I've used these for about 4 years, and they've been great. 2 factors to consider if you buy these to make them work. Number one they work best on a Yakima rack with round crossbars. Most importantly, number two - get a bicycle inner tube and wrap it around and tape it (on the ends) on your rack. This gives solid rubber for the pads to grip to, end of problems. Just disassembled mine and taken them off, because I will be transporting a canoe upside down and have to find another solution. They are still in great shape should I ever need them again. The price was right, they do a great job, just get yourself that inner tube!
Sat on the fence for a long time before I sold this one. It was love hate, the wet seat and too far to reach back to my crate because of the rear hatch. The looks build quality and paddling was just great, and also easy because of the narrow beam to dangle your legs over the side when it was hot. Bottom line I paddle to fish, and this was a bare bones boat that was a joy to paddle, but a PITA to fish out of at times. Finally let go and I don't regret it and I also still have some great memories with it as well. I'd give it a 5 as a touring sit on top for someone less than 200 lbs, but a 3 as a fishing kayak, it just wasn't made for that, so we'll aim for a 4 out of a 5 for the average.
Viking Profish 400, it's changed some from the original Lite model which was listed as light as 52 lbs and had a 30 inch beam. It is now currently listed on the American site as 61 lbs and 32.75 inches in width. I heard they added some more resin to beef it up, also interesting to note is the original length specified was 13'2, and is now at 13'6. This kayak is very comfortable with a good seat (seat included not adequate), I already had a comfortable Surf to Summit seat so not a problem. Easy to paddle at a good pace if you want, quite a bit faster than the Jackson Cruise I owned but not quite as efficient as my Necky Vector, but close. That says a lot considering the width.
It comes stock with 4 flush mounted rodholders, two in the middle behind the seat and two on either side on the gunwale that face forward for placing your rod if you're unhooking a fish or tying on a lure. There is room behind the seat to install 2 more flush mounts on the outside of the inner ones, which may make them a little easier to access, as it is now I reach behind and do it by feel but it works. If you use a shorter paddle stroke, the ones up front won't be a problem but I only do that if I'm fishing and not paddling any distance. There is a Starpoint mount made by Railblaza in the back behind the tank well that will accommodate a stern light or flag. In fact the Viking kayaks were designed with the Railblaza mounts in mind. 4 threaded holes sit in front of the tackle pod cover that will fit Starpoint mounts for rod holders or camera mounts made by Railblaza. One cool thing to note is with your rod holder pointed towards the stern the rod will be above your head but you'll still be able to troll like they do in New Zealand and see the strike right in front of you, unique to these kayaks. You can add a portable tackle pod to carry everything - depth finder, battery, tackle boxes etc., or add a portable Chill Pod behind you to add ice for your catch or your food and drinks. The tank well is very wide, the widest I've ever had. When I put my standard size milk crate behind me, I've got almost 3 inches to spare on either side. The unique scalloped hull makes the boat paddle much more efficiently, and it also sits low in the water, meaning it's not a wind catcher with minimal weathercocking. Tackle storage is easy with the tackle lid and bin beneath right in front of you.
Now for the few things I don't like but not major. The scalloped hull design brings with it a decent amount of hull slap in light chop against the wind. Even in smooth flat conditions there is a gurgling sound beneath the hull. The only other 2 complaints I have are the the handles are part solid and part tough cloth, I'd prefer solid all the way. The last one is one I don't get. Right under the side handles are pad eyes that will crunch your fingers if you carry the kayak sideways like I do when I pick it up from its stored leaned position. Overall the kayak is a winner in my book and one I think will suit my fishing needs for some time to come. Sorry for the long review but hope it can help someone make the right choice.
At 12'3" the boat has good volume and is roomy, much more so than my Perception Tribe 11.5. I still recommend the Tribe to those on a budget though, very good kayak. The Cruise however basic it may seem compared to Jackson's pricier models, has so much potential for using the mounting points that are given, and doing some additional upgrades of your own, that you can make it into what you need to fish out of. Hopefully I'll slowly learn to stand in it from the high seat position. 10 years ago with the old style WS Ride I had no problem, but my legs aren't what they used to be.
This is also a very quiet hull design with zero noise in most conditions, making for a stealthy fish stalking craft. There is only one slight negative, it is a little on the slow side and if you need to cover lots of ground this wont be your boat. All that being said it's not a slug and you'll get a comfortable middle ground pace without too much effort. It's not a kayak to be pushed in the speed department. I'll compare it to my Necky Vector 14 in terms of speed. The Vector is effortlessly fast and efficient. It's drawback is it's niche, but when I want to get down to the Chesapeake Bay it will be my choice. Otherwise the Cruise will do nicely in terms of comfort stability quiet and things most fisherman want.
Great all around boat that I highly recommend. If you are ever near Phoenixville, PA I also highly recommend French Creek Outfitters where I bought this boat - great selection and service.
The Vector 14 is a beautiful looking boat with nice lines and a narrow 25 inch beam which makes paddling effortless. There are no special mounting points or consideration for adding fishing gear so that is a given and I consider it a "minimalist" boat though it still fits a standard milk crate fine - only problem being reaching behind to the crate is very awkward. I had a few trips where I really appreciated the speed and ease of paddling that my other SOT doesn't provide, but I also made the mistake in late October of just wearing wet suit shorts and board shorts on top, big mistake - temperature dropped at the end of the day, and when I came in I was getting hypothermic, quickly got my gear to the car and sat inside with the heater on - lesson learned. It's fine with neoprene waders and insulation underneath.
If you are less that about 195 or so, you will probably love this boat if you like to tour and want a SOT. I find for a boat of this length, that at 62 lbs., although a heft, it's a good deal lighter that any fishing SOT would be of the same length and I can handle it.
If I had to do it over again, I would have purchased a SOT made for fishing and standing as well, recognizing that the extra weight would be a factor and I would deal with that. I've been looking at the Vibe SOT kayaks, and have a Skipjack 90 on layaway. The Sea Ghost 130 is their fishing flagship and for the price, I don't think you'd find anything better.
Just can't part with the Vector, I enjoy what it has to offer so much and it's grown on me and I will have too many kayaks as it is soon, lol. I see on the Necky website that the Vector is no longer available, and if you go to Austin Kayak and Canoe, you'll see that it's discontinued. Maybe it will make a comeback with a better seat design, I don't know, I'm sure that wet seat did it in. I'll still keep mine for what it is, a great paddling boat.
I have to say I was a little disappointed, the performance was fine, the build quality is great but coming from a fishermans point of view, not a well rounded kayak like my Perception Tribe 11.5. If you want to sit side saddle on the Vector, forget about it, you are seated in too low of a position and have to bring your legs up over the sidewalls, uncomfortable.
If you are used to a sit inside and like having your legs locked in one forward position (though the footpegs move fore and aft) you'll experience the same feeling in this kayak. I am used to moving my legs around with more width on the Tribe, and sitting side saddle to get a break or reach behind into the tankwell. The narrow width of the Vector makes these things uncomfortable, reaching around to access the rear is harder on this kayak.
This is a touring kayak with a sit inside design and if you like to paddle and aren't concerned with fishing, the speed is fine. Not an all around or well rounded kayak in my opinion but wasn't designed to be. I found the hull to be very quiet in the water and efficient.
Two problem areas, one having already been mentioned, is that water will find a way into the seat and since the seat is on an upward angle from the floor it will stay. Every time I took a break and got out of the kayak, there was a puddle of water that I had been sitting in, the scupper plugs that come with the kayak aren't much help plugging under the seat, maybe some more solid ones would work better. On my paddle back to the put in site at the end of the day, the wind was blowing at a good rate, and this kayak weathercocked badly. I think a few other reviewers mentioned the boat gets rocked and blown around by the wind.
After all I've said here, I'll give it some time to see on calmer days how I like it. If I do keep it, I will be installing a rudder, in my opinion a must have for windy days and rougher conditions. As for now, the kayak is up for sale on the site, but as soon as the rodholders arrive on my doorstep, I'll do my best to make this into more of a fishing kayak. There is enough space behind the seat on either side to install flushmounted rodholders, or as I prefer, flat flush Scotty bases which allows the holder to be tilted or swung out or in at any angle.
I would have given this kayak a 7 but I blame part of my initial discontent on the crappy day I first paddled it. Very simply put, for it's intended purpose as a touring sit on top Necky achieved their goal. Maybe my mind will be changed, but to me it's a one dimensional one trick pony that's not suited well for fishing.
The only con I can come up with is some hull slap in light chop, but not extreme. Compared to the Ocean Kayak Scrambler XT (about the same length) seems like it will fit larger paddlers a lot easier with room for the hips width wise.
I definitely prefer sit on tops over sit insides for fishing and have owned a Cobra Tourer, Prowler 15, WS Ride (old style), Cobra Expedition, Perception Napali and a Cobra Marauder. I've always had to sell my sit on tops due to my crappy job before.
Things being better now, would I prefer a longer sleeker kayak for bigger water, yes - down the road, but this one does just fine on the big lake I usually fish and on a Delaware River float trip last weekend. The light weight and just long enough length are great for a jack of all trades kayak that is a pleasure to paddle and it is a keeper and will stay that way even as I eye a longer SOT next year.