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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 — 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.