Very happy with these kayaks, having owned them for 6 years now. We bought two after comparing them against 3-4 other boats. It was great to be able to test paddle a few boats back to back. Really can’t (or shouldn’t) choose based on looks or features alone. I thought I wanted a different boat and was pleasantly surprised with how this one feels. The Cayuga 130 is long enough that it tracks straight. Very smooth, quiet, and stable underway. The cockpit is just the right size and has decent padding for your knees. The seat adjustments take a little fiddling to get right but it is very configurable and provides good comfort and support. We like that there are two hatches and deck rigging front and back.
I can make pretty good speed and find edging turns and maneuvers to be easy. There is enough storage for an overnight trip (planned), and I can heft it myself in a high-carry if need be to get it to and from launch sites. I'm very happy with my kayak and look forward to many good years paddling.
I chose the Cayuga because it was more comfortable for me and because it had a front hatch (the Necky does not, and the Tsunami 120's is teeny). For me, the Cayuga is more comfortable to sit in all day because it doesn't have the molded thigh pads so I can move my legs a bit more. And I need the front hatch for the flexibility of infrequent overnights. [Small Necky complaint — good luck getting that rear hatch sealed].
You might have different needs. The thigh braces in the Necky translate into paddling efficiency. And they are necessary for stability in rougher water. So there is a tradeoff in choosing the Cayuga. I probably would have chosen the Necky ten years ago, but as I got older and less flexible I need to be able to change the position of my legs a little bit during the day. And because the Cayuga doesn't have the molded thigh braces (you can order an optional thigh brace kit) it is a spot easier to get into and out of. (Note, the Necky and Old Town have the same seat, so that isn't an issue re: comfort). I'm probably a little more tired at the end of the day from the lack of thigh braces — it's a tradeoff.
And the Tsunami 120 is a little more maneuverable because of the shape of the hull and shorter length. When I am on some rivers I miss that shorter, more maneuverable boat. It was hard to not choose the Tsunami 120 — it is an excellent multi-purpose boat. For some reason, my feet never felt quite right in it. I don't know if that was a real or imagined issue. The end of the cockpit felt a little narrower and I didn't like the angle of my feet when they were on the pegs (the Tsunami has the easiest to adjust foot pegs — I know because I was adjusting those things frequently trying to get my feet in a right spot).
It sounds terribly un-technical. The Necky and Tsunami are really nice kayaks, and in ways they are better than the Cayuga. I chose the Cayuga because it was the one I found the most comfortable at the beginning of the day and the end of the day.
I did a comparison test today with a brand new Necky Manatou 14 kayak I bought last week, spending four hours with my wife in her Cayuga 13 going around Paulina Lake in Central Oregon. We just couldn't find another Cayuga out here on the west coast so I'd heard so many good things about the Necky and after a short demo on the Deschutes River I got a great price and decided to buy it.
On the 2 lakes I had it on today it tracked very well and paddled almost effortlessly. The only reason for a nine is because the 2 lakes today are really not a good representation of all types of water. In the next month I should be able to test it out in multiple places. But for now I love this boat and plan to keep it for a long time.
Since I wanted this particular shape/size of kayak badly, I decided to just shelve my feelings away and keep the boat. I don't know why the boats are being shipped out this way. No one at tech support told me that this was normal. They actually stated that it was unusual for customer to have to use heat guns to re-shape the material.
That being said, the Cayuga 13 has been an excellent kayak. The hull material is very strong and light. It is extremely easy to paddle. It has very little drag and moves through the water swiftly. The "water proof" compartments do leak a little but are still useful. I kayak in the ocean without a spray skirt. I've taken 2 ft. surf right in the chin, flooded the whole cockpit and was still able to paddle and not sink; mostly due to the "dry storage" compartments that kept the boat afloat. In very turbulent water, the Cayuga does toss and turn a little. I think a larger kayak would solve this issue as size does matter in this department.
Overall the kayak is a great boat. I just hope that Old Town resolves this issue with the hulls on special orders.
The cockpit rim is slightly bigger, so it holds the skirt a bit tighter, but inside it seems to be the same size, but as I mentioned in the other review it's plenty big for me 6'2" 215 lbs, but any taller and you might have some trouble with the foot braces. I find though for my size, I am probably on the high end of the weight range for this boat, I can paddle it no problem, but don't feel like I sink in as much with the 146, so make sure you try both out if you're thinking of getting either one.
I have not had the 130 out in as many conditions, has been mostly calmer, smaller water, so I can't say how it performs in rough, windy, wavy conditions, but based on how the 146 handles them all, it should be fine. Being easier to turn it may weathercock a little more, but I'm not sure. Overall it's a great boat, I gave it an 9 for the small problems described here and in my 146 review, and took the extra point off down to 8 only for it being on the small range for my size/weight.
Although I did go down to 12.5 feet and up to 14.5 feet on some models, I found 13 feet as perfect for an all around kayak for lakes, rivers, streams and coastal bays. The most comfortable for me was the Cayuga 130. Loved it side braces and double hatches. A little more in weight than the Necky (52 pounds vs 45), I wanted the extra hatch as better insurance for my wife who is less experienced with kayaks than I am. She is 5'5" and I am 5'11" and it fit us both well just by adjusting the foot braces.
We carry it on top of our 27 foot motorhome on a special custom rack to hold our canoe as well as two kayaks. I would have possibly chosen the Necky Manatou 13 except it had only one hatch and it lacked a knee brace in the standard edition. We are very happy with the Cayuga 130.
Have not had them in the water yet but after purchase I noticed that the seat pan heights were adjustable and both boats were at different heights, I could not make that part of the seat adjust manually and was afraid I would break the bracket trying. Finally had to remove the entire seat from the boats (4 screws) and make the adjustment after the seats were removed. This adjustment cannot be made without removing the seat since there are plastic keepers which prevent inadvertent adjustment. The factory was responsive through email and suggested returning to dealer to set the seat at the lowest level, and to rest the seat pan on the hull or "the mounting bracket would break from the extra weight of the paddler." Extra weight of the paddler? (Seems to me the paddler will weigh whatever they weigh and the seat should be designed to support the paddler) This statement made me look carefully at the entire mounting system and I have to agree, although the seat is really nice and comfortable, the mounting system appears to be a weak point, 4 screws holding it to the hull, a rigid plastic ladder of notches for factory adjustment.
The smaller cheaper boats we had previously had the seat supported by a molded portion of the hull which was indestructible. I will hope for the best and have not been able to find any issues with broken seat brackets in reviews but will write a further review after we use these boats. Might be something to consider if you are looking at several different boats.
I have been working on a couple of hanging locations in my garage and lifting the boats up and down to test the fit and I have to admit they not only look streamlined but they are very slick to the touch and look and feel like they will slip through the water much more easily than our old 9.5 rec boats.
Look up the reviews for the Cayuga 14’6” – a lot of real good reviews! The 130 (13’ 1”) has the same width, same streamlined bow, stern and hull design. They took the 15 missing inches from the center. That explains why the weight capacity dropped from 330 lbs to 236 lbs. The shorter length allows better turning (without a rudder). I would not bother with the optional rudder.
I think the hull is very stable – rocks a bit for about + 10 degrees then it feels like an outrigger is attached... Compared with the Loon 120, the Cayuga is 25” wide vs 28” This allows shorter people to use (more effective) high angle power strokes without hitting the side of the boat. (rented a 30”wide tandem and this was a problem – had to stay with low angle strokes).
A big deal (I think) are the thigh pads. With your feet on the foot pegs it is easy to press your thigh against the pads. From a stability point of view, you then become one with the boat. By shifting body weight you can compensate for swells, speed boat wakes, etc. Now, you can really apply power, if you wish. Also – no sunburned knees.
Seat is real comfortable. In lowest back position it provides a great lumbar support... Hatches – nice, well designed (provide extra air chambers in case you dump it).
I think this will replace the Loon for people under 200 lbs.