|The author's new Slayer 14.5 on its maiden voyage.|
But you can build a better mousetrap, and the Native Watercraft Slayer certainly is that. The Slayer is a beautifully built sit-on-top that certainly has to rank as one of the top fishing kayaks on today's market.
I am a Native Watercraft-endorsed fishing guide. I have operated Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing in Sarasota, Fla., since 2006. It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to fishing kayaks.
Before you jump to conclusions, thinking I'm not going to bash Native because the company endorses me, think again. The Native folks know I speak my mind. I don't use Native products because I get them for free. I don't.
I use them because I truly believe they're the best for me. I have been paddling and fishing out of their Ultimate series for years.
I saw the conceptual drawings of the Slayer back in February when the Native guide staff was asked for suggestions.
"What would you like to see in a fishing kayak?" the Native folks wanted to know.
So, we told them.
First and foremost we wanted a kayak in which we could stand -- easily. No lip service here with a boat that felt tipsy in the water.
Bingo. We got a boat that's about as stable as you can get.
During the maiden voyage of my Slayer, I stood up and poled in choppy, windy conditions. I also stood up and fished. I made long casts all around the boat. I fought fish.
No problems at all.
You will feel quite comfortable and confident when you stand in the Slayer.
And what makes it even better is that the deck is flat.
The only change I'll make is to add rubber strips to the deck for better footing. I don't want to go overboard when I slip on fish slime.
The Slayer's First Class Seat is something to behold. You can adjust it so that it sit low or high simple by lifting it and placing it into position. That takes just 2-3 seconds. I put the seat in the high positions and leave it there all day.
In the high position (six inches above the deck), I've got room under the seat for my dry box, a tackle box and anchor. It's nice to have that stuff out of the way and out of sight.
There are also two holders for Plano plastic tackle boxes (small version) on the side of the seat.
Rather than an enclosed storage hatch in the bow, Native designed the Slayer with an open tankwell, with an option for a lid. What a great idea. Most sit-on-top users never used the enclosed hatch, making it a waste of space.
The stern tankwell is roomy and well-designed. It will hold a tackle crate or bait bucket easily. The lash points for the bungee are movable so that you can arrange it anyway you want.
The roomy, open cockpit is made for anglers -- particularly those who like to fly fish. The cockpit, with nothing to catch fly line, serves as a large, plastic stripping basket.
There's also a spot in the middle of the cockpit to lash down a tackle box.
In addition, there's a waterproof compartment forward in the cockpit in which to put a battery if you plan to use a depth finder or other electronics.
The Slayer also features Native's cute "Tag Along Wheel" on the stern. It allow you to lift the boat by the bow handle and pull it wherever you need without scratching the bottom of the hull.
My 14.5 Slayer weighs 75 pounds and has a 30-inch beam. The 12-footer weighs 70 pounds and has a 31-inch beam.
The only negative that I've experienced is that water shoots up quite noisily through the scuppers into the bow tankwell. Slayers don't come with plugs for the bow scuppers, but they should.
George Kaiser, the kayak pro at Economy Tackle/Dolphin Dive in Sarasota, told me that he paddled a 12-foot Slayer and got wet when paddling because water shot up through the scupper holes in the stern tank. I didn't experience that problem in the 14.5.
Duct tape remedied my problem during my first couple of outings. I'm awaiting plugs to be shipped from Native. I think plugs would look (and work) a whole lot better than duct tape.
I've added an anchor trolley system on the port (left) side of my Slayer. I believe an anchor trolley is required on all fishing kayaks. I also added a taco-style paddle hold on the starboard gunwale.
I use a 9 1/2-foot paddle pole and keep it stowed in the paddle holder when I'm paddle to and from destinations. When I'm standing and poling, I put my paddle in the holder.
Rigging a kayak to meet your needs in half the fun. My advice is to keep your modifications simple at first and add as you go.
The Slayers are competitively priced.
From what I've heard, the kayak-fishing world has anxiously been awaiting the arrival of the Slayers.
The wait is over.
But you'd better act quickly of you want one. They won't stay in the shops very long.