Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fishing Kayak Review: Hurricane Phoenix 140

My buddy Jory Pearson from Florida Paddlesports posted this review last winter of one of his best performing boats:

With kayak fishing becoming so popular these days, we are surrounded by a huge selection of sit-on-top kayaks on the market. Of all styles of kayaks, they still seem to be preferred among fisherman. There are two huge problems with this; 1: sit-on-top kayaks are usually very heavy and, 2: most of them just don’t paddle well. Most of the industry has given up performance for greater stability, at the demand of the customer. Those of us who are avid fishermen, but are actually kayakers as well, tend to be rather put-off by this trend in poor paddling fishing kayaks. In comes Hurricane...

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Your average 14ft sit-on-top kayak is over 70lbs, with some as high as 80lbs! Forget about what that weight does to performance; try getting that boat on top of your car after a day of fishing! NO THANKS! The Hurricane Phoenix 140 is 14ft and only weighs 52lbs. Yep, you heard it right. It’s 20lbs lighter than a traditional Poly (plastic) SOT kayak. That’ll save your back a bit. It achieves this weight by using a thermoformed Trylon material. I make it no surprise that I am a huge fan of Thermoformed kayaks. They offer UV protected, smooth repairable surface, and great weight savings, at usually the same price as Poly, or just a little more. It’s the perfect “Florida” material.

Now lets talk about performance. The Phoenix has a great hull design and uses a fantastic material that offers a very smooth run over the water. Combine that with a very light boat and you have a rocket of a SOT kayak! Coming from the world of touring kayaks, I tend to prefer sit-inside kayaks for general paddling and only use SOT’s for fishing. This is truly a kayak that I am very comfortable using for all of my kayak needs. Even as a fisherman, sometimes the fish just aren’t bitting, and you need to cover some distance to get to the fish. No problem in the Phoenix. It might actually turn you into a “kayaker."

While its a very stable kayak, you wont be standing up in it. You will feel very comfortable in the seat (which is included in the sale price). They designed the molding of the seat area to nicely hug you and provide a high lumbar support to the included seat. The molded seat turns an otherwise mediocre SOT seat into quite comfortable. Upgrade the seat and you may never want to get out of your kayak again. It’s comfy. The ride is very dry. The hull cuts through chop like a sea kayak. The Phoenix 140 also has a really clever scupper hole system. From the deck of the boat, it looks like a traditional SOT, there are two holes in the footwell and two holes in the tank well. Rather than dropping the water straight through the hull, there are tubes running from each of the scuppers on the deck to a single drain hole on the bottom of the hull. What this does wonderfully, is prevents the water from coming up through the scupper holes and getting the paddler wet. Most SOT’s rely on scupper plugs to prevent water from coming up into the cockpit. Brilliant design Hurricane!

If you are in the market for a Sit-on-top kayak, do yourself a favor and give this boat a try. At $1049, its the same cost as your average Poly SOT, with MUCH better performance and a lot sexier package. Oh yea, and your Grandmother can carry it!