Choosing my first Kayak

I’ve been lurking the various kayak sites for a few weeks trying to decide on which kayak to buy.

I will use it on small lakes and streams for fishing and just touring. I’m 6’ tall and weigh

270lbs. I’ve narrowed my search to the Ride 135, Prowler Big Game and Manta Ray 14. I would appreciate any info you might have on these or other kayaks that you think may suit me. I want to stick with a SOT, because I want to use it as a swim platform in deep water.

Tarpon anyone?
Have you checked out the Tarpon series (Wilderness System)? Good little boats for SOTs. I think the 140 Angler might suit you well! Lots of different fishing accessories (I think it has a tank well, rod holders, anchor system, etc) and holds up to 375 lbs. If you don’t need quite so much fishing stuff, you could get the regular Tarpon 140 and rig it up yourself (might want to ask a pro for help if you have to go drilling holes and such, though)! Hobie also makes some interesting fishing SOTs w/ pedals. Just thought I could give you a couple of new ideas! Good luck in your search!

Here are a couple of reviews (not too much but a start) of the boats you’re interested in! Hope this all helps!

Heritage Redfish

Could be a stable choice that’s well made from quality materials. With your height and weight you should maybe keep the width more towards 30" to keep from feeling tippy as you fish or move around getting gear in the kayak.

Manta Ray!
I had the chance to paddle a Manta Ray a couple of weeks ago. Great boat. I was really amazed at how much speed it had and how well it tracked. Very stable. Plenty of room and storage as well. I was impressed. Also, check out the Synergy by Mad River. I have my eye on one of those…

Manta Ray
I’m 6’1", 215 lbs and got a Manta Ray 14 last fall - great boat. Will install the rod holders before spring for fishing and it was really designed well for that.

The bigger surprise is how well it performs as a touring boat. I demoed one last summer, did a 4 mile trip in the fall on a lake, then an 8.5 mile on a slow river in the fall, and most recently a 14 mile trip on the TN river. No way I could keep up with the longer boats in an all out race, but it’s a respectable boat for playing with the bigger (longer) boys.

Will get it out in some class I and class II stuff when the earth flips back towards the sun a bit more.

I paddle with a friend that is closer to your weight and he bought a Manta Ray 14 also. He called it the Cadillac of SOTs. Another guy we paddle with has one along with his fleet of 5 or 6 other boats and he recently said if he could only keep one boat, it would be the Manta Ray 14. It’s not the fastest, or the most stable, but it has the right compromises to be very versatile for camping, fishing, touring and up to class II rapids.

It’s also a boat that is easy to put a beginner in because basically anyone can get in and out and keep it upright. I will eventually get a longer slimmer boat, but I doubt I’ll consider selling the MR14.

And for full disclosure, it was my boat that Josh demoed.


Jackson Rec boats
Check out the new Jackson Rec line. They’re not SOTs but have a huge cockpit & seem fairly accessible. Whatever you do, make sure you can test paddle before you buy. The boat may look & work well on the carpet but not on the water.

After paddling a few SOT’s…
like Tarpon, RedFish, and Ocean Kayak Scrambler XT, I paddled the Bic Scapa and never looked back. The Scapa is 14.5’ in length, more narrow than the above boats, and absolutely fast. I am 6-2/215, fit, and can keep up with the faster SINK’s all day. These kayaks are a little hard to find, but once you paddle one, everything else seems like a barge. Oh, the weight on this 14.5 kayak comes in at 46lbs. with handles perfectly centered for balance. Pm me if you want pics sent. Love my Scapa.