Address: 202 Oak St, Salida, CO 81201
The raft, affectionately now called “The Blue Heron”, floated the upper and middle Colorado, Arkansas, lower Blue and Roaring Fork several times. As well as the Smith, Big Horn, Missouri, North Platte, and 100 consecutive miles of the Green all in the last 12 months. Her maiden voyage was less than a year ago.
Our review is 5 stars all around. The boat has been durable, comfortable, very maneuverable and certainly facilitates the catching of fish.
The RBW suggestion to not include the diamond plate casting platforms turned out to be a good one. Not needed with the drop stitch floor and saves a lot of weight and money. You can always add them if needed.
The Wise Marine Chair that we installed on the stern, per RBW’s suggestion mid-summer, is a point of jealousy from all of our fellow guides and river rats. I assume sales of that chair have spiked in the west recently. We have had years of frustration with breaking the cheap plastic seats often found on rafts. This chair definitely solved this issue.
Our decision of going with the largest dry box we could fit in the space, a Padz foam top, and no front seat also turned out well. We fish off of the box regularly as well as take siestas on top mid day. I believe the current record is a very comfortable 3 hour nap in 40F rain on the Smith River laying across this box. You can also easily strap a crazy creek or two on the box if back support is needed.
The quick release lean bars have been removed on longer trips, such as our 10 days on the Green. The bars were great for the A,B,C sections of fishing, then we took them off and left them in the truck before heading into the less fishy and more sporty Gates of Lodore sections.
Speaking of the lean bars, the rounded hip tubes are a must in my book. Anyone that has spent decades of life fly fishing from boats, knows that you do not want anything that could possibly snag your line. The RBW Trout Slayer design solves this. Another longtime frustration for us.
Not a frustration, is the stripping basket. it is obviously meant for fly line management, though that generally does not bother us. However, it has proven it’s worth for water bottles, a rain jackets, puppy management, sunscreen, floatant, or a sandwich. Handy is the word.
We added little else except for our own 6 hand made rod holders placed in the RBW machined brackets because we prefer the flexibility of PVC and the length to store 10′ rods rods with secure quick in/out access. Also a few amenities, like a homemade umbrella holder, stash spots for need to access things, and standard rope and anchor riggings.
We custom welded a trailer for the boat which has served us well. Though we have been through a spare tire or two already.
All in all, the RBW team did an outstanding job, were easy to work with given our very specific design requirements and changes, and delivered a product that should last for years in spite of our heavy use and abuse.
Perhaps considered a pricey package for some folks, you get what you pay for. I would highly recommend our exact setup for any professional or recreational western water rafter and/or fisherman.
Solid construction, well thought out, comfortable, functional, flexible, and maneuverable, and we have not been able to break her just yet.
Oh, and of course do not skimp on the best counterbalanced oars you can find.
Thank you to RBW.
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