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The Spike is for me the perfect one person dive kayak. At 12 feet and 49 lbs. it is easy to manage and put on a car rack or walk it to the water. I paddle with a 7/9mm wetsuit and this makes paddling a lot more difficult and the relative ease of paddling the Spike means I get places in half the time and with half the effort.
It sits low enough that it is easy to get back onto the boat after a dive and easy to slide your tank and BC into the rear well. The well is shaped for a dive tank and not a crate as the boat was designed for divers. There are two web straps with buckles to secure the scuba tank and BC in place instead of the bungee cords found on fishing kayaks.
Lots of padeyes around the boat that I use with short leashes to tie off my gear before entering the water and upon my return. Usually these are absent on dive kayaks and need to be added.
The side handles along with the 28" width of the Spike kayak make it a lot easier to lift overhead and place on a car rack than any other dive kayak I have used.
I knew after paddling the Ocean Kayaks across Carmel Bay where there is usually a very strong crosswind that I wanted a rudder. With the rudder I can apply equal force on both sides of the boat with the paddle and this is a lot less tiring. With the Ocean Kayaks boats I would often have to do repeated tacks to get across the bay and back into Stillwater Cove. In calm protected waters I would not need the rudder but I seldom dive in those conditions.
Someone who is used to a Ocean Kayak Scrambler or one of the other kayaks made for diving will find the boat tippy at first. Anyone who has used a good touring kayak or even a canoe will be used to this and appreciate the great secondary stability of the hull shape.
Without a doubt this is an incredible kayak for divers, scuba or free diving. For fishing there are purpose built fishing kayaks that will be better for that specific use and be prepared to have a kayak that weighs 50% to 150% more and will require the use of two people or a trolley to move it around.
For divers or day trippers the Spike is a perfect combination of performance in a easily managed 12' 49 lb. package.
The kayak edges nicely and turns very well. It turns especially well from the bow, with a bow rudder or draw stroke. There is a built-in skeg line in the rear which stiffens-up the rear and requires quite strong edge to release above water for turning "on a dime" (might be easier for a lighter paddler). But the kayak is short and with plenty of rocker, that it is overall very maneuverable even without special edging or skills.
Where I took it today for its first paddle is an easy class II water - the Chutes off Difficult Run rapids on the Potomac below Great Falls. And the Spike seems almost made for this - turns and maneuvers easy, stable, not too deep of a draft even with a heavier than ideal paddler in it, nice rocker in the front so it does not nose dive in waves, surfs little waves great. The bow is a nice rounded shape - not sharp - and is high up, so it feels loose on the water and the front of waves when surfing and currents when peeling out from eddies or cross-ferrying do not grab it. They would grab the rear more, but that helps with maintaining direction when cross-ferrying or surfing.
There are two hatch openings that lead to the inside of the kayak - there are no bulkheads, so the entire inside is one big open space. There is a minicell pillar in the center between the deck and hull inside, which stiffens the bottom nicely.
I don't like the screw on type covers, as they are hard to screw and unscrew, especially when there is a bit of sand in the threads. The front is a neoprene cover under hard shell. I am not sure yet which of the two covers leaks, but there was perhaps a couple of gallons of water inside the hull at the end of my one hour not the water. The rim on the front hatch is a two-piece design (screwed to the deck) so I would not be surprised if some water gets in through there. I could not see any visible leak points, the scupper holes are water tight, so it is probably coming through the hatches. Granted, I had both of them completely under gushing whitewater more than once today, but I still think more than a cup or two of water is too much to enter the hull. Will have to track the source and deal with it.
The seat is comfortable. There are enough tie down points to rig bungees and thigh straps (will definitely get some as I intend to surf it when the water level comes up a bit on the river). The kayak is very controllable without thigh straps - I had no problems surfing small waves, eddy-hopping, attaining upriver, going down through 2-foot waves, etc. but if you get side surfed in a hole and the like - need thigh straps to avoid flipping.
The only complaint I have is that the foot wells are a couple of inches too short for me. But I am very tall, 6'4" with 37" inseam (measured by road bike method). For white water, even for me the length is OK, but for a more relaxed paddling I would prefer one more notch of length. So for anyone shorter than 6' there should be no problem. Wide soled sandals will not fit in the foot wells, but whitewater paddling shoes will. This might seem like a drawback, but it is in fact a feature - the foot wells hold surprisingly little water when the kayak gets swamped by waves, so the water drains fast and the kayak does not get too heavy and much harder to handle when temporary swamped.
Lastly, this is not a fast kayak, being only 12.5' long, but for its length it is speedy and easy to paddle at a decent pace. For me 28" (or whoever wide this is) is WIDE, but for such a short kayak with lots of flare on the sides, I suppose it is a necessity to be able to handle weight and still have relatively slim lines below the waterline for efficient paddling.
I suppose, new paddlers will need a moment to figure out that the kayak gets more stable as they tilt it. Unlike say some Cobra kayaks that are as stable as it gets when they are flat, but become unsettled in bumpy waters and their edges catch currents easy.
So, this is a "paddler's" kayak, a joy to paddle, relatively lightweight, and very maneuverable while still tracking well enough to not require undue attention. One could fish from it fine, but not with a huge rig - there are no rod holders installed and limited space for gear is available. One can mount accessory rails as a way around this. But why would you fish from it if you can just paddle it for the simple joy of being in a responsive and lively kayak?
This is not a fishing kayak by any means. It seems tippy at first but once you learn the angles you can really get this boat moving and use the rounded bottom to maneuver this boat much faster then other boats of its size. It is not a fishing boat by any means. This is a cruiser, has plenty of speed, maneuvers excellent and is well suited for the lakes, rivers, and ocean. The biggest bonus comes if you see any waves on this yak! Enjoy the ride!!
I have also owned a Perception Prism. Again, fairly fast but very hard to turn. And wind makes it drift sideways - not a good thing for fishing.
I had read rave reviews of the Spike on the Ft Lauderdale yakfishing page, and decided to try it. It an absolute joy for my purposes. It is 28 inches wide, but has a lot of flare to the sides, so it is only about 20 inches wide at the bottom. Initial stability is low for a SOT boat, but just fine if you are already used to a "real" kayak. Final stability is great - I can sit sideways on the boat with both feet hanging in the water, no problem. It tracks well and due to low wetted surface area is very easy to paddle at about 3-3.5 mph. However, it is only 12 feet long, so top speed is perhaps 4.5 or 5mph, and no more, no matter how hard you paddle (my Coho can probably reach 7-8 mph in a sprint).
But as a fishing boat, this thing excels. It paddles easily, has lots of flat deck space and a rear tankwell to carry stuff, and turns on a dime (two easy sweeps to spin 180 degrees). I have the rudder kit, which is totally unnecessary when paddling - the boat tracks well without it. But when I start to fish, I drop the rudder and use it to control the boat's drift. That drift is generally slow because the boat sits low, and the rudder lets me fish long drifts along the shoreline without having to put down the rod to paddle.
The Spike has a high flared bow, and lots of rocker, so it should go through surf very well, for the times when I take it to the Texas coast for trout or redfish.
So I sold the Prism, and haven't regretted it for an instant. The Spike is a great fishing kayak if it fits you (max height about 6 feet because of a somewhat short cockpit), and an agile, responsive playboat as well. If you are larger, try another boat. If you are timid of tippiness (any really serious sea kayak SHOULD be tippy), either buy another boat or get a Spike and grow to love it.
BTW, I also rented a WS Tarpon 160 to try it, and it is a barge compared to the Spike. Again, if I weighed 230, I might not feel that way.
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