Kayak recommendations…?

I am close to choosing a kayak and wanted to run my thoughts/choices by those that know for their comments. I am 185 lbs, male, 6′ 2″ and am seriously considering the Wilderness systems Tarpon 140 angler unit. A friend of mine has this model and I like the sit on top feature as well as the comfort features. I will be using this kayak to explore and mostly fish the shallow inside waters of Mustang Island, Port Aransas, TX and near Corpus Christie. If any of you are anglers and have a better/different choice, I’d sure like to look them over.

Also, what are your recommendations for a car top carrier? I already have a cartop unit on my truck cap and am thinking of the Malone Stax Pro2 Kayak Carrier. I plan to purchase two Tarpon 140 kayaks – one for me, one for my wife.

http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=1157043&categoryId=0&parentCategoryId=0&subCategoryId=0&indexId=0&productVariantId=2876928&quantity=1&itemGUID=&WTz_l=Header%25253BSearch-All+Products&destination=/user/wishlist.jsp

Since I am brand new to kayak fishing, any information will be very much appreciated regarding what I definitely need to get. Specific recommendations regarding paddle types preferred, etc is what I’m looking for. I have several kayak fishing books so I am familiar with at least some of the items I’ll be needing. Experience however is the best teacher as to what works best and what doesn’t.

4 thoughts on “Kayak recommendations…?

  1. c_kayak_fun Post author

    Two criticisms of the Tarpon 140. First, it is a barge. You may be comfortable in it but it is likely too big for your wife (one size does not fit all in kayaks). Frankly, you are fairly light for your height so it is even a bit much for you. This is a big guy kayak (up to 550 lbs!). Also the thing weighs 75 lbs which is abominable for a solo kayak of any kind. You will have a hell of a time loading it on your truck and it will paddle like a garbage scow. Of course, if you mostly just sit in it, that’s OK but I would not want to try to paddle something that heavy any distance, let alone portage it.

    Other boats you should check out for yourself are the Malibu Stealth (14′ x 33″ and 64 lbs) or the Ocean Kayak Prowler (15′ 8″ x 29″ at 60 lbs). For her, unless she is an amazon, look at the Hurricane Phoenix (12′ x 28″ and only 38 lbs — half the weight of the Tarpon so she can load it herself and it will be MUCH easier for her to paddle.)

    REI sells all these boats so their website would be a good place to do spec comparision.

    On the Malone Rack, I think due to the height of carrying it atop a truck rack (clearance issues) and the fact that you have the width and are only carrying 2 boats, you may find it cheaper and easier to load just carrying the boats flat on their hulls, side by side, on foam blocks which will cost you under $60, total. Those stackers are more for carrying multiple boats on a narrow sedan roof. Why don’ t you just try to foam blocks and stern/bow lines first and then decide if you think you need a costly vertical rack. Frankly, I have Thule J-racks and stacker racks but more often than not I prefer to use just foam blocks.

    I own 4 kayaks and have hauled a lot of them on many different vehicles — these are just my personal opinions.

    You might want to check the forums on Paddling.net for more information — lots of kayak fishermen over there (doesn’t cost anything to post on the forums and you don’t even have to enroll to read them.)

    http://www.paddling.net/message/

    Click on one of the forum categories and you can enter a “search” for “fishing kayaks” to see previous discussions, or post your own question — just like the one here — and you will get multiple answers within the first day.

    ADDED comment: There’s a guy in NC selling a Phoenix (no longer in production), all set up, for a good price:

    http://www.paddling.net/Classifieds/forSale.html?category=kayaksell&state=

  2. MonsterJack Post author

    While the Tarpon 140 is a bit of a barge, it is a great kayak especially for fishing. It is super stable, comfortable for a guy your size, and has lots of room for your gear. For your wife though, unless she is a big girl (a girl of your size), the 140 is going to be too big for her. I always say “your wife wouldn’t wear your pants now would she?”… so why should she get the same size kayak as you? If it is absolutely necessary that she get a Tarpon, I would suggest a Tarpon 100 or Tarpon 120 for her. It will be easier for her to maneuver; the added length on this boat is just not necessary for average sized women.

    Another boat you may want to check out for fishing is the new Jackson Kayak Coosa Elite. This boat is awesome! It is about 12′ in length which on this boat works great for a guy your size, it has a super comfortable seat that can be raised or lowered, it is one of the most stable boats for fishing I have ever been on, and this boat is extremely maneuverable (even on moving water). This is my #1 choice in 2011 for a fishing kayak… check it out; here is a review that I wrote on it http://www.squidoo.com/jackson-kayak-coosa-fishing-kayak-review.

    Keep in mind that with ANY sit on top kayak that they are VERY heavy, and often difficult to load on top of a car. Sit On Tops work best on car top when they are loaded flat (hull down) as opposed to on their sides in a J style rack. If you try to put them on a stacker style rack it will be too difficult to load them on top of your truck, and there will be too much wind resistance on the rack while driving (this can be dangerous if your rack rips off). Loading big boats on top of a big truck isn’t easy (especially if you are by yourself). My recommendation for you is the Thule Hullavator. It is a hydrolic elevator for your kayak. It is a bit pricey but well worth the investment. Check it out http://www.kayaks.net/kayak-car-racks/c1000004874/thule-hullavator-kayak-carrier-p77431.html

  3. Cpt. Post author

    Mike – I think you should check out the Wilderness Tarpon 14 Angler especially if you plan to use it for fishing. I bought a Tarpon 12 last summer and really enjoy it! What I like most about this boat is the wide open feeling you have while paddling versus being encapsulated by your standard kayak. I found that wider width of the Tarpon offers a tremendous amount of stability, which comes in handy when gearing up and tossing a line out. Honestly, I must say that even in the 12 foot length, my Tarpon is on the burlier side, but that’s okay. The extra weight allows the kayak to plow through smaller waves more comfortably without feeling like you’re going to roll every time a power boat passes by. I also went with the Tarpon because of the extra features including storage, and the rear flatbed with bungees (perfect for a crate or cooler).

    As far as transport goes, I would definitely lay the boat flat on top of your truck. Pick up either a rack with a sliding system to get the boat on the truck and cradles to hold it in position, or some basic foam blocks and cinching tie down straps. When you get a minute check out the Thule Slipstream as a possible rack for your kayaks.

    http://www.wateroutfitters.com/thule/c1000004580/thule-slipstream-kayak-carrier-p96374.html

    On a side note, these boats are on the heavier side, I highly recommend a kayak cart to get the kayak from the truck to the water. As for paddles, go light and go strong. Any generic aluminum kayak paddle will get the boat moving, but you’ll want as light and as strong of a paddle as you can afford because these kayaks are heavier, and a lighter, stronger paddle will not flex as much in the water allowing you to paddle longer distances with less fatigue on the body. Have a look into carbon or fiberglass paddles.

    http://www.wateroutfitters.com/kayak-paddles/c1000001731/aqua-bound-eagle-ray-carbon-tlc-2-piece-kayak-paddle-2011-p187705.html

  4. kensdog Post author

    My son has the Tarpon 140 and loves it. He uses it to fish off southern Cali and finds it the perfect mix of stability and maneuverability and he is 6’2″ and weighs about 150. I agree is it heavy, and may be too much for your wife. Our other kayaks are Cobras, and would suggest maybe a Navigator for her. As for the rack, we use a Thule/Yakima combination with mako saddles. They have been the most versatile for us, and we’ve carried kayaks up to 400 miles this way.

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