Submitted: 06-09-2003 by Tom Kirkman
All sit on top kayaks have some inherent problems, so let's go ahead and get that out of the way. Yes the Tarpon 120, like all sit on tops, will having you cooking in the summertime and freezing in the wintertime. And you'll be wet most anytime. Just the nature of the beast and can only be controlled by proper clothing and/or sunscreen. But beyond that, it's just a fantastic boat.
I bought mine for fishing - my first sit on top for that purpose. I think the Tarpon 120 has several things to recommend it over other similar yaks.First, the seat shape is fantastic. It's comfortable even without any padding of any sort. The cockpit is roomy and pleasing and there is plenty of room for even long legged fishermen. Good support for the back and also under the knees. Fantastic.Storage is ample and well thought out. The forward hatch is large enough that you can actually store 3 or 4 assembled 9' rods inside the hull! Put a strip of velcro down inside and you can make sure they don't move around and tangle with each other during transport or rough water crossings. The only bad thing, is that you can't access them while on the water. But you can take out the ones you'll be using and then move to shallow water where you can exit and swap rods when the need arises.
The rear tankwell is superb. Perfectly sized and arranged. I keep a Rubbermaid storage box there that holds my rainsuit, towels, rope, accessories, etc. On each side of this box are rod holders, made from 1.25 inch PVC tubing and slotted to hold either casting, spinning or fly rods. These are much better than the commercial rod holders which require drilling holes in your boat deck and which can't hold many types or sizes of rods. The small hatch between your knees is where I keep my bilge sponges. (Boat hasn't leaked a drop so far.) The one behind the seat has my keys, fishing license, wallet, etc. They've been dry so far.
I do not like the handles fore and aft. They're fancy and nice to look at, but carrying awkward and rigging anchors tough. The best anchor set up is always though clamcleats (one handed operation) and then through eyebolts fasten thru-hull at the extreme bow and stern. I had to do some creative rigging to accomplish this on the Tarpon. It was much easier on the Mallard, old style Pungo and Critter, as you can use the handle nibs to run an eyebolt through. Oh well, nothing's perfect.
The boat tracks well, is a bit hard to turn in tight quarters, and is fairly fast. It also drafts very little water. I weight 175 lbs and carry maybe 20 or 25 lbs of geat and the water just laps at the first chine on the side of the hull. I don't think I'm in the water more than 4 inches! The boat seems very stable, even though you're sitting above the water line.
Overall I think this is the best sit on top fishing platform I've yet paddled or used. With just a couple mods it becomes the perfect sit on top fishing platform. WS has a winner here. Well worth the price and sure to last and be enjoyed for year after year.........