So, I've had my eye on Bote boards for a couple years now. Seeing the promo for the Rover Aero zooming around the everglades really sparked my imagination with what could be possible on a stand up paddle board. Until now, my experience with SUPs was the discount item from a big box store. It got the job done, however it's not much of a quality item. I really love how stand up paddling feels and I could see a lot of potential as a fishing platform. I recently got into fly fishing, and combining these two activities seems like a natural progression for me. Looking over the Bote inflatable SUP selection, the Rackham stood out to me with it's a large stable platform and just about every option you could imagine for customization. I ended up zeroing in on the Bote Rackham Aero, along with the bucket rac, sand spear, and Kula 5.
Right out of the box, it was obvious to me that Bote is a completely different level of quality than I was familiar with. The waterproof storage bag alone looks like a piece of high end luggage—it even has the roller wheels you would see on a travelling suitcase. This attention to detail carries on into the board and accessories. It can be set up in a number of layouts to fit your needs. I opted for the Kula 5 and bucket cage because I really liked the idea of having somewhere to sit and a place to put my fly rod when not in use. Also, having a cool place for your lunch and cold drinks is really nice when you're out on the water.
Before heading out on the water I did a test inflation on my deck and put everything together; this looked like it was going to be fun. After that, I packed everything back up and planned my first trip to a little backcountry lake.
I recruited my brother to give me a hand and serve as model for this adventure. We loaded up and headed out to a little lake I have visited a couple times before. When we showed up, the fish were jumping, so we got right to inflating and setting up the Bote, which was a very smooth process. I learned from the practice setup at home that mounting the accessories with a screwdriver could be a bit tedious, so I brought a small cordless drill to help. The pumping process took some time, so I am considering an electric pump for the future. Even inflating with the pump provided in the package, it would be safe to say we were out on the water in less than 15 minutes. Having an inflatable SUP is great for travelling. It's small enough to fit in the back our your car, and does not require a roof rack to transport. When it comes to the challenge of off season storage, the inflatable does not take up a huge amount of garage space. Not too many boats offer that kind of versatility.
Out on the water, the Rackham lives up to its advertising as a large stable platform making it easy to get out there and start fishing. In fact, it supported the two of us on the deck at the same time no problem. Even with its ample dimensions, the Rackham is easy to paddle, and does not feel slow or barge like. One of the accessories I was pretty excited about was the sand spear. With even the slightest bit of wind on a paddle board you can easily drift out of position where the fish are jumping. The spear lets you anchor to the bottom to prevent that drift. It's easy and silent to deploy, and it can be pulled up and reset without much hassle, unlike a conventional anchor. One of the included accessories also turned out to be something I really liked: the paddle sheath. It gives you a convenient place to put your paddle when you are occupied with fishing. Speaking of the paddle, it's clearly not an after thought either. Consisting of three pieces, it is fully adjustable, well-built, and feels solid when assembled.
Truth be told, my brother is new to fly fishing, so there were some tangled lines and coaching from the sidelines. However, we both had a great time and caught a couple fish. The fish were not keepers, but it was an excellent way to spend the afternoon.
Before we knew it, the sun was getting ready to set. Deflating and getting this board back in the travel bag was easy. We were packed up and ready to head home before it got completely dark. When I got home, I rinsed the Bote off with a hose to remove any mud or grime. I'm happy to report clean up was easy and everything looked like new after this adventure.
Overall, I am really happy with my choice of SUP and accessories, and the quality of the Bote products is top notch. I look forward to many more adventures on my Rackham Aero.
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