Tarpon 120 vs Native Manta Ray 12

Hi all, I’ve been thinking about getting a SOT kayak to do some slow river/lake fishing and have finally talked the wife into it. I’ve had my eye on the Manta Ray 12 for quite some time, but the price tag has the wife freaked out a bit. I can get the Tarpon 120 used for almost $200 cheaper and that might be an easier pill for her to swallow.

My question is, can anyone comment on these two boats? I’ve read reviews on both and everyone seems to love both, but can anyone compare and contrast them for me? Thanks all!

tarpon vs manta ray
hi…i vote for the manta ray…stats as follow…

width/ tarpon 28" / manta 30"- 1" per side diff is ok

max.cap/ tarpon 350# / manta 325# …how much gear/your weight?

Manta ray has the better aft storage area, squared off for a milk crate or appropiate sized gear box, tarpon has a wedge shaped rear storage area. hatches on both models seem to be same size. manta has more little “trays” for catch-all stuff.

PS where do u live? local dealers are selling manta’s for around $670 right now

Save $200
My fishing partner has one of each. Not IMO, enough diff to justify $200. Save money buy better paddle and good PFD.

Good luck.

I have paddled the manta ray and really liked it.I have a Ocean kayak prowler 13 which is fantastic for fishing and general paddling.I would go for the Manta Ray if I was going to buy another yak.

Thinking I’m going with…
Hi all, thanks for weighing in. Actually after doing some poking around on the net and visiting a shop here in Richmond, I’m really leaning towards the Trident Prowler 13. I fly and spincast fish and being able to take both and stow one away (rod pod) while I’m not using it is an important feature. It’s a little more expensive but I think I’ve talked the wife into it.

Again, thanks for the input.

Manta Ray
I did much research on the Tarpon and Manta Ray and went with the Manta Ray. I did a 40 mile paddle on the Suwannee River and it was a very very comfortable kayak – especially on my 18 mile paddle day.

It’s also laid our really well with much thought on all the kayak accessories and layout. IMHO!

Get the rudder system with it. You won’t be disappointed.

Write back and say how you like it
Many would say that 13’ is too long for river fishing, especially given the James in Richmond, but I don’t. I fish from a 13’ boat and haven’t had any trouble turning when I needed too. Granted, it’s not as nimble as smaller boats, but if you can give up “must” moves, no problem. I’ve floated out some class I/I+ shoals with the paddle on my lap and rod in hand to take some nice smallies out of the bigger boat. Try that with a spud boat that’s “appropriate” for the water. Sometimes what you really need is a tank. Have fun, good luck, stay safe.

  • Big D

This one too …
I almost purchased this one as well. I think all three are fine kayaks – it comes down to personal choice. You’ll enjoy it no matter what.

OK, wow!
So I went to an outdoor show today and spent some time looking over kayaks. All I’ve got to say about the 2009 Manta Rays is WOW! Those are gorgeous boats. I don’t know if they’re any better than Tarpons (Tarpons are still the most comfortable kayak I’ve ever sat in), but the Manta Rays are beautiful. The 2009 Tarpon with the new hatches and such - also closing in on a work of art. Really nice.

Either one makes my SOT look like something that came out the southern end of a northbound donkey.

  • Big D

Near identical hull design to my
Stingray. Both were Liquid Logic designs before the merger and I believe he hull is nearly identical. Pics seem to confirm this:



I’ve enjoyed my Stingray 14, but it doesn’t glide well in a straight line, reaches hull speed quickly and requires a lot of effort to stay there, but does not turn very easily. I’ve no experience in the Tarpon at all, but I’d recommend test paddling the two in the kind of water you will be paddling before buying. Currents make my Stingray behave very differently than still water.


Manta and Tarpon comparison
Gotta love those oppinions; here’s mine.

The Manta Ray has a bit more of a performance oriented hull, more rocker and a softer chine making the boat easier to put on edge. The seat position in the Manta is lower than the Tarpon, giving it a lower center of gravity. The seat in the Manta is a “soft seat” made of a plastic mesh weave. this material stays breathable and doesn’t retain H2O; it also has a softer feel than the tarpon seats ('08 or '09). H2O also drains from the Manta a bit faster, making it a drier ride. The oversized footrests in the Manta are a nice feature as well.

The outfitting in the '08 and '09 Tarpons are greatly different from each other.

The '08: the seat is essentially a pad in the floor of the cockpit area with a hinged backrest. If there is H2O in the boat, you are probably sitting in it. The durability of the hinged backrest could be questioned as well. The hatches, just like the MR, are rubber. Good standard SOT design, however, the improvements made to the '09 boat are substantial.

The '09: the pad and hinged backrest seat have been replaced with the full Phase 3 seating previously only available in the Tsunami; a vast improvement. This means better and more adjustable back support and thigh support. Also, the seat is mounteed in an elevated seat pan, so you are no longer sitting in H2O. Other big improvements are a hinged, hard plastic hatch cover that you no longer have to beat with your fist to close. Also an adjustable track system that allows you to re-configure the bungees in the tank well, and will fit soon-to-come accessories such as rod holder mounts, a dashboard that can mount rod holders, etc, or just to use to cut bait on. All in all, big props to the improvements on the '09 Tarpon.

All this being said, I like paddling the Manta Ray the best. Is it worth $200 difference between it and the (I think) '08 Tarpon? Let me know.

Sorry about the long-winded, albiet hopefully thorough answer.

Wondering myself…
I’ve been wondering about these two myself. Plus I’ll add in the Hurricane Perception which I’ve been comparing to the Tarpon ultralite.

The biggest thing to me about the Manta is that it really seems more like a canoe/kayak hybrid, getting in and out is different than a SOT and swamping would be different.

Camping with gear would be a bonus with the Manta.

I agree on the self rescue
I’ve got a manta ray 14 and a prowler 13. The Manta Ray is much higher sided and has much more volume, and it rides rapids much better than my prowler. Of course it’s drier, but deep water self rescue is made more difficult, maybe not a problem if you are in good shape or don’t paddle the open ocean.

I’ve got a Manta 12 Now
Since, I’m not out on open water (any larger than Joccassee, that is) that much, I bought a 12, because I was so pleased with the 14’s performance on whitewater, me and a buddy took them down the Cartecay, and they performed very well, I am pleased!