The invite was also enticing to happen up. “We’ve shipped the very first two production version Predator XL Minn Kota hulls come Florida. We’ve been talking around fishing together for years. Fly on the end and try them,” David Hadden claimed on a welcome mid-December phone call call.
A week later I met David in the unseasonably chilly 45 level predawn wait a stone’s litter from the IGFA headquarters close to Ft Lauderdale. David’s cryptic location of Watercraft Brand Director for Johnson out Watercraft converts to highly placed Old Town and also Ocean Kayak fishing honcho and industry veteran. The Predator family of kayaks is his team baby.
Moments later on charter captain and also sometime fish model Troy Faletra (he’s everywhere the AFTCO catalog, among others) rumbled up in his huge red pickup, top outdoor photog Jason Arnold in tow.
“Warm enough for you?” among the Floridians cracked. “Did you check out the surf report? The allude break is going off at mine place. The swells room over 20 feet,” trojan said, shaking his head wistfully. Fishing the salt was obviously out.
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The Predator XL has high sides because that a drier ride. Paul Lebowitz photo.
“We’re going come Alligator Alley. Sit back and relax, we’ll acquire there in one hour or so,” troy added, setting off west ~ above I-75. We soon traded a see of pastel sprawl for an endless sea of grass reduced by canals: the Everglades, or at least the somewhat civilized border of that wilderness. I scanned for large lizards as we flew along at 70 mph.
We pulled turn off the freeway into a remainder stop complete with a boat ramp – Florida’s anglers have it good – and unloaded a pair that Predators. The XL has actually an evident family same to the warmly received Predator 13 introduced the front year, simply a pair inches much shorter and wider.
So lot is the same: the terrific multi-position facet Seating System; high sides that make for a dried ride; removable mounting plates; the distinctive textured Exo-Ridge deck; a big bow hatch. In short, a full-featured fishing machine. One huge difference stand out, a slate grey pod the mounts in the facility of the cockpit: the Minn Kota Console. (continued below)
David Hadden shows off the an initial fish caught from a production Predator XL. Paul Lebowitz photo.
“Let’s set it up and also hit the water,” David said, through no dispute from me.
The optimal of the plug-in console projected a few inches above deck level. The prop unit below drafted about a foot. The front conveniently slid right into pegs; a rotating decaying locked the stern of the unit into place. A cable in ~ the former plugged quickly into a socket – everything is prewired. Us attached the dual kill switches, and also lashed under a battery crate containing a traditional 12V maritime power cell behind the seat. After ~ plugging in one an ext cable, us were done. No much more than a minute or two had actually elapsed.
“The dial in ~ the former of the console is the throttle. Turn it right to relocate forward; twisted it left because that reverse. The rudder is foot-controlled. You really never should put down your rod,” David said.
That was sufficient for me. I hopped aboard, pushed off and twisted the infinitely adjustable throttle. Through a short hum and also just a hint of vibration, ns was cruising easily upstream. Ns couldn’t resist. Ns dialed up full power.
The saltwater grade 45-pound thrust Minn Kota sped up the XL quickly. In moments, the financial institution was paris by much faster than I can paddle, conveniently 5 or 6 mph. I slowed to let David capture up ~ above his own XL, through Jason and Troy complying with on a camera boat. “It appears a lot faster than the ocean Kayak Torque, Minn Kota’s first electric kayak. Is it?” i asked.
“Sure is. The Torque had a less an effective 36-pound thrust motor, however the XL’s Minn Kota has progressed Digital Maximizer electronic devices for up to five times the operation time. After a day of fishing, we normally have fifty percent a fee left ~ above the battery,” David said. One LED voltmeter next to the accelerator acts choose a gas gauge.
this is the Minn Kota console lifted and supported through the Quick-Stand. Pulling that up gets the prop the end of the method of shallow water, weeds or other obstructions. Paul Lebowitz photo.
David peeled off and began to pummel the financial institution for bass, strength fishing the whole way. I required to know much more about the new boat. It’s a quiet drive on level water (we never acquired it into chop or waves), with an excellent maneuverability, but carving a food takes some planning together I was quickly to uncover out. Wondering what would happen, i motored intentionally right into a grass mat. The XL Minn Kota survived thin weeds without any kind of trouble, yet the special stuff eventually gummed increase the prop.
It would have been a significant nuisance top top the old Torque, through its engine console ago in the tankwell. Top top the XL, no problem. I just focused the throttle, unlocked and lifted the motor, and also dropped the Quick-Stand on the right side. A minute later on I’d easily pulled the weeds loosened and was ago in business. The would have been a great idea to pull among the death switches. When I by chance nudged the throttle, the prop whirred, frighten me. Much better yet, I can have elevated the motor and also paddled through the special weeds and also avoided any kind of bother.
And then there’s reverse. So handy. Backing the accelerator brings the XL to a fast stop. Turning while backing requires a tiny momentum build-up. Through the rudder top top the stern, the XL is an ext nimble relocating forwards.
Alligator Alley? Yep. The critters didn’t mind the quiet XL Minn Kota. Paul Lebowitz photo. Photo by Bryce Duffy
A quick accessibility hatch on the top of the Minn Kota Console opens to disclose the wiring and a many extra storage space. There’s many of room to mountain a sonar top top top, stash a second battery inside, and also mount a transducer on the mounting plate below. There’s space for tackle or – acquire this – a phone call or camera plugged right into the contained USB fee port. It’s a cool feature, one the juiced up my smart phone in an hour.
As ns was experimentation the XL Minn Kota, David to be busy capturing a chunky largemouth in front of Jason’s camera board Troy’s bay boat. The was every smiles as we congratulated the on the an initial real fish top top a production model Predator XL.
We relocated farther up the canal, transforming right at a fork leading deeper right into the bush. The an initial gators showed up – one glided by eyeballing us before slowly sinking out.
I stood approximately test the boat’s stability. Rock solid, and I’m no lightweight in ~ 6 feet and also 210 pounds. The XL is rated to lug 600 pounds. I believe it. I was may be to actors to all sides without a issue or a wiggle, and also even broke out an expensive camera to record David picking far at schoolie bass.
“Did friend notice? The current is ripping. Who must have opened a lock upstream,” David sharp out. He was right. Ns hadn’t – the Minn Kota renders travel effortless.
We be crazy around and headed back to the fork, wherein bass boiled in the eddy. David damaged out his paris rod and went come town. For a while ns forgot around testing the XL together a boat and focused ~ above the fishing. This is one solid chariot, with terrific fishing ergonomics. Although my boat didn’t have any type of rod holders mounted on the mounting plates, I easily switched in between two rods laying prepared on the deck, nestled naturally in grooves on the hatch. The seat is all-day comfortable.
The bass frenzy went on and on. Us all recorded fish. Just as the skies darkened and also we started to lose light go we prevent for a few final photos prior to calling that a day, however not prior to Troy provided the XL a spin and also played with a leaping bass. Jason had actually his photos, some of which will show up in our upcoming print review in the spring 2015 issue.
“We’re pricing ours hands-free option at $2,699, reduced than similar pedal kayaks. What did you think the it?” David asked as we motored back to the launch. I didn’t stroked nerves concealing mine enthusiasm. “Very impressive, favor the your previously Predators. That a large improvement over the Torque, which i liked. That an exciting brand-new choice appropriate for strength fishing or trolling,” i answered. Just prior to hitting the bank after part 8 hrs on the water, I checked the LED charge indicator. Quiet a fifty percent charge left.
Later, as I flew earlier west, i jotted under a couple of notes. Old town lists the Predator XL hull at 92 pounds there is no the console – typical for this class of hefty hauler. The Predator 13 is an effective paddler for its size. If I’d had an ext time, i would have actually liked to invest a work paddling the XL. It’s designed as a multi-mode platform, power and paddle. The Minn Kota Console is simply one of three. The others are the Utility, a sonar management and also tackle warehouse unit, and the Exo-Ridge, which creates a wide-open flat deck.
David didn’t ask me if I thought fishing the Predator XL Minn Kota was still kayak fishing. I’d price yes, the experience is the same, stealthy fish stalking minus lot of the physical effort. If a workout is critically necessary to you, the Minn Kota option is probably not her thing. Anglers concentrated on strength fishing will uncover the Minn Kota offers lot of the services of a powerboat through a lighter hit on the wallet and maintenance budget.
The Old town Predator XL: together 13′; W 36”; 92 lbs / 117 lbs with Minn Kota Console, battery extra; Cap. 600 lbs; $2,699 together tested with Minn Kota Console and also rudder; Minn Kota Console add-on because that Predator XL, $999. Www.oldtowncanoe.com/kayaks/predator_family
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Tangled: cleaning up weeds or various other junk the grabs the prop is a trivial matter. Paul Lebowitz photo.
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