Kayak Review as was written for the Fishing Monthly Magazine
Catch 420 By Mission. Manufacturers Goals: The Catch 420 has only just been released on to the Australian market. The aim was to take a lot of the unique features of the Catch 390 and develop a longer, faster and fully featured fishing kayak that is extremely comfortable to both paddle and fish from. The 420 is designed to be suitable for both flat and open water with generous volume and rocker in the bow. The kayaks hull shape combines the speed and efficiency of a sea kayak with the stability and ease of use of a sit-on-top kayak.
The Catch 420 is a good looking craft. Moulded in carry handles at the bow, side and stern is a trade mark feature of the Mission brand of kayak. At the stern, the handles are integrated into the swallow tail housing for the rudder. This housing provides good protection for the rudder while retracted on to the deck in the surf zone and is a standard feature of most of Mission's sea kayaks. Both the bow and stern do remind you more of a touring kayak hull than your typical sit-on top fishing kayak. It is when you start to examine the cockpit that you start to see the Catch 420's fishing prowess.
In front of the paddler's feet is a 10" rubber hatch that provides access to the internal front compartment. This compartment has a bulkhead stopping items such as rods and other fishing gear from sliding back under the cockpit area making them hard to retrieve. This front bulkhead, and another rear bulkhead, are fairly unique features in fishing kayaks and do add to the safety and sea worthiness of this yak. There is an optional fish sock that can be fitted to the rim of the hatch coaming allowing you to store your catch without making a mess inside the craft. If you prefer your fish in the rear, the tank well is long & deep thus providing tons of storage for fishing and is also suitable for dive cylinders.
The foot pedals are easy to adjust for different leg lengths and provide solid support for bracing into the craft in the surf. In between your shins is a unique fish finder area with adjustable bungy controlled pop up lid and internal self draining transducer scupper hole. (Only smaller fish finder units fit into the compartment. I found a Humminbird 363 was a perfect fit, allowing you to fold the unit back so that the lid could close, protecting your sounder from being damaged or splashed in smaller surf.
Below your foot pedals are two side recessed compartments with mesh covers. Other features include four D-ring attachment points suitable for thigh braces & rod leashes, another 10" hatch between your knees, 6" hatch behind the cockpit allowing access to the hull mounted battery mount, 2 rear recessed rod holders, paddle parks either side and 2 rod parks that are recessed into the deck just forward of your knees.
The moulded in seat and backrest both have a foam pad attached, providing a balance of padding and support. The backrest isn't as high as backbands on some other fishing kayaks which may not provide as much support while fishing but does allow the torso to still rotate for efficient paddling technique. It also allows an easy re-entering of the craft by climbing on at the rear of the craft, straddling the kayak cowboy style, and sliding forward to the cockpit area. This is difficult on kayaks with high luxurious backrests. The seat doesn't have any adjustment that can be made without gluing in more foam so I'd suggest that you spend some time sitting in it to ensure that you're going to be comfortable.
The fish finder storage compartment, and lid, does sit close to the inner calf muscle of both legs. I found it quite comfortable but when sitting paddlers of various leg lengths in the craft I received a mixed review regarding the comfort and pressure on the inner calf. Again it is something you would need to check by actually sitting in the kayak for yourself and make sure you were comfortable.
The 420 has places to put all your fishing gear, and hopefully some fish! I wasn't sure about the position and angle of the rod parks but found they worked well while changing lures and found I was even able to paddle with rods in these upright parks, all be it a little restricted.
When lifting the kayak solo from the recessed side carry handles, the reviewed kayak was a little bow heavy......something else just to check.
Stability, Manoeuvrability, Tracking, Speed
The Catch 420 rates well in stability, tracking & speed, but are not particularly easy to manoeuvre. This is due to the very pronounced keel in the rear that helps it stay in a straight line without using the rudder. This is a good attribute for an offshore kayak as anything with as many moving parts as a rudder is susceptible to breaking at the worst time. Some similar kayaks, with less of a keel at the rear, could be a handful to keep straight without a rudder. Even when using the rudder I found the kayak a little slow to turn. The stability and speed of this fishing yak are very good, neither the most stable nor the fastest fishing kayak out there, but certainly a good compromise of both.
In the Surf and Cruising
In the estuaries the 420 is capable of covering larger distances with ease. The hull shape is quite efficient through the water, cutting through with only a minimal bow and stern wave created. (When you're looking at the hull of a kayak, trying to work out how fast or efficient it will be, there are 3 main factors. The first 2 are length and width of the yak, the longer and skinnier, the faster it will go. The third has more to do with the shape of the hull and how efficiently it moves the water from where the bow cuts the water, to the widest point at the cockpit and then tapers to the stern. Have a look from the bow, looking along the hull at the water line level and you will be able to imagine how efficient a particular hull will be through the water.
In the surf the 420 is more than capable. Good volume in the bow limits the craft ‘nosing in' when coming in on a wave and soft rounded chines on the hull make the craft pretty manageable when broached sideways on a wave. The Catch 420 has 10 scupper holes throughout the craft that drain water out of the cockpit and rear well very quickly after being swamped by a wave. I found that if you straddle the kayak and slide forward to sit on the centre hatch it was easy to access rods and fishing gear from the front hatch. A 2 piece 7ft rod easily fit in the front compartment when split. When accessing this compartment it was important not to shift your weight too far forward as it would tend to bring the water level in the footwell up pretty close to the bottom lip of the front hatch. I think a guy that is 100kg + may need plugs in the scupper holes in the footwell to avoid flooding the front compartment when accessing gear from it on the water.
The Catch 420 does live up to expectation and the manufactures aims when designing the craft. It has a good balance of speed and stability and some nice features that do make it a suitable option for both offshore and inshore fishing.
Mission also offers this craft as an Xstream Pro 420. This is the same hull but comes without a lot of the fishing extra's and is $300 cheaper. This may be a good option for fisho's who like doing their own fit out and wish to customise the kayak to their type of fishing. There is also a non-ruddered version known as an Xstream 420 that saves a further $200. If you're mostly a fair weather fisherman this yak would be fine without a rudder due its tracking and straight line performance.
Other optional accessories for this fishing yak include a fish finder attachment kit, rear well cover, rear well insulated bag, thigh straps and anchor rig running system.
Want One!! The Catch 420 retails for $1699
This review was conducted by Craig McSween, Level 2 Sea Kayak Instructor with Australian Canoeing. For feedback on this review you can contact me at Adventure Outlet (Kayaking & Outdoor Store) in Southport on (07)55712929 or firstname.lastname@example.org Watch for more kayak reviews in next month's edition.