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Thursday, July 28, 2011
ICAST Stays Geared Up for Kayak Fishing
Friday, February 03, 2012
Kayak fishing comes of age

A look at hot fishing rides headed our way

There must be something to dry desert heat. Most fishing kayaks first see the light of day in the blasted sands of Vegas, recent home of ICAST, the fishing industry’s annual trade show, or two weeks later. That second show is the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market held in a town perched on the shores of a lake too salty to support fish life.


Hobie Kayaks started the flurry of new kayak introductions at ICAST, where they claimed Best of Show for the Revolution 11. They also launched a traditional paddle-powered 11 footer, the Quest. Both rides were detailed in a prior kayak column.


In contrast, Salt Lake City spawned a veritable fleet of new fishing kayaks. Here’s a brief look, with particular attention on boats available on the west coast:


Ocean Kayak doubled down on the Trident Ultra, the big water boat built around the unique dual-sided elongated cockpit hatch that flips over to protect sensitive electronics during splashy surf transits. The new entry is the Ultra 4.3, a 14 footer that’s a little more curvaceous than its older brother the Ultra 4.7. This is a true Southern California style surf-launcher. It weighs in at 59 pounds and totes roughly 350 pounds of angler, gear and fish. $1,600 buys a kayak already equipped with four flush mounted rod holders, a sweet looking new bow hatch design, a deluxe seat and transducer compatible scupper.


Wilderness Systems rebuilt the venerable Ride 135. Back in the day, this was the first of the “big-man” boats. It’s benefitted from a full redesign; this is truly a new Ride. It’s bringing company too, the short but power-packed Ride 115.  Both offer a top-notch seat, the Freedom Elite, one of the best in the business. Here’s a neat trick. It pulls out in seconds, revealing a stand-up style flat cockpit. Either one can carry up to 500 pounds, even the little guy. Fishing friendly features are legion, including such treats as SlideTrax accessory rails and hatches angled to make rod stashing easy. Retail is a bit over $1,000.


FeelFree wasn’t ready to show the new Moken 14, but sources say it’s on the way to California. They promise one hot fish killer. We’ll see, but this much is clear. The company’s made enormous strides with its hull design and fishing outfitting. It could be good.


Although they’ll be harder to find, a few more debuts deserve a mention. Sometime later this year, Elie will offer a fully rigged and ruddered-up Gulf 120 XE for a slender $1,000. Price point boats usually give up quite a bit in performance. This one, maybe not. Elie has gone to kayak fishing school. The two-tone adjustable Ergoflex Seating System is anything but bargain basement. The new Quick Lock hatches are big and operate easily one-handed for one the water access. The rod holders are full size flush mounts. The hull looks promising, although I haven’t had the pleasure of paddling it.


Last year Jackson introduced the Coosa, billed as the first true river-running fishing kayak. Few made it to California, although they’re probably the real deal on northern waters such as the Klamath. No matter, Jackson is adding plenty of salt to their cooking with the new Cuda. It’s a 14-foot long single-seat cruiser. Jackson is boasting several firsts for this toothy predator, including rod tip covers and a center hatch switchable between dry storage and a fish hold. It’ll carry 425 pounds, come with a dual position seat, and is stand-up friendly for those with the necessary agility. About $1,200 once they hit the water.


Finally, the Wizard from Imagine Surf is a stand-up board with a catchy personality. It doesn't mind if you sit on the job. A flip-up seat back folds into the deck until needed. This stable platform offers a storage well in back, a quartet of rod holders, a couple of hatches, and molded-in footwells. Gear storage is no challenge. Definitely worth a second look.


trident ultra 4_3

OCEAN NEW ULTRA FISH HUNTER — Born in Southern California, Ocean Kayak is famous for designing surf-worthy open water platforms. Their latest is no exception. The Trident Ultra 4.3 is built around an exceptional two-way cockpit hatch. Fittings are first class all the way.


 ride 115

WILD RIDE — Wilderness Systems also has great open water chops. It shows in the redesigned Ride 135, a refined version of a big-man boat. Its new little brother is the Ride 115 (pictured), a shorty with a big attitude. Only 11-feet long, it’ll confidently carry up to 500 pounds.

Reader Comments
I'm in love with my Ocean Kayak Scrambler XT Angler Edition. I would feel like I had died and gone to heaven if I owned The Trident Ultra 4.3. OH MY! What a fishing kayak. I'll be savin' my nickels to get one. WOW! What an awesome fishing kayak! You could dress that one up and take it out anywhere! I mean anywhere! Great work Ocean Kayak!
John Cochran
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