Back many years ago, the only real options were the Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro and the Wilderness systems Ride.
Years later, the ability to stand and fish became of importance for anglers. The most notable offering at this time came from Native Watersports with the Ultimate 12 and 14.
To answer this demand for stable, easy to stand in "kayaks" this past few years some manufacturers have come out with what I like to call "PPFC" short for Personal Paddle Fishing craft.
They call them Hybrid. Not kayaks, not canoe either, they defy all definition of kayak or canoe. These are great options if your goal is strictly fishing in comfort and style.
While I love my canoes, there are some great offerings by a few manufactures that really seem to understand fly fishing and the unique needs for those that stalk the flats.
In this brief review of my favorites, I have excluded all pedal drive PPFC's due to the fact that they are a fly line management nightmare.
While you can Fly Fish out of any canoe or kayak, be it a big box store Crappola 12 or any other thing that floats. There are pros and cons to every option.
The good news is the main features that I find attractive are built into many PPFC's-
- Stability- Primary and secondary stability is built right into these hulls. While the hull designs differ between the brands, they all offer this important attribute for the next point.
- Easy to paddle/pole- With the stability that other SOT (sit on top) kayaks can't offer, the PPFC is like an aircraft carrier when it comes time to stand, pole the flats and deliver the fly, all this without the need to add on costly and inconvenient stabilizer systems.
- Nice flat standing area that is snag free- For the fly fishing angler, this is of great importance. Trying to stand on curved, uneven surfaces takes a toll on your feet and do not allow you to comfortably change your position to face the target. As far as snags go, I'm sure many of you experienced the frustration of shooting a cast only to have it fall short of the target because the line got tangled on a foot peg, hatch cover or latches.
- Comfortable- The seats have come a long way and offer comfort like riding in a luxury car. The sitting position is more natural with your feet placed well below your hips. They are adjustable not only to recline as needed, but also in some cases, raise and lower. Some can swivel left to right. Lumbar support, extra storage for things like fly boxes and other necessities are also offered. Many can also be taken out to pull double duty for use as a camp chair.
- Plenty of well thought out storage- Places for fly boxes, tippet material, hatches with pull out bins that allow you to stow items like camping gear inside the hull. Additional storage on the rear of the seat are offered on many. Places for coolers or a crate, some have their own that can be used as seats and even poling platforms.
With all the great features built into the PPFC's, below are the downsides.
- Weight- Average weight at around 80 to 100 lbs. makes for a tough chore loading, unloading and portage to and from the water. If you plan on purchasing a PPFC you might want to consider dusting off your gym membership. Keep in mind most average at 12 feet in length.
- Cost- Average cost of most premium PPFC's are at base cost without all the nice fancy options are around $1200 to $1800, pricing many out of their market.
- Single role capability/Utility- The main goal of these water craft is this; fishing comfortably. Weekend camping may be impossible although there are a few exceptions. Given their weight, going for that quick spur of the moment paddle may give you pause.
Check them out and see if any are right for you.
Top of the line SIT ON TOP P.P.F.C.
1st place- Jackson Kayaks Mayfly
With it's bow and stern hatches, generous tank well and various attachment points for coolers. This includes their proprietary design which can do triple duty as a seat, poling platform and as a camp chair. Mayfly offers the real possibility of weekend camping and fishing in comfort and style!
There are two horizontal fly rod parks that keep the tips safe and outfits secure. The foot rest is designed to prevent the flyline from snags. The floor of the cockpit is nice and flat. On the port and starboard side walls are secure places to store fly boxes with your favorites as well as under seat storage for various items you'll need for you day on the water. The seat I feel is the best available.
The Mayfly offers the most options for the money minus their cooler which will set you back another $200.
Don't need to take my word for it. I'll let Jackson Kayaks do the talking and you'll see why I fell in love with this boat. If I had to pick one, the Mayfly would be my choice.
Click HERE for more info and be sure to watch the video.
2ND Place- NuCanoe Pursuit
The Pursuit has plenty of storage space on deck in addition to a bow hatch allowing access to the hull interior. The seat raises and lowers, swivels 180 degrees and can be removed for use as a camp chair. Where the angler stands is nice and flat with nothing to snag the fly line.
It does have quite a wide beam and is quite heavy but car topping is doable if your careful with your lifting technique.
This year NuCanoe has a new model worth looking at; The feature packed Flint which is reported by company reps will start at base cost a reasonable $999.
I'm sure they will have the Flint on their website soon.
See more about the NuCanoe Pursuit HERE.
3rd Place- Bonafide Kayaks
Bonafide rolled out their new offering at the ICAST show in Orlando 2017 and it looks like a very promising P.P.F.C.
The storage is plenty with it's huge bow hatch and generous tankwell. It looks more like a space craft than a fishing craft. The seat resembles something you would kick back in the yard and enjoy a cold one.
While the floor looks very comfortable to stand on, the hatch area on the console gives me a little concern as it may snag your fly line.
The proof bears in the paddling and fishing....only time will tell but this one is worth considering.
*UPDATE* Bonafide just released all the info on this new PPFC. Check it out HERE
The Economy Class
1ST Place- Pelican 120NXT
Built on a tunnel hull platform, it is stable and maneuverable, and provides excellent tracking. This sit-on-top fishing P.P.F.C features a dual position seating system allowing you to adjust the seat to a high or low seating position, an anti-slip and snag free floor, a stand assist strap, bow and stern quick lock hatches, and a tank well with bungees to store your fishing gear, flush mount rod holders, rigging tracks and accessory eyelets, paddle and rod tie-downs.
Made of RAM-X™ PREMIUM, a multi-layer polyethylene with an advanced resin providing significantly more rigidity than standard polyethylene, it is lighter, stiffer and stronger.
See more about the Pelican 120NXT HERE.
2ND place- Ascend Kayaks 128T
There are flush mount hatches in the tankwell and cockpit allowing easy access to the hull. Standing on the flat floor with it's non-slip foam padding, you are afforded a comfortable perch to pole and deliver the cast without the fear of snags.
However, the seat looks flimsy and saltwater may make short work of it's longevity without constant maintenance. It does offer high-low options with 180 degree left to right adjustment.
Of all the reviews I've read, most seem favorable. There were some issues due to leaking hulls but have heard that has been addressed by Ascend. I've also read that Bass Pro Shops customer care is excellent so if you have an issue, it will be taken care of in a timely manner.
While I think it is worth looking at, keep in mind you get what you pay for....
Check out the Ascend 128T HERE.
PARTING THOUGHTS......IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
I've spent many years on the Legacy Paddlesports Pro staff and the Native Ultimate was my "go to" boat for a good reason- it was the only one available at that time with all the features for the fly angler.
Times have changed with the advent of this class of kayaks and now; here you are trying to decide which is right for you.
The points to weigh will take precedence on your decision. What is important is that you find what will work for you given the points below.......
- Your budget
Happy fishing and tight loops!