As a long time drift boat owner, I am hesitant to mention the occasions when I ride in or fish from a raft. There have been exceptions of course: the Watermaster Kodiak and the Stream Tech series of rafts come to mind. Over the past few years the family and I have been taking a multi day trip down the John Day River. As my family has grown so has the need for more than just the drift boat. We moved to a single person pontoon a couple of years ago but it’s now time to go to a larger boat. The idea of a frameless boat was really intriguing: no frame and no trailer seemed like the way to go. I have rowed and sold quite a few of the Outcast Stealth Pro boats and they are super easy to maneuver. The Outcast Ambush is a much bigger frameless raft at 14ft long and nearly 7ft of width, this is a full on raft.
We took the boat on the upper Mckenzie this past Saturday to test out how the Ambush would go from Frissel Bridge down to Blue River. If the Ambush Frameless Raft could handle the varied rapids of the upper Mckenzie it would have no problem on the John Day.
The Ambush inflated easily with a 4″ barrel pump and I finished off with a K-200 K pump. It took about 15 minutes. The Ambush easily held a Yeti Tundra 45, the pumps, a 40L dry bag between the rear thwart and the rowers seat. I could have put something in front of the rowers feet like a soft cooler or gear bag. The front thwart has a similar seat as the rowers and the raised foam is surprisingly comfortable. Each seat is designed for one person but smaller people (children) could share the front seat.
We installed the included wooden deck designed to stand on while casting. The inflatable lean bar on the raft worked great while standing on the deck. Whether you are standing or sitting in the front of the Ambush you have tremendous freedom to cast comfortably. The lean bar can be removed if so desired.
The Ambush rowed great, I was able to stop it in all the places I stop my drift boat and the Ambush was extremely fast when I pushed to avoid an obstacle. My son is really light and we didn’t have much gear so the performance of the boat may not be quite as crisp with a bigger load, but this is true for all boats: bigger loads slow the boat’s responsiveness. I upgraded the standard oars to cataract shafts with magnum blades and went with 8.5ft oars. The oars are fine but I must admit I missed my Sawyer wood oars with dynalite blades, and had it to do over again I may have just skipped the oars and ordered wooden ones from Sawyer. The cost is considerable more for Sawyer Oars so it’s certainly something to consider.
Overall the Ambush frameless is an outstanding raft for two anglers to take on virtually any water type. The Ambush is easy to handle at even very primitive launch sites. Getting in and out of the Ambush was really easy. The pontoons are 22″ in diameter which seems to be an ideal size for comfortable fishing and just floating. I could see this boat on any lake, the lower Deschutes, Willamette, McKenzie and so many other waters. Two anglers could toss this boat in the truck and head east to Montana and Idaho and have a blast floating so many rivers. Oregon and Washington winter steelheaders could access many of the headwater streams where hard boats just can’t get to the fish.
If you would like to demo the Ambush Frameless raft please let me know.