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I chose the Caper as the best combination of moderate weight, stability, length and price at the time, and it has never disappointed. I later added a lighter, faster, costlier sit-in Hurricane Santee Sport 116 for guests, but I still prefer the Caper for fishing. I can get off it and wade or sit sideways with legs in the warm gulf water or swim--it's that stable. Mine is a pre-Angler model, so I added a Scotty rod holder in front of me ($30 installed)and two flush rod holders behind the seat ($15 each installed), making it a fine fishing craft with no need for a milk crate.
There is good information in earlier reviews, but I have news about hull slap. I found there is a "sweet spot" for sitting (for me it's about 6 inches forward of the back of the seat well) that lowers the bow, thus increasing speed and reducing hull slap to next to none. A sand bag or some other weight in the front hatch likely would have the same effect. I put duct tape over the scupper holes in the tank well years ago and it has held ever since. I had no problem with build quality. I'd chose the Caper again today.
At 11'0" and 45 lbs. is very easy to load and unload alone into the bed of my pickup. Many longer kayaks require two people and a kayak trailer or special transport rigging, not the Caper. My storage space is limited to 11'3" so the Caper fits great. Once in the water, its design continues to impress. I bought scupper plugs and my seat is 100% dry (I weight 170 lbs). With or without using plugs in the front feet scuppers, a small amount of water comes off my paddle and lands around my feet. I now prefer no plugs in the front so the water can drain. In my opinion the molded foot wells on the Caper are far superior to sliding adjustable foot braces found on many other kayaks. I love the paddle holders! The large hatch in the front keep water out on choppy lakes from my experience. Tracking and speed, excellent and excellent. I'm sure there are better, but for use on rivers and lakes (every other day I hit the water and go 10 miles minimum each day) I do not desire better.
I wish the side handles were on the outside instead inside which makes it difficult to grab hold to while loading alone. The molded tank-well works well for my ice-chest, backpack, etc. However, it's too narrow for a standard size milk crate (not that I care, but you might). I bought the OK 6" CAM Locking Hatch (about $40) and had the dealer install it directly in front of the seat. Unfortunately when you open it it, it provides direct access to the hull and does not come with a cat bag (nor will any cat bag fit it). OK should have designed a molded water proof storage area under this hatch and included the hatch on all Capers, not just an additional upgraded. Fortunately, my dealer installed a bucket with a sponge under it while installing the hatch. That way when I can put things down there and they will not get wet or slide around in the hull.
Now for kayaks greatest flaw and not just the Caper. LEAKS! I bought my first Caper new and took it out for the first time only to discover it had major leaks in the scuppers. The dealer exchanged it for another new one that didn't leak. Satisfied, I went and bought a second Caper for family and friends to use and guess what. It also leaked from the scuppers and was exchanged for another one that didn't. Word to the wise, test your kayak (new or used) by getting a hose and filling the hull with water. If you see any leaks, you have a problem. TEST every time you are buying.
Overall, if Ocean Kayak improved the 6" center hatch, relocated the side handles to the outside, slightly enlarged the molded tank-well and improved their Quality Assurance the Caper would be flawless (perfect 10).
I recently bought a Caper and am very happy with it. Its light, easy to lift and easy to get on my car roof. It is also very stable and handles swells and chop very well. Finally, for a small boat, it has a large cockpit and is a comfortable ride. It tracks OK and is fast enough for me.
My only complaint is that the hatch is not completely waterproof, but this is a relatively minor problem. All and all, a very good and solid boat.
We spent about 2 hours fishing and decided to swap. I could not believe the effort I had to put into paddling to get that thing to move and if I stopped it didn't coast at all. We were in a pretty good chop and going into the wind, so I had to constantly paddle HARD. After spending two hours in the Prowler and enjoying paddling softly so my wife could keep up, I was now working my butt off. It was noisy going into the chop also, very noticeably compared to the Prowler. Comfort was also not as good and my wife changed her mind about getting the Caper and now wants a Prowler 13.
Inside handles, big tight hatch, lighter than anything else anywhere in the same price range, but still good weight capacity. I can even stick it in the 4-door Explorer if I want. About a foot hanging out of the back window if the front passenger seat is flipped forward.
Paddled the Little Econolahatchee River with an Orlando MeetUp group today. A little over 4 hours today. I couldn't have been happier if I was made out of chocolate. I knew going in that there was one thing I would change. Did, and really like it. For seat attachments I added click-buckles mid way of the straps. Leaving the brass clips (with half a click-buckle on the yak. This way, once adjusted, it takes just seconds to put in or take out the seat. Still have full adjustability, but don't have to relieve the settings to attach the seat. Same type buckles as on the hatch, just smaller. Got at "Big Old Bass Store" for just a few bucks. You only need a foot or so of web strap for each of the 4 brass clips.
Today I carried my gear and that of 3 friends and all stayed dry no problems. Snap on top rubber hatch lids that some yaks have just don't impress me. The lid on the Caper is really strong (In a pinch camping could be used for a basin). Had two sandwich totes in the tank well, but could have had a giant Coleman just as easily. I may add some luggage straps there, also. Just easier for my hands than bungees.
This yak is actually the Caper Angler, so has 2 good fishing rod holders already installed. Seat back has a good sized pocket on the back, with drain hole and overflapped zipper. Inside there is attached cord with a whistle, and a plastic hook clip for attaching valuables, like your pocket tool or waterproof flashlight. The paddle keepers on both sides are great. One for the paddle and one for a gator stick. (smile)
Footholes do fill with water, but that doesn't matter here in Florida. I like to stay wet, as it's hot here. That's ok, but the cup holder filled with water and my drink floated up and out. I will add a cat bag soon to keep camera and keys. Travel Country Outdoors is a long-time dealer on the North side of Orlando. They carry everything and have always been good to customers. They have an online store, too. I have a AquaBound carbone paddle and feel very confident keeping it in the paddle holder.
This is going to be my yak for a long time.
The boat has been mainly used for fly fishing. I followed many of PlasticNavy's rigging techniques, including using a 12qt Igloo in lieu of milk crate. There've been several occasions where the manuverability of the Caper has paid off, both fishing and non-fishing related. For example, on one occasion a large manatee snuck behind my boat, and with one sweeping paddlestroke I was able to turn 180 degrees and capture him on camera!
A couple of negatives. 1) the footrests and beverage holder collect and retain water, and 2) there is some wave slap due to the almost sponson-like hull.
My only complaint is water collects in foot rests, but I think wet boots will take care of that. It is very easy to transport for me. It is relatively faster than my first kayak and it gives you confidence in lake currents. I have not taken it to the ocean yet but I am sure it will handle calmer ocean very well. If you are looking for a recreational, light touring kayak I think this kayak is one of the best alternatives. I know, because I searched and compared many different possibilities.
When we arrived at the shop we pulled out a Caper and Drifter to compare and contrast; Karen took the Drifter and I launched the Caper to start. It became immediately apparent just how true the rumors of the wet ride for Drifter were. Karen found herself sitting in a pool of water the instant she launched into the calm bay and I was paddling around quite dry. The Caper proved to be a lot of fun at first glances. We took the Drifter back up to the shop and pulled down a Scupper Pro T/W – the fisherman’s choice when fishing an Ocean Kayak. By all comparisons the SPTW was a rocket ship compared to anything else. I cruised across the back bay area and in circles around Karen, now in the Caper. The SPTW has its appeal, for sure. Speed and secondary stability are the obvious standouts but the seat is narrow and the cockpit simply too short for my frame (I'm 6'4 and all legs). Additionally the length of this yak would have proven tricky when it came time to store it in our tiny, shared garage back at the apartment complex.
We both paddled the Caper a bit more and took it back to Allen’s with questions of pricing, warranties, etc. We took a week to really think it over and while we did so we paddled a Cobra Explorer but were not blown away. We called Allen with our order – 2 Capers, 1 in the color “Sky” the other in “Sunrise”. The fact that OK makes such a fantastic orange color sold me right off, to be honest. I’m such a sucker for orange. And before you laugh off this comment think about the importance color plays in your vehicle choices, wall paints or anything else. If you're not happy with the color then you're just not happy.
The Caper has all the great qualities you look for in a fishing kayak with a few fundamental perks that really put it in a class of it’s own. After paddling this yak for the past 12 months I believe it is the greatest offering for a lightweight (45 lbs), quick, maneuverable, fishing kayak that won’t break your budget or your back. It has its shortcomings, of course, but I feel the deficiencies are far outweighed by the pros.
At just 11’ it is a short boat by kayaking standards. The same hull shape and body style as the Drifter make this look like a true little brother to the larger offering from OK but the higher seat provides a level of comfort that blows away it’s older sibling. A very generous front hatch has plenty of room for a spare paddle and several fishing rods. Storing 7 1⁄2 foot rods is no problem and the width and stability of the Caper make retrieving those rods a cinch. The optional round hatch in front of the seat is a smart add-on as it provides a bit more easy-access storage space for small necessities (dykes, scale, tackle, etc). Also, it can’t go unmentioned that the cup holder is perfectly sized for your favorite brand of 12 oz canned beverage. A slightly larger water bottle (such as our REI 16 oz. Bottles) fit perfectly, too.
The tank well was a bit of a disappointment at first; it’s very narrow at the bottom with only 9 inches from edge to edge. The length is approximately 22 inches so upon first looks you imagine a very long, narrow bait tank or crate of some kind for storage. Fate stepped in here, for me, and provided a perfectly sized Coleman cooler that we found in Cabo San Lucas. I do not recommend traveling to Cabo for your cooler, however, as it will cost you well over a grand when you factor in airfare, hotel and mandatory cruiser and panga fishing. This cooler fits as though it were made for the well of the Caper itself. When I discovered this match-made-in-Mexico I immediately affixed a pair of PVC rocket launchers and drilled drainage holes in the bottom. I haven’t gone the last step and added a pump system but I imagine that will happen in due time.
The Caper is a dream to paddle. The weight and short body make navigating tight areas, such as around docks and between boats, child’s play. The first few times you paddle this kayak you may find it to be a bit zig-zaggy, again, this is because of the shorter hull and you will quickly adjust your paddle stroke to push the Caper straight and true (mostly). The hull tracks well and handles moderate wake like a champ. The width of the seat (all 30”) will handle even the most well endowed rump with comfort. This width also gives the Caper a stable ride so that even klutzes like me are able to stand upright and balance for a short time.
With two rod holders on my cooler and the Surf to Summit fishing seat I have a total of 4 rod holders behind my seat. I added one more to the center console of the kayak. There seems to be plenty of room for adding the screw-down type of rod holders but I have not heard of success with flush mounts. This is due to some special compromises made when designing a smaller kayak, of course, and some of the real-estate we would liked to have seen for flush mounts, or Ram balls just isn’t there.
The Caper is a small kayak and when you pile in a 200 lb paddler and another 40# of equipment you put it lower in the water. I've added scupper plugs in the seat to stop the steady ebb and flow of water in around the seat but Karen doesn't require this for her boat to stay above the water line. Ocean Kayaks signature "hull slap" is present in this boat, too. when fishing in windy conditions I take on a good deal more water than the longer kayaks do simply because the short bow doesn't deflect water well. This isn't a problem as those types of days don't occur often enough to really make this a huge detriment.
I've fished this boat off the shores of La Jolla, as well, and it punched through the surf like a champ. Rolling back in is easy, too, with the smaller frame handling nicely in waves. I dumped it once but that was my own fault for not paying any attention and getting swept up by a breaking wave when I thought I was behind the zone. Ha!
It has been said many, many times by people much more experienced than I am “There is no perfect fishing kayak” and that statement holds up under my scrutiny of the Caper. I will say, however, that the Ocean Kayak Caper is an excellent fishing kayak that deserves a place in the list for folks considering a first boat. With high points for ease of handling, stability, fishabililty and storage I’ll put this kayak up against most any for estuary, bay and flat water fishing.
The Caper has a pretty flat bottom, with gently curved lines. It too is a wonderfully stable boat. On utterly still water, the hull is absolutely silent. As I hoped, it tracks much better than the Frenzy (I went out with my friend) and is slightly faster. The smaller scupper holes don't harvest pond scum the way the Frenzy does. The seat is pretty high; I know I'm sitting in a little bit of water, but I don't really notice it. The footrest area and cupholder collect paddle drip, and there is no place for that to drain. I've paddled it once in choppy, windy conditions, and noticed that the hull doesn't deflect spray much, and the paddling was a little tougher, but I had no doubts about getting home. I carry it upside down on top of my car, without special carrying rack, and the straps tend to whip in the wind and beat on the roof on my car, which can be fixed with foam. It fits easily through the doors in my house and down into my basement for storage - another very big plus for me.
I grew up with a family canoe, and I have to say, it's wonderful to have a boat back in my life again. I would recommend the Caper to anyone, except the surfers, and whitewater river runners. The front hatch is well designed to deflect water to scupper holes, but is in no way waterproof.
The Caper has huge potentials, especially as the perfect fishing boat. The molded in tank well in the back is a must for fishing, and a hull accessible hatch in the front allows you to store storage below. Love to get one in the near future.
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