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I have been kayak fishing for the last ten years and I have owned many kayaks. I have been paddling the Stealth 12 for the last year at a minimum of twice a week. Many of the negatives you may read about are regarding the older Malibu Models. Malibu has taken everyone's advice and made the improvements which I find is a great feature about this company.
Some say on the 12' model there is no room anywhere to mount accessories:
I have been able to mount a gps/fishfinder combo without being in the way of the cupholder and there is ample room for scotty rodholders anywhere you can put your mind to it, I am not sure what other items may need to be mounted but I can promise there is plenty of room. I also like the option of buying the X-wing to mount accessories I may not always use but like to option of clicking the unit on when I need it. Keep it simple, however I can promise you that whenever your heart wants to put on this kayak, you will find room.
Difficulty keeping the seat tight:
This all depends on which seat you use, many of the Crack of Dawn seats now have an additional two straps that prevent the seat from sliding forward like I used to battle in my old Emotion kayak. This is not affected by the kayak itself. Many kayaks do not come with a seat at purchase which allows you to pick what is right for you, I recommend the Crack of Dawn Spider Angler Seat, most comfortable thing out there!
Leaks, Leaks, Leaks:
This has been the major concern you will read about in many places. I have fished out of at least 15-20 different kayaks and have yet to find one where the hull stays completely dry. I can attest to the older model Stealth's weakness being the minor leakage, this is not due to the gator hatch though, if you use the bungee on the front properly it gets a great seal. The leakage occurs when you take water over the side and since there are two side hatches water can find its way in there. There have been modifications made to this on the newer models so it's not an issue anymore. I would rather have those hatches and put up with two teaspoons of water rather than not have those hatches at all. IF you fish the flats or calm lakes you don't need to worry about this at all as the kayak sits higher off the water than other kayaks, I am 5'9 220 and probably load the yak down with another 50 pounds.
many kayaks do not come with a seat or paddle, unless itís a beginner kayak. The fact this boat already comes with rod holders is a blessing. As for the livewell pump, I would hold off on that until you take it out on a few trips. In many cases you only need a strainer in the livewell scupper to make sure your bait doesn't swim out, I can just open the hole and the water flows freely through keeping several dozen shrimp alive all day. If youíre feeling crazy just add a battery operated bubbler in it. The possibilities are unlimited with this yak.
Water coming in the scuppers:
This issue was posted by someone who has never been in a kayak, there is an easy remedy though. It can be fixed two different ways, foam golf balls will fit in the hole and stop water from coming in, this is great for the flats and clam water fishermen. If you fish in the ocean and plan on taking on a lot of water, scupper plugs may not be an option since you will want your kayak to self-bail, which is what scupper holes are for. I have fished the popular kayaks like the Hobie Outfitter and Revolution and pro Angler, WS Tarpon 140 and 120, and many others, weighing 220 pounds I have found one kayak that does not suck in a ton of standing water in the tank-well through the scuppers, that would be the Stealth 14 footer (thatís right, not the 12) I have both sizes. If you are 200 lbs. or lighter you won't need to worry about this. *
Plastic Nicks and Scratches:
They all nick and scratch when made of plastic. My only problem with the surface texture of a brand new kayak is that I need to smooth it out with an abrasive to add all my sponsor's stickers. I like the 12 footer for being lighter and quick to get up and going without compromising stability.
When shopping for a kayak write down the 5 most important things to you that you want out of a kayak, and find a yak that caters to them. For me it's the Stealth because important factors to me at stability, riggability, ample storage, ability to take out daughter or dog, and can handle ocean conditions.
It is short enough to be easily carried, stored, and maneuver small flowing waters. However, it is still fast, tracks well, and is stable enough to easily be able and stand and fish. At 6', 190 lbs, I have no problem standing and fishing. In fact, during my very first trip in the Stealth I was able to stand and fly fish with no problems.
It has great storage, lots of nice features for fishermen, and is lightweight. So far, it has handled class II+ rapids, shallow rocky river stretches, high wind conditions on lakes, pond hopping and everything else thrown at it. You can't go wrong with this boat!
I first put the Stealth in our pool the night I purchased it to check the stability. WOW!!! It surpassed my expectations and I had a Ocean Kayak Drifter and have a Tarpon 130T (I fish solo from the middle position) and Mini-X. These are three of the wider Kayaks made. The Stealth blew them away in stability! The Mini-X comes in second but the extra length does make a difference. I could walk forward and back, in circles, etc. without getting dumped or even feeling close to getting dumped. The crazy thing is I can stand dead center on the bait hatch and it is even more stable than my feet placed out at the widest point (which is very stable)! I crawled quickly up to the front and even opened the awesome gator hatch and climbed in and then crawled to the back (not slowly) and sat in the back tank well comfortably. This thing is SOLID and STABLE.
The following day I went evening fishing and paddling in the Lower Laguna Madre (Bay - Gulf of Mexico). I was even more impressed at the stability through moderate waves. It had better glide than the other four Kayaks and tracked very well without a rudder. I am glad I went for the 12 instead of the 14 as turning was agile as well (have heard the 14 is sluggish).
I would consider this to meet all expectations as THE BEST FISHING KAYAK MADE! I would recommend without hesitation, my friend with a 2010 Tarpon 160 is jealous at the stability and ride in a 12' 4" package! No regrets on this one and if I won a prize of any Kayak in the world, I would pick another Stealth 12 without hesitation! I picked the Yellow and it is Sweet. I have had two yellow Ocean Kayaks and Malibu's yellow is crisper and looks great while being highly visible to other watercraft. Buy one with confidence that your getting the best! If in South Texas, look into calling Efren at SPI Kayaks (shop in La Feria - rentals at South Padre), he's a great dealer of many brands and I wouldn't buy from anyone else.
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