by Peter Jung •
Aquayak Kayaks are Melbourne-based kayak manufacturers who pride themselves on producing high quality, value for money kayaks, made using Australian plastic, which is UV certified and guaranteed not to crack or fade. This guarantee is supported by a five-year warranty on all of their kayaks.
My first opportunity to try one out was with Justin Wilmer, an experienced kayaker and contributor to Fishing Monthly magazines, on the beautiful waters of the Pumicestone Passage. As a relatively novice kayak user and angler, I was hoping that Justin could assist me to explain some of the features of the kayak I was using, which was the Aquayak Ranger.
The Ranger and Snapper Pro are the two fishing specific kayaks that Aquayak produces. That’s not to say they don’t have other kayaks that can be fished from, as every model of their yaks includes two inbuilt flush rod holders. The Snapper Pro (includes the fishing kit) and the Scout (has the option of a fishing kit) are great small to mid sized yaks with plenty of desirable options to get you out fishing. On the day we went out, Justin was using the Snapper Pro, which is the smallest of the range at 2.7m. He was more than happy with what it had to offer – you can read his review in the October issue of this magazine.
The Ranger is a large kayak, but it can be handled by one person. Weighing in at 25kg, I suggest you have another person around to load and unload it from your vehicle and to assist with getting it to the water. However, with a bit of care and a trolley, all could be achieved by one person.
For me, the most important thing was the layout of the Ranger. The seating was comfortable, with enough legroom for all 6’2” of me. The storage is more than ample with a forward and rear well with luggage stretches. These provide plenty of room for a small esky and any tackle you may want to take. There’s also a central storage hatch with a bag to keep your essentials dry.
Aquayak uses Railblaza systems for their rod holders and mounts. The flexibility that Railblaza systems create is exceptional. The miniports in conjunction with the accessory tracks provide multiple positions for your rod holders, sounder and other electronics. They’re easy to use and fail-safe should you happen to have a tumble – they aren’t going anywhere.
I also enjoyed the two in-built rod holders directly behind either side of the seat. I used one to hold a second rod and the other to secure my net, with the rod I used sitting between my feet. This kept everything handy when I needed it.
Ride and Handling
The hull of the Ranger is a little different to any other kayak I have seen. Based on a catamaran hull, there is a channel that runs the length of the kayak, with a secondary hull either side of it. It provides additional stability at rest and excellent tracking while paddling and drifting. I definitely tested the stability component of the kayak.
While taking a few pictures of one of Justin’s fish, I leaned just that little bit too far. I didn’t end up in the drink, but my sunglasses did. Another novice mistake was leaning out a little too far to net a hooked fish. I’m sure Justin felt he’d be fishing me out of the drink at some point, but he didn’t have to – a fact that I put down to how user friendly the Ranger is.
Paddling the kayak was a pleasure. It was reasonably quick across the water and little or no correction was required to track straight. This tracking also translated while drifting and minimal adjustment was required. In fact, it was almost too good, as when I hooked an unstoppable fish, it proceeded to go one way and the kayak the other. Justin again explained that pointing the rod tip to the front of the kayak would have brought the nose around and then the fish could have happily towed me around. Maybe next time!
When we started we had a glassed out morning, but when it was time to head home, a bit of breeze and a strong run out tide provided a better test for the hull. The Ranger passed this test with flying colours and I got back to our launching point with minimal fuss.
I enjoyed fishing from the Ranger. The majority of my angling is about casting lures or soft plastics and I was able to do this comfortably. We spent nearly six hours on the water on test day in the kayaks. At no point did I feel that I needed a break from the seat. I felt safe and when I got off the water, I looked forward to the next opportunity to go out again. The practical setup of the Ranger had a lot to do with that. I didn’t have to think too much. I just enjoyed what I was doing and where I was.
Many of the areas we fished would have been accessible by boat, but the ability of the Ranger to access little pockets of deep water on very shallow flats was really exciting and fruitful. On a couple of occasions I could easily have touched the bottom with my hand, and yet the Ranger didn’t hit bottom at all. Unfished water is the aim of any angler and this stealth contributed to a great experience on the day. We had dugongs, dolphins and turtles happily playing around us as we fished.
The Aquayak Ranger offers a lot for its price tag of $999.00, plus delivery. It would be ideally suited to any inland waterways, small estuary systems, bays, inlets, lakes and dams. It’s a large kayak with the capacity to hold up to 170kg, so it’s perfect for an average to larger person and all they would need for a longer trip. It’s a pleasure to paddle and is stable enough that anglers of all levels would be comfortable using it. The Railblaza accessories are outstanding and compliment everything that the team at Aquayak is trying to achieve with this kayak.
Considering that the Aquayak Ranger comes with everything you need to start your kayak fishing endeavors, for me it represents great value for money. To find out more on the Aquayak Ranger and the other kayaks in their range, you can go to www.aquayak.com or contact them on (03) 9357 9992 to find your nearest retailer.
Price $999.00 + shipping
There are several colour options available.
Comfort seat, double paddle, large rear storage well, forward storage well, Anchor well, paddle clip, centre hatch with bag, four heavy duty carry handles, three accessory tracks, two Railblaza miniports, two flush rod holders and two Railblaza rod holder Rs.
New release inclusions and options
Since testing the Ranger, Aquayak has made a few changes to the to its design. They are continually striving to improve the performance of their kayaks.
Aluminum frame fishing seat optional
Rudder and foot control optional
Fishing seat recesses inclusion
Transducer recess (below hull) inclusion
Foot brace/ rudder control recess inclusion
Rudder mount recesses inclusion