12' 3"
Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Tarpon 120 Description

The most popular Tarpon because of its manageable size. Efficient layout leaves plenty of room for paddlers and their gear, with features to accommodate a variety of hobbies.

Tarpon 120 Specs and Features

  • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
  • Cockpit Type: Sit on Top / Open Cockpit
  • Seating Configuration: Solo
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Wilderness Systems
Tarpon 120 Reviews

Read reviews for the Tarpon 120 by Wilderness Systems as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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I'd go four-and-one-half…

Submitted by: paddler2680820 on 12/27/2023

I'd go four-and-one-half stars if I could, but the Tarpon 120 deserves the rating to be rounded up, not down. This is far from my first kayak, and is my second Tarpon (the first was the Tarpon 100). I've owned Hobie Revolution 13's and own an Ocean Kayak Trident 13 along with this Tarpon 120. I have some experiences with great kaysk. Normally, I wouldn't bother with a review except I saw some comments I strongly disagree with.

First, it's a dry ride. Once each year I do self-recovery practice by rolling the Tarpon upside down, righting it, and climbing back in. I've never had more than a couple of teaspoons of water get inside after rolling it. Second, it's extremely capable in rough water. I take it onto the Pacific Ocean and have no qualms about doing surf launches and landings in the Pacific Northwest.

It's a premiere kayak if you know how to use it.

While it's a great kayak, I deducted half-a-star because I can compare it side-by-side to the OK Trident 13, which was probably the best big water kayak hull ever designed. Great compared to extraordinary loses a half-star for the Tarpon.


had 3other yaks moken ten ,…

Submitted by: paddler2401935 on 10/11/2022

had 3other yaks moken ten , big game prowler two and a viking profish reload, the reload is a performance fishing yak that is fast and stable but fully rigged is a tad heavy for long hauls on the trolly over sandy beaches. So I bought a tarpon 120 for beaches as it is lighter when I paddled this yak I was amazed at the speed and stability of it in fact it is on par with the reload and handles a chop no problem but for long distances offshore I will use the reload as it's longer and could cope with worst conditions should it turn.

in my opinion the tarpon 120e is a lovely kayak for fishing quick stable and very comfortable no leaks in the hatches yet very well made. all in all five star.



Love this kayak! Previously…

Submitted by: paddler2381322 on 9/19/2022

Love this kayak! Previously owned a heavy slower kayak. It was very stable, but slow, hard to paddle, and heavy (85lbs). The Tarpon 120, although longer is lighter and more maneuverable, and it only weighs 65lbs. Would buy another Tarpon in a heartbeat.


Bought my Tarpon 120 in the…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/1/2021

Bought my Tarpon 120 in the spring of 2021. I have 2 inflatable kayaks, and I have rented several hard shell kayaks. I belong to a paddling group and we all test drive each others new to the water kayaks. Easy to say I have a short experience with several types/brands SOT and sit inside kayaks. I am not an expert, I have only paddled a few years and still learning. My somewhat brief experience lead me to the Wilderness yak and I knew the 12 foot would track best for my needs. I paddle rivers with minimal current and lakes, March through November ish. Flat water and choppy water, some wind but generally under 12 mph describes my familiar match. This kayak handles very well, tracking is above grade, stability is peace of mind safe, getting on and off easy for this 60 plus gal. I have spent hours on the river with no fatigue, 12 miles has been my limit/day. I am very happy, satisfied with my purchase and I would do it all over again. If your plans are to do similar paddling this yak will not disappoint. PS -- my dog approves of the ride as well.


I bought the new updated…

Submitted by: rskuhn on 6/11/2021

I bought the new updated Tarpon 120 in 2021. The new sit on top has a lower weight capacity than the older Tarpon 120. I weigh 245 lbs and a little water comes in the scuppers of the new Tarpon 120. That is not the case with the older Tarpon 120 where I ride dry even though boat boats have a mfg. weight limit of 350lbs. The cover on the back well is a joke and will easily fly off when the boat is in transport and we will be buying bungee to make it like the older Tarpon 120.. The dry box and magnetic cup holder are nice features. The new Tarpon is an inch wider than the old Tarpon, I was expecting a higher weight limit. Very comfortable seat, tracks well.


Wife has a Tarpon 12 for 2…

Submitted by: rskuhn on 7/24/2020
Wife has a Tarpon 12 for 2 years the 2019 model She is 140lbs and a perfect fit. Boat handles wonderful, lots of room for storage or packing. The seat is one of the most comfortable available. Wilderness made some slight modifications for the newer 2020 model. She loves to hang her feet over the sides on a hot day. Max load 240lbs. for dryness and handling I tried a Tarpon 12 but I weigh 290lbs. not enough buoyancy for me, I was riding with water all over the floor. I bought a Ride 115

Great quality. Very…

Submitted by: julieat906 on 5/7/2020
Great quality. Very comfortable. Great stability. Love this kayak!

Front hatch puddles with…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/30/2020
Front hatch puddles with water. It doesn't have a channel to drain and gasket isn't good will take on lots of water. Center hatch is hard to open and things will slide in hull . Also doesn't come with rear rod holders, will have to install aftermarket holders.

Picked up a Wilderness…

Submitted by: paddler550399 on 9/4/2019

Picked up a Wilderness systems Tarpon 120 in Galaxy from EMS. Got a great deal because it had some visual imperfections. Honestly I can't see it but happy for the discount! The Tarpon is stable in the water and tracks well. I love the gear tracks and have installed a paddle rest and a rod holders. The seat is comfortable for long paddles and folds flat when in your vehicle. Structurally the kayak is bomber and much less flimsy than the ones you see from the big box stores. All in all perfect for a general purpose use or recreational 'yak! I would recommend to anyone looking for a high quality kayak for a reasonable price.


My Tarpon has met all and…

Submitted by: paddler549694 on 9/4/2019

My Tarpon has met all and more of my expectations! Originally bought 2--you know the spouse wants her own--but she made me exchange it for a different brand in YELLOW! Like that's important!

Have since bought two more Tarpons for the grandchildren. We make quite a flotilla on Lake Burton in Georgia.

Main plusses are safety, stability, trackability, sturdiness, and comfort--especially the new seats. If I live long enough, I'll get some more for the great-grands!!


Very comfortable seat,…

Submitted by: paddler548987 on 8/30/2019

Very comfortable seat, tracks well and great for long rides.


What a difference a kayak…

Submitted by: paddler534219 on 7/26/2019

What a difference a kayak can make. We tried many rentals before making our purchase, I knew I wanted a sit on top as being in Florida it gets very hot. A sit on top is also easy for me to get on and off. This kayak tracks beautifully. Yes, it goes straight even in the current of our springs. In most of the rentals I would stop to take in the scenery and end up going sideways against the side vegetation. Not with this one, it stays straight. A big concern I had was the weight as I have to place on roof of vehicle. This is not a lightweight kayak. At 63lbs. I do need help. I am glad I choose this yak as it fits me perfect, from the size to the color!


Great kayak. Used it for a…

Submitted by: julieat906 on 6/14/2019

Great kayak. Used it for a few hours the first time down in Florida for an afternoon. It was so smooth on the water. And the comfort is incredible. Purchased own for myself a few years back. Works great for small water day adventures as well as overnight adventures. Also works great for exploring a bit with my pup, Jovie (she's a lab). She has plenty of room to join me.


This is my second Tarpon…

Submitted by: damageinc157 on 6/19/2018

This is my second Tarpon boat. I owned my last one for 9 years. The 120 tracks well and is very stable. I have taken it on two 5 day 160 mile trips with no issues. My only complaint is the hatches are not watertight like other boats. Every time it rains there is always water in the compartment. My last Tarpon with the rubber hatch covers did not leak.


Wilderness Tarpons are…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/19/2018

Wilderness Tarpons are stable, well made and comfortable. I have 2 sit on tops and enjoy both for different reasons. The 120 is faster and has more room for camping gear. Great for overnight trips. The 100 fits in my mini van, is only 55 lbs, easy for me to handle and stable on the water.


I bought the kayak about 5…

Submitted by: paddler372470 on 5/24/2018

I bought the kayak about 5 years ago. The kayak itself has held up great. It was great on the water and I enjoyed being in it. My complaint is the seat. With all the plastic components, it broke soon after I bought it. I spent the next years fixing and rigging the seat so it would work. It was comfortable, just didn't hold up. This past year, the seat finally gave up the ghost and I couldn't fix it anymore. It needed to be replaced. However, I contacted Wilderness thinking there would be a replacement seat. But there wasn't. The representative was helpful and tried to find a fix to my problem but all he could suggest was using a flimsy, universal seat or have one custom made. I was very disappointed that these were my only two options. Unfortunately, I have this great kayak with no seat. Its useless now unless I can, once again, figure out a fix.


I had a lot fun out in the…

Submitted by: paddler417543 on 2/7/2018

I had a lot fun out in the kayak but with slight chop I had a lot of water enter my kayak. The extra water in my kayak made me tip once but fortunately I didn't have too much tackle on me


Great Ride!

Submitted by: paddler395076 on 9/11/2017

I recently purchased the Tarpon 120 after researching SOT yaks and selling 2 sit-ins. I don't fish, but like that this kayak is totally configured for rigging if you choose to fish. It is extremely stable - seat is comfortable and has lots of positions for comfort. After paddling a 9 ft kayak, this boat tracks extremely well. The dry hatches have remained dry, seals are intact - always use dry bags in these areas anyway. Looking forward to having more room for my dog to paddle with me! This yak is weel worth the money and investment!


My husband and I went out to…

Submitted by: Jacquie56 on 8/10/2016
My husband and I went out to try kayaks last weekend and I am hesitant on water due to my cochlear implant. I tried a couple of sit n, then a sit in...then I tried the sit on top Tarpon 120 and it was like I came home!! I really enjoyed paddling around in this!! I was recommended to try this by my SIL in Michigan. It did not have as much play in it and tracked better than the sit in I tried. Also, I will be able to get a rudder should I wish to. Also, I 'made' my husband try this and he ended up getting the Tarpon 14!!!

We had a chance to rent two…

Submitted by: rskuhn on 7/14/2016
We had a chance to rent two Tarpon 120 for a day and kayaked the upper IOWA river. This is a great Sit on Top (SOT) Kayak for warmer water and the summer months. The boat handled well, stable, easy to maneuver on a river. We both loved the cup holder and adjustable seat. The mfg. recommended weight capacity is 350lbs but that is overloaded for good handling, my suggestion would be 260lb max weight. Several mfgs make a similar kayak but the seat on the Wilderness Tarpon 120 is very adjustable and very supportive. The foot petals were easy to adjust. The self bailing scupper holes worked great. This is a great boat for some short camping trips with lots of storage. The handles on the end made for easy carrying.

I own multiple kayaks and…

Submitted by: PaddleOnWayne on 7/6/2016
I own multiple kayaks and this kayak is the most versatile and comfortable kayak i own or have ever owned. It is fast for a sit on top and yet remarkably stable. I've had this kayak in class I And II rapids, in two foot swells and on glass smooth water. Each trip was a complete blast. Its not the fastest nor the best in any given area, but it is competent reliable and comfortable for hours on end in the right hands.

Wanted to purchase this kayak…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/14/2016
Wanted to purchase this kayak so bad because of the features and good reviews but had to try it first before I purchased. So a dealer let me try one . Paddled about 8 miles with it through smooth water , class 1,2 Rapids and through very small current. I'm 6'1" and 200 lbs and had only a small 12" cooler with me and this yak took on so much water with a 350 lb rating . It only tracks well in flat no current water ,storage area was soaked, the seat even after adjusting felt like a cheap 29.00 dollar water soaked office chair. This boat can't handle waves or rough water at all because the nose sits too low. My wife has a Venus 11 with a 225 lb rating and it handles my 200 lbs weight and cooler better than the tarpon 120. Sorry wilderness , you have a good looking yak but it's like riding a garbage truck. Love the looks though!

The Tarpon 120 is a versatile…

Submitted by: mjones on 6/12/2016
The Tarpon 120 is a versatile yak that tracks wonderfully. It sits high in the water making it great for rough water conditions. I have fished out of the yak with ease. have taken the kayak down smaller white water and it has done everything I would want. Highly recommended!

I've had the Tarpon 120 for…

Submitted by: paddler236815 on 5/31/2016
I've had the Tarpon 120 for about 8 years. I've used it on lakes, rivers, bays and the ocean. It's a good stable all around boat. Sometimes I tried surfing with it, not a great idea, but it will go through a 3 foot (or more) breaker with no problem. I classify it as very good utility boat.



I have owned my kayak for…

Submitted by: paddler235245 on 4/28/2016
I have owned my kayak for about 15 yrs but only use it about 3x a yr. The weight is a con. You need 2 people to help carry it and load it. I wish it was made of lighter material. Also the bottom is easily scraped due to oyster beds. It needs some kind of clearcoat or spray for protection. It is very stable but i would buy the tarpon 140 if you can afford it. Nothing has broke and it has given me many fun times

I bought this kayak new in…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/12/2016
I bought this kayak new in August of 2015, and I use it regularly to fish the saltwater creeks around Jacksonville, FL. I did some research and a few test paddles before settling on it, and after several months of paddling and fishing I have no regrets.

I love the seat, and have spent up to nine hours fishing in the kayak and not had any back pain (I'm 50, ugh). Another selling point was the rails to mount stuff on. I have accessorized the heck out of this thing, and I like the way I can configure it for what I'll be doing on a particular day.

Last month I had my Outfitter (that sold me the boat) install a pair of Yak Attack "Mighty Mounts" on the flat spots behind the seat, which technically turned my kayak into a 120 Angler. I intend to use those mounts for a flag and a light when I want to be seen.

The Mighty Mounts are the only difference I can see between the 120 and the 120 Angler. If you want to add something to the back of the kayak you can mount it on the rear rails, but do that on land... because anything added to the rear rails needs to come in from the *back* of the rear rails...which could be tricky on the water. You can add a light/flag/rod holder to a mighty mount while sitting in the kayak on the water. If you're on the fence between a Tarpon and an Angler, think about that feature, but know it can be added later for about the same amount of money.

Okay, I can attach a bunch of stuff to it, but how does it paddle? I like the way it handles. This boat is very stable, which is something a fishing kayak *should* be. It tracks well (unless the wind really kicks up) and is fairly easy to maneuver. It handles choppy water and large boat wakes without a problem. When I take my girlfriend paddling later this month, I'm going to take the rental and let her use mine. (There's an outfitter near me that rents Perception Pescadors...a VERY close cousin to my Tarpon, but the latest T120 is a tad wider and more stable than the Pescador)

It's not a fast kayak, but it's quick and responds well. On the day I purchased mine I also test paddled a Tarpon 140. The 140 is a little leaner, and a little faster...but, well, to me, only marginally. I was also looking for something I could car top and self-launch, and the T120 fit the bill.
It's "enough" boat for me. And I really love it.


Love this boat. Never thought…

Submitted by: paddler236584 on 11/5/2015
Love this boat. Never thought I would get a sit on top, but ended up going this route because I have two young kids and can put one behind me and one in between my legs. The design of this boat is really well thought out. Great seat, great storage (in and out), love the compartment between the legs for my punch, quality components. I love to fish, so that is another bonus of all the features and add-ons.

Since getting this in the spring, I have been mainly out on Lake Erie and also on some of the local rivers on class 2 rapids. it is great for both. I would recommend the latest model. It has some minor upgrades to the hatches and the seat that I noticed make a difference.

I actually had some issues with the center hatch taking on water around the mount/hinge. Willys was great in fixing the problem. Great customer service. The only negative is the weight, but it is more material as a wide sit on top.


A tough SOT kayak. An…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/7/2015
A tough SOT kayak. An excellent beginner boat. It is stable, durable, and is very versatile. I fish from it, fun on flat water and handles class 1 and 2 rapids fine. It has tons of storage for a mid length boat. It is a bit heavy and awkward to carry solo or I would have given it a 10.

I am new to kayaking and…

Submitted by: BlueKayak22 on 8/18/2015
I am new to kayaking and after doing a lot of research and trying out different kayaks, I decided to go with the Tarpon 120 and I could not be happier! It is exactly what I wanted, with one small exception, I wish it was a tad bit lighter. I am only 5'3" 130 pound female and to hoist it up onto my Santa Fe takes some work, but it is totally worth it. I have recently started fishing out of it as well. It feels very sturdy and although I won't win any races, I can get it going pretty fast and it corners well for a kayak not really made to go fast or corner well

The Tarpon 120 is by far one…

Submitted by: mjones on 8/16/2015
The Tarpon 120 is by far one of the smoothest yaks I have used. The dynamics of the yak allow it to cut through the water like a hot knife through butter. Buoyancy of the unit makes it very stable. The yak sits higher out of the water than most other sit on tops, allowing it to track faster. It is a Cadillac compared to many of the other sit on tops I have used.

I just bought a used 2011…

Submitted by: Nate2015 on 8/12/2015
I just bought a used 2011 Tarpon 120 and so far I really like it. It is very stable and paddles/glides very smoothly. The size of the kayak is good since I am 6'3".

Longevity report. My T120…

Submitted by: miacan on 8/6/2015
Longevity report. My T120 dates back to the first year of production. Never had the leakage problems that the very early run boats had reports of. Always used in salt water often for fishing. It has remained in very good condition has not been heavily used maybe 20 drops a year. Still no leaking. Hull shape has not sagging or torqued. Original fittings have not failed or loosened. If you are thinking of getting a used one I would have to say the build quality would be a positive point in favor of the design. I have always found the design to handle well and relatively friendly on the body when paddling.

The Tarpon 120 rides well and…

Submitted by: paddler236395 on 7/28/2015
The Tarpon 120 rides well and is quite fast for it's size. It's also nice to access the mid area hatch, and so ample space for few days camping.

However the front hatch leaks badly, it's seems a poor design. Inherently it will let in small amounts over water when opened as it the hatch cover sits flush to the opening. However it leaks more than just a tad in anything except really calm conditions. That and the weight (it's fairly heavy for it's size) are the reason for the poor score.


I absolutely love this kayak.…

Submitted by: winski on 7/4/2015
I absolutely love this kayak. I am a beginner and bought two of these after trying out several sit-in and sit-on-top kinds. This kayak glides and turns easily, tracks really straight, doesn't require strenuous paddling to get where you want to go, and is incredibly stable. Hull is crafted in high-density polyethylene to provide rugged durability and easy care. Multichine hull responds to leans and delivers terrific secondary stability; self-bailing hull ensures flotation in rough water.

It has great features like 2 mesh pockets on either side of the seat, a small mesh bag under the front of the seat, a cup holder in front of the seat, adjustable foot pegs, an adjustable seat (which is also extremely comfortable and my back never hurts), a small and large dry hatch and extra storage space at the back of the kayak.

What I love most about this kayak is its stability. I recently taught myself to get in and out of the kayak in deep water. Despite my many awkward attempts (I am not a strong person) it never once tipped over. I even got brave and kneeled on it, crawled around on it, and stood up in it and it never tipped! I have taken several hesitant friends out and they are all amazed at how stable it is and how easy it is to paddle. They have fallen in love with kayaking because of their positive experience!

I took my dog out and she sits very comfortably on a towel between my legs and I still have plenty of room to paddle. I have only used it at the lake so far, but have been in choppy water in windy weather and it still did fine. I'm planning to start river kayaking soon.

My only complaint is the weight. It is 60 something pounds and I am short (5'1") and not very strong, so It's a bit of a struggle to carry it far or lift it into the truck. Not impossible, just a little heavy. Other than that I have no complaints!


Just bought my second Tarpon…

Submitted by: anneemarie on 7/4/2015
Just bought my second Tarpon 120 and I am totally in love with this kayak. Currently outfitting it for fishing. Have used this in light chop with waves breaking over the bow and its amazing, just keeps on going with ease. LOVE this Kayak!!

Incredibly comfortable seat…

Submitted by: paddler236247 on 6/1/2015
Incredibly comfortable seat and a great paddling boat. A boat you can spend the day in.

This truly is the ultimate…

Submitted by: paddler235994 on 9/18/2014
This truly is the ultimate SOT (Sit On Top) kayak in my opinion. Maneuverability is outstanding, speed is fast, handles rougher conditions, and has real latching hatches instead of the gradual decaying rubber pancake hatch covers. Value is superb.

I have been recommending this kayak since I have owned mine. Through my recommendations, I know a few folks have bought the Wilderness Systems Tarpons.


We picked up a Tarpon 120 for…

Submitted by: gofishtx on 9/12/2014
We picked up a Tarpon 120 for my 12 year old nephew to use. It is an easy paddling boat with great tracking and glide. Plenty of room for storage and maneuvers quickly. It performed pretty much the same whether it had his 100 pounds plus gear or my 220 lbs. It's faster with his lighter weight of course. He insisted on getting a rudder. But the boat has mostly been paddled without using the rudder. A great all around boat.

I just upgraded to the Tarpon…

Submitted by: jkirbyd on 9/10/2014
I just upgraded to the Tarpon 120. I was paddling the Tarpon 100 for the last 2 years. I have had the 120 out 3 times in the last week and I am quite happy with the kayak. The 120 is quite a bit faster than the 100 and it also has more storage.

I did notice a slight difference in the handling of the 120 vs the 100. This is due to the additional 2'3". I use my kayak primarily on the streams and rivers in Missouri. The 100 was quite agile in tight areas and could be turned "on a dime". The 120 is still nimble, but a little bit more effort is required, nothing substantial though.
I am sure that I will be heading out again in the next few days!!!


I first reviewed my Tarpon…

Submitted by: Springsmom83 on 8/26/2014
I first reviewed my Tarpon 120 the day I bought it [06-23-2012]. Since then we have logged many hours on the waterways of Tidewater VA as well as in NC and I even took it to Key West this summer. I docked it a point because the front hatch has warped some and leaks a fair amount of water in the boat and because it is not the fastest boat. However, we do average right at 2.5 miles an hour. This is taking into account wind, waves, the fact that we always seem to be going against the tide and all. After 2 ankle surgeries and a total knee replacement, I have missed very little paddling time because the boat is so stable and responsive. My Tarpon is still my "go to" boat and I love it.

I tested the Tarpon 120 out a…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/21/2014
I tested the Tarpon 120 out a couple of times. I am 6'4" and around 210 pounds. I found that I am a little over sized for this boat. There wasn't quite enough leg room for someone my height. I also think that my weight was a little too much for the boat to handle if conditions were to get a little bumpy. It was fine in the calm waters that I was testing it on but sat a little low. It did turn well but I did not think that the tracking was as good as the Tarpon 140. The seat was very comfortable. I liked the different adjustments.

I think this would be a great boat for my wife or my kids who are a lot shorter and weight about 50 – 100 pounds less. I did like the cargo space in the back. It would be a good place to store a cooler.

I think it is a good boat but not for someone with my body weight and height.


New to paddling but I've…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/11/2014
New to paddling but I've rented several beginners rec. kayaks (Old Town Vapor, Dagger Dirigo etc). I've used the Tarpon 120 in San Diego's Mission Bay 4 times and I'm very impressed buy the build quality and layout.

First of all the kayak felt extremely stable even when the water got pretty choppy. I had no problem paddling for hours. I'm always pulling away from other the recreational paddlers in our little group that I would consider more fit so the kayak must be contributing. I was also very impressed by the sturdy build quality and thick plastic Wilderness Systems uses on this boat.

My favorite feature was the small sealed compartment between your legs in the cockpit. Nice to have a sealed compartment that is so easily in reach. I prefer to use a Sit In kayak because some of my local lakes don't allow Sit on top but the combination of convenience and build quality make the Tarpon 120 a very tempting option for a beginner to intermediate paddler.


Excellent performance on the…

Submitted by: Jtigue on 8/4/2014
Excellent performance on the water. Plenty of space for gear. Can load back of kayak with backpack for a 5 day camping trip with ease. Good speed. Turns easily. Tank well keeps compression sacks dry

The Tarpon 120 replaces my…

Submitted by: paddler235387 on 10/23/2013
The Tarpon 120 replaces my circa 1993 Sea Lion 17' 6" Aquaterra seakayak that I can no longer use because of spinal problems. Also, at age 65, I can't safely enter an enclosed sea kayak of any kind from the wooden ladder on my seawall. Getting into the SOT Tarpon 120, however, is not the slightest problem.

I've paddled the Tarpon 120 about 60 hours so far, and it certainly lives up to all the rave reviews regarding secondary stability, rock-solid tracking, and maneuverability. Although it's called a "flat water" kayak, I use it on Long Island Sound where conditions can go from flat calm to three-foot waves just a few minutes.

Compared to the Sea Lion, which cuts through waves and chop, the Tarpon 120 is more like a cork that bobs up and down when conditions get rough. I have to be a little more careful about anticipating tide changes and wind shifts, especially when paddling out to Great Captains Island which is about 2 miles offshore. But so far, I've always managed to get home, even if it's taken an hour longer than I had planned.

I find that as long as I paddle into the wind and waves, the Tarpon 120 performs surprisingly well in winds up to about 15mph (with some higher gusts) and waves of up to 2 feet (with a few taller waves).

Here's the GPS summary from my most recent trip which was 6.59 miles. Winds were light at about 5 mph and I departed almost exactly at high tide, so the tide was running the same direction (out) during my paddle, which lasted 2 hours and 19 minutes. My average speed was 2.8 mph and my highest speed was 4.6 mph (which doubtless happened at a point when I had both the wind and tide behind me.) This is certainly slower than the 3.6 mph that I hear is the average speed for a sea kayak. Still, given all the advantages the Tarpon 120 SOT offers, I'll happily give up 0.8 mph in speed.

The biggest advantage, of course, is safety. I like to paddle in the open Sound and at some points I am more than 2 miles from the nearest land. Even at 45 years old, re-entering and pumping out an overturned seakayak was difficult. At 65, it's probably impossible.

The second biggest advantage is the amazing Airpro seat, which is incredibly comfortable. My longest trip has been about 4 hours without any lower back discomfort. A can't even sit at a desk that long without significant back pain.

On the con side, I'm not sure were it's coming from, but I do collect some salt water whenever I go out. I've solved the problem with a couple of Swoosh bailing sponges that absorb 1 quart each. After three or four trips, I squeeze them dry. I've never actually measured how much I squeeze out, but I'd estimate it's about 1/4 to 1/2 quart.

The main reason I've shaved off one point on this review, is because while the Tarpon 120's "high-density linear polyethylene" may be maintenance free, it's not all that tough. Sure, my Tarpon 120 gets dragged across rocks, barnacles, oyster and clam shells -- but that's inevitable when the tide drops almost 1 foot per hour and a kayak that was at the water's edge when you land, may be 15 feet from the water after a 45-minute lunch break. At any rate, while my Sea Lion would scratch slightly after being dragged over rocks and shells, the Tarpon 120 actually gouges.

After a month's use, my hull is covered with scrapes and gouges that are perhaps 1/16 to 1/8th of an inch deep and leave little pieces of dislodged plastic hanging from the hull. It seems to me, that the Tarpon 120 hull is far softer than the exceptionally durable polypropylene hull of the Sea Lion.

Bottom line: the Tarpon 120 is no sea kayak, but it's fine substitute.


I use my Tarpon 120 as a non…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/2/2013
I use my Tarpon 120 as a non fishing platform.. Just cruising around. I love the accessibility to the center hatch, the seat is very comfortable and with some add-on stuff from YakAttack I have made my Tarpon almost perfect. I also like the stability and the tracking... the weight is a challenge for car transport (F150) however the use of the Malone Telos load assist made it very easy...

The kayak is a good kayak for…

Submitted by: paddler235294 on 8/19/2013
The kayak is a good kayak for inshore or bay fishing, not the most stable kayak out there, but the price and design make it worth the bang, It has good hatch size and the structure is built to cut through water, would recommend as a beginner or intermediate kayak

I bought my first Tarpon 120…

Submitted by: guamaniac on 8/14/2013
I bought my first Tarpon 120 in 2003 and another Tarpon 120 in 2008. Picked up a Tarpon 100 in 2006 and a Tarpon 140 a couple years ago. All the Tarpons were purchased new with the exception of the 140. After 10 years of experience in the Tarpons, I can say with confidence that Wilderness Systems makes a fine fishing platform--the Tarpon started the kayak fishing revolution!

The Tarpon 120 tracks well, is light enough to car-top, has a milk crate sized area in the back and accepts flush-mount rod holders. Two flat surfaces aft of the paddler can be used for Scotty mounts (flush or proud). It even has a level mount for a compass. I like the dual paddle holders and occasionally use them to hold a fishing rod (or fly rod). I never had any problems with leaks or scuppers. This kayak is a true workhorse and will satisfy most fishermen. The newest version has some nice features--tracks on the decks and pockets.

I would have given the Tarpons a 10 except for the cup holders. They are not in a good position or deep enough so that the bottle placed there is always in the way. I always used mine to store fishing lures.

I sold my 10 year old Tarpon for 2/3 of what I paid for it and could have sold 10 more. Paddles recognize that Tarpons are a solid kayak and they are always in demand. I have taken the Tarpon 120 on a multiple 3 day kayak-camping trips to the Bartram Canoe Trail (see trip under Places to Paddle-Alabama) and it performed perfectly. I have taken the Tarpons on 10 mile river paddles, into the Gulf of Mexico and in-shore around Mobile, AL chasing red fish, specs and flounder. I am currently looking for that fifth Tarpon and will probably have one in the livery for quite some time.


I've owned this kayak for 4…

Submitted by: msizemore2001 on 8/13/2013
I've owned this kayak for 4 years now. It's lightweight, durable and small enough to maneuver around tidal creeks and small rivers very easily. It's very stable and even allows you to stand up in it in calm waters.

I've given it an 8 because there are a few things that I'd like to change. Feet pedals are a little flimsy and the handle on the front had to be replaced. These may just from typical wear and tear but I would think both of these items should last longer than 4 years.


This is an excellent kayak;…

Submitted by: paddler235256 on 8/6/2013
This is an excellent kayak; what else is there to say? There is a reason the Tarpon 120 is so popular and that is because WS has made an excellent all around kayak. This kayak is great if you're in it to fish or in it to paddle. There is plenty of storage room, it is made from high quality materials, tracks well and has a very comfortable seat.

I would highly recommend this kayak. If you are on a budget consider the Perception Sport Pescador 12 as it is just an older model of this kayak. The only drawbacks I see is that it is a little heavier than some others in the 12' range which makes it a little more difficult for loading and unloading. Also, the foot pegs seem antiquated with no easy reach adjustment or comfortable shape.

Please remember, a lot of what is good about a kayak comes from personal preference so please try one out whenever possible before making a decision.


This is still my all around…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/27/2013
This is still my all around "Go To" Yak. It tracks pretty good and has fair speed for a sit on top. It is very stable to fish out of ,with lots of storage in easy access. It's fun to play with on 1/2 class rapids and durable.. Lost one of mine going down the road (Failure to secure well - my fault). Turned around and got it out of the ditch and it barely had a scratch..I would recommend this boat for someone who would like a good all purpose kayak.

I got this kayak a couple…

Submitted by: paulie on 7/27/2013
I got this kayak a couple months ago. I think it is a great all around boat. Stable, but long enough to be "fast." Plenty of storage options with a forward hatch, middle hatch for small items storage, and tank well behind the seat. I have no problem loading it with gear for a weekend paddle camping trip. The hatches are very easy to open and close. The seat is extremely comfortable with options for seat back height, seat back angle, and the front of the seat raises and lowers for upper leg support.

I would highly recommend the Tarpon 120 to anyone looking to get a kayak.


The Tarpon 120 is my first…

Submitted by: informed on 7/27/2013
The Tarpon 120 is my first Kayak. I wanted one that was stable and appropriate for lakes. I have had it for about 6 weeks now and thoroughly enjoy it. It is very stable and the seat is extremely comfortable. It tracks well, but is a bear to paddle into a good wind. It is a little heavy, but I can manage it pretty easily. It has good handles that make it easy to move around. While I enjoy the sit on top, I will get another to sit inside to extend my seasons.
Fun boat overall.

I'm a beginning padder and…

Submitted by: paddler235170 on 7/26/2013
I'm a beginning padder and wanted a sit on top kayak. I fish with ultralight tackle from my kayak. One of the biggest selling points for me was the keel design which helps the kayak track extremely straight. I also like the rear open storage with bungees and the dry storage near the seat as well as the larger dry storage up front. The seat is adjustable at both the lumbar and the thighs. You can tailor the seat to your liking. I don't have any complaints about my Tarpon.

Bought the Tarpon 120 used,…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/24/2013
Bought the Tarpon 120 used, my first kayak. It sat for 2 years, just got it out this year. It's heavy, about 60 lbs, so hard to handle it and rack it myself. Anyway... totally enjoying it. Stability is important to me and the Tarpon is very stable. I call it The Cadiyak - Cadillac Kayak. I might want to get something lighter and shorter (12 ft) than the Tarpon at some point, but am totally enjoying my first kayak.

Stable, lots of features, tracks well, etc. It doesn't maneuver as well as a few other kayaks I've been in, but that hasn't been a problem as I'm mostly paddling around lakes at this point.


Excellent yak for flatwater,…

Submitted by: cgann on 7/24/2013
Excellent yak for flatwater, very stable. I got the 12' boat so I could use it on rivers and at the coast. I remove the straps in the back hold area so my dog can ride back there, she loves it. Also excellent for fishing as I had optional rod holders installed by the dealer. The only thing I wish it had were bungee X-straps on the front over the hatch so I could carry additional gear, however those can be added later but it would be nice if the dealer would do so.

I have owned my Tarpon 120…

Submitted by: paddler235149 on 7/24/2013
I have owned my Tarpon 120 for 3 years now and use it for pleasure paddling and for backcountry photography with pro cameras and lenses. I find the hatches and storage to be great for my needs and feel very secure in storing thousands of dollars of gear inside this kayak!

Good kayak. I use it to fish,…

Submitted by: paddler235156 on 7/24/2013
Good kayak. I use it to fish, but gig for flounder mostly. It is a excellent buy. If you want safety in the open water. This kayak will give you that. It takes larger waves well and if you flip out you only have to turn it back over and climb back in. It tracks well and can be a little hard to turn but that is understandable for its meant to track in a line and with the length. Happy kayaking.

If you have been pulling your…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/24/2013
If you have been pulling your hair out researching kayaks you can stop, this is the one to own. Expensive, as all the good ones are, but well worth every penny. Great kayak for every situation. I have owned mine for three seasons now and will never consider buying another brand, well maybe a Jackson Cuda, but this kayak is the master of all kayaks.

This is a great Yak for sure!…

Submitted by: paddler235049 on 6/19/2013
This is a great Yak for sure! I have been out on multiple trips and I really enjoy it. I feel that the tracking is very good, great storage areas. I flipped it and had no water get it dry storage area at all. I feel that the price is a bit expensive but I feel that it will hold up in the long run. There is enough room to put my kids onboard for coast side, small creek fun.
Kudo's to WS! Great Buy!!

I picked up a 12 and 10…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/3/2012
I picked up a 12 and 10 footer after using my 14 footer for 2 seasons. The 120 is used for fishing and does not have a rudder on it. I use it on a 110 surface acre lake and find it tracks well, although not as straight and fast as my 14 which was expected. It seems to have as much practical storage and weight capacity as the 140. My 4 1/2 y.o. can sit comfortably in the stern tankwell and troll while I paddle.

I highly recommend Yak Attack RAM mount screwballs vs. using the slidetrax plates if you plan on using RAM accessories. The 2009 and younger hulls are better due to the Phase 3 seating, scuppered seatwell, and slidetrax system. Love my Tarpons!


I have been looking and…

Submitted by: Springsmom83 on 6/23/2012
I have been looking and reading reviews for years. I may need surgery on an ankle and decided to go for it. I picked up my boat today and promptly took it out even though there was a chance of thunderstorms. I also have a Tsunami 125 and the Tarpon 120 IS a little slower. However, the tracking was excellent and I loved the way it handled. Severe storms came up, we had to beach the boats and use it for cover. It provided excellent cover, I would have even felt safe with hail. Once we headed back to the ramp, the chop was pretty big. Again, it handled everything that I asked superbly. I will rate it again when I can be more objective, but I am so impressed by what this boat did for me the first time out.

Very happy with my 2012 Tarpon 120. Speed Medium Fast, Turns easy…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/27/2012
Very happy with my 2012 Tarpon 120.
Speed Medium Fast, Turns easy. Stability 8 of 10. Weight about 63lbs, not too bad loading onto my Nissan Pathfinder. This is about average weight for this class of boat.
Storage is more than adequate, I can even store rods inside boat through front hatch.
Very comfortable seat, can fish all day no problems. I stay pretty dry even with moderate chop.
Very well made compared to others in same class, size.

I owned a 2006 model for…

Submitted by: Canuka on 2/25/2012
I owned a 2006 model for several years and found it adequate for the purpose most people use it: fishing. For recreational purposes, I would look at something different. If you don't mind the weight and just want to piddle around on the lake, it's fine. But this boat is heavy (my model year was 58 lbs., newer ones are even heavier) and slow, barge slow.

ONE WORD: AWESOME! Love these kayaks, stable, roomy, everything where…

Submitted by: Janw3 on 2/24/2012
Love these kayaks, stable, roomy, everything where you would want it, and upgrade options, lots of storage, the most awesome seat ever so comfortable...and we got the package deal and they didn't scrimp on the paddle or vest, they are both very nice... and did I mention stable? Yes!! In our 50's and needed stable..tracking is fine..did my research and we are so happy...can't wait to take other places and explore, and I do photography so being stable for my digital dslr and lenses is a must!! And I got a dry bag to put it in just in case...kayaks are built nice too..so in love!!!
Ps - don't tell my husband that....

Just got a used Tarpon 120…

Submitted by: paddler234437 on 2/22/2012
Just got a used Tarpon 120 and I'm just blown away by this little boat. I can't say anything about it that hasn't already been said, I just wanted to add my positive response. If you get this kayak, you won't be disappointed.

I did my research like…

Submitted by: paddler234432 on 2/16/2012
I did my research like everyone else I think but never tried nor had ever seen one of these before. I did my first try out solo in the backyard lake, flat water, it was flying, i can even stand up paddle on it and move it without much effort. it is a bit heavy but i can maneuver it since it is not wide at all, i can graciously put it up or download it from my Element.

Plenty of dry space. second try I had my female dog on it, jack russell terrier, other than driving me crazy at first...she loved it....then my wife, not a skinny stick, she is about 135 and 205 myself...plus 10 pounds of extra stuff, you know, women, i sat her in front of me and leaned back to open a gap since i was the only one paddling, it moved faster than I expected...we did 6 miles, all fun, I loved it and we haven't even used its full potential.
no cons so far.


I've been yearning for a…

Submitted by: paddler234281 on 9/7/2011
I've been yearning for a Tarpon since my first flatwater expedition last year in a borrowed Otter. I'm a single parent to two boys (7 & 5) and was really hoping to be able to include them in my river travels. I also have access to a place at the beach and wanted a boat I could take out in the surf, so I knew it'd be a SOT.

I picked up my new Tarpon on Friday. I loaded up my boys, life jackets, water and snacks, and headed for the takeout on the James. The area we were paddling is entirely flatwater, and much of it is shallow enough to walk in. The boys lost any trepidation they might have felt as soon as they hopped in the water. I'd packed a couple of thick cotton bathmats, just in case anyone needed some padding, but I think we'll leave them at home next time.

I'm 5'10". I put my 5yo in front of me and the 7yo in the rear well (he wanted to sit in the front hatch, but I talked him out of it). I'm not sure of exact measurements, but they're both above-average size, and the 5yo is in the 97th percentile for height and weight. I'm guessing we had about 280-290lb in the boat. I was able to paddle fairly comfortably despite the large noggin in the way. I ended up putting the scupper stops in the rear well, although my 7yo was annoyed with me for doing so, as he really wanted to play with the bilge pump (there was only an inch or so of water, though). My favorite part of the trip was my older son's request to try paddling - he was able to paddle about 20 minutes back to the takeout by himself, from the rear of the kayak. He was able to course-correct very well with a little direction.

I'm thoroughly impressed with the stability and maneuverability of the boat in the water, although non-superpersons who solo should probably invest in a kayak cart and a load assist bar...getting the Tarpon back on the Subaru was not in the least bit graceful.


Bought a tarpon 120 about 6…

Submitted by: paddler234275 on 9/6/2011
Bought a tarpon 120 about 6 months ago now and I love it. It works everywhere! Having paddled the prowler 13 which was the other kayak I was interested in I found straight away I preferred the Tarpon. I have used it for estuary fishing, Spinning in small coves, wreck fishing (garmin etrex H, Good budget GPS for plotting wrecks) and deep sea fishing a few miles off sure. On every occasion the boat has performed perfectly, weather having to maneuver in tight spots or fight through some very nasty chop it's a great all rounder. Was out this weekend having launched from a sheltered cove in some rough conditions with wind swells push up around 4ft and it rode over them fine and even gave a stable enough fishing platform to catch some pollock. There's plenty of storage for everything you'd want to take out with you and it's easy to personalize the set up how you want it. Upon using a mine a friend purchased one shortly after and loves it just as much....Definitely a worth while purchase if your looking to get the most out of all aspects of sea angling!

If the rating system was from…

Submitted by: paddler234237 on 8/20/2011
If the rating system was from 1-100 I'd give it a 110. I have been canoeing all my life and wanted to get into kayaking for a long time now. A very bad back has stopped me until I found the Wilderness Systems Tarpon series. Sit ins and many sit on tops just were not comfortable for me. All I had to do was sit in the Wilderness System seat and I knew this was it. I bought a Tarpon 120 and a Tarpon 100 on the spot. My wife tried several other brands but none compared. She has back issues also. The 100 fits her perfectly. The first 3 times we went we were sitting down for 6 hours each day on this seat. I felt better then any other chair I own. It was like a whole new world opened up for us both.

I honestly don't know if I can capsize this without trying. I can sit sideways and fish, I can drag my feet over the sides while paddling. Getting in and out are effortless on this sit on top. Tracks like an arrow in 2 foot swells with a side wind and stays level. I was beyond impressed and still am. The hatch covers have not leaked yet and from what I see, can't be beat in the industry.


Ok, so here's what I've got.…

Submitted by: paddler234129 on 7/12/2011
Ok, so here's what I've got. After searching high and low for a decent fishing kayak, I decided on the Tarpon 120. I am 5'8" and weigh 170, this kayak is great, super quiet, plenty of storage, and a practical layout.

When it came to buying a kayak I was torn between two, the Tarpon 120 and the Ocean Kayak 11 Trident, I really liked the way the Trident looked and I thought the rod pod was a necessity. With that said, I went to the local shop and sat in both of them, did research, sat in them, did more research etc. So I bought the Tarpon, it came with a better seat, and honestly it seemed to be better built, it also has a lifetime warranty.

So when comparing the Tarpon with other kayaks I've used I can say that the Tarpon 120 against the Prowler 13 is hands down a better kayak. I paddled the Prowler for about two hours straight today and find it to be very big and bulky, not very maneuverable, and sitting much higher from the water line the wind was throwing me everywhere.

    Pros for the tarpon:
  • Tracts good for the size
  • maneuverable
  • Layout
  • craftsmanship
  • 3 phase seat
  • carrying handles
  • scupper holes have channels


  • a little heavy
  • hard to clean under seat pan
  • cup holder is a bit of a reach
Lastly, I tried standing in this kayak and failed. I took a quick bath but that was all, none of my gear went, and, getting back in was a snap. The Prowler I used I could stand while I was cruising. I know I am forgetting much, but I spent all day fishing and am whooped! BTW, the bungie between your feet holds the fish down great if you forgot your stringer! Tight lines.

First of all, I really feel…

Submitted by: paddler234057 on 6/13/2011
First of all, I really feel testing several kayaks before purchasing one will really help out your decision in purchasing a yak. I went the cheaper route the first time around and thought it was a good kayak... until I bought a Tarpon 120 back in February 2011.

The Tarpon 120 is a very comfortable yak to sit in. I have been out paddling as long as 6 hours with no back fatigue or butt ache. The yak tracks very good and cuts through the water with ease. The front hatch is large enough to carry my kayak cart and the 8" hatch near the seat is perfect for all your smaller things. With the raised design of the seat, your butt stays perfectly dry. There are lots of other features built into the design of this boat. You can check them out on Wilderness Systems' website.

I know the Tarpon 120 isn't as cheap as a $400 kayak, but you get what you pay for. I learned that lesson and feel that all the benefits you get, more than make up for the higher price. Buy the Tarpon 120 the first time and you'll never have to spend for a better kayak the second... and the Tarpon 120 is much better than the Tarpon 100 for men b/c of the extra weight of a male.


Victoria, BC Canada - Tarpon…

Submitted by: paddler234049 on 6/7/2011
Victoria, BC Canada - Tarpon 120 Angler - Ocean fishing for salmon, halibut, flounder, rockfish and lingcod. Freshwater fish for trout, bass and carp.

Owned and fished from several brands of SOT kayaks now, including but not limited to Ocean Kayak Malibu, Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro, Hobie Maui,and NuCanoe, and the Tarpon 120 is a great mix of everything, and a superior boat to all of them in my opinion.

After paddling a fast but tippy scupper pro, and a very very very slow but stable NuCanoe, I feel that the Tarpon 120 Angler is a great combination of speed and stability, and it does not sacrifice any comfort to achieve this. I have no issues spending 4-8+ hours in this kayak, and have no back fatigue as of yet. The hatches are dry, the factory rod holders couldn't be in a better place and the amount of storage room in the little boat is staggering. I fish this yak in the chuck, some big chuck at that, in freshwater lakes and rivers and it has not failed me yet. I have not tried any whitewater with the boat, but that will likely change this summer.

To be fair, and not only critique the good, the one thing I would say is a negative to this boat (and many other SOT's) is that for a shorter person, it's hard to reach the front section of the kayak where they have placed the little spots to mount Scotty accessories, but this isn't really a problem because the factory rod holders work so damn good.

All in all, I would give this kayak a 10 out of 10, simply because no other kayak has come as close to perfect for me as this one has.


I've already reviewed this…

Submitted by: paddler233863 on 11/13/2010
I've already reviewed this boat, few years back but thought I'd add a few comments. This is one incredibly stable boat. I've taken several people out on this kayak that have never been on the water before and they love it. especially friends that were scared of the water. I've had it for 3 years and average 30 times out a year. Great yak!

My wife bought one of these…

Submitted by: paddler233694 on 7/27/2010
My wife bought one of these (I bought a 13' Hurricane - see separate review) and I greatly admire this boat. Nicest SOT I've ever played in, comfortable, nice ergos, and paddles well. Worth the price plus.

Just bought my wife a…

Submitted by: paddler233522 on 3/30/2010
Just bought my wife a Wilderness Tarpon 120 for her birthday. We've both had a few goes and love it. Very comfortable seat. I like the adjustable foot rests too.

I'm 6ft and 210 pounds and found this kayak perfect for me. I love all the storage areas. Plenty of space to pack a tent, sleeping bag, mattress as well as food and water for the odd camping trip!

I think I'll sell my Hobie Sport and go for this big paddle kayak instead. Sausage Waters here I come!


I have an 2007 model. It's…

Submitted by: paddler232952 on 2/8/2010
I have an 2007 model. It's worked very well in the Guadalupe River, and down on the coast. Over time though, many of the hardware fasteners (screws) have come loose, causing me to have to try to re-bolt the handles and seat from the inside of the boat (not an easy task). Hopefully they've been able to fix this problem in the new boats for 2010. Also, the front hatch on mine has a tendency to come off on drops and rough chop. This caused me to nearly sink on one river outing. Believe me its hard to get a water logged kayak out of the river and drained. Maybe the new forward hatch system will solve this problem. I plan on going to Austin Canoe and Kayak and have them install bungee cords to keep extra pressure on my forward hatch. Otherwise this kayak has taken all the abuse I've thrown at it. Numerous scars from the shallow Guadalupe, but keeps on performing. I'm happy in my choice of a Wilderness Systems kayak.

A friend left the country…

Submitted by: paddler233475 on 1/26/2010
A friend left the country recently and let me keep her Tarpon 120 - a 2005 model. I told her I would research and pay a fair price for it. I have no idea what the value is. It was dirty, and somewhat worn - but I took it out in the bay today, and it was a great ride! I am thrilled to have this kayak - it is seaworthy - I am considering taking it camping up the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica!

Got one of these recently and…

Submitted by: paddler233448 on 12/8/2009
Got one of these recently and am really enjoying it. The only problem I'm having is that I want to go out in it a lot more than my schedule allows. I was a little worried about the seat at first but then just messed around with the adjustment a little more and found that it is good for me. I haven't gotten uncomfortable in it. I was looking at another kayak with "the ultimate kayak seat in it" but decided the Tarpons construction was better and felt a sot was going to be faster and handle plenty of gear for me. It has done that. I was able to stand and paddle while going down the river last trip out. That was really fun. Felt like I was mixing in some surfing. I'm sure if you were in a rough river with lots of rapids this would be a real feat but where I was on flat water it wasn't that difficult. I could definitely spot fish easier standing. Stayed dry on the trip too, at least till it warmed up enough for some wading. So in short, I'm very happy with my purchase.

I just love my slightly used…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/8/2009
I just love my slightly used Tarpon 120's. I picked them up for a steal on a recent trip back east. I haven't had a deal like this for 10 years! I knew how well they would perform by how much the previous owner hated to part with them. They have a dry, fast, comfortable ride and they track well too. I am thinking of painting the hulls though because if the old owner recognizes me paddling around in them there is no telling how crazy it will make him.

I loved this kayak. In fact,…

Submitted by: paddler233258 on 7/26/2009
I loved this kayak. In fact, so did someone who stole both of them from my backyard on a bayside lagoon in NJ - first time anything's been stolen in the neighborhood in 10 years. I guess the thief knew how well they perform or how much they could get for 'em on the black market. I'll miss the Tarpon 120; it's a dry ride, plenty fast, tracks well and quite comfortable. The only thing is if you're paddlin' in my neighborhood in an orange Tarpon 120 you might not come out alive...

okay been out several more…

Submitted by: Sarah777 on 7/26/2009
okay been out several more times since my first review and am very, very pleased. I failed to mention my Tarpon 120 is a 2009 model and that it was as dry a ride for me as my sit inside.
  • I find the dry storage areas superb and the latches have not come open for me even in the roughest chop and surf.
  • There are cords inside the storage areas that your dry bags easily latch on to so they won't slide around in the belly of the boat and are easily retrievable.
  • The storage section in front of my seat is very convenient and accessible.
  • I have discovered the seat is more adjustable then I thought and I love this. It gives good back support.
  • bungees all over the boat are a great design that allows for all kinds of storage and securing everything I might bring along.
Overall I am still so pleased with this boat. The speed, tracking and dry bottom are exactly what I wanted in a new yak.

I have had several kayaks and…

Submitted by: Sarah777 on 7/24/2009
I have had several kayaks and debated whether to go with a SOT but my first look at this and I was hooked. The design of this yak is terrific. It is the best cross btw a SOT and SI that I have ever seen.

It took some getting used to how to load and unload alone (female 5'6" 150) and this is my first 12' model weighing in at 65# but I also bought the fabulous Paddleboy scupper hole wheel set which works beautifully. All I have to do is get my yak on and off my jeep and in 20 seconds I have the wheels in the holes and I am rolling! I can handle that. The wheels take care of the rest easy across sand, hills and other terrain.

As for kayaking in this - I couldn't be more pleased. The extra length helps with speed and tracking which is wonderful and better then my old SI. It handles turns, chop in the Gulf and bays and is just fine on our local rivers and creeks. The storage is fabulous 2 waterproof inset storage areas and a great back section deep and wide well with well designed bungee systems all over the boat.

The seat is amazing. Adjustable and best back support I have ever seen in a kayak. Plenty of handgrips sides and bow and stern... I can't say enough about the comfort of this boat.

The little extra work the 65 pounds and 12' give is well worth the trip on the water. I couldn't see it without my Paddleboy wheels though and amazingly they stow perfectly in the back section of this boat or in my auto whichever I prefer.

Thank you Wilderness Systems for a fine product I will be enjoying for years to come. No buyers regret, and I feel I got the boat that is right for me and that has max potential for an activity I love.


Purchased the '09 edition of…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/24/2009
Purchased the '09 edition of the Tarpon 120 with the new adjustable seat, adjustable rigging, and new hatches. Spend a couple hours switching between the Tarpon 120 and the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 during a demo event by EMS on a lake. Paddled each of them twice for good deal of time. Fished from both of them.

IMHO you can't go wrong with either one. However, I chose the Tarpon 120, because I felt it tracked a bit better and I knew I would want that when paddling to distant locations on my local lakes and during windy days (purchased the non-rudder version).

When testing I actually felt the Prowler seat was more comfortable (read on) and liked the fact that it was about 12lbs lighter than the Tarpon, however the Tarpon just felt better to me - more like a sit in kayak. The installed rod holders (holes) behind the seat on the Prowler position your rods about 35-40 degrees out to the sides, presumably for trolling (?); however on the Tarpon they are almost straight back, which I preferred because I like to fish all waters, including where trees over hang, and with the rods positioned more behind you, it's easier to paddle close or straight in to the bank to undo hang ups.

OK...have had the Tarpon 120 out numerous times and am glad about my decision.
1st - fished for six hours first time and was worried that my butt and lower back would be sore the next day. They were not. Which was a huge concern. The seat's backrest is very adjustable, which is very good, but what a lot of people commented on, and I do think is a great feature, is the thigh support (underneath your thighs) on the Tarpon seat.
2nd - had to get into shore, under trees, to get hang ups undone. Having the rods angled back, instead of out to the sides like the Prowler, was very nice. If I had been in the Prowler, the rods in the holders would have gotten tangled in the overhangs.
3rd - Tracking. After my six hours the first time out I had to paddle into 15ph head winds to get to the ramp, for about 1/2 mile and it tracked very well. Very steady.

Have been out a few times now. Really like it. The seat really surprised me. It's comfortable and adjusts well. I have found myself adjusting throughout the day to suit the way my body feels as he day goes on - basically for my back.

Gave it an 8 because I am sure they could even improve it more. But of you're looking for a fishing kayak in the 12-13ft range, check this one out for sure.


I had been looking at…

Submitted by: paddler232960 on 12/2/2008
I had been looking at purchasing a kayak for about one month. I am 5'11" and 185 lbs. I went into my local paddling shop in Orange County (UPSportsKayaks.com) and they showed me the new 2009 Tarpon Kayak. WOW!!! The new updated hatches and seats are great. They let me take out their demo Tarpon and I loved it. It has a very dry ride, good speed, and is very stable. I had them outfit it with a fishing package and I am now ready to go. If you are looking for a new kayak definitely checkout the new Tarpon 120 fro Wilderness Systems!

I've had my 2008 banana…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/15/2008
I've had my 2008 banana yellow Tarpon 120 for about 3 months. Paddle in relatively calm lakes - and do a little fishing when the mood strikes.

It tracks straight, is plenty fast, and is actually a fairly dry ride. I'm able to lift it onto my roof rack solo (I'm 5'11, 200lb) with the very nice carrying handles. It came with 6 scupper plugs, but they were in the body of the kayak, if I hadn't carried it at an angle, making them fall to the front, I might have never found them. Installing a Scotty fishing rod holder was a piece of cake, with 2 perfectly placed mounting areas in the cockpit.

A few minor annoyances. The hatch in the cockpit is pretty low, meaning it can get some water in if not secured 100% properly. The "day" hatch behind the seat does not have the bag insert, making it useless (I ordered an aftermarket insert). Finally, the seat back is really not well padded. I either wear my PFD, or drape it over the seat, and all is well - but it should have more padding from the factory. Seat adjustments are very easy.

So far so good. I'd be comfortable taking it in the ocean, or really anywhere. A very nice boat at the "nice price."


I bought this boat about 4-5…

Submitted by: paddler232491 on 3/20/2008
I bought this boat about 4-5 weeks ago. Went in to get a deal on an 07 and ended up with the same deal on on an 08. I'm about 6'4 and about 235lbs. I'd been paddling my friends 100 and enjoyed it, so I figured the 120 would be even better. Well, the cockpit is about the same size as the 100, but it has the adjustable foot pegs instead of the molded steps. Nice change for me.

In 2008, WS made some changes in their mold and removed the scupper holes from behind the seat, so no more wet bottom, Awesome. However, they also introduced a new adjustable seat back. I would have given the boat a 9.5 instead of a 6 if they hadn't done this. In theory it is nice to have the adjustment on the seat back. However the plastic on the back itself flexes way more than the metal post on which it slides. The result is a visibly bruised back (right ! on the spine) after about 45 minutes of light paddling and fishing. It's much like leaning against a broken street sign. Unfortunately for WS, I think this new seat is standard on all of the 2008 SOTs.

A wise thing that they did do however was discontinuing the dark olive color they used in their camo and as a solid color in previous years - after a day in the sun it got VERY pliable and dangerously hot. The new camo is a mix of sand and spruce. Nice combo, but did not mix in the mold very well. It's pretty much green with a splash of sand on the bottom and 2 places near the cockpit. Still decent looking though.

End result: Go buy an 2007 for less and get 2 pieces of foam for the seat scupper holes. Hopefully there will be a recall on the 08 seat backs, but I'm not holding my breath.


Update to my 8/06 review: I really enjoyed this boat. It was…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/15/2007
Update to my 8/06 review:
I really enjoyed this boat. It was a good one and I thought I had the perfect boat for me. That was until I paddled a Liquid Logic Manta Ray. Each boat has its good points and bad, but the Manta Ray was a much better ride for me. It turns easier, it's faster, and the lay out of the boat is more user friendly. The Tarpon seems to track a little better, but with decent paddle strokes, the Manta Ray will get you there just the same. I also noticed that not near as much water came in through the foot wells on the Manta Ray as compared to the T120. Manta also has a much nicer seat built in. Sorry Wilderness Systems...

Just got the kayak a week ago…

Submitted by: paddler232210 on 7/25/2007
Just got the kayak a week ago and have been out on the bay twice with two very different experiences. The first time out the Chesapeake was relatively calm, and it made for quick paddling. The Tarpon is much faster than I expected it to be, faster than my wife's Dagger Blackwater 10.5. I didn't have any trouble keeping the kayak tracking straight. I think the only reason I'd look at a rudder is for waves (see below).

The second time out was totally different. The bay was very choppy with many waves about a foot tall, and one that was at least a foot and a half tall (a friend told me that means it is probably a 'three foot wave') and high winds. The Tarpon would go up the waves, and slap down only to go back up again a second later. I still was going where I wanted to, but was having trouble making much headway. Then again, I don't know what could change that. I had put my keys in the little storage area in front of me. Big mistake. I hadn't bungeed the top down, and a big wave washed the top off, and got some water in the kayak. The keys were fine, and I learned a lesson about how to rig the boat. I'll probably use the storage behind me for my keys from here on out.

The first trip I was totally dry. During this crazy second trip waves washed up high enough that my butt was wet, but that was really part of the fun. I spend 45 minutes going out, and 8 minutes riding waves back in. The Tarpon is no wave rider, but I caught one wave that took me about 20 yards, it was great! The waves pushing me in did tend to turn the boat a bit, but that's the only time I'd ever consider a rudder, and by just keeping paddling I could go where I wanted to. This was definitely the boat for me.


I have had this kayak for…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/10/2007
I have had this kayak for several years and have been pretty happy with it. The T120 is a great kayak for flat water. I wrote a review a few years ago that explained the pros. I just wanted to give it a few cons. It seems to be bow heavy when going through surf. It goes through waves instead of riding over them. Also when coming in through the surf the bow seems to dive. I have had a few instances where the bow hatch was blown off while surfing in. Ignore the rating, just keep this in mind if you are considering a fishing kayak for use in the open ocean.

This boat joins 3 canoes and…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/17/2007
This boat joins 3 canoes and another kayak. I bought it mid summer. I had tried an Ocean Prowler 13, but found the ride to be to wet for my taste. With 250lbs in the boat some water collects in the footwell, but the seat stays dry. Using this boat on small to large rivers it is exactly what I expected - stable, can be fished out of; carves turns slowly; little effected by wind at my weight. My 160lb son "got blown all over the place." A good workout pace moves it at 3.8 mph over 6 miles on flat water. With 320lbs in the boat speed drops to 3.6 mph. Material and workmanship were good. The area in front of the seat flexes with modest pressure. Hatch covers and fitting have worked without problems. If a long enough paddle is not used fingers can drag on side handles even when they are fastened down. I can stay in the unpadded seat for 2 to 3 hours without a break. I bought this boat for the added safety of an unsinkable SOT during winter use.

This is an awesome boat. If…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/15/2006
This is an awesome boat. If you are like me and like to paddle on large lakes, small shallow rivers, and hit small rapids (class I and II), then this is a perfect boat. The 12 foot has a nice blend of speed for the larger lakes, but it's still small enough to handle the faster rivers. And it is a blast on the fast rivers. I have taken it over four foot waterfalls and class II rapids, and then fished the slower sections of the river.

This is a very comfortable boat, easy to get in and out of, even in the middle of the lake, and you can carry a ton of gear. My fishing poles even slide right into the bow hatch and I don't even have to break them down. Yes, it is a little heavy, but thats what those splended little carts are for!

Also, my four year old daughter loves it too. She fits right into the tank well and points out all the fish and turtles along the way.

It is easy to outfit it with rod holders, so save yourself some money and don't buy the fishing version. And you don't need a rudder!


Tarpon 120, rigged for…

Submitted by: paddler231615 on 6/13/2006
Tarpon 120, rigged for fishing. At a recent tag sale, my wife called and I picked up the Tarpon 120 (2005) for $375 including a 230cm paddle. After reading the reviews here, I have to agree.

Fishing has been a blast. I'm able to get into rivers and the bays of Long Island without problems. Going to take it to the beach next weekend. And upstate lakes after that.

Only question I have after reading reviews is whether the T-120 could really be stable enough with a child in the bow area. (Child's 60 lbs (great swimmer) and I'm 235). I think I'll either get another T-120 or a new OK Malibu Two XL.

I was looking at the OK Malibu XL but this T120 yak was too good to pass up. I may still get the tandem for sanity and safety.


After much review I decided…

Submitted by: paddler231561 on 5/15/2006
After much review I decided on a Tarpon 120. I have been out several times since. cuts through the chop like a champ. handles very good for a 12' boat, but can't turn on a dime. it was advised for me to get a rudder and did. boy ! am i glad really helps to keep a straight line going from spot to spot and battling the winds. my only problem with the yak is it's heavy to lift on top of my car. i've since used a loading bar which has really helped alot. weight is the only problem i have with this yak. overall you can't go wrong with this yak.

I own a pair of 120's and a…

Submitted by: paddler231006 on 3/1/2006
I own a pair of 120's and a pair of 140's. I bought the 120's first and love them. They fly out of the hole and coast like no other 12' yak on the market. They track extremely well even when lightly loaded and travel without making a sound. The 140's are a little more wind affected until you pack them with gear then they out shine the 120's. I have kept my 120's because every inexperienced guest we take with us has had a great experience in them. They are easy to handle and extremely responsive to accelerate. I would highly recommend the 120 for anyone. The 140 needs to be loaded to deal with the wind issue or paddled by an experienced peddler. My wife at 5'3" and just over a hundred pounds handles her 140 fine. It is her favorite boat. I'm 5'10" 215 and as I said if I load the 140 with camping gear and food the wind issues go away. This capacity for load was the reason I bought the 140's. It should be noted here that frequent trips with my guests have caused me to put a 160i on order.

My wife and i have had our…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/13/2006
My wife and i have had our boats now for over a year. The 120 tracks so well i can't imagine ever needing a rudder. Plenty of storage for the camping trips. Stability is fantastic. We T&E'd the 140, but i found very little advantage other than slightly more storage. As for the water in the foot well....it just doesn't bother us her in FL. I guess i would plug them in colder weather. I am 6'4" 225, & the foot braces were in my way, so i took them(and the rails) out. This really made the cocpit more comfortable for me. Highly recommend....!

Went through all the comments…

Submitted by: vlovejoy on 3/16/2005
Went through all the comments in this column prior to buying the T120 Fisherman. I had tried several fishing yaks including the T140 and felt most comfortable in the 120. I have not been disappointed in my choice. My only complaints are; 1) the forward scubbers fill the foot well with just enough water to be a pain and I can't lean forward far enough to sponge up the water when I have plugs in and 2) the rudder line to raise and lower the rudder rubs against the hull and is wearing a hole through the hull. I have put some hard plastic material under the line to protect the hull, but I feel this is just a poor design job. Otherwise, I love the boat.

I’ve tried just about every…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/16/2005
I’ve tried just about every fishing kayak out for 2005. I have found that a truly well design fishing kayak does not exist yet. However, a few are getting closer. I went with the Tarpon 120 due to its size and weight. I know it has been out longer and has changed little than some of the manufacturer’s newer models. I guess this is saying something good about the design of the T120. Even today it is still among the best. I’ve found it so. It is easy to transport on car or SUV. It paddles as well as any of the others and better than most. It is not fast and neither are the others. It does not turn as well as I would like but neither does the others. It does turn better than most due to it length [12’]. In the past I fished from a touring kayak. I needed to get in and out easily, therefore reason to get a SOT. The T120’s stability is fine for me. I do like the quality that is inherent in the Wilderness System line. There are others than can not compare [I won’t mention them here].

The rumor mill is saying that 2006 will produce the first well designed fishing kayaks. Let hope so. Hopefully the manufacturers will now realize the tremendous market waiting for these kayaks and will start paying close attention to the kayak fisherman requirements that have here to fallen on deaf ears for so many years. Until then, try the T120.


My two friends and I all…

Submitted by: paddler230938 on 1/30/2005
My two friends and I all bought the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 in Nov 2004. The outfitter, Mad Paddlers of Tampa, took us out to Philippe Park for a nice long demo of several boats. We had previously considered Necky Spikes, Ocean Kayaks (can't remember the models. We tried the Tarpon 120 and 140, and the Perception Castor.

The Castor was not a bad boat, and had we never tried the Tarpon 120, it would have been added to our list of "maybes". The Tarpon 140 was a nice boat too, but just a bit too large and unwieldy for us. (We are all roly poly very short middle aged ladies).

The Tarpon 120 impressed us all so much that we bought on the spot. Two of us opted for the beautiful mango color that shades from almost red at the stern to yellow at the bow. Another chose the red.

We have had some wonderful adventures on these boats. The large well in the stern has been great to hold a cooler and other misc. and the other hatches are more than enough storage for us. One friend had hers fitted for fishing, but has not fished yet, as she has been just enjoying the paddling experience so much. The boats are pretty easy to get into, even with one of us having rather poor balance. The forward scuppers to tend to let some water in...I think we will all be plugging these. The seats are comfortable, though we will all probably fit them with those stick on foam pads for longer paddles. We stay very dry, especially the seat, unlike any of the ones I have paddled before. The boats are very stable, and handle beautifully, with accurate tracking. We have not needed rudders, but we have only paddled creeks and rivers, no bay or ocean except at the demo. The only downside at all is that they are a rather hard for us to put onto the roof of my Trooper. (I am designated hauler). We bought two step stools, and have the rack that can carry up to 4 on their sides, but our first time out saw us dropping one boat twice from the roof of the Trooper. (The boat held up well). I think it will just take practice. Luckily, two of us live on the water and we can go out often. I would recommend that anyone looking for a versatile SOT kayak to search out a Tarpon 120 and try it out.


I spent the afternoon in a WS…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/11/2005
I spent the afternoon in a WS Tarpon 120, Tarpon 140 as well as the OK 15'4" Prowler. I'm 6', 210lbs. I was leaning to the 140 (being a larger guy that likes to camp, fish and hunt) but now I have some concerns. The tracking was definitely affected by a slight breeze.

The difference between the 120 and 140 is small but noticeable in all the obvious ways except wind sensitivity. 10 mph breeze, the 120 was significantly less affected. This was also the impression of my buddy that was demoing them as well. When I asked him for his impressions he volunteered it so I didn't color his perception, 2 independent observations.

The difference in glide was surprisingly small but present. Ditto on maneuverability.

Another interesting observation, while the forward scuppers spouted like a fountain on the 140 with a leaning stroke, the 120 didn't seem to. This could be handled by plugs of course.

I won't bother to compare it to the Prowler here. Apples and oranges. One thing I will mention here, however, the WS boats cut better and more quietly, no water slap on the hull. Major advantage if stalking birds, game or fish is your thing. Prowler would alert them way before the Tarpons would.


I rented a Tarpon 120 at…

Submitted by: paddler230793 on 9/13/2004
I rented a Tarpon 120 at Hilton Head Outside in NC. My first outing was in the lagoon system throughout the complex I was staying at. Since I passed at least one alligator, stability was an important issue for me. This is one stable yak. I was in the boat for over two hours, and had not problems with comfort. The adjustable seat back worked well. The next several outings were off the beach, and again, I was pleased. Through the surf, this boat was easy to paddle, and I caught some terrific rides back to the beach. Sunburn on my inner calfs was an issue, but otherwise a SOT is the way to go. I am a big guy, 6'2" 260. I will buy the Tarpon 140 for the extra room, but this boat sold me on the SOT. Most of my paddling happens in the Adirondack lakes of New York, but I live near the ocean and the versatility of this boat will increase my paddling time. I have a used the Pungo 120, this boat is going to my son.