Buying 1st fishing kayak

Planning to buy soon and considering:

WS Tarpon 12

Heritage Redfish 12

Native Ultimate 12

Mad River Synergy 12

Malibu Pro-Explorer 12

Ocean Scrambler XT

Most of my use will be near shore and backcountry Gulf of Mexico from Lee/Collier County to Suwannee River.

I’d appreciate any pros opr cons from those experienced with any of these kayaks.


Add Manta Ray 12

– Last Updated: Oct-09-08 4:03 PM EST –

to your list. I reviewed most on your list including this one and purchased the Native Watercraft Manta Ray 12. I made a "great" purchase. It's been perfect!

Like most of those on your list - they built this specifically for fishing trying to ensure your line doesn't get caught on your kayak, has a large area in the back for bait bucket, ice chest, etc. and a nice deck for mounting accessories.

Manta and Magic

I actually just started looking at that boat on the NW web site. What do you know about the Magic 12 from Native?

All are good kayaks
The OK Scrambler will probably be the least expensive. When you say “near shore” are you talking bay or in going beyond the breakers to fish in the Gulf…300 yards or so? If the latter, the Malibu and Scrambler may be your best bet.

Magic 12
If you are only fishing then it’s fine, but I also kayak camp and needed the storage. To me the Magic is more like a canoe then a kayak. I also can’t seem to see where it drains water (scupper holes).

I think if you really look at it - it has no space or design for fishing gear compared to how the Manta Ray and some of the others on your list are setup with bigger areas in the back for cooler / bait bucket.

Again, this is my personal opinion - everyone chooses their boat for many reasons. Go with your gut. I had many friends tell me to go with other options, but I knew I wanted the Manta Ray after much reseach and have been very happy with it.

Best thing is to find stores where all of these are located and see if you can get on the water with some of them before you purchase.

I also found reviews on this site and others helped me in my decision.

Most on your list seem to fall in an average range of price so if price is not the issue then don’t skimp on a kayak. You get plenty of years of use in it and they tend to keep some of their value.

One other note …
… storage … you will appreciate compartments and a nice sized cup holder. The compartment that sits in front of me stores perfectly hooks, a few lures and such for easy access. The one behind me stores my keys, fising liscense since I don’t need to get these back out until I’m done. My cup holder holds a large sized bottle then average.

Also, the other reason I purchased the Manta Ray 12 was the seat. They designed it specifically for being in your kayak all day fishing. Same seat that is in the Magic.

It’s nice to lean back and have some nice padding under the bum for a change.

What ever you get - put an anchor trolley system on it. I purchased mine from Austin Kayaks. They ship free for purchase over $50.00

Scrambler XT
I paddled a Scrambler (not XT) recently and found it a bit narrow for my wide backside. For fishing, I’d want the extra width of the XT over the standard Scrambler for the additional initial stability it brings.

That said, I see you have the XT version in the list above, so good.

All the kayaks you listed are ‘pedigreed’ fishing kayaks. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Given that you’re a beginner, I would like to mention that all kayaks will feel tippy at first. So-called “stability” and tracking are oversold features for starting kayakers. Don’t worry about maximizing them. You will begin to feel more comfortable very quickly in your new boat. If you get something TOO stable and with too much tracking, you won’t be able to turn when you want to or need to. Not good.

All the boats you listed are appropriate for what you describe as your purpose. Get the one you are most comfortable sitting in or the most affordable and get on the water.

Remember to save money for a decent paddle and a good PFD.

  • Big D

Thanks for the great information!!

– Last Updated: Oct-10-08 11:03 AM EST –

Folks ... thanks so much for the info.


Excellent point on the scupper holes in the Manta. Since I'm a novice and will be fishing a great deal, probably should stay with a more traditional SOT deisgn and stay with the Manta Ray. With respect to the storage ... I'm more of an artificial bait fisherman (will fish live if caught on the water) but will want the storage area for cooler and rods.

yakcanfish, big-D

I mostly fish Florida's north Gulf coast so there's usually really no surf. By "inshore" I mean the outside of islands and bars from Weeki Wachee to Suwannee. Also, I have a Carolina Skiff 1780 that I'll use to run from launch to more remote areas, then off load the kayak for fishing some tough-to-access areas. So weight is of some importance but I'll have at least one or two other people with me so it's not a huge concern. I've actually designed a neat hanger for the outside of the hull that will carry the kayak. My wife has a Heritage Featherlite 10 that fits well inside of the boat. She's not a yak fisherman, but more of the paddle with the dolphins kayaker.

Thanks again for all of the info.

Good place and good people

prayers and thoughts …

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 5:34 PM EST –

First, I must send our condolences to the family and friends of yak.canfish. As a very new member to this site, I didn't know Jerry but do understand the pain of losing a family member and friend. Just from the words posted on this site, I see he will be missed by many. May God bless and watch over Jerry's family and friends ...... and give them strength, hope, and peace during this time of sorrow and adjustment.

Next, I want to thank those that offered their thoughts/comments to my query. Yesterday, found a yak I think's going to meet my needs. While searching for a NW Manta Ray (as suggested by beccka) I stumbled across a lightly used NW Magic 12. Since I'm so new to the sport, I really don't have the experience to make a knowledgable decision as to the perfect fit, if such exists. But, after trying the boat and considering all that I could, it just made sense.

So, I'm off to Sanibel in about 6 days for a week of paddling and casting .... some quality R&R and possibly a few fish.

Take care.

Yes sad to see his post here and then gone so soon. Life is too short to not enjoy what is can offer.

I’m happy you found a yak. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy it and getting use to it.

Have fun fishing and enjoy your new kayak - remember it’s new to you!

Consider inside kayaks also.
I know a lot of people that kayak fish use sit on tops and swear that is the ideal setup. I use a Old Town Castine which is a sit inside yak and it works out great for me. My deck bag and dual rod holders are directly in front of me at all times. I have a Scotty rod holder behind me and all my fishing tools are teathered to the painter lines in front. For me this is the ideal setup.

Just something else to think about. The only drawback that i’ve encountered is getting in and out is a little harder.

There is no perfect fit
You made a good choice for the waters you described.

Go out and have fun. Keep it safe and sane as you build skills.

  • Big D

You need to get the Ocean kayak prowler 13 added to your list.I own one and am very pleased with it.Stability,speed and tracking is good.I have it set up with rodholders and it is a great yak.