Welcome to: “The Rundown”. In our newest editorial series, we’ll provide an all-encompassing look at the latest and greatest products from your favorite brands in the fly fishing and outdoor space. Here, we’ll run over high-level info, tech specs, and our opinions – all paired with a behind-the-scenes interview with product designers who have poured their hearts into bringing these creations from blueprints to the showroom floor.
In this Rundown, we’ll look at the newest release from Idaho-based fishing and whitewater vessel company, NRS, to bring you an all-encompassing look at their latest release: The “Slipstream” Fishing Raft.
If you’re floating down any river West of the Mississippi, on any given warm and sunny day, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing an NRS raft making its way down current as well. These iconic watercrafts have been a staple to the angling community, as well as the white water community for decades now.
Based out of Moscow, Idaho; NRS or NorthWest River Supplies, has been manufacturing watercrafts and other river-sport necessities (such as apparel, Life jackets, technical gear, and much more), since 1972. In 2014, following NRS founder, Bill Parks’ retirement, the company became 100% employee-owned. This is a rarity in our modern, fast-paced economy, and is an approach that sets NRS apart from any other river-product manufacturer out there.
Over the course of the last few years, NRS has heard an increased amount of demand from the angling community for more fishing-focused products and has taken the feedback in stride. With the release of everything from fishing apparel and outerwear, to new fishing-conscious PFDs and Kyaks, NRS has been dumping time, money, and resources into meeting the needs of the rapidly expanding conventional, and fly fishing communities.
It’s a culmination of these efforts which have led to the birth of what we’re talking about today; the NRS Slipstream Fishing Raft. Or as we see it, A fishing raft like no other.
When it comes to the Slipstream Fishing Raft, there are a ton of new features that have been put in to accommodate angling needs. Below, we’ll highlight which ones we think are most notable, and why:
- (From NRS): “Slipstream rafts feature a streamlined design with deliberately placed d-rings, handles, and valves to reduce weight and eliminate catch points.”
One of the most annoying things that anglers experience when fishing out of a raft (or any boat/ vessel/ scenario), is line getting caught on things. Anyone who has ever fly-fished understands that fly-line was designed by the devil, and serves the sole purpose of getting wrapped around, tangled in, or caught up on anything that it can – including itself. With older raft models, things like casting platforms, protruding frames, and D-rings are the most common culprits when it comes to eating fly line. This is not only super frustrating to deal with when fishing, but can also severely damage your fly line. Which, we all know is pretty expensive.
The beauty of the Slipstream is that it was made with that issue in mind, and eliminated as many rings, valves, and other hazards for your line to get caught around. Most notably, the casting platforms.
- “4” drop-stitch floor provides a super stable platform, eliminating the need for casting platforms. Insert is protected inside a zippered PVC pocket.”
Speaking of the loss of casting platforms, we believe the drop-stitch floor is the key element that sets this raft apart from the rest…
With this new design, gone are the days of dancing around/balancing on elevated plastic floors while trying to fish. The new, 4″ drop-stitch floor runs level from the front of the boat to the back, providing a single, sturdy floor for all anglers and the rower to share. This doesn’t only greatly improve the front and rear angler’s experience, but also provides a sturdy and flat floor for gear storage, such as coolers, fly boxes, dry boxes, and whatever else you want on your boat.
Additionally, the floor is lined with an EVA foam pad which provides great traction, even when wet. It also features an additional valve, located conveniently underneath the rower’s seat, which can be inflated or deflated independently from the rest of the raft, at any time.
- “[Includes] Fishing Rod Holder to stow (2) 9′ rods”
One extra item that is provided in the Deluxe package, which we think is definitely worth mentioning, is the aluminum rod holder which can be attached to either side of the frame. We know from first-hand experience, the easiest place to break a rod, is in a crowded raft. In the chaos of fishing, or even just entering and exiting the raft, a slight misstep can result in $1000+ down the drain, or at least an inconvenient Saturday spent mailing your precious fly rod back to the manufacturer for repair. Neither option is very fun – but it’s something we’re all super familiar with.
This rod holder is made to line the outside of the frame, and conveniently stores your party’s fly rods in a way they’re easily accessible, and also out of harm’s way.
- “The frame includes an internally routed anchor system that’s controlled from the rower’s seat…”
The last insanely cool feature we want to make sure to talk about is the new Slipstream Fishing Raft’s internal anchor system. With almost every other fishing raft, the anchor rope lines the side of the raft and is exposed. This can lead to the rear angler getting tangled with the anchor rope, things getting caught in it, and unnecessary weathering from exposure to the elements.
With the Slipstream fishing raft, however, the anchor rope runs from the sidebar beside the rower’s seat, through the actual raft frame, and out of the frame in the back to the anchor. This creates just one more element of streamlined engineering that keeps unnecessary obstacles out of the way of the raft’s users.
Here is the full tech spec sheet from the NRS website.
(Note: these are the specs for the Slipstream 139 Raft, which is the raft shown in the photos within this article. For other models, please reference the “specs” noted on the NRS Slipstream 120’s Page, or the NRS Slipstream 96’s Page. These specs are also for the “Deluxe package”, see website for more details).
|Deluxe Package Contents:||
|Diminishing Tube Diameter:||18″|
|Number of Thwarts:||0|
|Number of Air Chambers:||8|
|Valve Type:||Leafield – C7|
|Type of Material:||PVC|
|Weight/Denier of Tube Material:||52/2000|
|Weight/Denier of Floor Material:||52/2000|
|Bottom Wear Patch:||68/4000|
|Number of D-rings:||12|
|Number of Handles:||4|
|Center Compartment Width:||39″|
In the Spring of 2021, we were privileged enough to receive one of the first prototypes of the NRS Slipstream Fishing Raft to test out on our home waters. Since then, this raft has been dragged over rocks, sent through white water, bounced off of trees, caught by hundreds of hooks, left out in the sun, rain, and snow – and has yet to give us a single reason not to love it.
It’s important when reviewing a product to point out the shortcomings as well as what we like, but we’ve had a lot of difficulty doing so. This raft is an amazing size for running medium to large rivers but is versatile enough to be used on small rivers, and even stillwater. With its streamlined construction and drop-stitch floor, our angling experience has been greatly enhanced, and we’ve spent so much more time fishing, and so much less time trying to untangle the line.
All this being said, we are even baffled by the price. You can buy the raft’s “Deluxe Package”, which features all the contents above, for all under $6k. In our opinion, that’s pretty unbelievable.
We don’t want to give away too much more, here. But, stay tuned for our Full Gear Review on the NRS Slipstream Fishing Raft which will be coming soon.
An interview with NRS Fishing Manager: Mike Dolmage
In our final portion of “The Rundown” we had a chance to ask NRS Fishing Manager, and someone who has been working on the slipstream since it was just words on paper: Mike Dolmage. Here’s what he had to say about his experience in the Slipstream’s design process:
Flylords: Who are you and what is your position at NRS?
Mike: I’m the NRS Fishing Category Manager and Hardgoods Product Manager. I’ve been a passionate fly angler for over 30 years, living life in search of the next cast. Fall and winter seasons you’ll find me swinging Pacific Northwest waters for steelhead and in search the rest of the year for new adventures on the fly. When not on the water, I’m involved with the preservation and conservation of our waters and resources as anglers.
Flylords: What was your role in bringing the NRS Slipstream Fishing Raft to life?
Mike: My role was creating the vision for a complete NRS Fishing raft package. I conducted extensive research to identify the key features that anglers and rowers demand on a fishing watercraft. We were focused on providing ultimate stealth fishing watercrafts for the adventure angler seeking remote fishing areas off the beaten path, and on keeping the angler focused on fishing without concerns of stability, line snags, or whitewater performance. Based upon the feedback we created conceptual CAD for the fishing raft package, and collaborated with our frame shop to make the Slipstream series of fishing rafts a reality. The Slipstream series of fishing rafts were successfully launched in 2022, and the Slipstream 120 won the 2022 IFTD Best Of Show Boat/Personal Watercraft. I’ve continued to travel all over North America and introduce the adventure possibilities of the Slipstreams.
Flylords: From start to finish, where did the Slipstream see the biggest challenges?
Mike: The biggest challenge of the Slipstreams has been navigating the supply chain hurdles that continue to impact manufacturers and factories since Covid. Keeping up with the demand has been an awesome and difficult task at the same time. We work tirelessly to keep Slipstreams rolling out to customers.
Flylords: What was the initial thought process behind the Slipstream? What role was it made to fit?
Mike: The initial thought process behind the Slipstreams was to utilize NRS’s 50-year whitewater river heritage, and provide watercrafts that allow anglers to explore waters they haven’t considered before. We keep the adventure angler at the core of our product inspiration empowering them to take any journey the imagination can think of. The Slipstreams were designed to handle any type of water, and lightweight enough to transport/launch without a trailer or boat ramp.
Flylords: What kind of angler would you say each Slipstream model is built for?
Mike: The Slipstream 139 – designed for big water multi-day adventures or single-day outings with maximum cargo space and room for two anglers and a rower.
Slipstream 120 – designed for ultimate water versatility on multi-day or single-day journeys that require whitewater or tight skinny stream stealth performance with a rower and up to two anglers.
Slipstream 96 – designed to pack the most performance and transportability into a watercraft for a rower and angler. The Slipstream 96 is lightweight and easy enough to transport rooftop or in the bed of a pickup.
Flylords: What are some of your personal favorite features of the Slipstream?
Mike: The internal anchor system running through the raft framework and out the center of the stern provides an anchor system without any exposed rope.
The drop-stitch floor with EVA texture provides a rock-solid lightweight platform for standing without the risk of slipping.
The Deluxe Slipstream packages offer a dual rod holder that allows the angler to keep extra rods rigged up for changing conditions on the water.
Flylords: How do you think the design of the slipstream will affect the way that NRS and other raft manufacturers will design their rafts moving forward?
Mike: The Slipstreams set the bar for future fishing watercrafts to be ultra-transportable but still capable of whitewater environments. We’ve transported Slipstreams for fishing adventures in anything from vehicles to helicopters and planes. The Slipstreams are an example of empowering anglers to reimagine a new horizon for adventures.
Thank you for checking out this installment of: “The Rundown”. Stay tuned for more activations surrounding the latest and greatest from your favorite Brands in the fly fishing space.
Thank you to NRS for working with us on this project, which has been years in the making. To learn more about the Slipstream Fishing Raft, you can find it HERE. Also, be sure to follow NRS on Instagram to keep up with the newest advancements from our friends in the Gem State.
This article was published as part of a paid campaign between Flylords LLC and Northwestern River Supply Co. All opinions presented in this article are genuine and solely reflect the opinions of Flylords LLC.