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Looking To Buy Fishing Kayak For Rivers


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I am thinking about buying a sit on top fishing kayak for fishing ozark rivers and creeks. The streams I fish the most are, Kings River, White River, Crooked Creek, Buffalo River, and Mulberry River. The kayaks I like the most are Wilderness System's Tarpoon 120 and Native Watercraft's Manta Ray 120. I like to fish for small mouth bass and mostly fish with lures, but I am starting to do a little fly fishing as well. I do lots of day trips with some 2 to 3 day trips mixed in a couple of times a year. I would like a vessel I can use both in high, rough water, and low, just barely floatable water. I have never been in a kayak, just canoes. Does anyone have any experience using a sit on top kayak in some of these or similar rivers? Can a sit on top kayak handle class II to maybe class III rapids? Should I consider a fishing sit in kayak, like the Ultimate 120? I would like to hear anyone's thoughts on fishing kayaks in general. Any advice or shared experiences will be greatly appreciated.

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Lots of discussion on that topic over at riversmallies.invisionzone.com--I use a solo canoe which handles everything the ozarks has to offer, other than whitewater on the St. Francis. Kayaks didn't work out for me--not enough room for the camping gear I take with me, they sit kind of low in the water so you will have to drag more often, too much water in the boat for winter fishing, and they weigh more than my solo (~43 lbs.). My solo actually handles better than most of the kayaks I have paddled. I would suggest paddling a wenonah vagabond, Old town pack/kaynoe, or a Mohawk solo 15 before you make a decision. Kayaks are great but they do have they're drawbacks, just like a canoe.

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siusaluki,

You make a great point. I need to take a look at some solo canoes. I didn't realize how light they were. One of my worries with a sit on top kayak is how top heavy they would be, and storing my poles vertically, instead of horizontally, which is not a problem in open water, but in a river with overhanging willows and birch trees there would be issues. Are you able to stand and cast in your canoe very well?

Thanks for your input.

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The Tarpon 120 is a fine SOT...it would be a great day trip boat for the White...its pretty fast, tracks incredibly well, and its very stable...downside...small gear capacity, heavy, and hard to turn.

For overnights...I like a canoe....either a tandem or a solo...just depends on the conditions...High Water, Low Water, or lots of gear required. I solo the tandem...Its a drier ride at high water, and I drag less with the bigger boat at low...My solo is a Wenonah Vagabond...its a great flat water cruiser, but it takes in water occassionally when your run standing wave trains and almost every time you run a decent sized drop..Not the boat you want for extended Class II water, and forget class III...Same can be said for most SOT's.

If I was in the market for another solo...I'd be looking at the Wenonah Wilderness....bit bigger than my Vagabond. Cheers.

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Thanks Gavin.

Well, I probably won't be using this boat for any class III rapids, but there will be lots of class I and a few class II rapids. I'll plan on a different strategy for fishing the Mulberry in the spring. Wenonah has three canoes that I like, the Vagabond, the Wilderness, and the Fusion. The Wilderness does seem the best out of the three for Ozark rivers. When you solo the tandem do you have to put much weight in the front of the canoe?

Would a SOT, like the Tarpon or Manta Ray, do fine for a day trip down the Kings or Buffalo river, with med to med-high river levels? My concern would be those sharp right angle turns, and beaver dams.

Again thanks for your input.

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The Tarpon will do fine on all those rivers, including the War Eagle. I've been happy with my Tarpon 120, for about 7 years I believe. It does a good job. Don't forget that maneuverability and tracking are generally on opposite ends of the spectrum. For the most part you have to take whats most important. For our rivers and solo fishing I think tracking is probably more important.

I also have a Penobscot and a Mohawk 13, and contrary to what some would have you believe, they aren't the same or interchangeable.

Today's release is tomorrows gift to another fisherman.

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siusaluki,

You make a great point. I need to take a look at some solo canoes. I didn't realize how light they were. One of my worries with a sit on top kayak is how top heavy they would be, and storing my poles vertically, instead of horizontally...

If you're as worried about your rods being broken on the stream as I am, a kayak isn't going to be the best choice for you. Some guys swear they never break rods in their kayaks even though they stick out every which-way...I don't know how they do it. My rods are worth far more than my canoe is, so I make protecting them a priority. Your rods are perfectly safe tucked under the bow cap on a canoe.

canoemodsii006a.jpg

A canoe works better for me for many reasons that I won't bother going into for the millionth time...you can read through the threads I'll give you links to. This debate comes up every few months, and ultimately you just have to do your research and figure out what's most practical for YOU.

I will say one thing...If you're wanting to do 2-3 day trips, a canoe is a much better choice for those kinds of trips, unless you're a minimalist...forget about bringing a big cooler full of 72 hours worth of goodies in a kayak.

You probably won't be standing in a solo canoe, but I personally never encounter the need to stand up anyway. If I'm fly fishing, I'll get out and wade.

Read through these threads, then check out the Riversmallies threads saluki mentioned. There should be plenty of info there to help you decide. There are a lot more threads to read than just these...do a little searching.

http://ozarkanglers....oe&fromsearch=1

http://ozarkanglers....8&hl=solo+canoe

http://ozarkanglers....oe&fromsearch=1

http://ozarkanglers....ak&fromsearch=1

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I love my Tarpon(s).

I fish all the rivers you have mentioned except the Mulberry. The Tarpom has never let me down and I've never been disappointed with it. AND there have been some positive changes made since I bought my Tarpon in 03(?).

I think the gear carrying capacity of a T120 is under appreciated, but it isn't the pack mule a canoe can be.

Read the links Gavin posted for you. PM me if you want more of my take on things.

Quick answers though.

Tarpon is best at Class I and maybe some Class II. There are some maniacs using thigh straps putting a T120 through Class III water. That ain't me.

A Tarpom is a great day boat. It CAN be an overnighter boat if you can live without the kitchen sink.

Full discloser: I consider overnight trips to be more fun with someone else. I use a tandem canoe for overnight adventures.

Solo canoes arer another great option. Look at both before you decide.

Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future. On twitter @Ham66

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We always have this discussion concerning rod safety, why I don't know. I lay my rods in my Tarpon the same as in my solo. The solo is 12" longer, but not from where I sit. I lay my rods in the SOT the same as in my solo when I confront brush or trees, reels between my legs, tips in the bow. Of course if I think the water might cause an accident, I can put them inside my unsinkable SOT, in my solo I have to rely on hope. Hope that if I do have an accident I can find my rods on the bottom.

Today's release is tomorrows gift to another fisherman.

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