Sun

17

Jun

2012

Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 Propel

This is the boat that launched the brand, the original and still #1 seller for Native Watercraft!

Specifications

Length: 368 cm    

Width: 76 cm

Weight: 22 kg (plus seat & propel drive)                               

Capacity: 159 kg

 

First Glance
I’m not sure where to start with this craft – it is unique in so many ways!  Firstly there is the ‘Propel Pedal Drive’ which gives you hands free fishing.  Like other pedal drive kayaks this allows you the freedom to have a fishing rod in hand while you’re moving around.  The Native Watercraft system has the advantage of not only forward propulsion but also reverse.  This is great for maintaining your position without the need for an anchor and also for fishing the rivers, estuaries & canals.

Then there is the ‘First Class Seat’ which is easily removed from the kayak and can be used as a stand-alone seat around camp. The seat is made from HiFlow 3-D Mesh which dries quickly and vents well to stay cool.


When you look closely at the hull shape you’ll notice the ‘Tunnel Hull’ which gives catamaran like stability.  You can stand and fish in this kayak more easily than any other craft of comparable width.  The hull shape also tracks well thus making it a nice option to paddle without using the rudder.

The final design feature that is unique in this craft is that this is not your regular sit-on top kayak……it is more like a canoe!

 

Comfort
There are some great seating options available on kayaks now a day’s……………but this could be the ultimate!  The Propel Pedal Drive is easy to deploy, when not in use there are 3 different positions that you can pivot the drive to.  This would be done when in shallow water or if you wish to paddle for a while rather than pedal.  When the Propel drive is not deployed there is a cover that snaps into place sealing the hole for the drive.  If paddling, there are ‘Easy Foot’ foot braces that slot in to place to provide support while paddling.  As the seat is located almost 10 cm higher than the resting position of the feet this creates an unmatched level of comfort while paddling.

At low speeds the pedal drive is easy to operate.  At higher speeds you do have some resistance on the pedals……..you are working!  As the Ultimate 12 is quite streamlined we found it nice to paddle and even quicker under pedal power.


The steering for the rudder is controlled by a handle on the left hand side and although not super responsive does an adequate job of manoeuvring the kayak and also keeping it straight.  Most people’s leg length will be catered for by the adjustment in the seat.  It slides forward and back and locks in place by straps attached to the hull.  It was noted that people under 5ft 7in’s may run out of adjustment and would have to pad the backrest to reach the Propel Drive and maintain back support.

 

Performance

The hull is quite efficient through the water and has the unique performance characteristic of tracking in a straight line but also being manoeuvrable, normally you don’t really get both. While the Ultimate 12 is travelling in a straight line it seems the Tunnel Hull channels water down the centre line of the hull, keeping the kayak straight.  Once you initiate a turn and the kayak starts to turn, it then spins quite quickly.


The Ultimate 12 is great to fish from with its hands free propulsion, comfort and stability.  It also has loads of storage space due to its canoe like design.  The demo kayak used for this review was fitted with 4 Scotty Flush Mounts so that a number of rods could be used. Although the Ultimate series have an optional paddle park that clips into the Adapt-a-Trak on the side of the boat, I’d recommend getting a 2 piece paddle and splitting it to simply stow in the substantial space behind the seat.  The Ultimate series have a full range of accessories such as extra pockets, covers for the bow & stern, and a headrest.


I find people are quite often worried with a pedal drive that if they hit the bottom, or even worse a rock, that they will bust something.  I refrained from ramming a rock at full speed but did find the Pedal Drive to be a robust unit when encountering a few sand banks.  There is a locking clip at the front of the Propel Drive that holds it in the down position.  I think if you hit something hard this may be the sacrificial week link, and is easily replaced.


The Wash-Up
The Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 Propel lives up to its name and is certainly up there with the best kayak fishing craft.  It is light weight, streamlined, extremely comfortable, stable, and can be propelled forward and reverse even while busy catching a fish.  It is not a cheap entry level kayak but for the kayak fisherman wanting the ‘Ultimate’ it may just be the one!

 

Want One!

The Native Watercraft retails for approx $3000 (variations may occur due to freighting costs).

The company also makes the Mariner series of sit-on-top kayaks with the Propel Pedal Drive system.

 

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