by Peter Jung •
It is always an interesting concept when you contact a marine dealership to organise some boat tests and the reply is “We have a boat for you to test, but we do more than just boats.” All sorts of thoughts could go through your head, but in this case the marine dealer was Boats and More and the ‘More’ refers to the large range of fishing tackle and watersports related accessories that they stock.
In fact, their two locations in Shepparton and Echuca are also Compleat Angler stores. A component of their range includes the seriously angling orientated Native Watercraft range of kayaks. Being in the middle of the Murray cod heartland of Victoria, the team at Boats and More have set many of these kayaks up to be perfectly suited to target these and many of our other iconic Australian native species. It was the Native Watercraft Slayer 10 propel they wanted me to test.
Set up for the some serious fishing
Our location to test the Slayer 10 propel was Bundalong at the top end of Lake Mulwala, only a short drive from the Shepparton store. Damien Bennett was on hand to show over the Slayer and to explain how they had set up the kayak from customer feedback and from their experiences using the kayaks themselves. Considering most of my kayak fishing to date has never been from anything remotely close to the Slayer 10, I was fascinated by the extent of the fit out, but also by how practical it was, considering at 10ft this is not a large kayak to have so many options and features.
Propel Pedal Drive system
This propeller-based system drops through the hull of the kayak and locks in place. This is very simple to do and you then just pedal like you would on a bike. You can go forwards or backwards and it is very comfortable to use. I wouldn’t say that it is ultra quick (limited due to the size of the propeller), however you can really get into a rhythm pedalling and cruise along nicely. To me the advantage of this system is the ability to position yourself to fish and also to get yourself out of trouble if you hook up to a fish near structure.
Steering while pedalling is done through an extended rudder system which you adjust using a small hand control near the seat. Left to go left and right to go right, it doesn’t get any easier than that. If you don’t want to use the pedal drive, either lock it in place above the water or the entire system can be removed.
This is a rail system that skirts the length of the seating area. This provides complete flexibility to place rod holders, camera systems and more in the place that suits you. Two smaller tracks are also just above the pedal system which are ideally placed to put a sounder and/or a camera.
There is no doubt that sitting in this kayak for an extended period of time will be a pleasure not a pain. The seat has plenty of support, sits relatively high above the kayak and uses the same groove track system so you can adjust where you sit so that pedalling is comfortable and ergonomically sound. I was super impressed at how comfortable the seat was in the short period that I used the kayak.
There is a large dry storage hatch at the front of the kayak that has plenty of room for any clothing or items you want to keep dry and the rear storage well is large enough for a decently sized esky or tackle storage system. There are also two flush mounted rod holders to place rods in while not in use.
There are also a couple of other nice touches; the deck has a non-slip padding for when you stand up while fishing. The super seal scupper plugs also impressed me. They are a multi-ribbed system that I hadn’t seen before. They have easy pull handles so from an angling point of view there is nothing for your line to catch on and they certainly didn’t let any water through keeping the areas dry that you want to keep dry.
Boats and More touches
In my mind if you are going to go for this style of kayak, then you may as well go all the way and the team at Boats and More obviously feel the same way. A point of interest was the sounder setup; the transducer was placed neatly in the foot of the pedal system of the Slayer. All cabling was within the hull and the battery to run it had extremely easy access.
Small touches like the Berley Pro Sun Visor placed on the Garmin unit that gives you better visibility of the sounder screen (reduces glare) and the Berley Pro waterproof battery storage port (great access to your battery) tells me that they have used the kayak and fitted it out so the end user can enjoy every aspect of their purchase. There is nothing better than buying from people who know and use the products they are selling.
On the water
The hard part about doing this kayak test was keeping my mind on the task at hand. After a couple of minutes in the kayak all I wanted to do was go and fish all the little nooks and crannies that Lake Mulwala and Bundalong has to offer. You immediately felt comfortable seated on the kayak and the stability of the craft was excellent considering its 10-foot length.
The true test for this aging author was going to be how easily it would be for me to stand up and have a cast, but I needn’t have worried, as even with my elderly knees, standing up and sitting back down wasn’t an issue. I didn’t feel I was going to go in the drink at any time.
The steering and pedalling proved to be easy as expected and the ability to reverse and position the kayak to cast to structure is a definite plus. The only thing that could have been better is if a cod had hit my spinnerbait as I was testing it out. I can only blame that on the angler involved.
For what is a relatively small kayak, there is a distinct feeling of space when you are using the Slayer 10 Propel. It doesn’t feel crowded and the upside of its smaller length is that everything is easily in reach. Most importantly everything has a place and can be stored out of the way when not required.
As far as getting the Slayer to and from the water, I would suggest that it is a two-person job or that you purchase kayak trolley to assist getting it to the water edge. At 28kg it is a manageable weight to load and unload from a vehicle and the heavy-duty carry handles certainly assist with that.
Overall the Native Watercraft Slayer 10 Propel is the real deal and has a base price of $3900 and you can add your own requirements. To get the setup we tested is $5000. I commend the staff at Boats and More for the fit out they did on it and for giving me the opportunity to get out on the water and test it for them.
If you would like to do the same, you can contact the Shepparton Boats and More store on (03) 5822 2108 or the Echuca store on (03) 5482 1992, or check out their website www.boatsandmore.com.au.
Length: 10ft – 3.05m
Fitted weight: 28kg
Depth at beam: 33cm