Wilderness Systems Ride 135
While on a meander through a local boat shop on a quiet day, I stumbled onto a couple of lost looking kayaks. Being a paddler, I called over a bored looking salesman and struck up a conversation over the couple of ocean going kayaks.
It turns out the shop owner wanted a few kayaks on the floor because customers have been asking about kayak fishing. Only after ordering and paying for the boats did he realize that they were not really suitable for freshwater fishing and completely unsuitable for bass fishing. This got me thinking about my awesome kayak and figured that this would be a great opportunity to do a review on my current boat.
When reviewing any product it is always helpful to have a something of a benchmark to compare against and while I have fished of several kayaks and small boats in my life, the comparison between Wilderness System Ride 135 and other platforms I have used is difficult. Wilderness Systems launched the Ride 135 a few years ago and in my opinion set the benchmark for fishing and especially bassing kayaks.
Let us start with the basics. At 13.5 foot in length the Ride is the kayak world’s equivalent of a 20 foot glitter boat. The hull is just under three foot wide and uses an incredibly stable triple hull, making the kayak very manoeuvrable while still allowing for a decent rate of speed on longer paddles. The Ride is so stable in fact that an angler can easily stand and fish!
It also got a great seat! It may not sound like much but when it comes to spending a day sitting in the sun on a small boat a comfortable seat is of critical importance. In addition to comfort the seat also provide the angler with a bunch of little cubby holes and storage pockets for easy access to tools and tackle. While most kayaks will allow the paddler to adjust the foot
rests, the Ride’s seat is also adjustable to shift the centre of balance on the boat, which is very handy when the kayak is loaded to its full 230kg capacity. It is this huge weight carrying ability that allows me to carry a 105 Amp hour battery and trolling motor for those really long distance days on the water. Another handy feature of the Ride is the dual equipment rails in the cockpit. These make it easy to attach fish finders, rod holders or whatever else an angler feels is needed without unnecessary drilling.
Fishing of the Ride 135 is an absolute pleasure! The boat is stable and the high seating position makes for not only comfortable rowing but also give remarkable visibility when sight fishing. The hull is also very stable when fighting fish and allows for quite a bit of movement without rolling or pitching. The kayak turns easily and anchors’ safely with only a 0.7kg anchor.
In the past, one of my pet hates regarding kayaks was always how limited I was in fishing techniques because of the amount of tackle and specifically rods I could carry. On the Wildy however I can easily load 8 to 10 big tackle boxes of lures in the tackle basket behind the seat. There is a small hatch in front of the seat that is perfect for a small terminal tackle pack that holds all my hooks and weights. The real treat though is the forward hatch. I can easily fit 18 fully rigged rods into the hull of the kayak! And while it cannot be accessed while on the water it allows me to select what I need for my immediate needs in my rod holders on deck and keep a lot of other options in reserve.
For my money the Wilderness Systems Ride series is one of the best fishing kayaks available in South Africa. It is comfortable, stable and safe and comes from one of the leading kayak brands in the world!
IF you are interested in kayak fishing then this is one kayak that should be on your short list!
*Dewald Viljoen is sponsored by Canoe & Kayak Centre, the owner of Hot Reels Service Centre, partner and designer at AfriBaits.
Top view of the Wilderness Systems
Side view of the Wilderness Systems