Ocean Kayak Prowler Ultra 4.3 XT
Length 4.3m, Width 74cm, Weight 28kg
We first heard about the Ocean Kayak Prowler Ultra 4.3 through the New Zealand website kayakfishingnz.com back in January, who had seen the 3D drawings direct from the factory and had been asked for input on the final layout, this was put to their members. Ocean Kayak in the UK then opened this up to AnglersAfloats members, ideas from the forums were then incorporated into the final design, something of a first in the kayak fishing world.
Alterations to the design were still being implemented after the first four kayaks were produced for demo and boat shows, incredible how a manufacturer can still act so quickly to amend problems even after the moulds had been made and kayaks produced.
We took delivery of our Ultra 4.3 towards the end of August, and were the first in the UK to get her afloat, the launch of the Prowler Ultra 4.3 here isn't until 16th September, so we still have some time to get some fish aboard her as well!
Unwrapped the first things to hit you are the seat and new front hatch.
The seat is a modular design taken from the Necky range of SinK kayaks, a moulded foam seat pad and flip up adjustable back rest, this stays fixed in the kayak so one less thing to fit before hitting the water.
The front hatch has also been taken from the SinK market and has done away with the need of a neoprene hatch cover to keep it watertight. The cover fits tightly over the hatch opening, a satisying, simple push fit, the lid is then locked with a large twisting lever, this should be simple to use even with cold hands after a days fishing.
The centre console is a similar style to that of the Prowler Ultra 4.7 but with some further development, mostly due to feedback from Prowler Ultra 4.7 owners.
The Prowler Ultra 4.3 has more rod holders than I have seen on a kayak before, two forward facing flushmounts on the gunwales, these are ideal for rebaiting or changing lures, but not designed to hold your rods whilst fishing as the tips would be to high to watch easily, however they could be used to troll slowly, the rods and lines are kept well out of the way of your paddle.
There are a further two rear facing flush mounts and then a further two moulded in rod holders behind the seat back rest, between these is a screw thread for an Ocean Kayak safety flag.
There are also areas on the centre console lid to accept Scotty Mounts and a further Scotty mount in front of the centre console.
Storage, well the tankwell is cavenous and exactly the same size as the one on the Prowler Ultra 4.7, this can be fitted with the Ocean Kayak Ice Box.
Behind the seat and still in the tankwell is a 4" screw hatch giving access to the area beneath the seat for your finder/gps/lights battery, upto 18 amp size we are told.
To the rear of the tankwell there are a pair of flat areas to mount accessories such as a light or flag should you prefer it further to the rear.
Flipping her over you can see the huge central transducer scupper hole this has been designed to accept transducers from all the major manufacturers including side imaging transducers, we'd like to give one of those a try out on the Prowler Ultra 4.3.
Right at the stern is the now fitted as standard rubbing strip on the keel, this is the first rubbing strip that AnglersAfloat has had on one of our kayaks, at first sight, I'm not keen.
Saturday morning and the weather was looking OK after strong winds and a bit of rain onFriday. Off to Hayling Island for the first paddle.
On arrival it was high tide and as always at Hayling a nasty little shore dump, not big but surprisingly powerful. I unloaded the Ultra 4.3 and carried it down to the launch. First thing to do was adjust the seat back to a central position, this turned out to be just right for me, not interfering with my PFD, I loaded up with a few lures and one rod to troll with! All geared up with my car keys, phone and wallet in a small dry bag placed into the front hatch, hatch lid pushed down and locked shut I was ready to launch.
The swell was bigger than it looks in the photo's or perhaps I'm shorter, who knows, anyway I waited my time before jumping aboard and paddling away.
First wave came straight over the front and filled the cockpit which drained within a couple of strokes, the swell was running in short spaced sets so as I went over each wave the bow was burying into the oncoming set, the front hatch was getting a very good soaking. Heading out into the force 4 I was pleased at how effortlessly the Prowler Ultra 4.3 was to paddle, normally heading into the wind against the tide is a bit of a slog but this was surprisingly easy going.
I did find that I need to make some adjustments to the rudder pedals as they were fractionally to far forward meaning that my calf's were rubbing against the rubber toggles on the side of the centre hatch, my legs bent a little as I normally prefer to paddle would have dealt with this issue.
No need for the rudder paddling in this direction. As I headed offshore I turned to run with the swell coming side on to me and stopped paddling, placing the paddle blade under the cargo bungee infront of the cockpit, this is perfectly positioned for the purpose, sitting side on to swell always sorts the men out from the boys and gives a good idea of general stability at anchor, the Prowler Ultra 4.3 just rolled gently with the swell, no uncomfortable twisting and rolling. I will be testing this next time out with an anchor fitted.
As I was sat there a sail headed towards me, at first I thought it was Richi off the AnglersAfloat Forum heading back from the Island in his Scupper Pro, sail was a little too big for Richi's.
At this point I decided to drop a lure off the back of the yak, opening the centre hatch, grabing a lure and clipping onto my line was all very easily accomplished, the front hatch does need pushing up quite high to spin around to reveal the water bottle, whilst I had the hatch this way around I thought the bungees in front of the water bottle would be a good place to store smoke flares in the dry.
Paddle back in my hand I headed down wind running with the swell, firstly without the rudder, then with the rudder lowered, this was hard to lower for the first time, everything was very stiff, much easier after a few goes though. Both rope balls on the anchor lowering pulley rope were in the ideal position in very easy reach.
Next up I tried a lazy braced turn, the Prowler Ultra 4.3 turned quickly, even with the rudder still deployed.
I paddled around a little more waiting for a Windsurfer to move out of the frame before attempting the paddle back to the beach through the shore dump.
Just made it with the help of a late brace!
First impressions of the Prowler Ultra 4.3 are very good, couldn't tell if the hull was fast as I was slamming though swell, or being pushed along with the swell, will go out with a pal next weekend to get a good comparison.
Comfort wise, the seat felt comfortable but I need a few hours more than the hour I had to see just how comfortable, at first I felt a little strange with no side support from the back rest, but once I was used to it the back rest became also unnoticeable it was that comfortable.
Weight wise I would say that it felt lighter to lift and load than my old Trident 15, possibly as it has a lower swing weight when balancing on your head to load, the solid side handles also helped with the ease of loading onto my roof rack. The T15 was always a struggle for me to load after a day a float, the Ultra 4.3 at first try seems an easier kayak for me to live with weight wise.
My only niggle was discovered out on the water whilst trolling, I found that using the forward facing rod holders for trolling meant that the rod and line was well out of my paddle stroke, althoug the tip was a little high, not a major issue as I fish with a very lose clutch on the reel so noticing a bite is not an issue, however when reeling in the line after a take the line went under the kayak caught up on the rubbing strip on the keel, I wasn't able to remove the line until I got back to the beach, glad there wasn't a fish on after all. I'll be removing the strip and remounting with sealant around it to stop this happening in the future.
As for the front hatch and my little dry bag... it was as dry as a bone, not a drop had come in through the hatch, thats a first for me as well, especially with the amount coming over the bow.
To be contined.