrived looking like this.

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After unboxing all of the components and laying them out to correspond with the boxes in order to make it easier to assemble this is what I was left with:

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The only tools required to put the frame together were a tape measure to square everything up, 2 wrenches (1/2″ & 3/8″) and ratchet and sockets (1/2″ & 3/8″). After laying the pieces out in the frame orientation and spending about an 30 minutes loosely tightening the fittings I reached this point:

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Another 60 minutes and I had the entire frame together and ready to inflate the raft and drop the frame into it.  This is the completed frame assembled and loosely tightened so that fine tuning could be completed with the frame sitting in the raft.

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The next step in the process was to unroll the raft and inflate.  I unrolled the raft and let sit for about 2 hours and using an Airhead 12v high volume electric pump I inflated the raft and floor to about 2lb/sq in. We then proceeded to drop the frame into the raft and lightly cinched the frame to the raft with the NRS supplied straps. It was then time to inflate to the raft to 3lbs/sq in. and the floor to 10 lbs/sq in. using an NRS Super Pump purchased from Mountain Equipment Co-op.

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We then added a rescue line around the outside of the raft thru the D rings and a 15′ painter line to the front D ring.  Also added at this time was a 25′ 1/2″ anchor rope to facilitate the release and retrieval of the 20lb anchor and we attached the extra oar to the frame using the NRS 3rd oar keeper system.  After all this and about 3-3.5 hours of invested time the new NRS boat was ready for her maiden voyage.

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On the trailer itching to get on the water.

Jump to Mother’s day 2015 and after a nice brunch the Troutchaser clan decided to christen the new boat with an afternoon float on the Bow River from the Glenmore launch to the Fish Creek Park launch.  The afternoon was about 15°C with mixed sun and cloud. After setting up our self shuttle and launching we settled into playing with the new boat. Doing pirouettes, moving back and forth across the river and just generally getting used to the performance and responsiveness of the raft. About an hour into the float a slight north wind kicked up against our backs and pushed us downstream. About three quarters of the way through the float the wind changed 180° and hit us in the face out of the south.  This was a good learning for us as to how the raft reacts on the water under the effects of the wind. After 3 hours we reached our destination and were able to take the boat out and get it back on the trailer.  Success!  On this trip we decided not to add the distraction of fishing although the river was in great shape and we saw more than a few rising fish along the way.  Next trip we will throw the rods in and christen the boat with a few Bow River rockets or big browns.

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The Captain at the helm of her new craft.

Overall impressions of the boat after one trip.  Very responsive. reacts quickly and easily to the oars and rides extremely well on the water.  The floor is sturdy enough to stand on with needing a casting platform in the back seat and the raft is easy enough for 2 adults to unload and load onto the trailer without difficulty.  There is enough room in the raft to pack a good sized cooler and enough overnight gear for 3 people complete with fishing equipment.  We intend to do at least one multi day trip this year so stay tuned as I will post later in the year our thoughts on the raft, after the shininess comes off, and we have put a number of trips on it on different sized waters.