Search 13 v. Synergy 12

Hey everyone,

So I’m looking to get into kayaking after several years of just thinking about getting into kayaking. Originally I wanted a kayak primarily for use as a fishing platform; however, over the weekend I attended a large paddling event held by a local outfitter, and enjoyed my time on the water without ever thinking about casting a line. Now I’m interested in something that is a kayak first but also easily adapted to fishing on small ponds/lakes and slow moving rivers.

I’ve decided on a SOT, because of their adaptability for fishing, and currently have it narrowed to the Perception Search 13 and the Mad River Synergy 12 (both non-angler versions). I like the built-in flush rod holders on both boats, and they appear to be easily modified to be a more dedicated fishing platform if I so chose.

I was wondering if anybody here has any experiences with either boats, big positives and negatives or each? One thing I’m worried about on the Synergy 12 is the lack of scupper holes-- has anyone encountered a situation where this has become a problem?

Might think about the
Heritage Manta Ray 12 or 14 as well or even the Tarpon from Wilderness Systems.

If you need maneuverability, the Synergy is probably better than the Manta Ray which is better than the Tarpon. Don’t know about the Search.

Scuppers aren’t a big deal on flatwater. And taking a sponge along is not a real burden.

Redmond has a Synergy 14 and a Manta Ray 14, so maybe he will chime in as well. He is not a fisherman, but I know he really likes the Manta Ray 14 as a general use kayak and it does well on flatwater and up to class II. I think the mfg. even says class III, but I think that’s a bit optimistic for a 14 footer with almost no rocker.

I have done 15 mile river trips and class I whitewater with no issues at all. And it’s a dry ride compared to other SOTs.


HUGE difference
the Synergy is actually a sit-in kayak (SINK) without a deck. The hull and seating design is NOT a SOT design. In SOT’s your BUTT sits higher than the water so you can have scuppers that drain away the water. The Synergy you sit much lower than the water surface so you can have a lower center of gravity for more edge control and stability so you can have a narrower boat at waterline for more glide and effeciency. so NO scuppers or the boat would fill with water!

A sponge and bilge pump, like in a SINK is a great idea for safety and a dryer boat. You will find that with a Synergy you are NOT always sitting in a puddle of water. it’s really quite dry unless you are really paddling n rough conditions (2’+ waves or more) and then the boat (and you) prolly shouldn’t be there! Tho, Paul D and I have had this baby out n some pretty rough stuff with GREAT results!

Good luck!


My Synergy 12 experience
I have the MR Synergy 12 and take it out on class I & II Streams. I have the spray deck and have used it in the class II Streams- Here’s my review:

Without scuppers, you will definitely get wet and stay wet if the waves are big enough. I bring a sponge to remove the standing water. The spray deck comes in 3 pieces- one for the bow…an extension that connects to the bow and covers the cockpit…and a stern cover. It definitely helps your kayak from swamping when the bow crashes under big waves, so it has been a good investment for me.

I think mine handles just fine and quite honestly have a blast with it…

I take mine on 2 night fishing trips and carry:

  • 18 pack cooler in the stern
  • Dry bag completely full in the stern
  • Tarp laid flat in the stern (for tent)
  • Small dry bag in bow
  • (4) 2liters of water in the bow
  • fold up lawn chair behind the seat
  • 3 fishing poles
  • soft 6 pack cooler between the legs(easy access to the brew)

    The great thing about the spray shield is you can tighten everything down and cover it securely since it’ all tightened with a bungee cord system… The bad side to that is, if you ever get pinned or turn over all your stuff doesn’t float away and that cause the kayak to be so heavy it’s hard to move- I like to call mine the “jack of all trades and the master of none” just because most boats are designed for one purpose speed, tracking, whitewater, etc… this one seems to have a little of everything