Wed

04

May

2011

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Review

Specifications

Length: 3.73m

Width: 76cm

Weight: 29kg

Capacity: 159kg

 

First Glance


As with most fishing kayaks the Tarpon 120 comes with 4 carry handles at the bow, stern and sides, has a large rear well area and 8 scupper holes to drain water quickly from the cockpit.  The difference with the Tarpon is that it's list of other features is almost too many to mention.

 

The large oval hatch at the front, and the 8 inch hatch directly in front of the paddler, are both hinged with a very easy to operate lever closure.  Inside both hatches are attachment points to attach smaller items so that they don't slide around to unreachable parts of the kayak.  On this kayak I would be splitting all my fishing gear into containers that can fit in this centre hatch and clip onto the attachment strap with a plastic carabiner.  The other unique characteristic of the 8 inch hatch is way that it is angled so that a 6 ft rod & reel can easily be stowed inside the hull, under the seat, which is important for the kayak to have any offshore capabilities.

 

Probably the most outstanding feature of this kayak is its Phase 3 Seating System which is explained in the next section.  It also has the SlideTrax system that allows for additional rodholders, sounders, motor brackets and attachment points to be added without drilling any holes in your kayak.  (See the Scotty rod holder added to one of these SlideTrax, forward of the paddler, on the left hand side.)  The yak also has further attachment points for gear keepers and rod holders, 2 storage pockets either side of the centre hatch, straps for a Plano tackle box and paddle parks in front of the cockpit and on both sides of the kayak.

 

The demo kayak had 2 rear flush rodholders with caps and a Scotty rodholder added.

 

Comfort


The Phase 3 seating on the Tarpon is first class with a configuration that has the most adjustment of any seat on the market.  At the front of the seat is a handle that conveniently changes the height of the backrest.  There are also adjustable straps that lift the front lip of the seat so that it contours your body shape.  This has the effect of spreading your weight across a larger surface area of the seat allowing you to sit more comfortably, for longer.  The seat pan is raised up off the deck and 2 scupper holes are located under the seat. This means any water that splashes into the cockpit area is drained away without you getting a wet but!  You also benefit from adjustable footrests which round off a very comfortable paddling and fishing position. 

 

The Tarpon 120 has all attachment points for an optional rudder already installed on the kayak.  Thus if you decide you'd like a rudder this can be fitted in a matter of minutes without drilling any holes in your kayak.

 

Performance


When looking closely at the hull design of most of the fishing kayaks on the market, most are built more for stability than for speed.  The Tarpon 120 nails both!  Even big guys who have never paddled before can jump straight on to the Tarpon and feel comfortable.  If you look at the kayak while sitting in the water you can see that the hull cuts the water cleanly, disperses the water to the widest point of the kayak and then tapers of cleanly to a fairly pronounced keel at the rear.  This allows the Tarpon to create only a very small bow wave and stern wave when moving through the water which are important factors when looking at the efficiency of the hull.  (Tip - If you want to be able to tell what a kayak will paddle like you need to look at the shape of the hull at the waterline level when loaded with a paddler & their gear.)

 

The 120 tracks well for a kayak under 4m and could easily be used to cover large distances to get to your fishing spot at a good cruising speed.

 

In the Surf


We tested the Tarpon in 1m surf at Narrowneck and found that it performed exceptionally well.  The bow of the kayak has sufficient volume to lift up and over the smaller waves while paddling out.  While punching through bigger breaking waves the bow cut through the wave as long as you maintained sufficient speed.  Where the 120 really excelled was on the return trip back to the beach.  The issue for most paddlers coming in on a wave is either nose diving when on a steep part of the wave or tipping over towards the beach once broached sideways on a wave.  The 120 handled both these situations with ease.......in fact it was possibly the most forgiving fishing kayak I've had the pleasure of paddling in the surf!  While catching a wave the large rear well would fill with water which planted the pronounced keel of the craft firmly in the wave and assisted the paddler in maintaining a straight line for the beach.  If the kayak did go around sideways the paddler only needs to maintain a slight lean into the wave and the craft will slip, broached on the wave, with only a small paddle stroke required to straighten the kayak and continue in on the wave to the beach.

 

If you've had trouble paddling your fishing kayak back in through the surf zone, you should really try the Tarpon 120.

 

The Wash-Up


The Tarpon 120 is a fantastic fishing kayak!  It is tremendously versatile not only being extremely capable in the rivers, dams & estuaries but also a pleasure to paddle in the surf and ocean.  The ability to be able to stow 6ft rods and all your fishing gear for a surf launch or landing makes it a great fishing option for the closer reefs.  The deluxe seating is also a winner.  If you have a close inspection of this kayaks fit-out, finish, hull shape and performance it represents not only a great option but also great value.  To add even more value all Wilderness System kayaks come with a lifetime warranty on their hull!

 

Want One!!


The Wilderness System Tarpon 120 retails for $1299.

For more info please contact us at 07 55712929 orinfo@adventureoutlet.com.au or check out www.adventureoutlet.com.au or visit us at our Gold Coast store at 74 Marine Pde Southport.

 

Specifications

Length: 3.73m

Width: 76cm

Weight: 29kg

Capacity: 159kg

 

First Glance


As with most fishing kayaks the Tarpon 120 comes with 4 carry handles at the bow, stern and sides, has a large rear well area and 8 scupper holes to drain water quickly from the cockpit.  The difference with the Tarpon is that it's list of other features is almost too many to mention.

 

The large oval hatch at the front, and the 8 inch hatch directly in front of the paddler, are both hinged with a very easy to operate lever closure.  Inside both hatches are attachment points to attach smaller items so that they don't slide around to unreachable parts of the kayak.  On this kayak I would be splitting all my fishing gear into containers that can fit in this centre hatch and clip onto the attachment strap with a plastic carabiner.  The other unique characteristic of the 8 inch hatch is way that it is angled so that a 6 ft rod & reel can easily be stowed inside the hull, under the seat, which is important for the kayak to have any offshore capabilities.

 

Probably the most outstanding feature of this kayak is its Phase 3 Seating System which is explained in the next section.  It also has the SlideTrax system that allows for additional rodholders, sounders, motor brackets and attachment points to be added without drilling any holes in your kayak.  (See the Scotty rod holder added to one of these SlideTrax, forward of the paddler, on the left hand side.)  The yak also has further attachment points for gear keepers and rod holders, 2 storage pockets either side of the centre hatch, straps for a Plano tackle box and paddle parks in front of the cockpit and on both sides of the kayak.

 

The demo kayak had 2 rear flush rodholders with caps and a Scotty rodholder added.

 

Comfort


The Phase 3 seating on the Tarpon is first class with a configuration that has the most adjustment of any seat on the market.  At the front of the seat is a handle that conveniently changes the height of the backrest.  There are also adjustable straps that lift the front lip of the seat so that it contours your body shape.  This has the effect of spreading your weight across a larger surface area of the seat allowing you to sit more comfortably, for longer.  The seat pan is raised up off the deck and 2 scupper holes are located under the seat. This means any water that splashes into the cockpit area is drained away without you getting a wet but!  You also benefit from adjustable footrests which round off a very comfortable paddling and fishing position. 

 

The Tarpon 120 has all attachment points for an optional rudder already installed on the kayak.  Thus if you decide you'd like a rudder this can be fitted in a matter of minutes without drilling any holes in your kayak.

 

Performance


When looking closely at the hull design of most of the fishing kayaks on the market, most are built more for stability than for speed.  The Tarpon 120 nails both!  Even big guys who have never paddled before can jump straight on to the Tarpon and feel comfortable.  If you look at the kayak while sitting in the water you can see that the hull cuts the water cleanly, disperses the water to the widest point of the kayak and then tapers of cleanly to a fairly pronounced keel at the rear.  This allows the Tarpon to create only a very small bow wave and stern wave when moving through the water which are important factors when looking at the efficiency of the hull.  (Tip - If you want to be able to tell what a kayak will paddle like you need to look at the shape of the hull at the waterline level when loaded with a paddler & their gear.)

 

The 120 tracks well for a kayak under 4m and could easily be used to cover large distances to get to your fishing spot at a good cruising speed.

 

In the Surf


We tested the Tarpon in 1m surf at Narrowneck and found that it performed exceptionally well.  The bow of the kayak has sufficient volume to lift up and over the smaller waves while paddling out.  While punching through bigger breaking waves the bow cut through the wave as long as you maintained sufficient speed.  Where the 120 really excelled was on the return trip back to the beach.  The issue for most paddlers coming in on a wave is either nose diving when on a steep part of the wave or tipping over towards the beach once broached sideways on a wave.  The 120 handled both these situations with ease.......in fact it was possibly the most forgiving fishing kayak I've had the pleasure of paddling in the surf!  While catching a wave the large rear well would fill with water which planted the pronounced keel of the craft firmly in the wave and assisted the paddler in maintaining a straight line for the beach.  If the kayak did go around sideways the paddler only needs to maintain a slight lean into the wave and the craft will slip, broached on the wave, with only a small paddle stroke required to straighten the kayak and continue in on the wave to the beach.

 

If you've had trouble paddling your fishing kayak back in through the surf zone, you should really try the Tarpon 120.

 

The Wash-Up


The Tarpon 120 is a fantastic fishing kayak!  It is tremendously versatile not only being extremely capable in the rivers, dams & estuaries but also a pleasure to paddle in the surf and ocean.  The ability to be able to stow 6ft rods and all your fishing gear for a surf launch or landing makes it a great fishing option for the closer reefs.  The deluxe seating is also a winner.  If you have a close inspection of this kayaks fit-out, finish, hull shape and performance it represents not only a great option but also great value.  To add even more value all Wilderness System kayaks come with a lifetime warranty on their hull!

 

Want One!!


The Wilderness System Tarpon 120 retails for $1299.

For more info please contact us at 07 55712929 orinfo@adventureoutlet.com.au or check out www.adventureoutlet.com.au or visit us at our Gold Coast store at 74 Marine Pde Southport.

 

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Dylan on a Jester Surf Ski
Dylan on a Jester Surf Ski

The kids are certainly growing up and getting better at paddling! It's almost impossible now for me to keep up to Dylan on the Jester while paddling a sit on top kayak, something he's quite happy about! ;)

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