Submitted: 06-04-2008 by Marcelus Maximus
I've been in the market for a fishing yak lately and as a result have been doing some pretty extensive research.
This weekend I had the opportunity to test out all of the yaks I've been considering at Florida Bay Outfitters in Key Largo, FL. They had an open demo this weekend and were allowing visitors to test out all the latest yaks on the market. I tried out the WS Tarpon 160i, the Tarpon 140 and the OK Trident.
I would have to say that the 160i was my favorite by far. The Trident was just a barge. It felt like I was riding a giant baked potato! The WS 140 was nice, but it didn't track as well as I would have liked and it lacked a little bit in the speed department. The 160i however was a dream!
I tried the 160i, both with a rudder, and without. While it still tracked well without, you can definitely notice the difference the rudder makes. There was a moderate wind and I was very close to shore and I noticed the difference so I can only imagine the difference it makes for those really windy days.
Besides for the handling, I also thought that all the WS yaks were superior in finish to all the other yaks that were there. The finish on these boats looks a lot more expensive than the boat actually is. Also, the attention to detail is just superb. I really liked the hatch lids "tupperware" style closure over other manufacturers complicated clips and straps.
It's also designed quite ergonomically. I'm not a tall guy by any stretch of the imagination and this is a long boat. However, I could easily reach everything on the boat from a seated position in the cockpit. I especially like the height adjustable seat which is new for 2008.
I also found that it felt quite stable when standing up for those that like to stand in their yaks. I'm not sure if I'd stand while fishing the gator and shark filled waters of Flamingo but that's just me ;-)
So all in all, I would have to say that I highly recommend the Tarpon 160i above the other WS Tarpons and definitely over anything produced by Ocean Kayaks.
Oh, and the only reason I didn't give it a 10 was because I wasn't crazy about how it turned. But I guess it didn't do too bad for being 16ft long.