Wilderness System Tarpon 140 Angler
Length 14' (4.27 m), Width 28" (71 cm), Weight 64 lbs (29 kg).
Maximum weight capacity 375 lbs (170 kg) depending on water conditions.
I was hoping for an evenings fishing with a good friend; on arrival at Stokes Bay we were greeted by a steady force 4-5 South Westerly and a growing sea, but no surf.
Simon had been demonstrating his Dorado to a new customer and I had brought the Tarpon 140 Angler along as I enjoy fly fishing from her, plus Simon hadn't had a paddle of one.
We both decided it would be hopeless to get the fly rods out so decided to go for a paddle and play instead.
After setting up both kayaks and checking our gear we paddled out from shore. The swell was washing over the low bow of the Tarpon, she sits very low in the water, thankfully the well designed cockpit allows the water to disperse quickly through the four large scupper holes, the slightly raised moulded seat was kept dry by a forward ridge in the cockpit, the water just washed up, hit the ridge and ran out the scuppers, one very dry bum, which remained dry for the whole trip.
No seat Pad, but still very comfortable.
The seat is worth a mention here; having a boney backside I've always favoured a cushioned seat, the Tarpon doesn't have one, however with the easily adjusted padded backrest it is a very comfortable paddle, whilst either facing forward when paddling or side-saddle for fishing, best of all she remains comfortable for your entire trip.
We headed out towards a couple of small dinghy's which were anchored off shore, their inhabitants enjoying a very uncomfortable evenings fishing, they seemed happy enough, we sat for a few minutes having a chat; with the Tarpon's bow facing into the wind and swell I would have expected the bow to have slowly turned away and across the wind, the low bow and deep channels in the hull kept her steady and well behaved.
Next trial was with the wind coming over the forward quarter and swell hitting us side on. Normally an uncomfortable heading, the Tarpon 140 stayed on course with only the odd corrective stroke required, the channels were proving their worth. The ride was secure over the swell with very little sideward roll giving a very safe feeling in these ugly conditions. We did however notice a negative side effect of the hulls channels; the Tarpon was feeling glued to the water and just a little slow, this could have been deceptive as I was paddling alongside the composite Dorado, but I will be testing in the future against the Prowler 13.
Beached at Hayling Island.
Wind over tide would normally require a rudder or a lot of corrective strokes to stay on course and stop the kayak from broaching; those channels got working again and kept the Tarpon on a steady course, very impressive. Only downside being when heading in towards the beach you couldn't use the swell to save energy, the Tarpon just will not plane, this is not all bad as it lets the larger swell pass beneath you and with a bit of effort you can paddle in on the back of the wave, a much safer option with no danger of broaching whilst riding the wave.
Back onshore and lifting the Tarpon single handed, you wonder why other manufacturers don't have moulded cut-outs under the gunwale handles, as this stops the normal twisting straps and trapped fingers… or is that just me, oh and it's not the handle design, nearly all the manufacturers use the same handles. There are also handles forward and aft.
With all that water having come over the front bow and hatch, we decided to take a look inside the hull for any tell-tale leaks, a teaspoon of water; but that could have been left over from the last trip when I left the rear bung undone! Not bad.
Sadly that evening we didn't get to fish but having fished from her before I can tell you that the rear flush mounts are well positioned, they are angled so as not to get in the way of the paddle stroke when loaded with a rods and with in easy reach. I'm not a great fan of the large plugs that seal the holders when not in use, great when not being used, but a pain when they are, they can be removed.
The Tarpon 140's clean and uncluttered cockpit.
The Tarpon 140 Angler also comes with a forward fitted Scotty No. 280 Bait Caster/Spinning Rod Holder, this is a favourite with many kayak manufacturers as part of their Angler edition kayaks, ok if you are going to be using a narrow handle spinning rod, but can be a tight fit for a standard boat rod handle, having said that most people will use the rear facing flush mounts for their boat rods.
Just below the Scotty Rod Holder is a small moulding which looks as if it is designed to accommodate a Garmin eTrex GPS, this would require a fixing strap to hold in place (easily fitted). Either side of this there are some very flat areas, ideal for fitting a flush mount compass, although there is a round moulded recess forward of the Scotty which looks as if it will take a round deck mount compass.
Other things to note around the cockpit are the adjustable TriggerLock Footbraces, tankwell bungee for securing a tackle box, strangely this is over the rear set of cockpit scupper holes and in the wet zone so worth ensuring that the box is watertight. Between your legs in the raised section of the cockpit is one of two six-inch hatches with rubber covers, the other hatch fitted centrally behind the seat. Either side of the seat is a rod/paddle park, with quick release tab.
Flyfishing from the Tarpon 140.
Behind the cockpit is the large but shallow tankwell with scupper drainage and bungee to secure your cargo, this however does not accommodate the UK kayak fisherman's favourite folding crate, so we are searching for an alternative.
Up forward the large bow hatch is very easy to open and refit being made of a very soft rubber, there are no security straps and have noticed that some American kayak fishermen have fitted a bungee to secure, I have no reason to think that this is necessary given the conditions that I have paddled the Tarpon in.
Forward of the Hatch is a set of bungees, great for securing a spare 2 piece paddle.
The Tarpon 140 Angler also comes with a 1.75kg anchor and anchor line which comes in its own nylon carry bag, the brochure says there should be an anchor cleat, but the AnglersAfloat kayak doesn't have one fitted and we will be adding an anchor trolley system in the future, this will be safer than tying off in the cleat position shown in the brochure.
Overall the Tarpon 140 is a very comfortable, dry paddle, the moulding of the kayak is top draw, it has some very well thought out accessories which the Tarpon has been designed to accommodate, rather than added as an after thought. Just wish she was a little faster on the water.