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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
I would highly recommend the Tarpon 120 to anyone looking to get a 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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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!
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 compared that with the Tarpon 100, 120 definitely tracks and performs better. when compared with 140, the performance different wasnt that noticable. but 140 would be too much a chore to put on top of my Honda Element. i think 120 is a good balance between the performance and the ease of transport. and the bonus for me is that i got this demo at the price of a Tarpon 100.
the seat looks cheap, but its very comfortable. plenty of storage in the front hatch and the storage area behind the seat. the two handles on the side help to load the boat onto the roof rack, but when carrying it by myself, it rubs against my thigh. sometimes its in my way when paddling, but you can get use to it.
its tons of fun to ride this in calm water. but even in 1-2ft waves, this kayak handles with ease. maybe the only complaint is that my kid takes it all the time and i have to take the 135T. i might just get a second Tarpon 120.
Kayak - Tarpon 120, orange, three scotty holders at following locations: 12 o'clock, 5 o'clock, and 7 o'clock. Anchor, milk crate system, 230cm Weiner paddle, 2 fishing poles about 6 feet in lenghth with light weight tackle.
Environment - Water temperature was about 50 degrees, weather temperature was about 60 degrees. Tested on Falls Lake, NC on December 29, 2003.
Impression: Very positive experience. Tracks straight and I feel that a rudder is not needed (This saved me a lot of money). Kayak turns very easy and floats in minimal water. Easily went over downed trees that were inches below the surface. The small anchor did a great job in maintaining the fishing position despite an obvious current. Tarpon 120 comes standard with an oar holder and it was easy to use. Tarpon was extremely stable during agressive distance casting. Tarpon 120 was difficult to access items in the rear tank well (milk crate) because I have to twist my torso beyond my comfort level.
My back side got very cold and a seat insulating cushion would have increased my comfort. When leaning forward to access my tackle box, water gushed through the front four scutter holes and flooded my tackle box. Water receeded when I leaned backed into the standard position. I plan to plug these before my next trip.
I can not comment on speed because I do not have a comparison. I did do some trolling and found that I was able to maintain great action on my lures with minimal paddling effort.
This is a wider boat, so plan your paddle purchase carefully. My dealer suggested the 130cm, and it may be too short for this kayak. I had to keep changing hand positions to get powerful strokes.
Tarpon 120 is heavy and loading it on an SUV is difficult. Do not fool yourself into thinking that weight does not matter. I use a side kick for my roof rack, and it is still difficult to load the Tarpon. I am shopping for a kayak trailer which will make this sport a pure joy. But now I wish I would have looked more closely at the bigger boats as they claim to offer more speed.
In summary - Very comfortable and easy to navigate. Extremely stable and fishing is a dream. The speed gives good action on my lures, so I can not really complain. I will plug those scutter holes and buy a trailer - I give it a 9.
I bought mine for fishing - my first sit on top for that purpose. I think the Tarpon 120 has several things to recommend it over other similar yaks.First, the seat shape is fantastic. It's comfortable even without any padding of any sort. The cockpit is roomy and pleasing and there is plenty of room for even long legged fishermen. Good support for the back and also under the knees. Fantastic.Storage is ample and well thought out. The forward hatch is large enough that you can actually store 3 or 4 assembled 9' rods inside the hull! Put a strip of velcro down inside and you can make sure they don't move around and tangle with each other during transport or rough water crossings. The only bad thing, is that you can't access them while on the water. But you can take out the ones you'll be using and then move to shallow water where you can exit and swap rods when the need arises.
The rear tankwell is superb. Perfectly sized and arranged. I keep a Rubbermaid storage box there that holds my rainsuit, towels, rope, accessories, etc. On each side of this box are rod holders, made from 1.25 inch PVC tubing and slotted to hold either casting, spinning or fly rods. These are much better than the commercial rod holders which require drilling holes in your boat deck and which can't hold many types or sizes of rods. The small hatch between your knees is where I keep my bilge sponges. (Boat hasn't leaked a drop so far.) The one behind the seat has my keys, fishing license, wallet, etc. They've been dry so far.
I do not like the handles fore and aft. They're fancy and nice to look at, but carrying awkward and rigging anchors tough. The best anchor set up is always though clamcleats (one handed operation) and then through eyebolts fasten thru-hull at the extreme bow and stern. I had to do some creative rigging to accomplish this on the Tarpon. It was much easier on the Mallard, old style Pungo and Critter, as you can use the handle nibs to run an eyebolt through. Oh well, nothing's perfect.
The boat tracks well, is a bit hard to turn in tight quarters, and is fairly fast. It also drafts very little water. I weight 175 lbs and carry maybe 20 or 25 lbs of geat and the water just laps at the first chine on the side of the hull. I don't think I'm in the water more than 4 inches! The boat seems very stable, even though you're sitting above the water line.
Overall I think this is the best sit on top fishing platform I've yet paddled or used. With just a couple mods it becomes the perfect sit on top fishing platform. WS has a winner here. Well worth the price and sure to last and be enjoyed for year after year.........
PS. The trip was great as was the performance of the Tarpon 120 on the rapids and the pools. Greatest, and best appointed fishing Kayak made. Regards Joe
I mentioned that I placed brass screw type plugs in the scupper holes. The two that are located at the foot well area were getting pushed down from me moving my feet around so took a hack saw and cut off the screw ends that stood up above the surface. I then ground the remaining metal smooth on a grinder. They stay right in place now. The other 6 plugs still have the ends remaining as I've had no problem with them.
Like I said in my previous review I have back problems and I'm not completely comfortable sitting for long periods. I can say I'm far more comfortable on the Tarpon 120 than I ever was on any other kayak I've used. With the Cape Horn I could only sit in it for maybe an hour tops before I HAD to get out and stretch. With the Tarpon 120 I can sit on it practically indefinitely. But still I felt the Tarpon could use some "tweaking." I got the idea of buying a Therm-a-rest inflatable mattress and the camp chair conversion accessory. However that's like $100 investment. If I were camping on my kayak all the time that would be somewhat more palatable I suppose. It would be great to have it for dual use and as an added bonus it wouldn't take up any storage space. However I saw a review where someone mentioned buying a camp chair at Walmart. I went there and found what was called a "stadium seat." It's designed just like the therm-a-rest setup but for only $10. You just can't use it as a mattress. I bought it and WOW is it comfortable! It's so comfortable rather than getting out on the shore and maybe resting on a log, sometimes I'll just back it up to the shore and sit for awhile enjoying a the peace and quiet. As an added bonus the seat has some pockets on the bottom that I'm able to tuck things into like my keys, bug spray and so on. I'm VERY happy with that purchase. It also perfectly matches the color of my kayak. Way to go Walmart!
One other thing I can say about this kayak is that I can simply toss it on the back of my little Isuzu pickup. I used to have to install/remove a rack setup to carry the Cape Horn. That's a BIG reason why I use this one more frequently. But there's more! With that 17 foot long Cape Horn it was difficult to find enough shoreline on a river to park so I could get out to stretch. With this Tarpon I can point the nose straight toward the shoreline and park it practically anywhere. I can climb right off the front of it no problem. As a test I once stood up on it and it didn't feel tippy at all. Consequently I don't feel squeamish about taking my digital camera along with me on paddles as I did with the Cape Horn. With that new seat I bought I also have a perfect sized pocket in which to carry the camera.
Something else I really like about this kayak is the way it practically sits on top of the water. A river I frequently paddle on has literally hundreds of fallen trees in it. Most of them are right under the surface of the water. This kayak just glides right over them! The other day I was able to paddle across a shallow (gator infested) marsh with no problem. Also I've had power boats whiz past me and this kayak glides right over the wakes without nose diving. The cockpit always stays dry. Haven't tried it in the ocean and don't plan to either. Gators? No problem. Kayak swallowing ocean? No way! :O)
If I haven't already made it absolutely clear, I'm totally ecstatic about this kayak! Somehow this Tarpon 120 increases my enjoyment of being on the water by a factor of 100. That's something I would not have guessed was possible! Nuff said. Now I'm off to do some more paddling.
Rigged for fishing this kayak is a real winner. Catching a 20" spec also added to the experience. If one is a wade fisherman as I am, with this Tarpon 120 you can cover so much more territory (and look down on the sting rays). I found it stable, very quiet (no wave slap) and very easy to maneuver on the windy bay.
The Scotty rod holders work great for just holding the rods as well as for trolling. The rudder allows you to control your drift when drift fishing, so you can fasten the paddle to the side of the kayak with the provided straps. All the tie down places are well thought out.
The rest has been well stated by the other reviewers! Gentlemen at Wilderness Systems, You have a real fishing machine here.
Yes, selecting a kayak is all a series of trade offs and the Tarpon 120 which I rented, fit 90% of the bill. Only the Demo was in town as the new boats are only now supposed to be arriving.
On my list, the Tarpon 120 has too many plus features not to be the kayak for me.. It is very stable, and easy to manover, in the wind and waves. I could also sit sidways feet in the water, to easily reach anything behind me in the large storage area there. In fact my paddleboy "tomato" wheels were there as it was quite walk back to the car, so I took them with me. The paddle tie downs on the side are nice to when transporting the kayak to the water on the "tomato" wheels.
The rudder was on the Demo kayak I rented and I found it a real plus when fly fishing and drifting with the wind. It reduced considerably the need to correct the kayak's direction with the paddle while fly fishing the bank. A rudder will be on my boat when it arrives. Another plus for me was, when stripping the fly line, there was good room on the deck between my legs for the line as well as space to work when retying flies on the line. A nice touch is a tied down just in front of the seat, which I used to secure my fly box. In font of that. in easy reach, is the space for a water bottle. Very important, I could put my 9' fly rod, assembled and ready to use, in the hull as the hatch was large enough for it to easily fit through, along with the other accessories for the day. This was nice that, when I left the kayak to eat lunch, I could put the rod out of sight in the hull of the boat. I have not found a use for the other 2 screw hatches, but I imagin that if I had something slip to the other end of the hull, I would be glad to have them. -Grin-
Paddling hard into the wind (about 15mph breeze), the boat seemed to almost want to plane and ride on top over the smaller waves in place of the bow slicing through the water. Again the rudder was a help on the shorter boat to easily cover a reasonable distance up wind.
The seat design is very good for me. I used a 3/4 inch thick dense foam stadium cushion under me, and together with the new molded seat back was a winner. I did not really get wet as the seat is a little higher in the boat, so, even though I was wearing a pair of breathable waders, the ride was quite dry, waves and all.
As one gets older, it is supprising how much difference 5 or more pounds can make in handling the Kayak to load and off load from the top of a minivan. I often fish alone, so, I have to mark the Tarpon 120 down for the weight, especally for its short 12 foot length. Its 4 feet shorter than the Tarpon 160, yet only a very few pounds lighter. Otherwise this kayak is a real winner!!!! And I will have one as soon as they get in town.
A few comments comparing the Tarpon 120 to my OK Scrambler. The Tarpon will float in 2-3" less water than the scrambler. The Tarpon is a little tippier, but firms up quickly at about 10 -15 degrees of lean. In the Scrambler, if you lean left, you turn left. In the Tarpon, Lean Left and you turn right. The Scrambler accelerates faster, but the Tarpon will glide a bit longer. I don't have a rudder on my Tarpon, and don't really see the need for one. The boat turns easily and is very sensitive to a twist of the waist and paddle thrust to shift direction. In that respect, it is a bit squirrlier than the scrambler. Also, the OK Padded seat fits nicely right on top of the plastic seat in the Tarpon, like it was custom made. It adds a lot to comfort, no numb but at all. The Tarpon does have wet footwells, and a set of scupper plugs will be the next addition along with a rod holder or two. Hull slap is less on the tarpon, but you can make noise with the foot rests as they have a bit of play. I spooked a couple of fish until I realized you need to keep good solid pressure on the pedals to keep them quiet The tank well on the Tarpon is quite a bit wider than the Scrabmler, and will easily hold a decent sized cooler, or large bucket. It also has a flatter bottom. But beware, it also has scuppers and will stay wet towards the front without plugs installed. I weigh 220, and the boat seems like it is made for my weight range.