I had seen ads for this kayak that piqued my interest, reviewed all the videos on this kayak I could find, only to discover that the closest dealer was 1500 miles away. Then I happened to visit a shop that I had purchased my first kayak since moving to FL on my way back from a kayak camping trip. (Native Water Sports Jenson Beach, FL) Just so happens they became a new dealer for Viking and was receiving there first shipment and holding an in-water demo on that very day. (Had to stay) Wasn’t the best conditions, winds blowing 20 with gusts of 30, the water choppy and confused. They have a great demo spot to launch from on the IRL. My first test of a kayak worth it to jump in the seat and see what happens. I am a large guy and this kayak didn’t move. First and secondary stability surprised me, rock solid. I paddled out in the protected area and found the kayak quick and responsive. It comes with a rudder designed into the lines of the profile. (So it doesn’t protrude below the draft) In open water or in poor conditions I can see the advantage of having it. In my experience with everyday paddling, you don’t need it. This kayak paddles true and for an almost 15ft length, it turns easily. I paddled out to see how it handled in the wind and chop in these conditions. I didn’t experience much difference. I didn’t find it to be tippy with the wind on the beam or in the trough where I stopped and it did not weathercock. Needless to say, I bought the Profish Reload. I have been paddling it for 6 months. I have paddled over 50 miles of the Suwannee, up and down many miles of the IRL, had it BTB and various springs/rivers and ditches here in Florida. This kayak was designed for fishing with a large displacement capacity, more than enough deck hardware for your gear and more bells and whistles built into the tackle pod and options that any fisherman could ask for. I purchased the optional flat deck pod which opens up the deck area when I am just tooling around. The hull design is sleek and fast for most paddling trips. I have been paddling for a number of years and owned sit-in and sot kayaks. The Profish Reload is now my go-to workhorse.
I'm a short but big guy (5'-9", 340 lbs) and started out with solo paddling in the center seat of an OK Malibu Two. That was a great kayak for a heavy guy to start with (great with wiggly kids too) but ultimately, I wanted something longer and more narrow: something faster. Viking had the answer with the Profish Reload. Long and narrow, but the seat is low but then rises under thighs for great support. The low seating makes it very stable with a heavier paddler (lowers center of gravity). I think it is as close as you can get to the ride of a sit inside, yet be a sit on top. You feel at home on the water in this thing. Not to mention it is very comfortable. I have flipped it once and that was at the boat ramp because I caught my leg on the tackle pod as I was getting on... completely avoidable and my fault. I paddle in marshes and along the Chesapeake Bay. Haven't tried it in the ocean yet but have been through some decent swells and wake without any worries. The company is from New Zealand, so you know it handles the really big water well, and I can attest that it is an awesome performer in everything form moderate bay swells to flat salt marshes. The rudder is different from others on the market but works extremely well and I am glad to have the short style that I do not need to worry about hitting bottom or snagging seaweed. The hull design is so efficient that stopping takes getting used to! You stop paddling and the boat just keeps going, even against the tide.
The other reasons I picked this over say the Trident 15 is that it is light for a SOT of this size. I car top and don't have a trailer, so being 30lbs lighter was important to me. This is because Viking uses MDPE instead of HDPE which made me nervous about durability until I found out that Viking has a 30 year warranty (many other companies only have a 5 year). Actually, it could just be in my head, but I think I can feel the hull flex a little bit when I hit a wave. Not a bad flex at all, but I think it almost acts as a shock absorber and is actually a good thing. Hard to explain, you have to feel it yourself. I consider it a benefit. Long story short, as long as you are not going down rapids and crashing into rocks. then you will not have any problems.
Also important to me, the people at Viking USA were EXTREMELY helpful and obviously believe in their product. Being heavy, I was nervous about stability and did not want to buy unless I could try. There are very few locations that stock these boats so I contacted Viking USA directly. They put me in touch with a pro-staffer who happened to be in Maryland. He drove close to two hours each way to meet me so I could paddle around and try it out (thanks to D. for making the trip). Viking is a small outfit in this country, so they might not have someone near you but it is worth asking if you need a test ride. As an aside, the gentleman who met me was quite tall and the kayak fits him well too. The pedals, even though it has the toe controlled rudder, were very easy to adjust.
Now on to the fishing aspect of this fine watercraft. It does not have a lawn chair or a pedal drive, but those are things that I do NOT want in a kayak. I am a paddler first and fisherman second. In fact I did not think much about the fishing, but after going out fishing a few times with it I found it to be excellent and cannot wait for warmer weather so I can go catch me some rockfish! The flush mounted rod holders are numerous and well positioned. I am a huge fan of the flush mount holders on the side near the seat. They angle your rod out front and away from the sides so you can troll and see your rod tip as you paddle without interference, yet close enough you can easily grab your rod when you get a bite (caught my first spotted seatrout this way). The hull quietly cuts through the wake and the tank well is huge. There are even brass threaded inserts on the sides so you can install an anchor trolley without having to drill any holes in your hull. Three of small hatches that have their own scupper and plug so they can drain through the hull, yet closed off to the hull. Several gear tracks came on mine. And the crown jewel of fishing gear... the removable tackle pod! It installs between your legs and has massive amounts of storage, a cutting board and a place to install a fishfinder. A portion of the tackle pod is a cavity like a tube (isolated from the storage portion) that opens up to under the boat for a transducer to be mounted. Here's the best part, the whole thing lifts out meaning you can load and unload the tackle pod with your tackle inside and fishfinder (including the transducer) attached in seconds. It is completely secure when on the water, then pull one pin and you can lift the entire thing out and load it into your car or store it in your basement. Installing it with all of your gear inside and your fishfinder attached is just as easy. Ingenious!!!!!
Any cons??? The biggest con is they are hard to find but look online and you will find them. The only other complaint is that the side of the yak rounds over where my leg rests, but the radius is not quite large enough (not rounded enough). It left my legs sore the first few times out. If I were not so meaty, I probably would not have noticed it. Now I am more aware of positioning my legs and it is not a problem. Also I would imagine that if you have circulation or nerve problems and need to reposition your legs while out on a long paddle, it could be difficult with the tacklepod installed. This can easily be solved by switching out the tackle pod for a low deck pod or kids pod instead both of which make the deck nearly flat or just don't install any of the pods if you want (although that would leave a uncovered hole that opens to the water between your feet - think oversized scupper for a transducer to enter the water). I have found that at times the area around my feet can stay wet, but a large scupper plug would solve that. If I were 50 lbs lighter it probably would stay mostly dry. FYI - The scupper valves at ACK fit the scuppers under the seat and work well to keep my rear dry, but are too small for the scuppers in the tank well and by your feet.
In summary: It is extremely well equipped for fishing, but is also a dream to paddle. I would recommend this to you even if you never fish in it. Incredibly stable (even for a fat guy), incredibly comfortable, incredibly efficient hull, great capacity, lightweight, right price, and awesome/extremely helpful people working for the company...SOLD! NO REGRETS AT ALL! I would definitely buy this again in a heart beat. PS - you will be met with looks of envy for being one of the few people to have a Viking in this country, if that matters to you. The company does not have flashy advertising like many of the other companies, but it is only a matter of time before the US kayaking scene catches on and everybody ends up wanting one. PPS- nope, I did not get anything (no money, no freebies, nothing) to write this review. I just love my yak and want to help others feel comfortable with buying it if they think it is what they are looking for. I had a hard time finding the right yak given my weight and if I can help someone else, then great!
Great kayak w/ great features. With rudder goes out in rougher conditions than I would feel comfortable w/ any other boat, Cuts through wind and waves.
The Profish Reload is 14' 9" long and 29 1/2" wide. Empty it weighs in at 65#'s. Additional accessories that you may opt for will add to the weight: Tackle Pod 8#'s (empty), Kid Pod 6#'s (empty), Chill Pod 11#'s (empty). Rigged for fishing with the Tackle Pod, fish finder/battery, fishing gear you can easily hit 80-100#'s. The weight capacity of this kayak is 440#'s.
My Viking Profish Reload is rigged with a rudder. I typically will use this kayak for fishing (Tackle Pod, Chill Pod, Fish finder/battery and misc fishing gear). Surf launches/landings for open water along the southern and central California coast.
I'm 5' 6", 170#'s. This review only comes from my perspective (Not a big guy!) Saying that, I had to move and remount the foot pedal track system a few inches towards me for optimal comfort and function.
This is a fast kayak!
It easily punches through the surf, easy to maneuver and has good primary and secondary stability. It tracks well with and without a rudder. The rudder system on this kayak is different from other kayaks. It is wider than most rudders and the bottom of the rudder hovers slightly above the keel line (doesn't grip the water like most rudders). A shock cord/bungee cord system allows limited retraction of the rudder - when going over kelp, etc. Otherwise it remains in a relatively fixed position (cannot be deployed nor retracted manually).
Hull access is limited to a hatch in the front of the kayak. Limited space in the hull - break down a paddle, break down a small kayak cart and misc gear. A rod will not fit in here unless you can break it down. Three small hatches encompass the cockpit. However they do not provide access into the hull. Each of these three small hatches have a stop plug/drain that goes through the hull. The lids of these hatches can be difficult to screw on/off - especially when your hands are wet or fish slimmed. Stays relatively dry (as long as the drain/plug is applied) - would recommend stowing things in a dry bag for added insurance.
The Tackle Pod is a great feature of this kayak. It's portable (can be easily added/removed to/from the kayak). A place to stow tackle, gear, small dry bags and the battery for your fish finder. There is a section that allows you to install the transducer so that it comes into direct contact with the water for more accurate readings.
The tank well is large and spacious. Viking made a cooler/storage pod that fits perfectly into this space. It is their Chill Pod. This is a nice feature that is meant to be used as a cooler/fish storage. I would not stow small items nor items that you need to easily retrieve - slides around too much and difficult to retrieve when dealing with swells, etc). I keep my fish on a game clip while on the water. I'll store my fish in the Chill Pod during landings so I don't lose it in the surf. I'll also keep the fish in the Chill Pod if the seals and/or sharks get a little too curious.
Fast kayak that tracks well (with and without a rudder). Has good primary and secondary stability. I really like the Tackle Pod for it's transportability, storage and ease of rigging a fish finder (w/ direct water contact for the transducer). Chill Pod is easy to use and convenient.
Limited hull space and access to hull - Unable to stow rods and reels in the hull for surf launches/landings. Limited use of hatches around the cockpit (limited space and function - too small for live well, would be nice if one was a little larger and had hull access), screw on lids are a difficult.