Submitted: 03-26-2007 by fishingcat
I tried out a slew of recreational and fishing kayaks before purchasing a Mini-X in August 2006, ostensibly for fishing small inland waters and to be able to access more bank and/or wade fishing opportunities on easy rivers. It took me quite a few paddling trips to get around to actually fishing from it ... I was too engrossed in seeing what it could do, and the magic of paddling OVER fish instead of casting to them! Thus far, I have only used it on flatwater because thatís what my current paddling skills dictate.
The Mini-X is not fast nor does it have much glide, but thatís to be expected given that it is intended for fishing in conditions where maneuverability is more important. It tracks surprisingly well for its length (9'3"), and I can turn it on a dime and stop it just about as fast. As long as nobody wants to race me (and as long as I donít need to go very far quickly), I donít notice the lack of speed.
The Mini-X has better initial stability than any rec boat Iíve tried, and although a LOT of effort and lean (with the help of thigh straps) finally caused me to reflexively use a brace to right myself, I was never able to actually tip it over.
For fishing, it is a nice size for me -- I donít take a lot, and I like to be able to reach everything (the forward hatch is the only thing that really takes any effort). The Mini-X actually has more storage capacity than I need (at least right now ... I know how these things go ... voids demand to be filled ...). It is quite comfortable and stable to sit sideways on. I have stood in it, but havenít tried casting while standing yet. My balance is not the best, and I decided it would be wise to work on that first. Others who have stood in it compared it to the X-Factor and said the Mini was not as stable. I do have to be careful when paddling that I donít scrape the sides of this wide (33") boat with the paddle (my paddle is 215 cm, and I am a high-angle style paddler ... and would probably be better off low-angle in this boat). It is not normally a concern unless I fatigue, but Iím sure the fish are alerted by the noise whenever it happens!
Thereís enough room in the Mini-X for me to straighten out my legs completely with space left over -- and I have looooong legs (in fact, lack of leg room put me off every kayak ďdesigned for womenĒ that I tried, and a few others as well). The foot wells are placed OK for me; placement may bug some people so I would definitely recommend trying before buying, and make sure the trial is long enough to judge your long-term leg comfort. I do prefer that the foot wells spread out support on my foot, unlike foot pegs and Iím also happy to trade the ďjust OKĒ placement (by my standards) for not having any footpegs to grab my flyline Speaking of which, the basic boat has very little to snag lines and such; any problems Iíve had in that regard were definitely user-generated (mindless accessorizing can quickly negate the benefits of the Mini-Xís clean design).
Being able to easily car-top the Mini-X on my minivanís existing custom roof rack is a real bonus. I could handle car-topping a much heavier Ďyak, but a longer one would definitely cause overhang issues on my vehicle. In addition, the 38-lb bare weight is nice, not so much because 38 pounds is a cakewalk for me, but because it (naturally) ends up being considerably heavier once outfitted for fishing, and the fact that the gear is in it makes it awkward to carry -- the lighter weight is certainly welcome then.
I do recommend getting a pair of scupper plugs for the seat holes if you want to ride dry more of the time. Although itís usually a dry ride (in the seat), any kind of rowdy paddling, plopping into the seat, leaning, and so forth gets me a wet rear end if the scuppers are open.
Overall, I couldnít be happier with the Mini-Xís suitability to my purposes. I wouldn't change a thing about it. I have not used it on moving water yet, but intend to amend this review after I do.