In this tackle review, we’ll look at a product that will change the way anglers approach stillwater fly fishing: Rapid Raft, by Uncharted Supply Co. This summer, we had the opportunity to grab the new Rapid Raft and put it to the test through rain, sleet, and hail: some of the most rugged terrain the Colorado Rockies have to offer. Check out our thoughts on the Rapid Raft below…
To make any potential biases known right away, we at Flylords have been fans of what Uncharted Supply Co. it has been a long time before we decided to publish this review. As anglers, hunters, and general outdoor recreationists: we understand that getting off the beaten path can be intimidating. Anyone who focuses on creating a smarter, safer solution for those looking to beat trail traffic is OK in our book. However, after evaluating the performance of their Rapid Raft, we approached the task with a clean slate.
Upon removing the deflated dinghy from its packaging, one factor was definitely apparent. This thing was small. Arriving in a package half the size of a shoebox, I was amazed to think that the item sitting, almost weightless in both of my hands, would support me and my gear over 30-40 meters of frigid water alpine lake. However, it was time to get it out.
The contents of the package included an extra strap for the raft, an instruction manual (which I promptly lost), and a green, 3-pound, wrapped brick of thick TPU-coated nylon material… or, as I should put it: a raft. When I was talking to the Uncharted people, I had heard its size compared to that of a loaf of bread, but it wasn’t until I held it in my hand that I really understood what they were talking about.
With the two ends of the inner tube unrolled, I rolled up the rest of the dinghy, as might happen when setting up a ground tarp or a tent. With ease, the opposite end of the dinghy was thrown into the air and flipped neatly to reveal an orange belly surrounded by the ship’s deflated walls. The opening of the raft, or as I have already mentioned, the air chamber, was protected by a solid wall of flexible black lining, which served to protect the seal from anything blowing in or out. Off the bat, the already unfolded structure of the raft reminded me of a typical heavy dry bag. Which, from an engineering perspective, is kind of what it was.
Now, it was time to blow. By gripping the edges of the top of the roll and holding the air chamber open, I was able to rip the deflated raft into the air, filling it about halfway. From there, I closed the chamber and began swinging the tip towards the front of the dinghy – which now actually resembled a float that could carry a fisherman. Once I got close to the bottom of the neck or turn part, I tied the two buttons together and sealed the air inside.
On the outside of the dinghy, now mostly inflated, was a small plastic valve that could be used to complete the inflation process. With the same amount of effort it would take to inflate a lightweight sleeping pad, the raft walls were tightened and the platform was ready for use. Now standing about 6 feet tall, the raft looked and felt solid and ready to land. Now all that remained was for it to be deflated, packed and taken to the field.
As we prepared to head out for a weekend to test the dinghy, we ran a few potential hills to climb, debating which one would best showcase the full extent of the dinghy’s capabilities. Eventually, we got down to a healthy hike to a series of lakes, located just a few hours east of us, that we believed had the potential to hold some trout. So in typical weekend warrior fashion, we packed up the trucks, grabbed the dog and hit the road: excited to do some real exploring with this product.
Once we reached the top of the trail, it was time to empty the inside of the trucks and hit the road. I was pleased to see that my Rapid Raft, as well as our videographer’s, fit snugly into the base of our packs, tightly syncronized where one might normally hold a tent or pad. Not to mention, weighing just 3 LBS, the raft carried us comfortably throughout the hike without needing any adjustments,.
The rest of the contents of our pack consisted of fishing gear, rain gear, camera gear and a first aid kit. On the outside of the pack, we had a double bladed kayak paddle that we got from Walmart, broken down and strapped to the side of our packs with Heli straps. When using the Rapid Raft for angling purposes, we recommend packing a similar outdoor paddle to the one shown. On the water, the raft is light enough to be maneuvered by simply paddling with the hands, but when maneuvering with a fly rod and being pushed by the wind – using a paddle to propel is much more practical to ride, and by stay in the fish. We hope to see Uncharted Supply Co. come up with theirs soon.
After about 3 miles of hiking and 1.5k ft of elevation gain, we finally reached our destination. The lake, walled in by towering cliffs and slough plains, boasted shimmering dark blue waters, textured by the reflections of rapidly forming storm clouds and the last of the pines that populated the border of the alpine zone. It took less than a minute before we witnessed the first trout break the surface of the mid-lake and drag an unsuspecting fly to its watery bottom. As if in line, in the still unsteady wave of the first meal, came another…and another…and another.
Excitedly and hurriedly, we dropped our packs and started to go to work. Quickly, I released the Rapid Raft from my pack and made my way to the water. In less than 3 minutes (less than the time it took me to assemble my fly rod), the raft was unfolded, inflated, closed and ready to deploy.
now, because the floor of the dinghy isn’t inflated like the sidewalls, it can feel a little awkward to get into at first. It takes some practice to find the best entry method, but with a little practice, it can be achieved very easily. What I found easiest, when I loaded the inflatable Rapid Raft, was to find a flat part of the bank and place the tail end right on the grassy edge. Then, with both feet forward, slide forward into the opening of the raft and push off the bank just as your butt hits the bright orange floor. However, it really comes down to user preference and whatever you feel comfortable with.
As any angler familiar with fishing high alpine lakes in the West can imagine, getting away from shore was a game changer, to say the least. As I navigated the lake with my fly rod in my lap and paddle in hand, I was able to quickly push from one growing apple of fish to another with ease and little wasted time. Traditionally, the bane of fishing a mountain lake is climbing the shore, watching the center of the lake, which is well out of reach of the spillway, explode with growing fish, while you stay confined to the shores, watching the trout cruise by, ignoring your fly again and again. But now, cast after cast, I mailed my fly to various areas of the lake that most likely haven’t been fly fished all year (and considering the growth, maybe ever).
It had probably been 20 minutes since I got on the water and we had a few Cutthroat Trout on the board. Next to me, our videographer, Preston paddled his dinghy, documenting the action (Note: to show the level of confidence we had in these dinghies, which were rated for 400 LBS, our camera rig was running around 60K hardware dollars in the middle of this lake).
Unfortunately our time was cut short by an approaching storm, and at the first rumble of thunder we decided to go ashore and close the bars for the night. Here’s a fun tip: If you are fishing in one of these rafts and are faced with a sudden monsoon, the raft makes a fantastic makeshift shelter…
Rolling the Rapid Raft was as easy as opening the air duct, folding in the ends and rolling it towards the buckles. Within 10 minutes of being forced out of the water, we were able to get back on the trail and make our mad dash down the hill. As the evening chill met our wet clothes, we made our way down laughing and shivering, bewildered by the raft’s capabilities and grateful for the unusual adventure it had inspired.
The next morning, against our better judgement…we headed back up the hill for another round of fishing before heading home. As the rain managed to follow us again… it was worth it.
Size (fully inflated):
Time to blow:
Ease of use:
As an angler in the West, fishing high alpine lakes had always felt somewhat limited. Spending hours walking to an electronically controlled lake can often lead to frustration. After spending 50% of your time walking the perimeter of the lake and unlocking your rig from trees that seem to come out of nowhere, one can often get discouraged, especially after still being rejected by surrounding trout that still can’t be persuaded to take the treat yours even after the 16th flight change. Even in high alpine areas, the inability to reach the center of the lake, or areas where foot travel simply cannot take you, can often cause you to lose a large percentage of the lake’s fish water.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the experience is all about catching fish – but it never hurts to get a few when you’ve walked so far. This is exactly why we are completely sold on Rapid Raft. Due to its small, lightweight and durable construction, as well as the ability to inflate in minutes, it’s not a piece of equipment you should even think about packing – it should be a permanent resident in your wardrobe. walking. Having the ability to explore a lake, with ease, in its entirety brings stillwater fishing to a whole new level and whether you are working dry flies to actively feed fish, or exploring the bottom with a balanced drain or chironomid, the Rapid Raft is a simple solution that will allow you to do this like never before. From our personal experience, we can guarantee that we will never hit the road without it.
Click here to learn more about Rapid Raft from Uncharted Supply Co.
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