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The ride is very stable and secure with enough cockpit space to stand up if needed. I use scupper plugs on all my yaks unless taking them into the surf, so water leakage was not a problem. You can transport this craft pretty easy with it only weighing around 57lbs which is on the low end for a 12' yak. I recommend this kayak for fishing or a stable boat for family use.
Cons: wetter than most but it's low ride increases stability, and ease of getting in and out of, close to 60 lbs need some help or some muscle to put it on top of car. Scuppers help keep it dry a modified self draining scupper fits but it will still hold water by your feet if you are 200+ lbs. Note: make sure the hatch in front of seat is tight or it will leak and you will need to add sealed containers in the hatch bags or your stuff will get wet If you want an inexpensive well made boat that is good at several things you will love it. If staying dry is high on your needs list look elsewhere you can't modify it to be completely dry.
Con's: Can be wet ride if you don't plug the scupper hole in front. I use a piece of pool noodle and it makes the ride completely dry. I have trouble making it track straight, but that is probably my paddling technique more than the boat.
All in all a great fishing boat for the money. Another similar boat to consider would be the Perception Pescador at Acadamy, depending on what features you were looking for.
The tracking is a little tricky until you really get going. The free seat it comes with was great for free but I have upgraded that. My wife Emotion Mojo tracks a lot better and does have a higher and dryer ride.
The price is right at Dicks at 529 if you compare prices for anglers you will either end up with something small or or way more expensive. The rod holders are in great position and the tankwell has plenty of room. The front hatch is big enough to get a lot of gear in and out. I like the lower ride of this boat because it doesn't move around as much as the Mojo in the wind. A scupper plug solves the little bit of water that comes in but even with water in the boat it stays at your feet and away from you butt. As many have said this is a water sport.
Overall I am pleased with my purchase and I feel that when I do decide to upgrade I can sell it on Craigslist for very little loss. I only give this an 8 because of the big brothers out there for a thousand dollars plus. But if I compared of with similar priced boats of would be a 10 for sure.
It has plenty of storage...front hatch and 2 hatches with dry bags. There is also a nice space in the rear that I keep a milk crate in, and I still have room for other stuff behind that if I want. The location and design of the rod holders is perfect, and all are easy to access. I haven't had any issues with water through the scupper holes...I mean, there is water that comes through but just a little. My butt never gets wet unless a boat gets too close and the wake is very big. I've had one time where the entire kayak filled up with water due to a boat not seeing me around a bend and came about 15-20 feet from me and I almost flipped. I was able to stay up, but the kayak took on as much water as it possibly could. The water eventually made it out through the scupper holes. The main hatch up front only had a small amount of water in it. The 2 hatches with dry bags were just OK. I had a phone and camera in them, and neither was waterproof. The bag felt wet, but it wasn't holding any water in it. The camera and phone both still work, and were only slightly damp.
I've fished for up to 10 hours in a day and found this kayak to be pretty comfortable. My butt hurts a little after sitting too long, but I have managed to be able to stand up in my kayak in calm conditions with no problem, or just get up on my knees if I need to stretch a little without getting out. I am 5'7" and 175 lbs. This kayak is perfect for me, and is a good choice, and does exactly what I need it to do.
I have had this boat now for about three years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The sights we have seen and the fish we have caught I would not trade it for nothing. I am a heavy weight, 280-300 lbs. and because this the boat rides a little low in the water. I would estimate that the water line comes up to within 4-4.5" of the top of the gunwell. But I have tried to get it to flip and it would take a lot to do so or a lot of water inside the boat would make it easy.
I have recently decided to buy a new boat and was going to sell it but I just could not bring myself to sell it. To buy this boat equipped and spend $450-$500 is a deal it is well worth the money in experiences and pleasure and of course the fishing ain't bad either. This boat was my first and the first fishing trip we paddled from one end of the lake to the other and wore me out!!
It has ample storage and plenty of places for fishing rods. The seat and the wet ride are the only drawbacks. I traded up on the seat for better back support. As far as the wet ride... well this is a water sport!!
I have found it to be an excellent fishing kayak. Handling, tracking, stability and speed are all suitable for me. Storage is more than adequate for my needs. I don't find the side handles to interfere with paddling at all, but that could be due to the way I fit into the yak, my height, whatever.
As far as the scupper holes are concerned, a pack of foam practice golf balls will take care of that easily OR a pool noodle will yield enough scupper plugs to last a lifetime.
I'm very happy with it and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.
I would highly recommend buying the newer typed scupper plugs made by Ocean Kayak (the blue ones). With these little or no water comes into the boat. As others have mentioned, the boat feels low in the water which to me is a plus for fishing. It also makes exit and reentry easier.
For the money, it is a great value. I've used several OK models such as the Drifter, Scupper Pro and my Scrambler XT as well as a couple of the more expensive Hobie peddle models. Each has their pros and cons. For the money, you can't go wrong with the Caster.
Tracks good, stable enough in the class I stuff, and makes good speed in the flat water. I weigh 250 and I am 6'3", so I realize I make a good load, but it still was a wetter ride than I really expected. I know, several ratings warned me, but my feet were in a constant inch and a half of water the entire time. Not a problem in the river, but I expect it won't be as comfortable at the coast. I am going to try scupper plugs and a sponge on the next outing. But, overall, I still rate the kayak as a great buy and I am glad I got it. Dick's Sporting Goods has them on sale right now for $499. That is half of the Wilderness boats, which are very similar. Hope this review helps someone. Now I am going to change out of my wet swimsuit.
This yak does have the tendency to weathercock pretty bad (without the rudder). It is a stable fishing platform, and paddles about as good as you would expect for a fishing sot. Don't expect to cruise with the higher line sit ins. Good avg length. Very easy to upfit (i/e depth finder, batteries, Rod holders, etc). Under deck storage always stays very dry. As with any sot you have to expect to get wet. But all in all it is pretty dry for what it is. And I feel it is a good value for the money. Would buy again.
My buddy didn't buy the same boat his is a pelican and it's OK but I love my boat and I'm glad I chose the caster. I wish the forward storage was a lot dryer though. We have been fishing the local lakes, this spring/summer I would like to try several new lakes and maybe some ocean; the ocean would be interesting. I don't think I will try that without a guide you don't get to make to many mistakes on the ocean. I have to plug my scupper hole too. Mine is yellow and black so it can be seen. Last summer I had a fellow in a motor boat try to swamp me but my boat just rode the waves and I smiled and waved back.
As for the kayak itself...the shell is designed ALMOST identical to the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 (same hull design, same bow hatch, same cockpit/rear hatch placement, very similar cockpit...basically the same layout, I think Perception might be the 'affordable' version of Wilderness Systems...). Fished it with my buddy today who has a WS Tarpon 120...the boats are damn near identical!
Now for the finer points: 1) Large forward bow hatch, 6in screw-in hatch in the cockpit, another behind the seat. 2) Large tankwell that holds a milk-crate perfectly. 3) Two flushmount rod holders rear of the seating area 4) Adjustable footpegs. 5) Factory installed Scotty Base w/rod holder forward of the seating area. 6) Molded cup holder 7) Tarpon has the built in seatback...Caster lacks this, which is fine by me as I like the high-back seat I purchased which isn't really that compatible with the installed seatback. I'd say this is something the Caster holds over the Tarpon 8) The kayak isn't incredibly heavy at all...I have no problems loading/unloading it solo. 9)Plenty of flat surfaces to mount custom options (more Scotty mounts, Ram accessories, perhaps a rudder?)
Now here's a few things I've noticed. The kayak cruises very well under normal conditions, however I carry a large battery in the forward hatch for my electronics (when I do bring them), and that extra weight in the front can make the kayak a bit difficult to turn (I'll be getting a lighter battery soon). Also, this kayak only has TWO scupper holes: One in the tankwell, and one forward of the seating area (in-front of the hump) in the cockpit...the cockpit one can present a problem as the seating area is recessed, and if you take some waves over the side, you'll basically be sitting in a puddle (I don't mind it...keeps me cool in the summer). Although having flushmounts is nice, I find they aren't very functional when I have my milk-crate on board, as they are angled straight back as opposed to at an angle, so the crate gets in the way (not a big deal, ordered the Scotty inserts and two more Scotty Rod holders). It's pretty stable (I can stand up and scan the area and decide where I want to cast...if it's not too windy/choppy I can stand up and actively sight-fish while drifting).
In a nutshell, if you're in the market for a kayak and don't wanna shell out too much money this kayak is definitely worth a look.
Pros - Stable, quiet, cruised good against the current, low profile but stays mostly dry (only one wave got on my seat), comfortable, adjustable pedals (not the multiple steps that push against your heel, or side of your foot, plenty storage, able to comfortably hang legs out, options savings of at least $150.
Cons - no drain to the seat area (holds about a glass of water under your butt, but who cares when your behind is going to get wet anyway;). Can't wait to take it out on longer trip, will buy same again.
During hard paddling my oar rubbed the grab handles on the sides. Their location was right while carrying the boat. When water enters the seat area it stays there and won't drain to the scupper. Not a major problem. Most of the day the seat stayed dry until I got out in the bay where the chop was high and the wind was strong.
I can stand up on the Caster and I can sit on the side with my legs dangling over the side without any tipping. The Caster is very stable. My 60lb. son rides in the back and doesn't effect the handling at all. I bought it on an end of season clearance for $450. cant beat that.
Just got back from Cape Hatteras, NC. It was a fantastic trip the Caster Kayak handle very well in the surf and after I cleared the breakers it was a smooth ride. The fish were not biting, but I still had a lot of fun.
I also tried the Kayak out in the sound where I caught fish spotted trout flounder and a puppy drum. It was a fantastic week. I love my Kayak. My next trip will be trout fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains...
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