By Peter Hinck
Back in 2005, most kayaks of the day had foam pad seats with a built-in back rest. After a few hours of fishing you would begin to feel it on your rump and back. Water sometimes would collect in the bottom of the seat and add to the discomfort. That is when the newly formed Native Watercraft got together to create a new kayak seat that you could fish out of all day in comfort. What they came up with was the First Class Seat, with suspension mesh stretched over an aluminum frame. It was elevated, giving it a dry ride and great ventilation. It also reclined and offered great back support. The seat could also be taken out and used for a beach or camp chair. It looked like no other seat that had ever been in a kayak.
It was not long before kayak anglers took notice. Some tried installing the First Class Seat into their own kayaks, but they soon found that once you put a raised seat into a kayak you change the stability and greatly increase the chance that the kayak would roll over.
Responding to increasing demand for raised seats, manufacturers of fishing kayaks began to redesign hulls to not only fit a seat but to also handle the stability from the extra height. In many cases, that meant adding more plastic—and therefore more weight. Were anglers willing to put up with the extra weight for the extra comfort? For many, as it turned out, the answer was yes.
Jackson introduced to the kayak fishing market the Elite Patent Pending Hi/Low Seat, giving the angler a choice of two levels to have the seat. The lower position is better for paddling or fishing on a choppy or windy day. It also gives you a more stable platform to fish out of. The higher position is better for sight fishing in calm waters. It also makes it easier to stand up and cast.
Hobie listened, too. Anglers loved the Mirage pedal system but disliked having a wet seat at times. Legs and butts would sometimes rash up from the pedal stroke. Hobie’s answer was the 14-foot Pro Angler. The Pro Angler with a rigged weight of 138 pounds, width of 38 inches, horizontal rod holders and the new Vantage seat, took kayak fishing to a new level. For the comfort and fishability, many anglers were happy to put in the extra effort to load and unload the PA. A few, however, loved the Vantage seat but not the size or weight of the PA. Hobie went to work retooling molds on the entire line of Mirage kayaks to fit a new Vantage CT Seat. It was a huge and costly undertaking for the company. In the fall of 2014, the new kayaks were introduced and were well received by the kayak angler. FS
HOBIE MIRAGE OUTBACK
Length: 12’ 1” • Width: 33” • Hull weight: 78 lbs. • Capacity: 400 lbs.
Seat: Vantage CT Seat that has 4 way adjustability with a breathable 3D mesh over a lightweight plastic frame. The seat can be taken out of the kayak and used as a beach chair.
WILDERNESS SYSTEMS RIDE 115X MAX
Length: 11’6” • Width: 33” • Weight: 82 lbs. • Capacity: 500 lbs.
Seat: Phase 3 AirPro Max that has a breathable, all-weather UV-resistant premium textile cover on an aluminum tube frame. The seat has a full forward/aft trim range and three phases: high, low and recline positioning.
NATIVE SLAYER PROPEL 13
Length: 13’2” • Width: 33” • Hull Weight: 85 lbs. • Capacity: 500 lbs.
Seat: Slayer Propel First Class Seat is made out of a solar screen hi flow 3D mesh suspended over an aluminum frame. The seat sits on a rail so the seat can slide forward or backward for better pedaling positioning.
JACKSON CUDA 14
Length: 14’3” • Width: 30.5” • Weight: 74 lbs. • Capacity: 400 lbs.
Seat: Jackson Elite Hi/low Seat has a breathable mesh fabric over an aluminum frame. The seat has an underside pocket for storage and can be mounted in a high or low position.
OCEAN KAYAK PROWLER BIG GAME II
Length: 12’9” • Width: 34” • Weight: 70 lbs. • Capacity: 550 lbs.
Seat: Ocean Kayaks Element Seating System has fabric over an aluminum frame. The seat has a low position for stability, and a raised position for fishing. It can be flipped out of the way into standup position for poling, sighting and casting.
First published Florida Sportsman March 2015