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Only reason I gave it a 9 instead of 10 is that it is a bit slow and takes time to turn. My teenage kids in their 12' Old Towne consistently kick my butt in straight line paddling. Make sure you get a paddle on the longer side as this is wide and with the seating position the 230cm I purchased at the same time was way too short. I have a 260cm now and it is really nice.
Can't wait to take it out on big water like Green Bay and Lake Michigan later this summer and in fall for trout and walleye. I love this fishing machine and the storage it provides.
One problem was the wife tried it and we had to get a 2nd stealth...
The other is when you are trolling with 2 or more rods out and run into a school of fish, and hook on to 2 or more at the same time they will pull you backwards...but we can deal with this...
Could not be happier with both yaks.
I had gotten into some snags on one trip in some strong current. Got sideways and saw the boat was leaning into the current. I bailed out and the boat stayed upright. I was able to re-enter with no problem and pleased to see no water inside.
For fishing, the center bait well can't be beat. Best boat in my fleet!
One of the best things about the Stealth is the hatches. One of the worst things about the Stealth is the hatches. They accommodate a lot of gear. In fact, I have a tendency to carry too much. But even after the manufacturers updates, the hatches still leak. Most of the focus on the forums has to do with the large front hatch, but the real trouble lies with the glove boxes and the rear hatch. On a calm day I get no leakage. On a rough day I get just a little. But if you leave it out in the heavy summer rains here in Northwest Florida, over time the hull will fill with water.
This is an inconvenience I have learned to live with. I keep a sand bucket and sponge in the front hatch and it takes about a minute to bail when it is at its worst. On a typical day of fishing, if I takes on any water at all, the sponge is sufficient.
The layout of the Stealth is great. The 14 foot rear well is larger than that on the 12, and I can easily accommodate a cooler for the fish and a cast net for bait. The rear hatch is great for carrying things you might not need every time out, like first aid kits, extra rope, lures etc.
The side hatches (glove boxes) are so handy that it is awkward for me to fish out of my other yaks. I keep a copy of my fishing license, tools, line, flashlight, etc. in one side, and extra lures, hooks etc. in the other.
The front hatch carries the battery when I use the built in live well. Most of the time I find I don't need to use the pump at all. I just take the drain plug our of the bottom and let the water circulate naturally. I have kept fish alive for hours this way and then released them if I haven't caught enough to make a mess. If using live shrimp or bait fish, the circulating pump is just the ticket.
The Stealth also has four built in rod holders. They are positioned perfectly. When I have rods in the front holders, they do not interfere with paddling. I usually use the rear holders for trolling and the front holders as extra hands when I am doing one of the million things you have to do while fishing from a kayak.
Transportation was a concern for a kayak this large when I purchased it, but with a bed extender on my truck, and a little bit of experience, it is no problem at all to load and unload, even for this 61 year old man.
Only two problems with the yak so far. The seal on the large hatch in the front came loose after several months. It was an easy fix with Marine Goop and has been fine since. The other problem had to do with the eye on one side that is used to fasten the straps of the seat in place. Malibu uses a screw in affair that makes good sense. However, the plastic fatigued on the yak and it pulled free. Epoxy worked great and there have been no other issues.
Bottom line is that there is no one size fits all kayak and everyone has to decide what is best for them. I am thoroughly happy with my purchase. If you are considering purchasing a fishing kayak I would recommend that you look closely at the Malibu Stealth 14. If you can find a dealer, or an individual who will let you take it for a test drive, you can see if it is right for you. Hope this helps.
I have had to deal with customer service about a few minor things unrelated to the boat but with the accessories and have gotten some of the best customer service that I've ever experienced! The few times that I have had to contact Milo at Malibu Kayaks/Crack of Dawn he has been very prompt and and replied with in 1-2 business days of receiving my email. The customer service team at Malibu is very quick to solve your problems and get the replacement parts shipped out ASAP and make their customers happy that they purchased a Malibu Kayak!
The boat has great stability and ample storage. On the down side the side hatches leak terribly. I had heard of issues with the side hatches leaking. So I inquired with customer service prior to purchasing my kayak and was assured that all issues had been resolved. Surprise there not!! My Malibu Stealth took in approx 3-4 gallons of water on a beach launch. The waves on this day were maybe 1-2.
I contacted Malibu right away to resolve this issue. Well lets just say that customer service is not Malibu's strong point. Their CS rep first offered to send me new side hatches. Being I just bought the Stealth for almost $1400 with tax, I did not really feel like having to do fixes on a new kayak. So he agreed that he would drop ship me a new kayak to replace the one I was having issues with at no cost. He explained that it was going to take approx 3 weeks to manufacture the kayak being they had none in stock. Wasn't crazy about the 3 week wait however if it meant I was getting a new replacement I was willing to wait.
Well 3 weeks has come and gone. We are now on almost 3 months. I have heard almost every excuse you can imagine. From I didn't receive the email or phone call to they ran out of resin to produce more Kayaks. I would call Malibu and leave endless messages with no return phone calls.
Finally I call up and xxx tells me that my kayak is ready and they will be shipping it as soon as I pay $200 for shipping. Are you kidding me. I purchase a product that was not right from day 1 and you want to now charge me an additional $200 because you didn't get it right the first time. xxx stated to me that he had been told by upper management that I was to pay shipping. I get this if I had had the kayak for 6 months or longer, but not for a kayak that was never right to begin with. I asked xxx to speak with someone else about this issue and was told that know one else was willing to speak with me. So if I wanted the replacement kayak it was going to cost me an additional $200.00.
Bottom line BUYER BEWARE. If you have problems with your yak then the night mares will begin. I have many friends in the kayak community and most of them will agree Malibu's CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS.
I have attached a link for you to view the leakage on my kayak
This consumer claimed his kayak was taking on several gallons of water in a single offshore launch. While our design and production teams are certainly not satisfied with product that takes on water, no polyethylene sit-on-top kayak is completely impervious to water leakage, especially through hatches. Again, we realize this can affect the performance of the kayak so we continue to work on the best possible solution for all our models. That being said, water still may come into the kayak, and we encourage our kayakers to review all storage and safety procedures for draining excess water and remind you to always wear your PFD!
The customer originally contacted our warranty department with his claims in February of 2013. According to our policy and industry standards, we offered to replace any defective parts at no cost. He was dissatisfied with the options presented and requested a new kayak be prepared and shipped to his location, among various other requests, in part to replace third party accessories he outfitted on the kayak in question. After some negotiation, Malibu Kayaks agreed to replace his kayak and even offered to include a Multipurpose Bait Tank for his troubles. According to policy, we did ask that the customer pay the shipping costs, originally quoted at $200, and we would have still allowed him to keep the kayak at factory price. The $200 is an estimate of typical freight costs to ship a single kayak from California to Florida, where the consumer is based. This is a pre-quote estimate only– the freight cost could be lower, and we had alerted the consumer that should the cost be higher, we would cover the additional. He did not agree to this option either and proceeded to call and email multiple times per day in effort to change the offer.
Malibu Kayaks has communicated daily, both via email and phone, with this customer since the onset of his claim to process his warranty beyond our typical guidelines, and we are still happy to honor that agreement. We are saddened that he is dissatisfied with his kayak, the warranty options, and the customer service provided him, as we have made a considerable effort to find an agreeable solution to get him back on the waters as quickly as possible. Malibu Kayaks stands behind our warranty and is working hard to improve our customer service; we look forward to continuing to provide the quality product and service you all deserve."
In conclusion, the Malibu Stealth 14 is the best kayak on the market. As a professional kayak angler I have fished out of some of the best including Wilderness Systems (Tarpon 12/14, Ride), Hobie (Outfitter, Revo, Pro Angler), Jackson (Coosa, Cuda), Native… you name it. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses and I find them all to be great in their own way. However, when I was looking for the most well rounded kayak that I can stalk the flats for tailing reds with and the next day launch off the beach in 2-3 ft waves to go out for kingfish and tarpon... the Stealth can stand up to the challenge.
Negative: Some of you may be reading this thinking the Stealth 14 is too good to be true…well it’s not… however I am an honest person and can only find two negatives, even though they don’t bother me a bit.
1) Size/Weight: With a kayak of this size you are going to have to deal with some additional weight. It weighs in at 64 pounds and once loaded down with everything can be around 80 lbs. I like that I can store all my rods, lifejacket, seat, tackle, anchor, stake-out-pole, etc in the front hatch during travel (so it tends to be a little heavy at the ramp. I can load it all up the night before, load it in the truck, wake up and go. I would not recommend this kayak for a 90 year old man that needs to put it up on his roof, however if you are fishing with a buddy (which you always should be) then it won’t be a problem. I have seen some creative ways out there to slide a kayak from the hood up on to the roof. If you have a truck then weight should not be a concern. If you just have a sedan… this kayak is soooo worth it I would check out craigslist for a jet ski trailer or the Harbor Freight site ($300-400 for brand new trailer).
2) Hull Slap: Since this kayak is capable to take on 550 lbs (which I would argue it could carry more) if you are a lighter person it will sit a little higher in the water and cause some hull slap if the wind is blowing over 10 kts and you are stalking a flat. First off, if you are trying to be stealth on a flat in a 10kt wind then it doesn’t matter what kayak you are in…it’s going to slap. If this is a major concern of yours simply distribute your gear weight properly and don’t position your kayak in a direction that will create this resistance. It all comes with experience; this reason should absolutely NOT lead you not to consider this kayak. I also had some custom SeaDek put on the kayak and it has practically eliminated this issue completely. A company in Florida has scanned the Stealth and can cut up a custom SeaDek kit for you at a VERY reasonable price.
If you are looking for a great seat to put on this please consider the Crack of Dawn Spider Angler Seat, Google it you should find my video review, it’s the best thing out there and worth every penny.
The Stealth has more than enough storage room. I really enjoy the wide cockpit area and I use the live well on every trip. I don't even have to use a live well kit, I simply undo the plug in the live well area and the well refreshes itself all day long. I've had a 20" trout live all day in that live well. I also love the pocket bags in the kayak. It makes cleaning the kayak so much easier. I no longer have to worry about spilling Gulp juice in my kayak. I simply take out the pockets and wash them in the sink. I've never had so much storage area before.
My favorite feature is the ability to stand and fish. Sight fishing has opened a whole other dimension to the areas I fish. I have stood up in 30mph winds to take a picture of my fish on a measuring board with no problem. Now, I stand just as much as I sit.
I am 6'5, 220# and have used the Stealth 14 primarily for river fishing in PA for about a year now. Functionally, it is a great boat for me. Comfortable, stable, room for my dog, versatile, perfect. You CANNOT tip it (you will fall off first). I also love peoples' faces when I float by them fishing while standing up. As far as the design and function of the boat, I love it and give it a 10. My dog loves it too.
As far as the manufacture quality of the boat's design, I give it a 5 for Two major reasons:
I had a couple gasket issues but an email to Mailbu and the problems were fixed very quickly. MK's customer service is second to none! I got a call from the president of the company and a rep to assure everything worked out. Thanks for standing behind your products! I'll probably buy a couple of Mini-X's for the boys next summer so Dad can go solo next year...
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