The Tests – Mind you, I have only been out in it 3 times so far, but they have been 3 solid tests.
- Test 1: The first paddle was a 1/2 mile paddle in the ocean (in a protected bay) against the wind and current. I stopped to fish a couple of times and the boat is incredibly stable even in a 1 – 2′ chop. It tracks very well for its size and moves through the water with some speed. Keep in mind that this is a 10′ kayak designed for initial stability. This is not a 16′ streamlined ocean kayak slicing through the water.
- Test 2 and 3: The next 2 paddles, I took the kayak out on a pond near my house. The pond is full of weeds, lilly pads, and stumps about 1′ under the surface. If you take a canoe out there, you have the constant feeling that you will capsize every time you run up on a stump. It is perfect for the flat-bottomed jon boat and the new Kayak handled it with ease as well. The first day out, I intentionally flew through a stumpy area. I slid up on a number of them, but never really felt like it was going over like I did in the canoe. In addition, the boat is made of thick plastic and seemed to laugh off the brushes with the stumps. Day 2, I fought and landed a nice 4.25lb bass. It took my rubber Senko and ran like hell. The drag flew out of my reel like a spindle on a sewing machine. I did not have the anchor in the water, so immediately the boat starting gliding over to the fish. When setting the hook or fighting the fish, I never even considered the stability of the boat. It handled it with ease.
The Gear – The kayak is setup for fishing although the conveniences added specifically for fishing could be conveniences for any purpose.
- Paddle Holder: I love the fact that I don’t need to drill holes and add paddle clips to it. The front of the cockpit has a molded section to hold the paddle and a bungee cord lashes it down. Perfect!
- Cockpit: The cockpit is an open design with plenty of room. I am 41 years old, 6’1″ tall, 220lbs, with back problems. Sure, those sleek kayaks with the little dry cockpits look really cool, but if I was ever able to wedge myself into one, I am pretty confident I would never get out. At the front of the cockpit are 3 molded trays that were clearly well thought out. One is the perfect size for an Otterbox and includes a bungee cord over it the other two are the exact size for the base of a Scotty flush mount and rod holder (I would recommend getting the Scotty extender as well to get it up off the deck a bit).
- Seat: As I mentioned, I have a bad back. The seat on this kayak is heavenly. It is just the right amount of soft and high backed. Sure as hell beats sitting in the low, narrow, aluminum seat of a jon boat and pulling on the oars. Ouch!!
- Rear Storage: There are two rod holders molded into the back just aft of the cockpit. Aft of those is a large well covered with bungee cords. The well has self-bailing scuppers and area molded out to the exact size of a milk crate. You could fill up a milk crate with bait and tackle and gear of all sorts and bungee it down behind you.
- Other Storage: There is no dry storage on the boat, but anything tucked up under the forward deck will likely keep dry. With the open cockpit, there is plenty of room all around you to stuff various items.
- The paddle: Obviously, the paddle is not included so I had to pick out my own. I opted for the Bending Branches Angler Scout paddle. I chose a 240cm length, but you should look up your sizing on the Bending Branches site. I fell for this paddle because it is light weight, got great reviews, and has a couple of features designed for fishing. It has a small hook on one of the paddles for retrieving stuck lures and it has a ruler inscribed on the shaft for measuring your catch.
- Other stuff: An anchor trolley system is pre-installed and works great although I recommend installing a cleat for the anchor line (not sure why they would include an anchor trolley but no cleat). Take the boat out a few times before you decide where to mount the cleat. That way you won’t put it somewhere that will interfere with paddling. I put mine just forward of the rod holder behind the cockpit. If you look hard, you can see a spot on the plastic where there are two screw holes filled in (pay no attention to the cleat pictured left. It was just resting there).
OK, enough pros about this kayak, let’s look at the cons. For what the kayak is designed for, I don’t see any problems with it, but here are a couple flaws folks might find. Since it is built bombproof, it is a bit on the heavy side. The boat weight in at 46lbs. Since it is short, it does tend to “push” some water when I paddle hard as opposed to cutting through it. It would have been nice to have a pre-installed cleat, but it was nothing $5 and a little silicon couldn’t remedy. Honestly, that is a wrap on the downsides of this kayak. If I wanted a boat that was nimble, fast, and leight weight, this is certainly not the boat I would have chosen. I wanted a boat that was strong, stable, and portable. For that, the Perception Sport Sound 10.5 it is perfect.