Saturday, March 07, 2009
Buying a new kayak
My wife went out of town with my son to visit her parents this weekend so I stayed to take care of our two girls. Even so, fishing wouldn't have been possible anyways given the high winds. Instead, I took this opportunity to take a look at some kayaks that I was interested in. In particular, one was the latest 2009 version of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 that I have owned for the past 6+ years. The other was a very similar boat by Native Watercraft called the Manta Ray 12.
The new Tarpon 120 has had many improvements to it. This topic on the texaskayafisherman.com forums provides a good review of the '09 models. It describes major upgrades to the hatches, improvements in the seat, gear packets, and paddle holders as well as other improvements. It is a very nice kayak and I got to see a couple of them at REI (I wouldn't purchase it from them but it was the closest place that had them).
The second kayak, the Native Manta Ray, was one that I had been reading about for a while now. It is a boat that a lot of folks really like. It has a comfortable seat, tracks well, well thought out storage options and so on. I wanted to see this one at a shop since it reminded me so much of my own trusty Tarpon 120 except a little nicer.
I wanted to stay with a 12 foot kayak. The 14 foot ones are roomier and tend to track better, are more stable in choppy water and paddle faster but are not the best choice for small rivers. Rather than have one boat for lakes and the bays and another for the rivers, I wanted another general boat like my Tarpon 120 since the Tarpon was going to my son.
I went over to a nearby small kayak shop called Lakeline Watersports and spoke with the owner, Roland, about this model. He was very helpful and he mentioned he had two new 2008 models on closeout at a reduced price. One was red and the other yellow. My current kayak is yellow. I like high visibility colors like orange and yellow as opposed to colors that blend in to their surroundings. I do this so motorboats can spot me easily as well as when part of the kayak is hanging out the bed of my truck, it can also be seen by motorists behind me.
While I would recommend to anyone to paddle a kayak before purchasing it, the Tarpon 120 was already familiar to me and I had read the Manta Ray was very similar to the Tarpon. I did want to try the seat out and after adjusting it, it seemed quite comfortable. So, I pretty much committed to Roland that I would take the Manta Ray and for him to hold it for me. I just need to wait until my wife comes back tomorrow to get a Scotty rod holder mount out of my truck so that he could install it and also rig up an anchor trolley to it and I would pick it up on Monday or Tuesday. The price was just too good to pass up. While the new Tarpon 120 is very nice, I really couldn't justify the $150 to $200 extra cost. With the savings, I decided to order a new Stohlquist Fisherman PFD from REI that should get here next weekend. I'll review it after I get it but it is the type of fishing PFD that I have been looking to get for a long time.
So, I am pretty excited about this new kayak. My current Tarpon 120 will become my son's kayak. He already has a good Stohlquist kayaking PFD and a Carlise paddle that I had as extras for it. I hope it serves him as well as it has served me.