Steve Bolin has confided to me that his old sit on top kayak which was quite old and battered was starting to take it’s toll on his back and bum. Not that he would ever admit this to his close fishing mates! He reckons his new Slayer 12 is as comfortable as a Rolls Royce and as quick and maneuverable as a Ferrari. I don’t think he will be looking back!
Blade Editor – Steve Evans
By Steve Bolin
The Slayer 12 is a fairly new addition to the market in Australia. After trialling this vessel for a few months I am very confident it will be highly sought after by kayak fisho’s all over the country.
Unveiling this yak from its protective bag and the quality of workmanship hits you immediately. I could tell straight away that this company takes an enormous amount of pride in its product. The finish on this yak is impeccable. Not a scratch or blemish could be found. With its many curves and edges, I was sure I would find an imperfection somewhere from the manufacturing process but I could not.
Now for the real important stuff, how is it set up for fishing? The Slayer comes with 7 recessed tracks covering most of the length on both sides of the deck. These tracks will take Railblaza, RAM and another track system fittings. There is also a track on the centre hatch that I used to mount my sounder. I am use to the Railblaza brand of fittings and so I instantly had four rod mounts in place and secured without having to drill, screw or bolt anything through the hull. There also is ample room between the rear hatch and the seat to mount flush rod holders if you desire. I prefer to have my rods in front of me, in view and easy to access when trolling. Any rod holders that I have behind me are purely there for storage. The rear hatch has a square moulded area that a milk crate fits in perfectly and also a round moulded area inside the square that holds a 20 litre bucket. Little things like this which are standard fit demonstrate a lot of thought has gone into this yak .
The seat is ‘first class’ and I give it 10 out of 10 for comfort and lumbar support. With infinite adjustment in the angle of the backrest you can have it upright for power paddling or leaning back like an armchair for cruising. The deck has two positions for the seat to mount. Standard is about 75mm off the deck and the high position is 150mm off deck. You can easily raise or lower the whole seat whilst on the water, or you can even flip the seat back into the rear hatch by unhooking the three bungee cord clips that hold it in place. This then gives you a fully open deck to stand up. There is heaps of room under the seat as well to store stuff. After my first day out paddling the Slayer 12 I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh I felt, with no aching back like usual. The other thing I am used to from my old yak is a wet bum. This is now a thing of the past with the raised seat of the Slayer. The seat can also be easily removed and used as a camp chair. Your mates will be jealous!
Starting at the pointy end there is a carry handle that is solid, strong and has foam padding. Next we have a massive open hatch that has two oversized scupper plugs. There is also a bungee cord attached to the tracks on adjustable track runners to secure your gear. You can also purchase a hatch cover from Native that is one of the many genuine quality accessories available for this model. The hatch is deep at (18cm), wide (26 x 45cm) and about 50cm long. The hatch could be used as a live well or ice box, which is what I will be converting mine to.
The centre hatch is next. It has a cover held down with four screw-in plastic knobs making it fully watertight but easy to open and close. As aforementioned, a track is also provided which is ideal for mounting your sounder. Under the hatch is where you access the inside of the hull. Easy to mount your transducer and battery in here! On either side of the hatch are soft rubber pads that you rest your rods on, another well thought out feature.
Down in the lower area of the deck are adjustable footrests. These adjust in increments of around 10mm so you can fine tune to suit your build. The deck also has foam rubber inlays to inhibit noise and provide grip when standing. Importantly, hooks don’t get caught in the foam either. An area in between your feet fits a small tackle box and is secured by bungee cords with a little clip. A drink holder is provided and has a rubber pad in it to muffle noise as well. Six extra large rubber scupper plugs are spaced evenly on the floor and water drains out quickly when you cop a wave or get caught in the rain.
Up on the gunwales in this centre section are Native rubber lined paddle holders on each side of the yak. Just forward from the seat on each side are more fixed carry handles. Beside the seat there are indents that have been made to take tackle trays with bungee straps locking them in. Another fantastic idea from Native!
Behind the seat there is a small hatch with a waterproof rubber lid that stretches over the lip and is big enough that it holds your phone, wallet and keys securely and dry .
The large rear well is a good size and has two scupper plugs. I have a storage crate held in by the track mounted bungee system. There is still plenty of room in this well after I put in the milk crate, so the storage possibilities could be tailored to whatever you desire.
Back to the stern and this is where my only negative observations reside. The carry handle is like the stern handle. Strong and comfortable and has an indentation to save your knuckles. This handle is in a north / south position but is offset left of centre. When lifting the yak with this handle it wants to roll the other way and you have to use a lot more force to keep it from toppling over to one side. The reason for this is to allow space for the optional rudder kit, but with a bit more thought a better design for the handle position could have been included.
My other negative observation is the tag along wheel. It is 40mm wide and 125mm diameter and made of a UV black nylon material on a stainless steel bracket. A yak this size and weight needs a wheel with a bigger footprint. It’s ok for very short distances but when you load up with all your gear it becomes very tippy and you really need two hands to keep it level when travelling. I have removed the wheel and now use my trolley. Not a big criticism, just personal preference.
On the water, the Slayer 12 is incredibly stable! Turning in the seat and reaching behind you is no problem with not much rocking at all. The Slayer tracks true and straight and is an absolute pleasure to paddle. The hull slices through any chop with ease and the rounded nose deflects spray away from you. It doesn’t feel like its 12 foot long on the water. You can turn it around and change direction with minimal effort. It is so easy to paddle I had to watch my speed when trolling as I kept going to fast. I started with the seat in the low position and after a while raised it to the high position. At first this felt uncomfortable as the centre of gravity had changed and I felt like it was a bit tippy. After a while I got used to it and found it wasn’t a problem at all. In this position you have a better view around you and also you can cast a lot further. I couldn’t paddle as powerfully as when in the low position but lowering the seat is an easy operation.
Standing up is something I had to practice. Not being a surfer or paddle boarder, and being over 50, 182cm and a tad overweight at 95kg I was not confident about my first few efforts at standing. Now it’s easy as falling off a log! I tied a strap on to the front carry handle that reaches me in the chair and this assists me in getting up. It also adds stability and counteracts any shifting in weight that would otherwise tip me in the drink. I prefer to sit anyway and used to fish for hours in my old kayak without standing up. Now I have a super comfy seat and when I feel like stretching the back or legs I can stand up with confidence.
Overall a great product and a pleasure to paddle!
New Model From Native Watercraft
Hot off the press, Native Watercraft have just announced a new model to their line up. The Ultimate FX 13 Propel has just been released and will be available in Australia shortly. The specs for this craft are: Length 13’, Width 32.5”, Depth 13”, Weight 79 lbs (seat and Propel drive removed), Weight 98 lbs (fully rigged), Capacity: 400 lbs.