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Rigging

Some of you may remember I got a new toy for the Cuda awhile back, the Power-Pole Micro anchoring system:

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I’d love to give a review on it, but unfortunately it has been sitting in that box in my garage, unused, for several months.  I haven’t gotten a chance to use it because there wasn’t an easy way for me to mount it on the Cuda.  The Power-pole Micro comes with it’s own adjustable bracket mount, but another bracket is still needed to get it to fit right/anchor properly on the back of the Cuda.  My options were to fab something up of my own or wait patiently until a commercial mounting bracket was available.  I chose to wait because I trust the folks at YakAttack a heck of a lot more than I trust myself when it comes to kayak rigging.  I also didn’t mind waiting because I really didn’t want to have to run power to the unit and I knew a battery pack for the Power-Pole would be available in October.  So with the bracket for the Cuda now offered by YakAttack online, it will be sooner than later that I will get a chance to use it!

The installation of the bracket is actually really easy, the hardest part is getting over the fear of drilling holes in a kayak.  It doesn’t matter what I’m installing on a kayak there is a lump in my throat every time I put that drill bit(or rivet gun) to the plastic – you’d think by now this would be no big deal for me, but that’s not the case.  So I always measure and line everything up a trillion times before I do anything. Here is what is included from YakAttack:

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No instructions came with the mounting bracket.  I’m not sure if that was an oversight or the product is so new that none have been typed up, but you’re in luck because Damon Bungard of Jackson Kayak has already posted an instructional video going through the process with a prototype mount.:

Tools you’ll need:

– Drill

– Phillips head screwdriver

– 15/64 drill bit

– 7/16 socket or open ended wrench

As you can see in the video it is pretty simple, so simple you probably don’t even need instructions.  The main thing is to just line the bracket up parallel with the handle on the left.  The bigger holes that mount the YakAttack bracket go over the kayak, while the smaller holes, which are for the Micro anchor, sit with two of the holes over the water.  The bigger holes on the right follow the contour of the boat:

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Then drill your first hole:

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After the first hole is drilled you can mount the first screw to make sure the rest of your holes line up. Remember you’re drilling into the bigger holes, not the smaller ones:

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When you have all four holes drilled and and your screws in place, you can open the rear hatch of the Cuda and tighten down the locking nuts:

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With the YakAttack bracket mounted and tightened you can now install the Power-pole mount, with screws that come in the YakAttack mounting kit:

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As you can see the YakAttack mounting bracket is designed to work with or without a rudder, as the Power-Pole will anchor off to the right side of the boat.  Installation was super easy and with the YakAttack bracket it was super clean as well. I look forward to getting that battery pack in so I can finally put this anchor to use and see what the fuss is all about.

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Like the Coosa HD, the last new boat from Jackson at OR this year is the Cuda LT.  Unlike the Coosa HD the deck layout will not be very different from that of a normal Cuda.  The big difference comes in hull material.  This is Jackson’s first thermoformed boat and you can bet it will be much lighter than their rotomolded boats.  The Cuda LT is estimated to come in somewhere around 50lbs and due to the thermoform process will be a different size than the normal Cuda.  Expect the 12′ version to be a few inches longer – being lighter and longer, that should make for a faster boat as well.

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Here is a short walkthrough video of JK’s new boats from Damon up at the OR show:

The Outdoor Retailer show is happening this week and we are starting to see/hear a lot more about what is being offered from Jackson Kayak next year.  We knew they planned to introduce four new kayaks – two being the Kraken and the Realtree Kilroy – which were featured on the site last week.  The other two I’ll talk about this week.  One is a boat that is sure to excite the river crowd, but has my interest peaked for inshore use as well, that’s the Coosa HD.  I really enjoyed the old Coosa, had one for a couple years, it was the best river boat I’ve ever been in.  It wasn’t the boat you want for inshore fishing though and when the Cuda came out it was an easy decision to make the switch.  But seeing the new Coosa HD has me rethinking that logic.

Coosa_HDMainly because this new Coosa will be 4-6″ longer than the last and that center console you see is removable and opens up to a flat deck – standing room galore.  Other features/tweaks include better tracking, multiple seating positions, tweaks to the JK Elite seat, twin camera mounts in the rear, YakAttack rails all around, a molded rear handle, a bungee-less hinged front hatch, the tube style rod tip protection you find on the Big Rig, plus it is Powerpole ready.  Looking at the top view I can see why some folks are dubbing this the Big Rig Jr.  That’s a ton of features packed into a 12′ boat.  Drew did a short walkthrough on the boat at the OR demo day, check it out:

It is still just a prototype for now, so things can change, but I’m pretty excited about this boat.  For more on the Coosa HD, check out this Kayak Fish article.

Update (02-26-15) – Now that the Coosa HD is shipping a new walk through video has been produced.  It is worth a look if you are considering this boat:

As you all are probably aware, I’ve been out.  Away on a vacation that didn’t include any fishing – shocking, I know.  I had a great time too.  I’ll share some pics soon, but a lot of other things happened in my absence.  The IFTD/iCAST show was last week and we saw a lot of new product hit the streets(pardon the drug reference).  Jackson Kayak wasn’t in attendance, they will be at Outdoor Retailer in August, but that didn’t stop them from making a few announcements.  We found out they will be coming out with their own line of coolers, Orion Coolers – made in their factory in Sparta, TN.  Like their kayaks, Orion Coolers will be outfitted to the nines straight from the factory.  They will come with YakAttack rails, aluminum bottle opener tie downs, and a non-skid standing pad.  Expect to see them this Fall, in a 25, 45, 65, and 85 quart capacities.

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As I mentioned in the last post, I got my start in a Pelican Castaway, which is not a bad boat to start in:

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The most important thing about the Pelican Castaway is it got me on the water, and for cheap.  It had terrible stability and paddled like a wet noodle, but I didn’t know any better and it floated, so I didn’t care. I had it for a little over a year before I found another good deal to pounce on that gave me a chance to upgrade.  A lot of good fish were caught out of the Pelican that year, which really helped indoctrinate me into the kayak fishing lifestyle.  I went from the Pelican Castaway to a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120.

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The Tarpon 120 was an excellent upgrade.  You could just look at it and tell it was a better boat than the Pelican.  It was a faster boat, with better tracking.  The quality of the build was so much better than that of the Pelican.  The Tarpon was the quintessential sit-on-top fishing kayak a few years prior to my purchase of the boat.  It was a great boat for me.  It helped that I got a great deal on it too.  Bought it off Craigslist from an old guy with a camp.  The only time he used it was when the camp flooded and he needed a way to get to and from his vehicle.  You can still find essentially the same boat in the Perception Pescador.  The downside to the Tarpon was the stability was not enough that I could stand and fish from it.  It also was not very comfortable to sit in on long trips.  I had the Tarpon for two years and like the Pelican actually made money on it when I sold it.  I got rid of it because I found another great deal on a boat – one that would allow me to stand and sight fish in, but still handle the rivers that we liked to fish.  Capt. Danny Wray put a couple of his Native Ultimate 12’s for sale and the deal was too good to pass up.  I called up my dad to see if he wanted one then made the drive down to Grand Isle and picked up both kayaks from Capt. Danny.

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Owning the Ultimate finally gave me a boat I could stand and fish from.  I had actually gotten pretty good at kneeling and sight fishing from the Tarpon, but that does a number to the knees.  With the Ultimate I also got to experience the comfort of a nice, semi-elevated seat.  Getting my butt off the boat and having my feet lower than my knees while seated helped me to be comfortable longer.  I learned how to stand and sight fish from the Ultimate, it was a great boat for the marsh, and still is.  The Ultimate turned out to be an outstanding boat.  It wasn’t as fast as the Tarpon, but it tracked well.  It was light and easy to transport.  What I didn’t like about the Ultimate was that the standing area was not flat.  With the tunnel hull you had to put your feet in the tunnels and after a while they became cramped.  I also didn’t find it to paddle too well in swift water.  I fell out a few times, which in all likely hood was more my fault than the boat’s.  I actually didn’t own the Ultimate for very long, maybe half a year.  An incredible opportunity came up at that time to join my friend Drew Gregory on the Jackson team and I couldn’t pass it up.  He assured me that the Coosa would be a good fit for me and they wanted to see what it could do in the marsh.  That winter I made a trip up to the Jackson factory, learned about the company and how kayaks are made, met some of the other team guys and of course picked up my new boats.

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The Coosa was a really fun boat.  Like the Ultimate, it was stable enough to stand and fish from and had the elevated seat that was comfortable to be in from the start of the trip to the finish.  The deck was wide open so standing was comfortable and fly fishing was very easy to do – no snags.  The Coosa is the best handling boat I’ve ever been fished out of, making it  the perfect swift water boat.  It’s home is in rivers and that is where it shines.  It performed well enough in the marsh that I didn’t notice a drop off in performance when coming from the Ultimate.  Where it lacked was it’s open water performance.  With it’s low draft and tall bow, it can catch wind like a sailboat and on open, windy ponds you can expect to be blown to the bank in no time.  The only time this was an issue for me was tournament time because tournament weather is always terrible.  It is a better paddling boat in open water when you weigh down the front of the bow a bit to get it in the water.  I figured that out because as I would catch and keep fish in the front hatch the boat was easier to paddle as the day progressed.  I owned a Coosa up until the Cruise came out from Jackson.  Like I said earlier, it is a fantastic river boat and I owned one just for that purpose.  It wasn’t long after the Coosa came out that the Cuda followed.  The Cuda, in both the 12 and the 14 ft versions has been my go-to boat in the marsh ever since.

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The Cuda has been an incredible boat for me, handling everything pretty well.  The 12 foot version you can take anywhere.  Not as fast as the 14, it is every bit as stable though.  The Cuda is a great platform to stand and fish from.  I have a love/hate relationship with the center hatch.  It catches fly line when fly fishing but that is easily solved by placing something over it, like a towel or a shirt.  I do love the center hatch for storage – whether that be fish or tackle.  No need to turn around and put your center of gravity somewhere other than where it needs to be.  The 14 is a bit faster and provides a bigger front hatch that I find more usable than the small hatch of the 12.  It is heavier though and not as easy to transport as the 12.  The 12 balances really well overhead because the weight is centered on the side carry handles.  You’ve got to compensate for that on the 14 (the Cruise too).  Both the 12 and the 14 have been great boats for the marsh and are better options than the Coosa for inshore fishing.  The Coosa is still the better river boat though.  I owned both until I saw a good compromise between the two was introduced from Jackson – enter the Cruise.

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The Cruise, to me, is a simplified version of the Cuda.  I’ve always been drawn to 12-13 ft boats because they seem to be best size that does river and marsh fishing well.  They are also easier to store when living in a condo, which why I never had a boat over 13 ft until we built our first house and actually had a garage.  Like the Coosa there is no center hatch on the Cruise, which is a good thing for the fly fisher.  It also has the bigger front hatch found on the Cuda 14 – a much better option for dry storage than the small hatch.  The quick day hatch between the legs is convenient and stays dry.  The big plus on the Cruise is the price – right around $900.  In my opinion it is a hell of a boat for $900.

I started carrying two boats once we built our house and I’ve settled in on a Cuda 14 and a Cruise – for now.  The Cruise is great for the river and those small freshwater ponds I like to fish where the Cuda 14 is at home on inshore bays and in the marsh.  As a second boat the Cruise is a good boat in the marsh if I have someone that wants to tag along or if I’m looking to solely fly fish – that’s what I’ll take.  I’m sure another one day soon enough another boat will come along that catches my eye, but for the fishing that I like to do I can’t think of two better options than the Cruise and the Cuda 14.