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Submitted: 03-14-2013 by Tom Reilly
Fit and Finish:
I was very struck right away by the fit and finish of the boat. Every fitting is made with stainless screws, or a stainless rod instead of pop rivets. The attachment points are recessed into the boat and handles are part of the molded body of the kayak. There is a wheel in the back of the boat as part of the keel to help move the boat to the water or to the car.
The next thing that made me exclaim "nice!" was the Kingfisher seat. This seat is well padded with a padded riser under the seat to give the best angle for your lower body to paddle all day. It is thermoformed with stainless screws that attach the straps to the seat. This is the first seat that I have ever seen with screws.
Just in front of the seat, there is a new standing platform with a pad. I was able to stand up with no problem on the lake and make a few casts to test it out. There are supposed to be scupper holes under the platform but I could not tell. Under the seat, there are two scupper holes with optional plugs. I believe the seat is plenty high for a dry ride to not need the plugs. In the ocean, I would recommend taking the plugs out if you decide to use them on flat water. The primary stability of the boat is very good as well as the secondary stability. This was not what I was expecting. So it was another bonus.
The hatch just in front of you is a long hatch with a rubber lock on a hinge in the back. You can open it from where you are seated and have access to a 6" deep well for tackle, water, food etc. There are two buckle straps that can be put over the hatch if you are coming in for a rough landing or just want to keep stuff dry. I would not trust just the rubber latch to keep things in the hatch in rough water or launching or landing through surf. The prototype video from OR mentions that you could cut out the bucket and create a rod storage area. The hatch seems a bit short for that but I would consider doing it or see if anyone else has done this. Ocean Kayak has had great results with its "rod pod" in kayak storage.
The front hatch has a unique three lock system that keeps it tight and dry. Even after rolling the boat over 3 times from the shore, the boat was dry on the inside. Behind the seat is also a unique 6" round hatch. It can be easily accessed with a milk crate strapped in, however it took a bit to get it just right to close. I would also like to see a mesh hatch bag on the inside to keep things in its place.
The wheel comes in handy because with all of the hardware the boat can seem heavy to carry by one person. The wheel is makes it so you do not have to carry it but lift and walk with the kayak. My paddling partner and I had no problem carrying the boat using the molded in side handles rather than a bow and stern toggle.
Some of the other features that I appreciated was the rigging for an additional rudder. The cable openings are already in place. The rudder looks like the post style that just drops in. The foot braces need to be changed out for the Smart Track rudder to work. One of the features about this rudder system is that the foot pegs stay in place and the rudder is controlled by the toe plate. Even though the boat is made overseas in Thailand, the boat is well made and has all the right things most kayak fisherman are looking for.
Overall, this is a great kayak for anyone who wants to fish. There are more details about this boat that add to the value of the $1099 price tag but these were the major ones that really stuck out. On a 1-10 scale I would give the Moken 12.5 made by Feel Free kayaks a 9.5.
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