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Submitted: 08-05-2013 by pnewport
I recently purchased a Santa Cruz Kayaks Raptor SOT after many e-mail discussions with the owner of Santa Cruz Kayaks, Jim Martin. I watched so many videos, and read so many reviews, while I was in Florida last winter, that I just had to have one. If there are any negative reviews out there by people who actually own, or have paddled, a Raptor, I haven't seen them.
I have been paddling on a fairly small lakes in pretty smooth water sometimes with a fairly stiff breeze. I have noticed very little wind resistance and the Raptor tracked beautifully and is very quiet on the water. It is a longer yak than the sit-in I have been using the past two years, by a foot, and I felt it was a little slow to turn compared to my sit-in. I haven't paddled my Tarpon for a few years so can't compare to that. After using my Raptor a few times, I don't feel that anymore. Unfortunately, since I brought one home, the weather has been nasty on the east coast and we have only been able to get out and fish six or eight times, on a couple of different lakes, but I love the Raptor. It is very stable and easy to get back into from hip high water. Being an older female, and a little out of shape, I might have trouble getting back in from deep water but plan to rig something up that I can quickly get to, and snap between the pontoons, that I can step on if I need to. If I have difficulty getting back in from deep water, it's because of me and not the Raptor. The yak is that stable!
I love fishing out of the Raptor and it is so easy to paddle with the narrower front profile and easy to sit sideways, backwards, stand up, just about any way you want without any indication that it is going to roll/turtle. My husband paddled it with me sitting on the tank well with my legs dangling off the back. Another thing is that even weighing 62 pounds, which is unbelievable to me that it weighs that much, I can handle the Raptor on land, and it is easy to load. Carrying my half from the pontoon end (two hands), or shoving it up an embankment by myself, is easy compared to using one handle on the other yaks. Because of the way it is designed it seems very well balanced and doesn't want to get away from you when loading. I can't wait to get the Raptor on the water in Florida next winter or sooner.
I have been rigging the Raptor with mostly RailBlaza accessories and a few Scotty that I had, and some GearTrac tracks. Very versatile. Right now, I'm using a crate but there is a live bait tank that is available and fits right in the tank well with an Atwood pump. I may be tempted to get one to have on hand. I also installed the 4" hatches, in the rear recesses on the pontoons, designed for that. Gives good access for securing accessories, to get something out that has slid back, and to carry small items in the available pouch. There is a lot of available storage and you can easily carry rods inside the hull. The "glove box" in front of the seat area is great for storing all those small items you want easy access to.
I remember when everyone said that the number one peddle kayak would never become popular; if people will give this Raptor SOT, or sit-in, a try I think they will be very pleasantly surprised.
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