The Quest For The Ultimate Fly Fishing Kayak

Now that I live in Florida, I want to save up my pennies to get a fishing kayak.  I had thought I had figured out a way to get one on the cheap...but don't think I'm gonna go there...

Being partial to the fly fishing game, I'd like a 'yak that I can stand up in to sight fish, cast to them, and obviously get some leverage during the fight...which is a little bit of a tall order.  Most of the fishing kayak sites that I see feature dudes that are sitting down, using spinning or baitcast rods and stuff like that.  I definitely want to fly fish.  Plus, I don't really plan on taking it out in the ocean, more so in lakes, rivers, and intercoastal waters.


There are only a few other needs that I have outside of the fly fish/stand up thing - the two most important being size and weight.  I'd prefer it not weigh a billion pounds, and not be ridiculously long.  Basically, I'd like it to be something I can feel comfortable transporting myself, without too much struggle to get on or off the top of my SUV.

After a little research, these models really stand out.

NuCanoe Frontier - which comes in 2 flavors - 12' or brand new 10'.


Jackson Coosa, although maybe the Cuda 12' would be a better option...?


Freedom Hawk 12' - check out the crazy swing out outriggers...!!!



Or instead of going kayak, there are also pretty interesting hybrid stand up paddleboards geared toward fishing.  These are slightly less attractive to me, but still worth a peek.  Two I liked were the Badfish Badfisher and the Diablo Chupacabra...



Here are the specs on all of them, at least from a length & weight standpoint...and of course price (w/o additional options, because that can get crazy)...


So "survey says"...I don't know.

Each seem to have a lot going for them.  Every time I think Coosa, I waiver, and say NuCanoe...but then I look awestruck at the Freedom Hawk's detachable outriggers...right before my mind wanders to fun of the Diablo.  Maybe the only one that's "out" is the Badfisher, due to price...again, I don't know...

So do any of you own any of these fishing vehicles?

What about comments / recommendations?

I'd welcome any & all below...


Comments

  1. Check out Emotion Kayaks line......they do not make the fisherman pro,under thier name....shakespeare now.....thats what I have and can do bout anything on her. She was designed for fresh and salt water. Tons of storage,unbelievably stable,easy to paddle. MY personal advice is to go to www.kayakangler.com for more advice for more information. kayak angler magazine is a great guide for beginers to experts,and they have chatrooms to help with all questions

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    1. http://www.rapidmedia.com/kayak-fishing.html

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    2. Thanks Spurky, will check out Emotion and thanks for the suggestion on the website. Will definitely take a peek.

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  2. BTW my SOT kayak is for sale with the slider system included for bout 2/3 the price!

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  3. I fly fished sitting down in my Native Manta Ray 11 footer, and that was with big heavy bass bugs that cause big open loops and side arm casting. I would consider size and weight to be more important than standing. I thought width would be important for stability but longer means easier to paddle in a straight line and lighter means no hernias while loading.

    I've heard good things about the Coosa, a fishing blog acquaintance has one and fly fishes in it. you get a slightly elevated seating position if you want it. but check out the Mirage Drive on Hobie kayaks. While fishing, the wind will blow you away from spots and turn you around...it's impossible to paddle and cast at the same time. This is easily the most frustrating thing about kayak fishing. I fished in a buddy's Hobie and having the hands free mobility is awesome. It might be worth the extra price, they even have a fishing model.

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    1. I almost forgot THE most important factor. It's got to have a comfy seat, accept no substitute.

      Trust me on that one, I know what it's like to sit on hard plastic for a day of fishing.

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    2. Wow, look at you coming to the table. Thanks Clif. Lots of good information. The Hobies with the pedals are the bomb...but I don't know if I can do $2500.

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  4. After spending a few days stalking redfish in the Laguna Madre, I'm a huge fan of Diablos. Spent more time in an Adios, but the Chupa has the same pedigree in a more convenient size. And as Clif says above, it HAS to be comfortable and the Diablo Larry Chair is like sitting in a comfy lawn chair.

    http://www.mikesgonefishing.com/2012/05/fishing-with-devil.html

    Doesn't hurt that the guys building the things are good fishermen and good folk. Tell Thomas I said hello.

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    1. Sounds like a solid recommendation Mike. Appreciate the input. Good folk are a good thing.

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  5. Look for an old Coleman Crawdad. I picked one up for $50. They are basically a small plastic Jon boat. Not made anymore so look on CL. Easy to paddle/steer. Light enough to put on your SUV yourself with some muscle power, and so stable that two people can stand up and dance in it. They even take a trolling motor and you can mount some comfy BASScar seats in them.

    Size of a yak but features of a boat.

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    1. I'll keep an eye out & do some research. Sounds interesting. As long as it'll take stickers on the outside, sounds like an option.

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    2. Had 2 crawdads,heavy/bulky to lift especially to a roof to large for Subaru roof. A trailer is only option,except if own a pick up. Lots room,would need good electric motor. My last was set up with padded swivel seat,anchor Reilly,depth sounder,bait well,27lb thrust motor

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  6. The kayak Yuki was using when he took his swim was 31" wide. Wider the better. Need I say more?

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  7. Make sure they are gator proof.

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  8. I have heard that the nucanoe are good but I don't know anyone with one. I personally have the Jackson Coosa and can attest to its stability and comfy seat. I would also check out the Native ultimates. They are incredibly stable and have a seat similar to the Jackson. I bought mine from a friend at a crazy good price but I might have picked the Native otherwise. You can easily stand in either.

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    1. Glad to hear you like your Coosa. It seems to have a lot going for it. I'll take a peek at the Natives, you're not the first to suggest them.

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  9. The nucanoe Frontier was my choice after much debate and research, but our trip out west this fall has put the canoe on the back burner now. But - that's a trade I was willing to make to get back to YNP again. :) In the end, there are alot of good yaks out there, but I think the Frontier is the Yak SUV of the plastic boat world. Runner up for me was a Diablo boat. Good luck! Research is half the fun!

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    1. I think you're making a better choice. I'd pick YNP over the kayak myself. I hope you have a great time!

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  10. Check out the new Old Town Predator, SOP..... For stability and price and versatility... I do nothing but Fly Fishing and I am hearing that this is the kayak of choice this Summer for Fly Fisherman.

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    1. Will do, thanks for the suggestion Michael. Appreciate it!

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  11. I have the Chupacabra. Love it. It's awesome: super-stable, easy to stand & cast, etc. The Larry Chair kicks ass. I strongly recommend buying the Skeg attachment, too

    That being said, I bought a Jackson Cuda 14 for better paddling in wind, tides.

    I had a mile or so paddle against really strong wind on a largish lake in the Chupacabra and it was pretty tough. We have tidal currents here reaching 11 knots and I knew there would be little chance of me paddling against them in the Chupacabra, so the Cuda 14 arrived at the house for those battles.

    Both Jackson & Diablo make excellent boats, though. I don't have anything negative to say about either; kayaks are like fly rods: there's a rig that is better in certain situations & conditions.

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    1. I was hoping somebody WOULDN'T say that :)
      Don't know if I can afford to start a kayak collection.

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  12. Having kayak fished out of a 12.5 Emotion Mojo Angler ($850) for the last year, and having attempted to fly fish out of a 9.5' kayak, I cannot possibly imagine fly casting, standing up, in a 12 foot boat. Maybe a canoe, maybe. At 12' you are generally looking at a 50-60lb boat; at 14' it's closer to 55-70lb. So get a kayak cart. They are cheap, your back will thank you.

    I would test drive a few Hobies, Jacksons, and maybe an Ocean Kayak in the 13.5 - 15.5' range. If you were a conventional angler I'd recommend a Jackson or a Wilderness System (the boat I really wanted was a 12.5' Tarpon, about $1200).

    Another boat I'd *strongly* recommend is the Native Watercraft hybrid boat. Way nicer than the NuCanoe in my opinion and designed for exactly what you want it to do - salt marsh flycasting and finesse fishing. At $1700, it was way out of my range and you simply cannot buy them used, because no one ever sells theirs. I actively tried to find a used one for two years!!!

    Good luck - interested to see what you come up with!



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    1. Will definitely consider a kayak cart, thanks for the suggestion. Will also take a peek at some of the alternatives you mentioned. Thanks for the great feedback.

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  13. One of the roof rack manufacturers also makes a "dummy man" rack attachment to help you load heavy boats onto the roof of a truck or SUV. Worth your while, especially since the roof rack will run you $500 anyway...ugh....!!!

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    1. Yeah, in a prior life I used to purchase rack system components for internet resale from Yakima, Thule, & Malone. It's either do it up "right" or pool noodles. Might as well do it up right.

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  14. I noticed on Facebook today that Diablo is coming out with a new model. You might want to check into that.

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    1. Yeah, saw that pic of the rotomolded Diablo. I think I will be checking into that!

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  15. Are you still trying to make a decision?

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    1. Unfortunately, yes.
      I think I have it down to 4...

      NuCanoe
      Freedomhawk
      Feelfree Lure
      or the wildcard Diablo Amigo

      I don't think the last 2 are actually "out" yet...just saw a lot about them online. Everytime I think I've decided, something else pops up...

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  16. Sorry to make something else pop up but I wanted to share a few other options to you. I personally have a Wilderness Systems Commander 140. I wanted a boat that I could stand and fly cast out of and the Commander fits that bill. It is what is considered a hybrid boat but I liked that because the boat is very versatile. It has high and low seating and it is very easy to stand straight up from the high seating to start casting. The low seat also folds down and tucks under the high seat when not in use. I think the commander is a more than stable boat for fly fishing and I have never once felt unstable casting in it. It is a tunnel hull design like the Native Ultimate which aids in its stability. If you are interested in looking into the commander check out this review that I did on it. http://kayakfishingblog.com/2013/03/wilderness-systems-commander-140/

    A few other options that I would like to mention is a Ride 135 or even 115. The Rides are also a stable option that are offered with a high seat or low seat, flat deck for fly casting and have a tunnel hull for stability. I would say the stability is close to the Commander with both of these being good choices for a sit on tops. The Ride series is a much more stable option than the Tarpon.

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned this boat or not but the Native Slayer is also a nice boat that may serve your needs. flat deck, stable and paddles well.

    As some other said I would definitely paddle all of your choices and see what works for you for the types of areas that you fish. Where do you live in Florida? If you are close I would be more than happy to let you paddle my Commander.

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  17. Just came across your blog so not sure if you've made your purchase, but I hope you checked out Native Ultimate; either the 12 or 14 footer. Paddles like a dream, and it super stable. And a basic 14' model is probably right about $1000. Made is North Carolina.

    I loved the Freedom Hawk... until I paddled it.

    Happy choosing, paddling, and fishing!

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I ended up in the same camp but different tent. Got a Native Slayer 12'. Really like it, although at 70+ lbs, it's a bit heavy when it comes time to car top.

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  18. A little after the fact, but this may help someone else in the same boat (ouch). I have a Freedom Hawk and I love it. Mine is the older model that looks like a Y when the pontoons are deployed. It is as stable as standing in a bass boat. It isn't the fastest or the most maneuverable, but for a stand up fishing platform, I think it's the best I've tried. And being able to transport it without the pontoons is awesome.

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