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Reviews for Tarpon 120 Kayak by Wilderness Systems


Rated: 9.28/10 Based On: 71 Reviews


Tarpon 120 Kayak by Wilderness Systems

Length: 12' 3" - Width: 30.00" - Starting at: $919.00
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10-23-2013
Submitted by: JDMSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Tarpon 120 replaces my circa 1993 Sea Lion 17' 6" Aquaterra seakayak that I can no longer use because of spinal problems. Also, at age 65, I can't safely enter an enclosed sea kayak of any kind from the wooden ladder on my seawall. Getting into the SOT Tarpon 120, however, is not the slightest problem.

I've paddled the Tarpon 120 about 60 hours so far, and it certainly lives up to all the rave reviews regarding secondary stability, rock-solid tracking, and maneuverability. Although it's called a "flat water" kayak, I use it on Long Island Sound where conditions can go from flat calm to three-foot waves just a few minutes.

Compared to the Sea Lion, which cuts through waves and chop, the Tarpon 120 is more like a cork that bobs up and down when conditions get rough. I have to be a little more careful about anticipating tide changes and wind shifts, especially when paddling out to Great Captains Island which is about 2 miles offshore. But so far, I've always managed to get home, even if it's taken an hour longer than I had planned.

I find that as long as I paddle into the wind and waves, the Tarpon 120 performs surprisingly well in winds up to about 15mph (with some higher gusts) and waves of up to 2 feet (with a few taller waves).

Here's the GPS summary from my most recent trip which was 6.59 miles. Winds were light at about 5 mph and I departed almost exactly at high tide, so the tide was running the same direction (out) during my paddle, which lasted 2 hours and 19 minutes. My average speed was 2.8 mph and my highest speed was 4.6 mph (which doubtless happened at a point when I had both the wind and tide behind me.) This is certainly slower than the 3.6 mph that I hear is the average speed for a sea kayak. Still, given all the advantages the Tarpon 120 SOT offers, I'll happily give up 0.8 mph in speed.

The biggest advantage, of course, is safety. I like to paddle in the open Sound and at some points I am more than 2 miles from the nearest land. Even at 45 years old, re-entering and pumping out an overturned seakayak was difficult. At 65, it's probably impossible.

The second biggest advantage is the amazing Airpro seat, which is incredibly comfortable. My longest trip has been about 4 hours without any lower back discomfort. A can't even sit at a desk that long without significant back pain.

On the con side, I'm not sure were it's coming from, but I do collect some salt water whenever I go out. I've solved the problem with a couple of Swoosh bailing sponges that absorb 1 quart each. After three or four trips, I squeeze them dry. I've never actually measured how much I squeeze out, but I'd estimate it's about 1/4 to 1/2 quart.

The main reason I've shaved off one point on this review, is because while the Tarpon 120's "high-density linear polyethylene" may be maintenance free, it's not all that tough. Sure, my Tarpon 120 gets dragged across rocks, barnacles, oyster and clam shells -- but that's inevitable when the tide drops almost 1 foot per hour and a kayak that was at the water's edge when you land, may be 15 feet from the water after a 45-minute lunch break. At any rate, while my Sea Lion would scratch slightly after being dragged over rocks and shells, the Tarpon 120 actually gouges.

After a month's use, my hull is covered with scrapes and gouges that are perhaps 1/16 to 1/8th of an inch deep and leave little pieces of dislodged plastic hanging from the hull. It seems to me, that the Tarpon 120 hull is far softer than the exceptionally durable polypropylene hull of the Sea Lion.

Bottom line: the Tarpon 120 is no sea kayak, but it's fine substitute.

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09-02-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I use my Tarpon 120 as a non fishing platform.. Just cruising around. I love the accessibility to the center hatch, the seat is very comfortable and with some add-on stuff from YakAttack I have made my Tarpon almost perfect. I also like the stability and the tracking... the weight is a challenge for car transport (F150) however the use of the Malone Telos load assist made it very easy...
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08-19-2013
Submitted by: pcSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     The kayak is a good kayak for inshore or bay fishing, not the most stable kayak out there, but the price and design make it worth the bang, It has good hatch size and the structure is built to cut through water, would recommend as a beginner or intermediate kayak
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08-14-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought my first Tarpon 120 in 2003 and another Tarpon 120 in 2008. Picked up a Tarpon 100 in 2006 and a Tarpon 140 a couple years ago. All the Tarpons were purchased new with the exception of the 140. After 10 years of experience in the Tarpons, I can say with confidence that Wilderness Systems makes a fine fishing platform--the Tarpon started the kayak fishing revolution!

The Tarpon 120 tracks well, is light enough to car-top, has a milk crate sized area in the back and accepts flush-mount rod holders. Two flat surfaces aft of the paddler can be used for Scotty mounts (flush or proud). It even has a level mount for a compass. I like the dual paddle holders and occasionally use them to hold a fishing rod (or fly rod). I never had any problems with leaks or scuppers. This kayak is a true workhorse and will satisfy most fishermen. The newest version has some nice features--tracks on the decks and pockets.

I would have given the Tarpons a 10 except for the cup holders. They are not in a good position or deep enough so that the bottle placed there is always in the way. I always used mine to store fishing lures.

I sold my 10 year old Tarpon for 2/3 of what I paid for it and could have sold 10 more. Paddles recognize that Tarpons are a solid kayak and they are always in demand. I have taken the Tarpon 120 on a multiple 3 day kayak-camping trips to the Bartram Canoe Trail (see trip under Places to Paddle-Alabama) and it performed perfectly. I have taken the Tarpons on 10 mile river paddles, into the Gulf of Mexico and in-shore around Mobile, AL chasing red fish, specs and flounder. I am currently looking for that fifth Tarpon and will probably have one in the livery for quite some time.

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08-13-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've owned this kayak for 4 years now. It's lightweight, durable and small enough to maneuver around tidal creeks and small rivers very easily. It's very stable and even allows you to stand up in it in calm waters.

I've given it an 8 because there are a few things that I'd like to change. Feet pedals are a little flimsy and the handle on the front had to be replaced. These may just from typical wear and tear but I would think both of these items should last longer than 4 years.

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08-06-2013
Submitted by: MKSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This is an excellent kayak; what else is there to say? There is a reason the Tarpon 120 is so popular and that is because WS has made an excellent all around kayak. This kayak is great if you're in it to fish or in it to paddle. There is plenty of storage room, it is made from high quality materials, tracks well and has a very comfortable seat.

I would highly recommend this kayak. If you are on a budget consider the Perception Sport Pescador 12 as it is just an older model of this kayak. The only drawbacks I see is that it is a little heavier than some others in the 12' range which makes it a little more difficult for loading and unloading. Also, the foot pegs seem antiquated with no easy reach adjustment or comfortable shape.

Please remember, a lot of what is good about a kayak comes from personal preference so please try one out whenever possible before making a decision.

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07-27-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I got this kayak a couple months ago. I think it is a great all around boat. Stable, but long enough to be "fast." Plenty of storage options with a forward hatch, middle hatch for small items storage, and tank well behind the seat. I have no problem loading it with gear for a weekend paddle camping trip. The hatches are very easy to open and close. The seat is extremely comfortable with options for seat back height, seat back angle, and the front of the seat raises and lowers for upper leg support.

I would highly recommend the Tarpon 120 to anyone looking to get a kayak.

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07-27-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is still my all around "Go To" Yak. It tracks pretty good and has fair speed for a sit on top. It is very stable to fish out of ,with lots of storage in easy access. It's fun to play with on 1/2 class rapids and durable.. Lost one of mine going down the road (Failure to secure well - my fault). Turned around and got it out of the ditch and it barely had a scratch..I would recommend this boat for someone who would like a good all purpose kayak.
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07-27-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Tarpon 120 is my first Kayak. I wanted one that was stable and appropriate for lakes. I have had it for about 6 weeks now and thoroughly enjoy it. It is very stable and the seat is extremely comfortable. It tracks well, but is a bear to paddle into a good wind. It is a little heavy, but I can manage it pretty easily. It has good handles that make it easy to move around. While I enjoy the sit on top, I will get another to sit inside to extend my seasons.
Fun boat overall.

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07-26-2013
Submitted by: JohnSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I'm a beginning padder and wanted a sit on top kayak. I fish with ultralight tackle from my kayak. One of the biggest selling points for me was the keel design which helps the kayak track extremely straight. I also like the rear open storage with bungees and the dry storage near the seat as well as the larger dry storage up front. The seat is adjustable at both the lumbar and the thighs. You can tailor the seat to your liking. I don't have any complaints about my Tarpon.
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07-24-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     Bought the Tarpon 120 used, my first kayak. It sat for 2 years, just got it out this year. It's heavy, about 60 lbs, so hard to handle it and rack it myself. Anyway... totally enjoying it. Stability is important to me and the Tarpon is very stable. I call it The Cadiyak - Cadillac Kayak. I might want to get something lighter and shorter (12 ft) than the Tarpon at some point, but am totally enjoying my first kayak.

Stable, lots of features, tracks well, etc. It doesn't maneuver as well as a few other kayaks I've been in, but that hasn't been a problem as I'm mostly paddling around lakes at this point.

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07-24-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Excellent yak for flatwater, very stable. I got the 12' boat so I could use it on rivers and at the coast. I remove the straps in the back hold area so my dog can ride back there, she loves it. Also excellent for fishing as I had optional rod holders installed by the dealer. The only thing I wish it had were bungee X-straps on the front over the hatch so I could carry additional gear, however those can be added later but it would be nice if the dealer would do so.
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07-24-2013
Submitted by: Roger DesiletsSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have owned my Tarpon 120 for 3 years now and use it for pleasure paddling and for backcountry photography with pro cameras and lenses. I find the hatches and storage to be great for my needs and feel very secure in storing thousands of dollars of gear inside this kayak!
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07-24-2013
Submitted by: BPGSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Good kayak. I use it to fish, but gig for flounder mostly. It is a excellent buy. If you want safety in the open water. This kayak will give you that. It takes larger waves well and if you flip out you only have to turn it back over and climb back in. It tracks well and can be a little hard to turn but that is understandable for its meant to track in a line and with the length. Happy kayaking.
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06-24-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     If you have been pulling your hair out researching kayaks you can stop, this is the one to own. Expensive, as all the good ones are, but well worth every penny. Great kayak for every situation. I have owned mine for three seasons now and will never consider buying another brand, well maybe a Jackson Cuda, but this kayak is the master of all kayaks.
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06-19-2013
Submitted by: BuellerSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is a great Yak for sure! I have been out on multiple trips and I really enjoy it. I feel that the tracking is very good, great storage areas. I flipped it and had no water get it dry storage area at all. I feel that the price is a bit expensive but I feel that it will hold up in the long run. There is enough room to put my kids onboard for coast side, small creek fun.
Kudo's to WS! Great Buy!!

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07-03-2012
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I picked up a 12 and 10 footer after using my 14 footer for 2 seasons. The 120 is used for fishing and does not have a rudder on it. I use it on a 110 surface acre lake and find it tracks well, although not as straight and fast as my 14 which was expected. It seems to have as much practical storage and weight capacity as the 140. My 4 1/2 y.o. can sit comfortably in the stern tankwell and troll while I paddle.

I highly recommend Yak Attack RAM mount screwballs vs. using the slidetrax plates if you plan on using RAM accessories. The 2009 and younger hulls are better due to the Phase 3 seating, scuppered seatwell, and slidetrax system. Love my Tarpons!

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06-23-2012
Submitted by: Springsmom83Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have been looking and reading reviews for years. I may need surgery on an ankle and decided to go for it. I picked up my boat today and promptly took it out even though there was a chance of thunderstorms. I also have a Tsunami 125 and the Tarpon 120 IS a little slower. However, the tracking was excellent and I loved the way it handled. Severe storms came up, we had to beach the boats and use it for cover. It provided excellent cover, I would have even felt safe with hail. Once we headed back to the ramp, the chop was pretty big. Again, it handled everything that I asked superbly. I will rate it again when I can be more objective, but I am so impressed by what this boat did for me the first time out.
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02-27-2012
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Very happy with my 2012 Tarpon 120.
Speed Medium Fast, Turns easy. Stability 8 of 10. Weight about 63lbs, not too bad loading onto my Nissan Pathfinder. This is about average weight for this class of boat.
Storage is more than adequate, I can even store rods inside boat through front hatch.
Very comfortable seat, can fish all day no problems. I stay pretty dry even with moderate chop.
Very well made compared to others in same class, size.

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02-25-2012
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     I owned a 2006 model for several years and found it adequate for the purpose most people use it: fishing. For recreational purposes, I would look at something different. If you don't mind the weight and just want to piddle around on the lake, it's fine. But this boat is heavy (my model year was 58 lbs., newer ones are even heavier) and slow, barge slow.
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02-24-2012
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     ONE WORD: AWESOME!
Love these kayaks, stable, roomy, everything where you would want it, and upgrade options, lots of storage, the most awesome seat ever so comfortable...and we got the package deal and they didn't scrimp on the paddle or vest, they are both very nice... and did I mention stable? Yes!! In our 50's and needed stable..tracking is fine..did my research and we are so happy...can't wait to take other places and explore, and I do photography so being stable for my digital dslr and lenses is a must!! And I got a dry bag to put it in just in case...kayaks are built nice too..so in love!!!
Ps - don't tell my husband that....

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02-22-2012
Submitted by: BKBSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Just got a used Tarpon 120 and I'm just blown away by this little boat. I can't say anything about it that hasn't already been said, I just wanted to add my positive response. If you get this kayak, you won't be disappointed.
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02-16-2012
Submitted by: Charlie BrownSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I did my research like everyone else I think but never tried nor had ever seen one of these before. I did my first try out solo in the backyard lake, flat water, it was flying, i can even stand up paddle on it and move it without much effort. it is a bit heavy but i can maneuver it since it is not wide at all, i can graciously put it up or download it from my Element.

Plenty of dry space. second try I had my female dog on it, jack russell terrier, other than driving me crazy at first...she loved it....then my wife, not a skinny stick, she is about 135 and 205 myself...plus 10 pounds of extra stuff, you know, women, i sat her in front of me and leaned back to open a gap since i was the only one paddling, it moved faster than I expected...we did 6 miles, all fun, I loved it and we haven't even used its full potential.
no cons so far.

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09-07-2011
Submitted by: Jennifer C.Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've been yearning for a Tarpon since my first flatwater expedition last year in a borrowed Otter. I'm a single parent to two boys (7 & 5) and was really hoping to be able to include them in my river travels. I also have access to a place at the beach and wanted a boat I could take out in the surf, so I knew it'd be a SOT.

I picked up my new Tarpon on Friday. I loaded up my boys, life jackets, water and snacks, and headed for the takeout on the James. The area we were paddling is entirely flatwater, and much of it is shallow enough to walk in. The boys lost any trepidation they might have felt as soon as they hopped in the water. I'd packed a couple of thick cotton bathmats, just in case anyone needed some padding, but I think we'll leave them at home next time.

I'm 5'10". I put my 5yo in front of me and the 7yo in the rear well (he wanted to sit in the front hatch, but I talked him out of it). I'm not sure of exact measurements, but they're both above-average size, and the 5yo is in the 97th percentile for height and weight. I'm guessing we had about 280-290lb in the boat. I was able to paddle fairly comfortably despite the large noggin in the way. I ended up putting the scupper stops in the rear well, although my 7yo was annoyed with me for doing so, as he really wanted to play with the bilge pump (there was only an inch or so of water, though). My favorite part of the trip was my older son's request to try paddling - he was able to paddle about 20 minutes back to the takeout by himself, from the rear of the kayak. He was able to course-correct very well with a little direction.

I'm thoroughly impressed with the stability and maneuverability of the boat in the water, although non-superpersons who solo should probably invest in a kayak cart and a load assist bar...getting the Tarpon back on the Subaru was not in the least bit graceful.

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09-06-2011
Submitted by: Joe CSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Bought a tarpon 120 about 6 months ago now and I love it. It works everywhere! Having paddled the prowler 13 which was the other kayak I was interested in I found straight away I preferred the Tarpon. I have used it for estuary fishing, Spinning in small coves, wreck fishing (garmin etrex H, Good budget GPS for plotting wrecks) and deep sea fishing a few miles off sure. On every occasion the boat has performed perfectly, weather having to maneuver in tight spots or fight through some very nasty chop it's a great all rounder. Was out this weekend having launched from a sheltered cove in some rough conditions with wind swells push up around 4ft and it rode over them fine and even gave a stable enough fishing platform to catch some pollock. There's plenty of storage for everything you'd want to take out with you and it's easy to personalize the set up how you want it. Upon using a mine a friend purchased one shortly after and loves it just as much....Definitely a worth while purchase if your looking to get the most out of all aspects of sea angling!
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08-20-2011
Submitted by: Kevin GuerinSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     If the rating system was from 1-100 I'd give it a 110. I have been canoeing all my life and wanted to get into kayaking for a long time now. A very bad back has stopped me until I found the Wilderness Systems Tarpon series. Sit ins and many sit on tops just were not comfortable for me. All I had to do was sit in the Wilderness System seat and I knew this was it. I bought a Tarpon 120 and a Tarpon 100 on the spot. My wife tried several other brands but none compared. She has back issues also. The 100 fits her perfectly. The first 3 times we went we were sitting down for 6 hours each day on this seat. I felt better then any other chair I own. It was like a whole new world opened up for us both.

I honestly don't know if I can capsize this without trying. I can sit sideways and fish, I can drag my feet over the sides while paddling. Getting in and out are effortless on this sit on top. Tracks like an arrow in 2 foot swells with a side wind and stays level. I was beyond impressed and still am. The hatch covers have not leaked yet and from what I see, can't be beat in the industry.

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07-12-2011
Submitted by: Florida saltSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Ok, so here's what I've got. After searching high and low for a decent fishing kayak, I decided on the Tarpon 120. I am 5'8" and weigh 170, this kayak is great, super quiet, plenty of storage, and a practical layout.

When it came to buying a kayak I was torn between two, the Tarpon 120 and the Ocean Kayak 11 Trident, I really liked the way the Trident looked and I thought the rod pod was a necessity. With that said, I went to the local shop and sat in both of them, did research, sat in them, did more research etc. So I bought the Tarpon, it came with a better seat, and honestly it seemed to be better built, it also has a lifetime warranty.

So when comparing the Tarpon with other kayaks I've used I can say that the Tarpon 120 against the Prowler 13 is hands down a better kayak. I paddled the Prowler for about two hours straight today and find it to be very big and bulky, not very maneuverable, and sitting much higher from the water line the wind was throwing me everywhere.

    Pros for the tarpon:
  • Tracts good for the size
  • maneuverable
  • Layout
  • craftsmanship
  • 3 phase seat
  • carrying handles
  • scupper holes have channels

    Cons:

  • a little heavy
  • hard to clean under seat pan
  • cup holder is a bit of a reach
Lastly, I tried standing in this kayak and failed. I took a quick bath but that was all, none of my gear went, and, getting back in was a snap. The Prowler I used I could stand while I was cruising. I know I am forgetting much, but I spent all day fishing and am whooped! BTW, the bungie between your feet holds the fish down great if you forgot your stringer! Tight lines.

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06-13-2011
Submitted by: KurtSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     First of all, I really feel testing several kayaks before purchasing one will really help out your decision in purchasing a yak. I went the cheaper route the first time around and thought it was a good kayak... until I bought a Tarpon 120 back in February 2011.

The Tarpon 120 is a very comfortable yak to sit in. I have been out paddling as long as 6 hours with no back fatigue or butt ache. The yak tracks very good and cuts through the water with ease. The front hatch is large enough to carry my kayak cart and the 8" hatch near the seat is perfect for all your smaller things. With the raised design of the seat, your butt stays perfectly dry. There are lots of other features built into the design of this boat. You can check them out on Wilderness Systems' website.

I know the Tarpon 120 isn't as cheap as a $400 kayak, but you get what you pay for. I learned that lesson and feel that all the benefits you get, more than make up for the higher price. Buy the Tarpon 120 the first time and you'll never have to spend for a better kayak the second... and the Tarpon 120 is much better than the Tarpon 100 for men b/c of the extra weight of a male.

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06-07-2011
Submitted by: DVSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Victoria, BC Canada - Tarpon 120 Angler - Ocean fishing for salmon, halibut, flounder, rockfish and lingcod. Freshwater fish for trout, bass and carp.

Owned and fished from several brands of SOT kayaks now, including but not limited to Ocean Kayak Malibu, Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro, Hobie Maui,and NuCanoe, and the Tarpon 120 is a great mix of everything, and a superior boat to all of them in my opinion.

After paddling a fast but tippy scupper pro, and a very very very slow but stable NuCanoe, I feel that the Tarpon 120 Angler is a great combination of speed and stability, and it does not sacrifice any comfort to achieve this. I have no issues spending 4-8+ hours in this kayak, and have no back fatigue as of yet. The hatches are dry, the factory rod holders couldn't be in a better place and the amount of storage room in the little boat is staggering. I fish this yak in the chuck, some big chuck at that, in freshwater lakes and rivers and it has not failed me yet. I have not tried any whitewater with the boat, but that will likely change this summer.

To be fair, and not only critique the good, the one thing I would say is a negative to this boat (and many other SOT's) is that for a shorter person, it's hard to reach the front section of the kayak where they have placed the little spots to mount Scotty accessories, but this isn't really a problem because the factory rod holders work so damn good.

All in all, I would give this kayak a 10 out of 10, simply because no other kayak has come as close to perfect for me as this one has.

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11-13-2010
Submitted by: twSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've already reviewed this boat, few years back but thought I'd add a few comments. This is one incredibly stable boat. I've taken several people out on this kayak that have never been on the water before and they love it. especially friends that were scared of the water. I've had it for 3 years and average 30 times out a year. Great yak!
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07-27-2010
Submitted by: R.S.D.Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My wife bought one of these (I bought a 13' Hurricane - see separate review) and I greatly admire this boat. Nicest SOT I've ever played in, comfortable, nice ergos, and paddles well. Worth the price plus.
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03-30-2010
Submitted by: DenSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Just bought my wife a Wilderness Tarpon 120 for her birthday. We've both had a few goes and love it. Very comfortable seat. I like the adjustable foot rests too.

I'm 6ft and 210 pounds and found this kayak perfect for me. I love all the storage areas. Plenty of space to pack a tent, sleeping bag, mattress as well as food and water for the odd camping trip!

I think I'll sell my Hobie Sport and go for this big paddle kayak instead. Sausage Waters here I come!

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02-08-2010
Submitted by: Richard KuehnerSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have an 2007 model. It's worked very well in the Guadalupe River, and down on the coast. Over time though, many of the hardware fasteners (screws) have come loose, causing me to have to try to re-bolt the handles and seat from the inside of the boat (not an easy task). Hopefully they've been able to fix this problem in the new boats for 2010. Also, the front hatch on mine has a tendency to come off on drops and rough chop. This caused me to nearly sink on one river outing. Believe me its hard to get a water logged kayak out of the river and drained. Maybe the new forward hatch system will solve this problem. I plan on going to Austin Canoe and Kayak and have them install bungee cords to keep extra pressure on my forward hatch. Otherwise this kayak has taken all the abuse I've thrown at it. Numerous scars from the shallow Guadalupe, but keeps on performing. I'm happy in my choice of a Wilderness Systems kayak.
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01-26-2010
Submitted by: LAMSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     A friend left the country recently and let me keep her Tarpon 120 - a 2005 model. I told her I would research and pay a fair price for it. I have no idea what the value is. It was dirty, and somewhat worn - but I took it out in the bay today, and it was a great ride! I am thrilled to have this kayak - it is seaworthy - I am considering taking it camping up the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica!
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12-08-2009
Submitted by: ajSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Got one of these recently and am really enjoying it. The only problem I'm having is that I want to go out in it a lot more than my schedule allows. I was a little worried about the seat at first but then just messed around with the adjustment a little more and found that it is good for me. I haven't gotten uncomfortable in it. I was looking at another kayak with "the ultimate kayak seat in it" but decided the Tarpons construction was better and felt a sot was going to be faster and handle plenty of gear for me. It has done that. I was able to stand and paddle while going down the river last trip out. That was really fun. Felt like I was mixing in some surfing. I'm sure if you were in a rough river with lots of rapids this would be a real feat but where I was on flat water it wasn't that difficult. I could definitely spot fish easier standing. Stayed dry on the trip too, at least till it warmed up enough for some wading. So in short, I'm very happy with my purchase.
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09-08-2009
Submitted by: JRKSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I just love my slightly used Tarpon 120's. I picked them up for a steal on a recent trip back east. I haven't had a deal like this for 10 years! I knew how well they would perform by how much the previous owner hated to part with them. They have a dry, fast, comfortable ride and they track well too. I am thinking of painting the hulls though because if the old owner recognizes me paddling around in them there is no telling how crazy it will make him.
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07-26-2009
Submitted by: KBSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I loved this kayak. In fact, so did someone who stole both of them from my backyard on a bayside lagoon in NJ - first time anything's been stolen in the neighborhood in 10 years. I guess the thief knew how well they perform or how much they could get for 'em on the black market. I'll miss the Tarpon 120; it's a dry ride, plenty fast, tracks well and quite comfortable. The only thing is if you're paddlin' in my neighborhood in an orange Tarpon 120 you might not come out alive...
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07-26-2009
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     okay been out several more times since my first review and am very, very pleased. I failed to mention my Tarpon 120 is a 2009 model and that it was as dry a ride for me as my sit inside.
  • I find the dry storage areas superb and the latches have not come open for me even in the roughest chop and surf.
  • There are cords inside the storage areas that your dry bags easily latch on to so they won't slide around in the belly of the boat and are easily retrievable.
  • The storage section in front of my seat is very convenient and accessible.
  • I have discovered the seat is more adjustable then I thought and I love this. It gives good back support.
  • bungees all over the boat are a great design that allows for all kinds of storage and securing everything I might bring along.
Overall I am still so pleased with this boat. The speed, tracking and dry bottom are exactly what I wanted in a new yak.

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07-24-2009
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have had several kayaks and debated whether to go with a SOT but my first look at this and I was hooked. The design of this yak is terrific. It is the best cross btw a SOT and SI that I have ever seen.

It took some getting used to how to load and unload alone (female 5'6" 150) and this is my first 12' model weighing in at 65# but I also bought the fabulous Paddleboy scupper hole wheel set which works beautifully. All I have to do is get my yak on and off my jeep and in 20 seconds I have the wheels in the holes and I am rolling! I can handle that. The wheels take care of the rest easy across sand, hills and other terrain.

As for kayaking in this - I couldn't be more pleased. The extra length helps with speed and tracking which is wonderful and better then my old SI. It handles turns, chop in the Gulf and bays and is just fine on our local rivers and creeks. The storage is fabulous 2 waterproof inset storage areas and a great back section deep and wide well with well designed bungee systems all over the boat.

The seat is amazing. Adjustable and best back support I have ever seen in a kayak. Plenty of handgrips sides and bow and stern... I can't say enough about the comfort of this boat.

The little extra work the 65 pounds and 12' give is well worth the trip on the water. I couldn't see it without my Paddleboy wheels though and amazingly they stow perfectly in the back section of this boat or in my auto whichever I prefer.

Thank you Wilderness Systems for a fine product I will be enjoying for years to come. No buyers regret, and I feel I got the boat that is right for me and that has max potential for an activity I love.

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06-24-2009
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Purchased the '09 edition of the Tarpon 120 with the new adjustable seat, adjustable rigging, and new hatches. Spend a couple hours switching between the Tarpon 120 and the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 during a demo event by EMS on a lake. Paddled each of them twice for good deal of time. Fished from both of them.

IMHO you can't go wrong with either one. However, I chose the Tarpon 120, because I felt it tracked a bit better and I knew I would want that when paddling to distant locations on my local lakes and during windy days (purchased the non-rudder version).

When testing I actually felt the Prowler seat was more comfortable (read on) and liked the fact that it was about 12lbs lighter than the Tarpon, however the Tarpon just felt better to me - more like a sit in kayak. The installed rod holders (holes) behind the seat on the Prowler position your rods about 35-40 degrees out to the sides, presumably for trolling (?); however on the Tarpon they are almost straight back, which I preferred because I like to fish all waters, including where trees over hang, and with the rods positioned more behind you, it's easier to paddle close or straight in to the bank to undo hang ups.

OK...have had the Tarpon 120 out numerous times and am glad about my decision.
1st - fished for six hours first time and was worried that my butt and lower back would be sore the next day. They were not. Which was a huge concern. The seat's backrest is very adjustable, which is very good, but what a lot of people commented on, and I do think is a great feature, is the thigh support (underneath your thighs) on the Tarpon seat.
2nd - had to get into shore, under trees, to get hang ups undone. Having the rods angled back, instead of out to the sides like the Prowler, was very nice. If I had been in the Prowler, the rods in the holders would have gotten tangled in the overhangs.
3rd - Tracking. After my six hours the first time out I had to paddle into 15ph head winds to get to the ramp, for about 1/2 mile and it tracked very well. Very steady.

Have been out a few times now. Really like it. The seat really surprised me. It's comfortable and adjusts well. I have found myself adjusting throughout the day to suit the way my body feels as he day goes on - basically for my back.

Gave it an 8 because I am sure they could even improve it more. But of you're looking for a fishing kayak in the 12-13ft range, check this one out for sure.

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12-02-2008
Submitted by: OC PADDLERSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I had been looking at purchasing a kayak for about one month. I am 5'11" and 185 lbs. I went into my local paddling shop in Orange County (UPSportsKayaks.com) and they showed me the new 2009 Tarpon Kayak. WOW!!! The new updated hatches and seats are great. They let me take out their demo Tarpon and I loved it. It has a very dry ride, good speed, and is very stable. I had them outfit it with a fishing package and I am now ready to go. If you are looking for a new kayak definitely checkout the new Tarpon 120 fro Wilderness Systems!
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08-15-2008
Submitted by: mz
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've had my 2008 banana yellow Tarpon 120 for about 3 months. Paddle in relatively calm lakes - and do a little fishing when the mood strikes.

It tracks straight, is plenty fast, and is actually a fairly dry ride. I'm able to lift it onto my roof rack solo (I'm 5'11, 200lb) with the very nice carrying handles. It came with 6 scupper plugs, but they were in the body of the kayak, if I hadn't carried it at an angle, making them fall to the front, I might have never found them. Installing a Scotty fishing rod holder was a piece of cake, with 2 perfectly placed mounting areas in the cockpit.

A few minor annoyances. The hatch in the cockpit is pretty low, meaning it can get some water in if not secured 100% properly. The "day" hatch behind the seat does not have the bag insert, making it useless (I ordered an aftermarket insert). Finally, the seat back is really not well padded. I either wear my PFD, or drape it over the seat, and all is well - but it should have more padding from the factory. Seat adjustments are very easy.

So far so good. I'd be comfortable taking it in the ocean, or really anywhere. A very nice boat at the "nice price."

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03-20-2008
Submitted by: RiverCityFishSend Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     I bought this boat about 4-5 weeks ago. Went in to get a deal on an 07 and ended up with the same deal on on an 08. I'm about 6'4 and about 235lbs. I'd been paddling my friends 100 and enjoyed it, so I figured the 120 would be even better. Well, the cockpit is about the same size as the 100, but it has the adjustable foot pegs instead of the molded steps. Nice change for me.

In 2008, WS made some changes in their mold and removed the scupper holes from behind the seat, so no more wet bottom, Awesome. However, they also introduced a new adjustable seat back. I would have given the boat a 9.5 instead of a 6 if they hadn't done this. In theory it is nice to have the adjustment on the seat back. However the plastic on the back itself flexes way more than the metal post on which it slides. The result is a visibly bruised back (right ! on the spine) after about 45 minutes of light paddling and fishing. It's much like leaning against a broken street sign. Unfortunately for WS, I think this new seat is standard on all of the 2008 SOTs.

A wise thing that they did do however was discontinuing the dark olive color they used in their camo and as a solid color in previous years - after a day in the sun it got VERY pliable and dangerously hot. The new camo is a mix of sand and spruce. Nice combo, but did not mix in the mold very well. It's pretty much green with a splash of sand on the bottom and 2 places near the cockpit. Still decent looking though.

End result: Go buy an 2007 for less and get 2 pieces of foam for the seat scupper holes. Hopefully there will be a recall on the 08 seat backs, but I'm not holding my breath.

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08-15-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     Update to my 8/06 review:
I really enjoyed this boat. It was a good one and I thought I had the perfect boat for me. That was until I paddled a Liquid Logic Manta Ray. Each boat has its good points and bad, but the Manta Ray was a much better ride for me. It turns easier, it's faster, and the lay out of the boat is more user friendly. The Tarpon seems to track a little better, but with decent paddle strokes, the Manta Ray will get you there just the same. I also noticed that not near as much water came in through the foot wells on the Manta Ray as compared to the T120. Manta also has a much nicer seat built in. Sorry Wilderness Systems...

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07-25-2007
Submitted by: ZeekSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Just got the kayak a week ago and have been out on the bay twice with two very different experiences. The first time out the Chesapeake was relatively calm, and it made for quick paddling. The Tarpon is much faster than I expected it to be, faster than my wife's Dagger Blackwater 10.5. I didn't have any trouble keeping the kayak tracking straight. I think the only reason I'd look at a rudder is for waves (see below).

The second time out was totally different. The bay was very choppy with many waves about a foot tall, and one that was at least a foot and a half tall (a friend told me that means it is probably a 'three foot wave') and high winds. The Tarpon would go up the waves, and slap down only to go back up again a second later. I still was going where I wanted to, but was having trouble making much headway. Then again, I don't know what could change that. I had put my keys in the little storage area in front of me. Big mistake. I hadn't bungeed the top down, and a big wave washed the top off, and got some water in the kayak. The keys were fine, and I learned a lesson about how to rig the boat. I'll probably use the storage behind me for my keys from here on out.

The first trip I was totally dry. During this crazy second trip waves washed up high enough that my butt was wet, but that was really part of the fun. I spend 45 minutes going out, and 8 minutes riding waves back in. The Tarpon is no wave rider, but I caught one wave that took me about 20 yards, it was great! The waves pushing me in did tend to turn the boat a bit, but that's the only time I'd ever consider a rudder, and by just keeping paddling I could go where I wanted to. This was definitely the boat for me.

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07-10-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have had this kayak for several years and have been pretty happy with it. The T120 is a great kayak for flat water. I wrote a review a few years ago that explained the pros. I just wanted to give it a few cons. It seems to be bow heavy when going through surf. It goes through waves instead of riding over them. Also when coming in through the surf the bow seems to dive. I have had a few instances where the bow hatch was blown off while surfing in. Ignore the rating, just keep this in mind if you are considering a fishing kayak for use in the open ocean.
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01-17-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This boat joins 3 canoes and another kayak. I bought it mid summer. I had tried an Ocean Prowler 13, but found the ride to be to wet for my taste. With 250lbs in the boat some water collects in the footwell, but the seat stays dry. Using this boat on small to large rivers it is exactly what I expected - stable, can be fished out of; carves turns slowly; little effected by wind at my weight. My 160lb son "got blown all over the place." A good workout pace moves it at 3.8 mph over 6 miles on flat water. With 320lbs in the boat speed drops to 3.6 mph. Material and workmanship were good. The area in front of the seat flexes with modest pressure. Hatch covers and fitting have worked without problems. If a long enough paddle is not used fingers can drag on side handles even when they are fastened down. I can stay in the unpadded seat for 2 to 3 hours without a break. I bought this boat for the added safety of an unsinkable SOT during winter use.
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08-15-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is an awesome boat. If you are like me and like to paddle on large lakes, small shallow rivers, and hit small rapids (class I and II), then this is a perfect boat. The 12 foot has a nice blend of speed for the larger lakes, but it's still small enough to handle the faster rivers. And it is a blast on the fast rivers. I have taken it over four foot waterfalls and class II rapids, and then fished the slower sections of the river.

This is a very comfortable boat, easy to get in and out of, even in the middle of the lake, and you can carry a ton of gear. My fishing poles even slide right into the bow hatch and I don't even have to break them down. Yes, it is a little heavy, but thats what those splended little carts are for!

Also, my four year old daughter loves it too. She fits right into the tank well and points out all the fish and turtles along the way.

It is easy to outfit it with rod holders, so save yourself some money and don't buy the fishing version. And you don't need a rudder!

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06-13-2006
Submitted by: LJTSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Tarpon 120, rigged for fishing. At a recent tag sale, my wife called and I picked up the Tarpon 120 (2005) for $375 including a 230cm paddle. After reading the reviews here, I have to agree.

Fishing has been a blast. I'm able to get into rivers and the bays of Long Island without problems. Going to take it to the beach next weekend. And upstate lakes after that.

Only question I have after reading reviews is whether the T-120 could really be stable enough with a child in the bow area. (Child's 60 lbs (great swimmer) and I'm 235). I think I'll either get another T-120 or a new OK Malibu Two XL.

I was looking at the OK Malibu XL but this T120 yak was too good to pass up. I may still get the tandem for sanity and safety.

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05-15-2006
Submitted by: k.k.Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     After much review I decided on a Tarpon 120. I have been out several times since. cuts through the chop like a champ. handles very good for a 12' boat, but can't turn on a dime. it was advised for me to get a rudder and did. boy ! am i glad really helps to keep a straight line going from spot to spot and battling the winds. my only problem with the yak is it's heavy to lift on top of my car. i've since used a loading bar which has really helped alot. weight is the only problem i have with this yak. overall you can't go wrong with this yak.
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03-01-2006
Submitted by: jim kerriganSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own a pair of 120's and a pair of 140's. I bought the 120's first and love them. They fly out of the hole and coast like no other 12' yak on the market. They track extremely well even when lightly loaded and travel without making a sound. The 140's are a little more wind affected until you pack them with gear then they out shine the 120's. I have kept my 120's because every inexperienced guest we take with us has had a great experience in them. They are easy to handle and extremely responsive to accelerate. I would highly recommend the 120 for anyone. The 140 needs to be loaded to deal with the wind issue or paddled by an experienced peddler. My wife at 5'3" and just over a hundred pounds handles her 140 fine. It is her favorite boat. I'm 5'10" 215 and as I said if I load the 140 with camping gear and food the wind issues go away. This capacity for load was the reason I bought the 140's. It should be noted here that frequent trips with my guests have caused me to put a 160i on order.
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02-13-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My wife and i have had our boats now for over a year. The 120 tracks so well i can't imagine ever needing a rudder. Plenty of storage for the camping trips. Stability is fantastic. We T&E'd the 140, but i found very little advantage other than slightly more storage. As for the water in the foot well....it just doesn't bother us her in FL. I guess i would plug them in colder weather. I am 6'4" 225, & the foot braces were in my way, so i took them(and the rails) out. This really made the cocpit more comfortable for me. Highly recommend....!
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03-16-2005
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Went through all the comments in this column prior to buying the T120 Fisherman. I had tried several fishing yaks including the T140 and felt most comfortable in the 120. I have not been disappointed in my choice. My only complaints are; 1) the forward scubbers fill the foot well with just enough water to be a pain and I can't lean forward far enough to sponge up the water when I have plugs in and 2) the rudder line to raise and lower the rudder rubs against the hull and is wearing a hole through the hull. I have put some hard plastic material under the line to protect the hull, but I feel this is just a poor design job. Otherwise, I love the boat.
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02-16-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Iíve tried just about every fishing kayak out for 2005. I have found that a truly well design fishing kayak does not exist yet. However, a few are getting closer. I went with the Tarpon 120 due to its size and weight. I know it has been out longer and has changed little than some of the manufacturerís newer models. I guess this is saying something good about the design of the T120. Even today it is still among the best. Iíve found it so. It is easy to transport on car or SUV. It paddles as well as any of the others and better than most. It is not fast and neither are the others. It does not turn as well as I would like but neither does the others. It does turn better than most due to it length [12í]. In the past I fished from a touring kayak. I needed to get in and out easily, therefore reason to get a SOT. The T120ís stability is fine for me. I do like the quality that is inherent in the Wilderness System line. There are others than can not compare [I wonít mention them here].

The rumor mill is saying that 2006 will produce the first well designed fishing kayaks. Let hope so. Hopefully the manufacturers will now realize the tremendous market waiting for these kayaks and will start paying close attention to the kayak fisherman requirements that have here to fallen on deaf ears for so many years. Until then, try the T120.

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01-30-2005
Submitted by: LuisaSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     My two friends and I all bought the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 in Nov 2004. The outfitter, Mad Paddlers of Tampa, took us out to Philippe Park for a nice long demo of several boats. We had previously considered Necky Spikes, Ocean Kayaks (can't remember the models. We tried the Tarpon 120 and 140, and the Perception Castor.

The Castor was not a bad boat, and had we never tried the Tarpon 120, it would have been added to our list of "maybes". The Tarpon 140 was a nice boat too, but just a bit too large and unwieldy for us. (We are all roly poly very short middle aged ladies).

The Tarpon 120 impressed us all so much that we bought on the spot. Two of us opted for the beautiful mango color that shades from almost red at the stern to yellow at the bow. Another chose the red.

We have had some wonderful adventures on these boats. The large well in the stern has been great to hold a cooler and other misc. and the other hatches are more than enough storage for us. One friend had hers fitted for fishing, but has not fished yet, as she has been just enjoying the paddling experience so much. The boats are pretty easy to get into, even with one of us having rather poor balance. The forward scuppers to tend to let some water in...I think we will all be plugging these. The seats are comfortable, though we will all probably fit them with those stick on foam pads for longer paddles. We stay very dry, especially the seat, unlike any of the ones I have paddled before. The boats are very stable, and handle beautifully, with accurate tracking. We have not needed rudders, but we have only paddled creeks and rivers, no bay or ocean except at the demo. The only downside at all is that they are a rather hard for us to put onto the roof of my Trooper. (I am designated hauler). We bought two step stools, and have the rack that can carry up to 4 on their sides, but our first time out saw us dropping one boat twice from the roof of the Trooper. (The boat held up well). I think it will just take practice. Luckily, two of us live on the water and we can go out often. I would recommend that anyone looking for a versatile SOT kayak to search out a Tarpon 120 and try it out.

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01-11-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I spent the afternoon in a WS Tarpon 120, Tarpon 140 as well as the OK 15'4" Prowler. I'm 6', 210lbs. I was leaning to the 140 (being a larger guy that likes to camp, fish and hunt) but now I have some concerns. The tracking was definitely affected by a slight breeze.

The difference between the 120 and 140 is small but noticeable in all the obvious ways except wind sensitivity. 10 mph breeze, the 120 was significantly less affected. This was also the impression of my buddy that was demoing them as well. When I asked him for his impressions he volunteered it so I didn't color his perception, 2 independent observations.

The difference in glide was surprisingly small but present. Ditto on maneuverability.

Another interesting observation, while the forward scuppers spouted like a fountain on the 140 with a leaning stroke, the 120 didn't seem to. This could be handled by plugs of course.

I won't bother to compare it to the Prowler here. Apples and oranges. One thing I will mention here, however, the WS boats cut better and more quietly, no water slap on the hull. Major advantage if stalking birds, game or fish is your thing. Prowler would alert them way before the Tarpons would.

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09-13-2004
Submitted by: wcSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I rented a Tarpon 120 at Hilton Head Outside in NC. My first outing was in the lagoon system throughout the complex I was staying at. Since I passed at least one alligator, stability was an important issue for me. This is one stable yak. I was in the boat for over two hours, and had not problems with comfort. The adjustable seat back worked well. The next several outings were off the beach, and again, I was pleased. Through the surf, this boat was easy to paddle, and I caught some terrific rides back to the beach. Sunburn on my inner calfs was an issue, but otherwise a SOT is the way to go. I am a big guy, 6'2" 260. I will buy the Tarpon 140 for the extra room, but this boat sold me on the SOT. Most of my paddling happens in the Adirondack lakes of New York, but I live near the ocean and the versatility of this boat will increase my paddling time. I have a used the Pungo 120, this boat is going to my son.
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08-20-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I set out to purchase a tandem kayak, i got a WS Pamlico 135T (please read my review on 135T). i saw a demo Tarpon 120, so i tried it out. i felt in love with it. its so easy to paddle, tracks well and goes fast.

i compared that with the Tarpon 100, 120 definitely tracks and performs better. when compared with 140, the performance different wasnt that noticable. but 140 would be too much a chore to put on top of my Honda Element. i think 120 is a good balance between the performance and the ease of transport. and the bonus for me is that i got this demo at the price of a Tarpon 100.

the seat looks cheap, but its very comfortable. plenty of storage in the front hatch and the storage area behind the seat. the two handles on the side help to load the boat onto the roof rack, but when carrying it by myself, it rubs against my thigh. sometimes its in my way when paddling, but you can get use to it.

its tons of fun to ride this in calm water. but even in 1-2ft waves, this kayak handles with ease. maybe the only complaint is that my kid takes it all the time and i have to take the 135T. i might just get a second Tarpon 120.

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06-10-2004
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've had a WS Tarpon 120 for 5 months and love it. It is at home in the Fla. Gulf -handles some chop and swells without problem, handles fishing jaunts along the coastline wonderfully, and is a dream to use in the Intercoastal waterway and rivers around here. It is also great for scuba or snorkeling as is very easy to get in and out of. It rides dry, turns well and while not particularly fast, let's me keep up with most of the 14' kayaks here with no problem. It is stable for fishing, has LOTs of storage with a large rear well, a large hatch at the bow, and two smaller hatches (1 aft of the seat and one forward). Wilderness Systems changed the screw type hatch covers to a pop on type and this is a nice improvement. Plenty of storage for scuba, fishing or camping gear, and drafts in about 3" of water for me. The kayak is very well thought out, extremely popular in SW Florida, and I want to thank Wilderness Systems for a great product.
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04-20-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     demo'd this boat and can't decide if i want it or the 140,either way you can't go wrong.faster out the hole than the 140 and easier to manuver, dry, no wet bottom and a nice tankwell in back.the well is easy to access and large enough for you toy intensive folks. crawled all over it and opening the forward hatch was easy and stability excellent.loved it. the only drawback was the handles on the sides which are occasional knuckle scrappers,I remove them. If the 120 had the flat cockpit of the 140 it would even .Dry ride ,tracked well,could be used as a great touring ,sports,crossover boat..I wonder how mad my wife would be if I bought both the 120 and the 140...you'll like both.this will be a classic...
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02-11-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Tarpon 120 is my favorite SOT to date. rented one for a half day today. I was very impressed with the details. Excellent storage capabilites for a 12' kayak. The Tarpon 120 comes standard with a large bow hatch, and two small day hatches, and a very large tank well. The paddle restraints on either side is a nice touch. My favorite detail is the deep foot wells with adjustable foot pegs, makes for a very comfortable ride. I also like the lack of scupper holes in the seat, keeps the ride dry. The only down side I experienced is water washing over the bow more often than on other brands. Speed seamed to be on par with my Necky Spike, tracking vs turning seems well balanced. This would be an excellent diving/fishing platform. So far I have paddled OK Scrambler XT, OK Prowler, Necky Spike, Cobra Explorer, and Cobra Fish n Dive. My next rental will be the OK Caper. If The Caper doesn't blow me away, then I will be purchasing the Tarpon 120
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12-31-2003
Submitted by: SFGSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Just completed my first fishing trip with the Tarpon 120. Here are the details:

Kayak - Tarpon 120, orange, three scotty holders at following locations: 12 o'clock, 5 o'clock, and 7 o'clock. Anchor, milk crate system, 230cm Weiner paddle, 2 fishing poles about 6 feet in lenghth with light weight tackle.

Environment - Water temperature was about 50 degrees, weather temperature was about 60 degrees. Tested on Falls Lake, NC on December 29, 2003.

Impression: Very positive experience. Tracks straight and I feel that a rudder is not needed (This saved me a lot of money). Kayak turns very easy and floats in minimal water. Easily went over downed trees that were inches below the surface. The small anchor did a great job in maintaining the fishing position despite an obvious current. Tarpon 120 comes standard with an oar holder and it was easy to use. Tarpon was extremely stable during agressive distance casting. Tarpon 120 was difficult to access items in the rear tank well (milk crate) because I have to twist my torso beyond my comfort level.

My back side got very cold and a seat insulating cushion would have increased my comfort. When leaning forward to access my tackle box, water gushed through the front four scutter holes and flooded my tackle box. Water receeded when I leaned backed into the standard position. I plan to plug these before my next trip.

I can not comment on speed because I do not have a comparison. I did do some trolling and found that I was able to maintain great action on my lures with minimal paddling effort.

This is a wider boat, so plan your paddle purchase carefully. My dealer suggested the 130cm, and it may be too short for this kayak. I had to keep changing hand positions to get powerful strokes.

Tarpon 120 is heavy and loading it on an SUV is difficult. Do not fool yourself into thinking that weight does not matter. I use a side kick for my roof rack, and it is still difficult to load the Tarpon. I am shopping for a kayak trailer which will make this sport a pure joy. But now I wish I would have looked more closely at the bigger boats as they claim to offer more speed.

In summary - Very comfortable and easy to navigate. Extremely stable and fishing is a dream. The speed gives good action on my lures, so I can not really complain. I will plug those scutter holes and buy a trailer - I give it a 9.

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12-22-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I love my Tarpon 120. I live in BC and use it mainly for fishing and general exploring and poking around. I use it all year round but admit it's not what everyone will want in the cooler months. You do get wet. Water does get in. (Mostly from paddle runoff on calmer days) I hear lots of complaints about those scupper holes but I wouldn't think of plugging them as they let the water drain out. In fact I wish there was one more scupper hole in the seat bottom. The way it is you end up sitting in a puddle of water. This is ok in warm weather but not so good in the winter. I don't have a rudder and don't feel a need for one. (If you do long open water paddles you may find one helpful but then this is probably the wrong boat for you.) Like most others I bungee a milk crate in the rear and find this great for carrying stuff you need to access while on the boat. I hear some people say it is fast and others that it is slow. To me it is neither. It is not slow, piggy and cumbersome like some other fishing kayaks but it's not fast like a touring kayak either. The other thing I don't like is the weight. At the end of the day lifting it up onto my roof racks is a chore I do not enjoy. (A fibreglass, strip-built or plywood kayak is much lighter) The Tarpon 120 is about my upper limit of how much weight I can tolerate lifting onto my truck roof. Weight is a good reason not to put a rudder unless you really need it. Another reason for no rudder is it's nice to be able to push (brace) against those foot pedals without moving a rudder. Another is it doesn't balance quite as well on carry handles with rudder installed.. If you drag the kayak and lift it one end at a time it is much easier to single handedly put it on a roofrack but you will scrape it to hell on all but grass or sand. The kayak would be better with a rubstrip bonded to the areas where it gets srcaped up the most. It really gets gouged up fast on pavement and rocks. It may sound like I do not like this kayak but really i like it a lot. i just thought it better to mention 3 negatives as the positives are often mentioned and very obvious. One again the 3 things I like least are: weight, need for scupper in seat bottom and need for rubstrips on keel areas.
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08-19-2003
Submitted by: FLSTARSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Tarpon 120 with rudders. Cannot be emphasized enough, rudders do help, don't listen to some salesmen. Rudders perfect for going upstream, crossing bays, and navigating around obstacles. Perfect storage Sit on top for camping, snorkeling/diving, fishing. This IS the most versatile, (for its size,weight,price) SOT kayak out now. Stop reading this crap and go get one, Then try it out. (unless your 6'0, 250lbs then try a row boat instead:)
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07-07-2003
Submitted by: AndrewSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Great styling, very stable, large capacity, well mannered, a bit slow, turns well, lots of storage, great for fishing and knocking around -- highly recommended for those purposes.
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06-09-2003
Submitted by: Tom KirkmanSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     All sit on top kayaks have some inherent problems, so let's go ahead and get that out of the way. Yes the Tarpon 120, like all sit on tops, will having you cooking in the summertime and freezing in the wintertime. And you'll be wet most anytime. Just the nature of the beast and can only be controlled by proper clothing and/or sunscreen. But beyond that, it's just a fantastic boat.

I bought mine for fishing - my first sit on top for that purpose. I think the Tarpon 120 has several things to recommend it over other similar yaks.First, the seat shape is fantastic. It's comfortable even without any padding of any sort. The cockpit is roomy and pleasing and there is plenty of room for even long legged fishermen. Good support for the back and also under the knees. Fantastic.Storage is ample and well thought out. The forward hatch is large enough that you can actually store 3 or 4 assembled 9' rods inside the hull! Put a strip of velcro down inside and you can make sure they don't move around and tangle with each other during transport or rough water crossings. The only bad thing, is that you can't access them while on the water. But you can take out the ones you'll be using and then move to shallow water where you can exit and swap rods when the need arises.

The rear tankwell is superb. Perfectly sized and arranged. I keep a Rubbermaid storage box there that holds my rainsuit, towels, rope, accessories, etc. On each side of this box are rod holders, made from 1.25 inch PVC tubing and slotted to hold either casting, spinning or fly rods. These are much better than the commercial rod holders which require drilling holes in your boat deck and which can't hold many types or sizes of rods. The small hatch between your knees is where I keep my bilge sponges. (Boat hasn't leaked a drop so far.) The one behind the seat has my keys, fishing license, wallet, etc. They've been dry so far.

I do not like the handles fore and aft. They're fancy and nice to look at, but carrying awkward and rigging anchors tough. The best anchor set up is always though clamcleats (one handed operation) and then through eyebolts fasten thru-hull at the extreme bow and stern. I had to do some creative rigging to accomplish this on the Tarpon. It was much easier on the Mallard, old style Pungo and Critter, as you can use the handle nibs to run an eyebolt through. Oh well, nothing's perfect.

The boat tracks well, is a bit hard to turn in tight quarters, and is fairly fast. It also drafts very little water. I weight 175 lbs and carry maybe 20 or 25 lbs of geat and the water just laps at the first chine on the side of the hull. I don't think I'm in the water more than 4 inches! The boat seems very stable, even though you're sitting above the water line.

Overall I think this is the best sit on top fishing platform I've yet paddled or used. With just a couple mods it becomes the perfect sit on top fishing platform. WS has a winner here. Well worth the price and sure to last and be enjoyed for year after year.........

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06-09-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     KAYAK COLOR/ HEAT BUILD UP. I never thought about how hot a kayak could get to the touch, and by chance have a Yellow Tarpon 120 and love it as noted below. This past weekend I floated the Llano River, in Centeral Texas, with the Austin Fly Club. It was a beautiful sunny day, ~92 degrees. One Member had a dark Green color Tarpon 120 and two others had Sand color Rides. NOTE: The color makes a difference in the temperature of the exposed top portion of the Kayak. The Green and Sand were both quite hot to the touch, and would be very uncomfortable when touched with bare skin, as where the Yellow was much cooler and could be touched at any place and would not feel hot against bare skin i.e bare legs hands arms... Just for what its worth to Southern Kayak paddlers. Check out the temperature of the different colors in the heat for your self.

PS. The trip was great as was the performance of the Tarpon 120 on the rapids and the pools. Greatest, and best appointed fishing Kayak made. Regards Joe

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05-07-2003
Submitted by: joossensSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've had my Tarpon 120 for about a month now and already I've used it about twice as many times as I used my Cape Horn 17 after having it for about 6 months. I LOVE this kayak! I get this kayak out on the water every chance I can. I've done a few more minor modifications so I decided to do a "brief" follow-up review. One thing I did was insert one of those foam practice golf balls in each of the scupper holes on the bottom side. When I paddle at a sprint I can hear water churning in the front holes and I know that drag is slowing me down no matter how slightly. I've estimated that I can do about 4.5 to 5 mph on this kayak. Not bad...but any loss of speed is a problem for me. That's the one and only thing I miss about the Cape Horn.

I mentioned that I placed brass screw type plugs in the scupper holes. The two that are located at the foot well area were getting pushed down from me moving my feet around so took a hack saw and cut off the screw ends that stood up above the surface. I then ground the remaining metal smooth on a grinder. They stay right in place now. The other 6 plugs still have the ends remaining as I've had no problem with them.

Like I said in my previous review I have back problems and I'm not completely comfortable sitting for long periods. I can say I'm far more comfortable on the Tarpon 120 than I ever was on any other kayak I've used. With the Cape Horn I could only sit in it for maybe an hour tops before I HAD to get out and stretch. With the Tarpon 120 I can sit on it practically indefinitely. But still I felt the Tarpon could use some "tweaking." I got the idea of buying a Therm-a-rest inflatable mattress and the camp chair conversion accessory. However that's like $100 investment. If I were camping on my kayak all the time that would be somewhat more palatable I suppose. It would be great to have it for dual use and as an added bonus it wouldn't take up any storage space. However I saw a review where someone mentioned buying a camp chair at Walmart. I went there and found what was called a "stadium seat." It's designed just like the therm-a-rest setup but for only $10. You just can't use it as a mattress. I bought it and WOW is it comfortable! It's so comfortable rather than getting out on the shore and maybe resting on a log, sometimes I'll just back it up to the shore and sit for awhile enjoying a the peace and quiet. As an added bonus the seat has some pockets on the bottom that I'm able to tuck things into like my keys, bug spray and so on. I'm VERY happy with that purchase. It also perfectly matches the color of my kayak. Way to go Walmart!

One other thing I can say about this kayak is that I can simply toss it on the back of my little Isuzu pickup. I used to have to install/remove a rack setup to carry the Cape Horn. That's a BIG reason why I use this one more frequently. But there's more! With that 17 foot long Cape Horn it was difficult to find enough shoreline on a river to park so I could get out to stretch. With this Tarpon I can point the nose straight toward the shoreline and park it practically anywhere. I can climb right off the front of it no problem. As a test I once stood up on it and it didn't feel tippy at all. Consequently I don't feel squeamish about taking my digital camera along with me on paddles as I did with the Cape Horn. With that new seat I bought I also have a perfect sized pocket in which to carry the camera.

Something else I really like about this kayak is the way it practically sits on top of the water. A river I frequently paddle on has literally hundreds of fallen trees in it. Most of them are right under the surface of the water. This kayak just glides right over them! The other day I was able to paddle across a shallow (gator infested) marsh with no problem. Also I've had power boats whiz past me and this kayak glides right over the wakes without nose diving. The cockpit always stays dry. Haven't tried it in the ocean and don't plan to either. Gators? No problem. Kayak swallowing ocean? No way! :O)

If I haven't already made it absolutely clear, I'm totally ecstatic about this kayak! Somehow this Tarpon 120 increases my enjoyment of being on the water by a factor of 100. That's something I would not have guessed was possible! Nuff said. Now I'm off to do some more paddling.

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02-13-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have already reviewed the Tarpon 120 which is below. I do want to add that I have just returned from several weeks at South Padre Island, Texas, fishing in the lower Laguna Madre on my Tarpon 120. It gets quite windy there and with large expanses of flat water, this kayak handles so very well. I rigged my anchor with a second longer line so I could reach a line beside the seat to pull it up. With the water depth averaging less than 4' most of the water can be wadded.

Rigged for fishing this kayak is a real winner. Catching a 20" spec also added to the experience. If one is a wade fisherman as I am, with this Tarpon 120 you can cover so much more territory (and look down on the sting rays). I found it stable, very quiet (no wave slap) and very easy to maneuver on the windy bay.

The Scotty rod holders work great for just holding the rods as well as for trolling. The rudder allows you to control your drift when drift fishing, so you can fasten the paddle to the side of the kayak with the provided straps. All the tie down places are well thought out.

The rest has been well stated by the other reviewers! Gentlemen at Wilderness Systems, You have a real fishing machine here.

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11-26-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     Statistics:. Male, Age 67, Weight 195, Height, 5'10". experience, very little, but I had been in a canoe and kayak when younger. I read reviews and I rented to evailuate the the following kayaks, Drifter, Ride, Spike, Tarpon l20. It was money well spent especally when the rental extends over several days! I had a chance to live with the boats, on and off the water. I made notes after each rental so I would remember what I thought was important on each design. Most I used for a minimum of 3 hours and the Spike for several days, on the local river and lake, plus 10 hours on the water at the Texas Gulf coast. After sseveral days and 7 hours paddling the Tarpon 120, it certainally fit the largest majority of my needs, for fishing, lakes, rivers, saltwater flats. I loved the way the Necky "Spike" handled in the water and the 50 lbs weight. Great little boat and very hard not to be on the top of my consideration list, but..... I guess it was not designed with the fisherman in mind.

Yes, selecting a kayak is all a series of trade offs and the Tarpon 120 which I rented, fit 90% of the bill. Only the Demo was in town as the new boats are only now supposed to be arriving.

On my list, the Tarpon 120 has too many plus features not to be the kayak for me.. It is very stable, and easy to manover, in the wind and waves. I could also sit sidways feet in the water, to easily reach anything behind me in the large storage area there. In fact my paddleboy "tomato" wheels were there as it was quite walk back to the car, so I took them with me. The paddle tie downs on the side are nice to when transporting the kayak to the water on the "tomato" wheels.

The rudder was on the Demo kayak I rented and I found it a real plus when fly fishing and drifting with the wind. It reduced considerably the need to correct the kayak's direction with the paddle while fly fishing the bank. A rudder will be on my boat when it arrives. Another plus for me was, when stripping the fly line, there was good room on the deck between my legs for the line as well as space to work when retying flies on the line. A nice touch is a tied down just in front of the seat, which I used to secure my fly box. In font of that. in easy reach, is the space for a water bottle. Very important, I could put my 9' fly rod, assembled and ready to use, in the hull as the hatch was large enough for it to easily fit through, along with the other accessories for the day. This was nice that, when I left the kayak to eat lunch, I could put the rod out of sight in the hull of the boat. I have not found a use for the other 2 screw hatches, but I imagin that if I had something slip to the other end of the hull, I would be glad to have them. -Grin-

Paddling hard into the wind (about 15mph breeze), the boat seemed to almost want to plane and ride on top over the smaller waves in place of the bow slicing through the water. Again the rudder was a help on the shorter boat to easily cover a reasonable distance up wind.

The seat design is very good for me. I used a 3/4 inch thick dense foam stadium cushion under me, and together with the new molded seat back was a winner. I did not really get wet as the seat is a little higher in the boat, so, even though I was wearing a pair of breathable waders, the ride was quite dry, waves and all.

As one gets older, it is supprising how much difference 5 or more pounds can make in handling the Kayak to load and off load from the top of a minivan. I often fish alone, so, I have to mark the Tarpon 120 down for the weight, especally for its short 12 foot length. Its 4 feet shorter than the Tarpon 160, yet only a very few pounds lighter. Otherwise this kayak is a real winner!!!! And I will have one as soon as they get in town.

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11-26-2002
Submitted by: BillSSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have owned and fished an OK Scrambler for a couple of years. I recently picked up a new WS Tarpon 120. This is a shortened version of the 16' Tarpon which is well known for its' fishing capabilities. The new 120 besides being shorter, also has a tankwell. It uses the same hard plastic folding and removable seat back as the 16. It has a roomy cockpit for my 6' frame and does not feel cramped in the least. Besides the big bow hatch, there is a small hatch in the center of the cockpit and a hatch/dry bag storage hole direclty behind the seat back. The boat comes with bungee like paddle holders on each side that also work nicely for a fishing pole. There are handles at the balance point center as well as at each end.

A few comments comparing the Tarpon 120 to my OK Scrambler. The Tarpon will float in 2-3" less water than the scrambler. The Tarpon is a little tippier, but firms up quickly at about 10 -15 degrees of lean. In the Scrambler, if you lean left, you turn left. In the Tarpon, Lean Left and you turn right. The Scrambler accelerates faster, but the Tarpon will glide a bit longer. I don't have a rudder on my Tarpon, and don't really see the need for one. The boat turns easily and is very sensitive to a twist of the waist and paddle thrust to shift direction. In that respect, it is a bit squirrlier than the scrambler. Also, the OK Padded seat fits nicely right on top of the plastic seat in the Tarpon, like it was custom made. It adds a lot to comfort, no numb but at all. The Tarpon does have wet footwells, and a set of scupper plugs will be the next addition along with a rod holder or two. Hull slap is less on the tarpon, but you can make noise with the foot rests as they have a bit of play. I spooked a couple of fish until I realized you need to keep good solid pressure on the pedals to keep them quiet The tank well on the Tarpon is quite a bit wider than the Scrabmler, and will easily hold a decent sized cooler, or large bucket. It also has a flatter bottom. But beware, it also has scuppers and will stay wet towards the front without plugs installed. I weigh 220, and the boat seems like it is made for my weight range.

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