|< July-August 2007
BOAT REVIEW: Craftwork
Six fishing kayaks designed to take you to the schools
Rickey Noel Mitchell
BEEN CLOSE TO 20 YEARS SINCE I first cast a line from a kayak. There
weren’t a lot of fishable kayaks available then; sit-on-tops weren’t
much more than water toys. So naturally, I was the only fisherman
casting from a yak on the reservoirs in central California. More than
once I had people in comparitively large bass boats tell me I was nuts,
yet what really got me labeled as weird was that I was fly-fishing.
a revolution gripped the fishing world about five years ago.
Shore-bound anglers learned that after a basic paddling class, becoming
an efficient paddler could be easy, which gave them more confidence to
cast from a kayak. Manufacturers began churning out environmentally
friendly and affordable kayaks specifically designed for fishing. The
most basic of seagoing motorboats can easily cost a few thousand
dollars. Around a thousand bucks can buy you a fully rigged kayak with
PFD, paddle, fish finder, anchor set up, and rod holders.
you’ll find kayak fishers a common sight on not only the Pacific and
Atlantic coasts, but in many freshwater locations, too. Whether you’re
an angler taking up kayaking or a kayaker starting to fish, a fishing
kayak is an inexpensive ticket to a great adventure.
ALTURA, CURRENT DESIGNS
You know kayak makers have taken notice of kayak fishing when they
start building sit-on-tops with the same ingenuity and materials from
which they build their finest sea kayaks. Because of its composite
construction, the Altura is significantly lighter than any comparable
rotomolded model; it’s a 15-foot-long, 31-inch-wide kayak I can pick up
and carry a reasonable distance without a visit to the chiropractor.
The Altura comes equipped with a comfortable, adjustable high-back
The same composite hull that makes the Altura a light kayak makes it a
great paddle craft as well. It glides across the water as you paddle
with speed and can turn on a dime. There’s a saying in the paddling
community, once you paddle composite you never go back. Now I know what
This is kayak I can anchor, stand up and start casting a fly or
conventional rod comfortably, or I can pole it up a river or across a
The Altura has two rod-holders on either side of the mid-deck, which,
if you like, can be replaced with a Scotty 344 flush deck base. There’s
a large open well to hold any fishing crate or live well. I really like
the recessed paddle holders, which can be used as rod holders in a
pinch. This is another craft with a flat deck with numerous rigging
Weight: 55 lbs.
Max Load: 450 lbs.
MANTA RAY 10, LIQUIDLOGIC
I loved the padded, easy-to-adjust seat in this yak. It’s made up of
two pieces—a secure seat and an adjustable back, which means no sliding
around. The Manta Ray 10 has a deep cockpit, with sides higher than
usual to give you a drier ride. Because of those high sides, you’ll
experience a diving sensation when you launch. For those of you who
like to hang your legs over the side and fish, you’ll find this yak a
bit uncomfortable. When it comes to loading it up, however, you’ll love
Very nice, as long as you slow down your paddle strokes. Because of its
10-foot length, it’ll turn on a dime. I loved the Manta Ray 10
particularly on the river and all waters—until the wind blew. The Manta
Ray sits high on the water, and hard winds can mean hard paddling.
Fishability/Stability: For casting comfort, the Manta Ray 10 gets a 10. I can stand in it and cast a fly rod or paddle.
The nice flat deck gets another 10. There’s plenty of room between the
seat and the open well, very important for fly-fishers. You can rig
this yak any way you want.
MANTA RAY 10
Weight: 48 lbs.
Max Load: 275 lbs.
BIG GAME PROWLER, OCEAN KAYAK
Comfort: Sitting in this kayak is like sitting in an Easy Chair in your living room. This is one comfortable yak.
You’ll need a paddle maybe 10 inches longer than normal, as this is a
wide kayak. You’re not going to shoot across the water, but once you
get a good pace going you can keep it without an exhausting effort. I
highly recommend the optional rudder.
Actually, you can stand and cast in every kayak in this review.
However, the Big Game Prowler was made for just that situation. Most
kayaks, I wind up standing on the seat—not this one. The room in the
area between the seat and the console is sunken about an inch or so.
You press your toes against the side by the console and brace as you
paddle or pole.
The basic model without options comes with two flush-mount rod holders
and adjustable foot pegs. The console is designed with an area for a
Plano tackle box and a drink holder, and just above there’s a dedicated
area to install your fish finder or GPS. Inside the bow area, the front
right scupper is designed specifically to hold a transducer.
BIG GAME PROWLER
Length: 12’ 9”
Weight: 69 lbs.
Max Load: 550-600 lbs.
RIDE 135 ANGLER, WILDERNESS SYSTEMS
The old version of the Ride was the first real fishing kayak I ever
owned. It was comfortable enough, but the redesigned 135 Ride has one
of the most comfortable seats on the market, and it offers a drier
The new hull makes the Ride paddle faster and quieter. I paddled it at
a slow, quiet pace on a smooth body of water, and the hull slap was
The Ride 135 is as fishable as they come. It’s as stable as the old
Ride and is still one of the best yaks on the water to stand and cast
There’s one thing I hated about the old Ride; its open well would not
accept a fishing crate. The Ride 135 has space for a fishing crate and
then some. The wall of the open well just behind the seat has a slot
designed for a tackle box, which is also included.
more accessory I’m glad Wilderness Systems included in the design of
the Ride 135 is the same paddle and rod holders they use on their
Tarpons. As far as kayak makers improving their models, the Ride 135 is
the best redesign I’ve seen.
RIDE 135 ANGLER
Length: 13’ 4”
Weight: 64 lbs.
Max Load: 400 lbs.
Price: $960/$1,185 w/rudder
MINI-X, MALIBU KAYAKS
Once you get used to the length of the Mini-X, add a comfortable seat,
and slow down your paddle strokes, this is a fun craft to paddle. I’m
about 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, and the Mini-X was very comfortable for
me. When it comes to loading this kayak on top of the car or just
putting it in the back of the pickup, it could be just as convenient as
a float tube for fishing.
Tracking was a problem, which will happen with any kayak shorter than
12 feet. I used a soft drift stroke to solve the problem. The Mini-X
has the potential to be an excellent fishing yak for rivers.
Standing and casting was sufficient. Add a good anchor system, and the
Mini-X is an excellent casting platform.
There are two rod holders on the sides in front and two right behind
the seat. For fly-fishers, I recommend installing the Scotty triple
holder. I like the molded foot wells in the Mini-X.
Length: 9’ 3”
Weight: 38 lbs.
Max Load: 250-300 lbs.
REVOLUTION FISH, HOBIE
The Revolution comes with the same comfy, high-back, adjustable seat
all the Hobie kayaks have, as well as the molded foot rests. Bring the
fins up against the hull, and the Revolution paddles comfortably. Lower
them, and it a pedals comfortably.
Some folks think the number 13 is unlucky. When it comes to the length
of a kayak, however, it’s a very favorable number. A 13-foot craft will
track and turn well. I found the Revolution to be as sensitive to the
paddle as the pedals, and it paddles well in all waters.
This is a very stable yak from which to cast a fly line or a
conventional rod. However, not everyone should stand in and cast
without a little practice first.
This craft comes with all kinds of goodies. I like the gear buckets
that can double as tackle boxes. Be careful how much you put in the
storage bag; too much and it’ll be impossible to get it out of the
hatch. Other goodies are a paddle and leash, and the Hobie Trax
carrying cart. With the exception of fly fishing, the Revolution comes
ready to catch fish. However, I set up a Scotty triple rod holder in my
fishing crate to solve the fly-fishing problem.
Length: 13’ 5”
Weight: 58 lbs.
Max Load: 350 lbs.