This fly has guts -- In my way of thinking, the chironomid larva is the hotdog of the stillwater trout world.
The first personal flotation craft I got was one of those old-style diaper-donuts with an automobile tire tube for the guts. Luckily, over the years, these personal flotation craft have gotten a lot more user-friendly, versatile and comfortable to boot. Before I get into the boat specs and review, let's set the stage on what we normally use these types of boats for -- because for you it might be different. Most recently, I had been using a Scadden Outlaw Escape (which is also a great boat), so I have a good baseline to compare experiences with the Scout and this style of boat in general.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, but we'll summarize the main functional aspects we look at for this style of boat and how the Scout stacked up. In addition to being relatively light-weight, I can deflate the boat and put it into a Rubbermaid tote for storage and transportation. Stability: I think the only thing I need to say about stability is that Cheech, with his 290 lbs of muscle mass, is perfectly stable on the Scout in even some of the rougher water we've experienced. Durability: Probably one of the most pleasant surprises to me was the quality of PVC skin construction on the Scout.
Fishing Comfort: Comfort may be a bit more subjective in nature, but there are a few things worth mentioning. The stripping basket is a clever design that sits at just the right level to contain your line but not interfere with your cast. After having fished in the boat a number of times, packed it up, unpacked it and put it through a couple of big storms, we'd give this boat a solid "A". I felt like I was suspended by a couple of those floatie wing things my kids wear to the pool. We went from higher end float tubes to "U" tubes to pontoon boats and now to frameless flotation craft that neither qualify as pontoon or float tube.


Because we fish big stillwaters, where we need to cover distance and carry a lot of gear, the bass boat is the choice for us there -- for both trout and warmwater fishies. And in case you've been living under a rock, you've no doubt seen most of the major manufacturers move more to a frameless style boat. The Scout weighs in at 35 lbs, which is definitely not a deal killer, but probably not something you'll want to backpack in longer distances.
The first thought that went through my head was "hey, I'm sitting on a modified white-water raft". However, I have it on good word that they handle rivers quite nicely, track nicely and make for a good fishing experience. Obviously a huge advantage to this style of boat is the fact that, unlike regular float tubes, you have oars to move around with. Like I mentioned earlier, the seat bottom being a nice fat comfy air cushion that sits your butt above the water, I didn't get numb legs or rear-end like I would in previous pontoons I'd owned. Plus it's adjustable enough to accommodate a few different positions and is easily removable -- no snapping, attaching or buckling (see the video for how it works). Immediately behind the seat is an area big enough to hold all the gear I'd normally have on my pontoon or tube, including my camera bag, food bag and the kitchen sink. If you're in the market for a new pontoon boat or float tube, it's definitely time to think about the move to a frameless model.
Between Cheech and I, we've fished from most of these types of boats at one time or another, so when we saw the Fish Cat Scout from Outcast, it screamed out for a look-see. And if we're floating bigger rivers with more rapids, it's probably a bigger raft or drift boat on those occasions. Because of this unique combination of features, weight savings and price, I think we'll see more and more people embrace this style of boat unless you're looking to backpack it long distances or really have the need to put a motor on it and rig it with a fish-finder etc. My Outlaw Escape came in at roughly 22 lbs, however, due to the way Outcast designed the "carrying" handles at the center of gravity on the Scout, I have an easier time carting it around.


In any case, you feel much safer and stable in this than you would in most tradition float tube style boats (or even when comparing against the popular Fat Cat boats from Outcast). Because of this construction, the boat held its shape very well on the water, with little to no flex or give when moving around.
As for lakes of varying sizes, when you combine the fact that you have oars to cover distance and the design and shape of the pontoons, there were no issues maneuvering around.
The seat itself is a kayak style adjustable seat and is easily the most comfortable one I've used. My only complaint there is that I had a couple of instances where I accidentally jarred it loose and it also can get in the way of rowing. But beyond those circumstances, this style of boat works great for floating all sorts of lakes, reservoirs and less-technical rivers. As part of this, I'm mention the seat design because I think that lends to increased maneuverability in the sense that you're seated above the water on a nice air cushion. Plus, they have a great oar "lock" system that will keep them out of your way while you fish. And just being that far out of the water is going to make you more comfortable regardless of the seat type. It's important to note that while the Scout comes only with a smallish gear "pocket" attached to it (something I initially viewed as a negative), I much prefer to keep my gear in the same bags and not have to transfer all my crap from my stream or wading bags into the pontoon style saddle or gear bags. In other words, it combines the best of a float tube and a bigger pontoon boat in one do-it-all style boat. Now obviously, durability is a longer term aspect, but I'd say the chances are good this will stand up to a lot of years on the water.



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