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I outfitted mine for very little money to carry a trolling motor on the rear to fish from and it is fast with no paddling at all. Never a mechanical problem with this boat. It has design features that hardly any boat has and it keeps you dry all year round and never turns over! It is very stable with a 'tunnel hill'. Some fly fishermen stand up in it, but I advise against that.
It tracks well, is manageable to load and unload from car to water by one man, and is nearly an ideal fishing boat in a quiet river or lake and gets in the smallest places. And it's rugged poly that can be dragged to portage and I made a wheeled axle to strap under mine to move it easily a few hundred yards on a path to the river from a parking area.
Look at this type of boat from Native Watercraft and ask yourself if you want to be wet in 40 degree weather or if staying dry and comfortable and stable in every season is more appealing. You already know my preferences!
Though it is often advertised as a sit-on-top kayak I consider it a canoe hybrid, though it is more stable than any canoe, probably due to the dual tunnel hull that resembles a pontoon boat. It sports a fairly wide beam which is why it is paddled with a kayak paddle.
I have the basic version that weighs 50 pounds, and about 45 pounds with the removable seat out. I keep the tops of the gunwales free of attachments so that it can be pushed up onto the canoe rack on top of my car and the light weight makes that a fairly easy proposition.
This boat tracks straight without a lot of correction. It is not as quick as the Pungo 120, but is not as slow as the Hurricane Phoenix 120 sit-on-top I had a while back. After paddling kayaks for the last few years I appreciate the open bow that provides easy access to gear and the ability to stretch my legs and back without getting out of the boat.
This boat does have a sharp underside to the gunwale so when you grab it to pull the boat out of the water it cuts into your hand a bit. That's the only really negative aspect to the design that I've noticed so far.
I rate this boat a 9 out of 10 overall. If it was a bit faster I'd give it a 10, but nothing in this world is perfect.
The seat is very comfortable and handles well in flat water. It is roomy with plenty of space for my fishing equipment. It has a very convenient anchor system and has mounting points for 4 rod holders. Thumbs up from me.
And he was right. I got the sand color one and have had it in the river, on lakes and even Lake Gaston, NC one day when it was windy. The local Orvis shop manager had my exact same boat and outfitted just like mine at a local fishing expo/event at the James River in Richmond, VA. The Orvis guy can paddle whatever he wants.
Mine has been out on the hottest summer day, the cold winter days and all in between. Never tipped, never a problem of any sort, totally reliable and faster than nearly any guy in any kayak. And drier than ANYBODY from the shore to the rapids of normal churn. The drop down 'skeg' at the rear stabilizes it in a straight line. I use it all the time.
The seat is amazingly comfortable and fully adjustable; has adjustable foot rests. I even made a steel bracket that clamps on behind the seat and add a 12V battery and 30# trolling Minn Kota. Runs all day on a reservoir lake to fish with and plenty of room inside for a cooler, baits,rod, etc. Be sure yours is the model with foot rests... the original Ultimate 12.
Summary: I have never seen any small boat that comes close. You will never wear it out or break it and likely never tip it over. Do not stand up in it to fish unless it is a dead still lake. Some fly fisherman do that, but not me. Take my tip: get a very good 2 piece paddle. I settled on an all fiberglass, long one (240 cm) that has bent handles (for wrist and forearm comfort and better control) called the Werner 'Cascadia' model. Pricey and worth every penny! A paddle for this boat is like underwear or shoes: not the place to skimp on quality and comfort!
Above all! Wear a damn life jacket (about 60-80 for a Mustang made Basspro self inflator pro type). A river or lake doesn't know what car you drive or what degrees you earned. Be smart.
Ultimate 12 or larger; your pick. A 12' cartops easily at 55lbs empty with seat installed. Go look closer at them now at Native Watercraft. When other guys see mine, they know I have the best small boat on the water. And so do I.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoy the Ultimate 12. It is probably the best choice for me as I typically paddle slow rivers, small lakes and marshes. My wife and I must draw straws as to who gets to paddle the Ultimate when we go out on the water. Truly a fine boat.
The stability is great all though I don't intend to stand up in the kayak. I tried several carriers with no success. With the double hull, it was difficult to find one that would fit the hull. The one provided by Native is too expensive. So I made a carrier out of PVC pipe for about $80.00. The carrier has 8in wheels with a steel rod axle. The carrier has a level above the axle for the kayak to set on with two up rights that fit inside the peddle opening. The last time I used the carrier, I carried the kayak over 100 yards to the water very easy. Also for ease of fly-fishing, I mounted the seat on top of the kayak; gives me better peddle torque and lure space under the seat.
I took it to the lake to try it out and I set my expectations very low so I wouldn't be disappointed. Boy was I surprised. It paddled like a kayak. It was fast enough to go somewhere, tracked straight and turned quick when needed. I couldn't believe it. So I ran a few more tests. The first thing I did was stand up. I even stood on one foot. The water came up high on the side of the boat but did not come in. How could this be? So I pulled into the shore, called my dog and she jumped right in. She jumped from one side to the other. No worries. This thing won't turn over. The only thing I didn't get a chance to try was how it reacted to strong winds and waves. I suspect it will blow around a bit but who cares. That is not what it is meant for. It is a rec boat and a fishing boat. I quickly outfitted mine with rod holders, anchor system, some cleats and a few more custom mods. I can't wait to get it on the river.
If I had to state a few negatives it may be that the plastic seems a little soft. My other plastic boats seems to have a harder plastic compound. I don't know enough about plastics to say if this is true but it seems to scratch easier than my others. I am also a little worried about the foot pads. They seem like they might break. If they do I will build some stronger ones.
I would recommend this boat for any recreational paddler that has no intentions of serious sea kayaking. I did not get a rudder or skeg and see no reason for it. For fishing it is a no-brainer. Buy the thing. You will love it if you use it for what it was designed to do.
I have a Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 pro, which I like for general paddling (except that the seat/cockpit has gotten a tad too narrow for me). Besides wanting a yak w/ wider seat, I also wanted something more stable to use as a photography platform; after much testing I got a used LiquidLogic Manta Ray 14
I do disagree with some of the reviews above in that I find the boat to track very well with or without the skeg and it compares pretty well to my Manta Ray 12. The Ultimate is also stable in the wind and tracks very well even in rough conditions on lakes and small ponds. It is a great boat for fishing with plenty of room for everything you might need.
As others have said, the cup holder is useless as a cup holder although I find it ideal for holding sinkers and small items. I do not agree that the storage space under the seat is easy access -- in fact, I find it pretty much useless unless you have the seat raised to the highest elevation, which I find uncomfortable for sitting. I would have rather had Hobie-like storage pouches along the inside wall of this boat. They could have easily been glued in place for storage of small items and I will probably purchase 3 or 4 of these pouches to mount in the Ultimate.
Otherwise, I have no other complaints and find this to be a very nice kayak and well worth the investment.
I was primarily interesting in this boat because I fly fish and wondered if I could stand and fly fish in this boat. To be honest, I think it is doubtful. I have seen a video of a fellow poling this boat. Maybe, but you would have to practice a bit first. So, the stability is good, but not amazing.
How does it paddle? One other review compared it to a tub. Not too far off, but unfair. With the skeg down it tracks reasonably well, not as nice as ďrealĒ kayak of similar length, but pretty good. What can you expect for a 12 footer. Dan, the helpful salesperson, suggested a longer paddle because of the width of the boat, and I think this would actually help a bit. It turns on a dime, and is VERY comfortable to sit in. I recently paddled the Necky Manitou and the seat in that boat is a medium density foam which I found to be firm but not at all hard on the bum after an hourís paddle. This seat is cool, comfortable and nicely adjustable. For casual poking along the shore, birding, fishing, and idling, I canít imagine a more comfortable experience. The Easy Foot foot-pads were easy to adjust, once I got aggressive enough with them, but one was broken on the boat I tried. They are made of plastic, so a possible weakness there.
Iím 45 and not terribly active and I found the boat to be a bit heavy to comfortably lift on and off of my Tracker by myself, but I could do it. I would be happier if it was about 10 pounds lighter, maybe the elite Composites is worth looking at, but its only 5 pounds lighter.
I *love* this boat. So why isn't it a 10? I'm annoyed that the gunwales are unnecessarily wide at the center. There are depressions in them, I assume for fishing lures, etc. and a deeper round depression (to hold a drink?). When paddling I keep hitting my knuckles on the side and twice caught a fingernail on the skeg slider. The round depression is in the wrong place. Any can/bottle you put there will be knocked out when paddling. If they had pulled the sides in with some tumblehome, the trays for lures and the drink holder would be better situated in an extended seat pan. Petty complaints I know but they came so close to perfect.
The seat is extremely adjustable and slides forward to reach items stored in the bow of the boat, and also detaches and can used as a camp chair. Very comfortable. They have some great accessories as well including front and aft covers and a 3/4 spray skirt. They even offer detachable cup holder :)
The down side is that it is pretty heavy for its size, over 50lbs, and a little unwieldy if you have to portage any distance. But not any more so than a small canoe.
Overall I like it pretty well. It's versatile and fun. I give it a 9 out of 10!
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