Beware of a new Predator on the water Old Town launched its new 13 foot fishing kayak, the Predator, in June. From inland waters to the Great Lakes, this paddle boat can handle it all. Nearly three years of development went into creating a completely new style of fishing kayak. They’re approach was unique; rely on pro-staffers and anglers alike for input on how to best design and equip the new fishing kayak. The result is blend of style, comfort and functionality that surpasses any other kayak on the market.
There was a lot of thought that went into the design of the Predator above and below the water line. Old Town produced several full sizes prototypes in the development stage. These kayaks were then tested by fishermen for features, set-up, functionality and stability.
“Some boats have good seats, some have good hulls, some have good stability, the Predator has it all in one kayak,” said Luke Labree, marketing communications manager at Old Town. “I don’t think that anybody can touch us on the ‘whole package’ that the Predator is.”
From the hull design to the Element seating system, every possible detail geared towards a comfortable, enjoyable kayak fishing experience was well thought out. The durable tri-hull, sit-on-top design is loaded with practical features such as six removable mounting plates for fish finders and rod holders, side mount paddle storage, large water tight bow storage area, rod holders with tip protectors, customizable center console (Predator 13 only), dual tackle holders and stand up strap. Anglers have practically endless possibilities to customize this kayak to their needs.
One of the leading complaints from kayak users is the uncomfortable seating. Old Town hit a home run with the Element seating system. From the three position; travel, attack, and stand-up modes to the easily adjustable backrest, any paddler can stay comfortable for hours.
The nearly 34 inch wide hull (6 inches wider than most) makes for a very stable kayak even in choppy water. “The big feature that separates the Predator from the rest of the competition is the hull design,” said Labree. “I’d challenge any other kayak out there to a stability match with the Predator.” From the durable polyethylene hull and non-slip ExoRidge™ deck to the one way scupper valves, the Predator was engineered with safety in mind.
Many of the features that were designed for a specific purpose can serve a dual role. For example; the support bar behind the seat makes for a convenient tie-down point for transport. The layout of the removable mounting plates not only gives unlimited mounting options but also extra handles to grab when loading the kayak in and out of a vehicle.
Old Town installed a small, nylon battery bag for an external fish finder battery that also makes a convenient place to stow small valuables when not used for a battery. Another great dual purpose feature is the molded carrying handles at the bow and stern; they’re designed in a way to allow sturdy tie-down for transport.
I got my Predator in mid August. Right out of the wrapper, it definitely has a WOW! factor. After spending several hours paddling a few different bodies of water, there are lots of pros and just a couple cons with the Predator.
Cons first; the one way scuppers worked great the first time out. The kayak stayed bone dry. I did get some water seeping in on the next trip. What happened, sand on the floor had run through the scuppers leaving the valves partially open. The water still drained properly but the floor got wet. The fix was simple, rinse the scupper valves and keep the floor clean, next trip out, the kayak stayed dry. Old Town also sells solid valves.
The only other thing to be aware of, the large storage compartment in the bow is open to the rest of the kayak between the floor and the outer hull. The reason for this design was to allow for electronic wiring to run out of sight and out of the way. The problem is, if gear is stowed loosely in the bow, it can slide up under the floor. The solution is simple; store gear in a bag. Other than those two things which are both easily overcome, the Predator is the best kayak I’ve ever used.
I also own a 12 foot Old Town Vapor that is a great fishing kayak in its own right. As a comparison, the Predator is expectedly a bit slower due to the tri-hull and the extra weight but much more maneuverable. It will turn on a dime, the Predator handles like a smaller rec-boat.
Stability, when the folks at Old Town claimed that you could stand up in this kayak, I didn’t believe it. Well, that was one of the first things I had to try, in shallow water just in case. Yep, you can stand up in it. I would recommend the optional Steady-Stand bar offered by Old Town for standing and casting.
Rough water, not a problem, the Predator handles it in stride. Several times I’ve braced for an oncoming wake from passing boats. To my surprise, the Predator handled it well. From Ohio’s inland waters to the big water on Lake Erie, so far my Predator has stayed dry.
Style, it turns heads. Everywhere I go; someone will come up and ask about it. It looks so different than anything else out there.
Versatility, I know this kayak was designed for fishing. The stable platform also works great as a hunting kayak. Waterfowl, squirrels and even hard to reach deer hunting areas are accessible with the Predator. With its superior stability it should be marketed as an all around kayak for the whole family. My wife tried it and loves it. In a word, she described it as a Cadillac. It’s her kayak now.
Transporting, I usually haul kayaks in the bed of a pick-up. The Predator is easy to load and unload by yourself. It is a bit heavy so find access close to the water. Old Town did incorporate a replaceable keel at the rear. As a long time kayak owner, I think that is a great feature. Inevitably the kayak will get dragged across the ground, when the replaceable keel wears down, just buy a new one.
At 1300 bucks it’s priced a little high for an entry level kayak, but compared to similar boats in its class selling for $2000, the $1300 price tag is a bargain. From my kayaking experience, I would recommend investing in a Predator even for the first time paddler. It’s well made and should last for years.
If you’re looking for a safe, stable, functional fishing, hunting and recreational kayak that the rest of the family might let you borrow when they’re not having fun, then the Predator is it.
Sales of the Predator have been strong since its release in June. By September 3013, Old Town was running round-the-clock, seven days a week production to keep up with demand.