Choosing a kayak can be difficult because there are so many from which to chose. And they come in all sizes, shapes and colors. If you’re an angler, then you can eliminate most cruising kayaks and most sit inside vessels. You’ll probably want to look at sit on-tops (SOT) and/or hybrids that are made with anglers in mind.
I started kayak fishing long before the craze reached Florida’s salt waters. And, as you might imagine, I’ve paddle quite a variety of kayaks. I started out in a 14-foot SOT, ventured into the word of 12-footers and then settled into Native Watercraft’s Ultimate 14.5. The Ultimate is the ultimate for me and my fleet now numbers three of them.
The Ultimate is an anglers dream. It’s somewhat of a cross between a kayak and canoe. It’s spacious and its tunnel hull makes it so stable that you can stand and fish. That’s a big plus when it comes to sight-fishing or fly casting. I routinely pole along southern Tampa Bay’s sand bars in search of redfish, snook, sharks and gator spotted seatrout. Since the kayak is wide open, you can carry all the gear you need. I’m a professional kayak fishing guide and I carry a 36-quart cooler filled with drinks and food on my all-day trips. Of course, the biggest concern is paddling. If your vessel paddles like a tank, then you’re not going to venture too far off the beaten path. The Ultimate tracks extremely straight and rarely requires and paddle correction. For this reason, I’ve opted not to add rudders to my boats.
The Ultimate is also fairly fast for a kayak. I can maintain a speed of 3.5 miles per hour over great distances. I’ve had it up to more than 6 mph, but can’t sustain that very long. The real Ultimate treat is its First Class Seat, the best in the industry. In other kayaks, I always needed some sort of cushion upon which to sit. I’ve never used a cushion in the Ultimate. The seat is extremely comfortable. And the best news is that it comes with the boat. While the boat may seem heavy at 72 pounds, it has a natural balance point at mid-ship along the gunwale. Additional you can lighten the boat by seven by removing the seat. I routinely load and unload my three kayaks by myself with no trouble whatsoever. Ultimates are made by Legacy Paddlesports in Greensboro, N.C. The company, which also produces Heritage and Liquid Logic kayaks, was founded about five years ago by Andy Zimmerman, the brain behind Wilderness Systems.
Zimmerman is an innovator who loves nothing more than to take something good and make it better. The latest line of Ultimates feature a track system along both gunwales into which you can plug in rod holders, GPS units, fish finders, etc. Additionally, he’s added a new drainage system on both the port and starboard sides which greatly facilitates draining the kayaks. The boats also have tracks on the port and starboard sides that allow you to attach things like bottle holders, paddle clips, tool bags and other items. Accessories on my boats include anchor trollies and, bow sprayskirts.
I’ll be upgrading my fleet soon. I’m opting for Native’s new camouflage Ultimates. I’ll add their 9-foot paddle pole and rubberized , non-skid mats in the footwells and cockpit deck. Unless Zimmerman, the mad scientist comes up with something better, my plans are to remain an Ultimate owner for a long time. I’ve loved the boat since the day I got it and don’t envision getting anything else. The Ultimate meets every expectation I have. It looks good, paddles great and is very functional.
- Ultimate 14.5
- Length: 14 feet, 7 inches
- Weight: 65 pounds (without removable seat)
- Beam: 30 inches
- Capacity: 450 pounds
- Price: $1,099
By Steve Gibson,
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
Phone: (941) 284-3406