So today for Every Day in May the topic is Something Completely Different. So, I will write a review of the first impressions I had in Jackson Kayak's Big Tuna.
This week was my first experience in the Big Tuna from Jackson Kayak.
I put it through the ultimate test of a kayak here in Texas; I took it
down the Devils River. Not that any trip down the Devils River is a
regular trip, but this trip went beyond normal.
We took a four day trip and loaded two Jackson Coosas and three Big
Tunas with eight people (seven non-Texans plus myself) and more gear
than any logical person would take down a river. But what are you going
to do when you need to get all that gear down river to film a TV show.
Luckily most of us knew our way around a kayak and a river.
If you know anything about the Devils River, you know you have to
drag your kayak in areas. With that much gear and with the water levels
down, we had to drag the boats more than usual. I was a little bit
worried about taking such heavy boats down the river with all the sharp
limestone and fossilized oyster reefs. I have know of several boats
that were loaded with normal amounts of gear, that ended up broken and
eaten up by the Devils River. But what was I going to do except give it
Day one and two were spent dragging the boats over the rocks and
through the shallow rapids. The bottom of the boats got cut up a little
bit, but not one sprung a leak of any sort. I was dragging my boat
with the sound man, his sound gear, his extra batteries, his camping and
personal hear, and my camping gear all packed inside or sitting on top.
Needless to say, the boat was not light with all this. I was amazed
at how well it stood up to that abuse. We discovered that the
stand-assist straps can be moved and attached to the front handle,
making a “handle extender” and allowing you to pull the boats around
without having to bend over.
There was enough water for most of day three that we did not have
nearly as much dragging. But day three did include the likes of Dolan
Falls as well as several class two and three rapids like Indian Creek
Rapids and Three Tier. We portaged the falls, but ran the rest of the
rapids. The Big Tuna handled itself pretty well in the sharp turns and
short drops that are common throughout the devils. Only once during the
trip did a Tuna roll over and that was a mistake of the crew, not the
boats fault. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances of the trip, I was
unable to play with paddling the boat from the solo position through
anything difficult, so I can’t report on that. But with two paddlers,
the boat handled itself wonderfully.
On the flat-water pools between the rapids, the boat tracked very
well. We did not have a rudder installed, but the boat paddled straight
ahead. It was surprisingly faster than I expected. It was also a very
stable platform. I was able to jump in and out and climb all around
the boat without feeling like we were going to tip once.
Due to the packing situation that we were faced with, I was unable to
play with the seating positions much, but they looked like they were
just about endless. Another cool feature was the “Tuna Tank.” It sits
in the middle of the boat, between the two seats, and can easily be
opened from either side. Even without drilling holes and turning it
into a live bait-well, the tank will take on water. So do not make the
mistake of assuming that this is dry storage. We did keep a bass in one
of the tanks for a while to test it out, and it performed like it
should. I will be interested in trying to put a five bass stringer
limit inside the tank for a tournament. I wonder if it would keep the
fish healthy. If it does, this could be a great tournament kayak to
compete against power boat anglers. I think someone like Tray Collins
should try this out.
There is some storage inside the hull of the kayak, but this is
limited. It is more than you would need for a day trip, or probably
even a regular camping trip, but it wasn’t enough to carry all the gear
you need to film a TV show. But that is ok because there is plenty of
room on top and behind the back seat.
I did not get to fish from the Big Tuna, but I did have the
opportunity to stand in it quite a bit. I think it is even more stable
when standing than wither my Coosa and the Cuda. I can’t emphasize
enough how stable the Big Tuna is.
Overall that Big Tuna exceeded my expectations, but why would I
expect anything less from fishing boat made by Jackson Kayak. I am
looking forward to getting my own in the near future. I think it will
be the perfect boat to take my son out in once he is a little bit older.
I also think it would be a great guide boat for any of you kayak or
river guides out there. If you have any questions, let me know.