Friday, June 13, 2014

New stable NuCanoe Frontier 12 doesn't disappoint

Most of you are aware that I recently switched to the NuCanoe Frontier 12.
Stability is a NuCanoe feature.

I've had the opportunity to fish out of this kayak for the last month and I'm very impressed.

I tested the NuCanoe (  prior to my purchase.

My first experience came last year when Joe Mahler, a Fort Myers' fly-fishing guru invited me to fish Webb Lake, a body of water in the Babcock Webb Wildlife Management area east of Punta Gorda in Charlotte County.

Mahler, a NuCanoe Pro Staffer,  didn't brag about the vessel. He didn't really say anything. He just let me paddle it and fly fish from it.


The NuCanoe Frontier 12 is everything I've ever wanted in a fishing kayak -- and more.

Because of their width, the NuCanoes wouldn't fit properly on my small trailer. So, I held off making the switch.

However, last February I had to buy a new trailer. And this one was wider and larger than the first. It was perfect for the NuCanoe. But I still had to hold off because my kayaks were less than a year old.

In May, I had spent a morning on the Braden River, fly fishing for bass and bluegill. On the way home, I stopped at a convenience store for a soft drink. I wasn't in the store more than five minutes, but when I came out my kayak was gone.

I needed a kayak. And I needed it quick. The proverbial lightbulb in my head brightened. It was a message that was almost heaven-sent. Time to order the NuCanoes.

I contacted Blake Young at NuCanoe and ordered three Frontier 12s and a few accessories.

These kayaks are made for fishing (especially fly fishing). There spacious decks are unencumbered and handle fly line exceptionally well. There is little for fly line to hang up on. If you fly fish, then you know the fly line will catch or hang up on anything it can.

The boats are so stable that you can literally stand up and tap dance. I stand quite often and do so when fly casting. They're 41 inches wide, so you can imagine the stability.

Stability is a key issue for a guide. You can't have clients flipping when you're out in salt or fresh water. I had three clients flip in my previous kayaks. One did so while anchored. One flipped while paddling. The other flipped while fishing.

And the biggest factor was that I flipped my kayak in a 10-foot canal in winter when the seat came loose from its mount.

Not good.

I have never allowed clients to stand because of liability issues. I'll probably keep that policy, but I feel confident no one will flip a NuCanoe.

I guess some might say that they're a tad slower than other fishing kayaks out there. I don't know, but I will tell you that the difference is miniscule. Say you sustain a speed of 3.5 miles per hour in another brand of fishing kayak. I imagine you can do about the same in a NuCanoe.  If it's slower, we're talking 10ths of a mile per hour.

If paddling isn't your game, you can add an electric motor or even a small outboard to the NuCanoe. The stern is strong and square. That could come in hand for trips to such destinations as Flamingo or the Florida Keys.

The NuCanoe seat that I use is the best I've ever encountered. The Max 360 seats are cushioned, elevated and swivel 360 degrees.  And you really can turn all the way around because of the stability of the kayak.

On a recent trek to the Florida Everglades, I asked a buddy to go. The only catch was that he had to fish out of one of my Frontiers. He's a Pro Staffer for another kayak manufacturer.

When the trip was over, he announced he was going to sell his kayak and buy a NuCanoe.

"It was the most stable kayak I've ever been in," he said. "And the stability was impressive.

"I didn't notice any drop-off in paddle speed."

NuCanoe is headquartered in Bellingham, Wash.  They're not as popular as some other brands, but that's because you and your friends haven't fished out of them -- yet. If you do, there's a good chance you'll add a NuCanoe to your fleet.

NuCanoe is a relatively new player in the fishing kayak game, but that will change. Young and Mahler are collaborating on assembling a Pro Staff around the country to give the boats more visibility.

I've always found that getting clients in your kayaks is the best advertising. The NuCanoe Frontier will sell itself.

I started kayak fishing in 1987 -- long before the current trend. Back then, you could head out and never encounter another kayak. The sport's popularity has grown immensely since then.

I didn't add much to my boats. All I did was add an anchor trolley to each. I didn't want to make the boat cumbersome with all sorts of bells, whistles and gadgets.

At 80 pounds, the Frontier 12 is somewhat heavier than other similar kayaks. However, all you have to do is purchase a Transport Cart and your problems are over. The cart attaches to the stern and you can then pick up the bow and roll your kayak to wherever you want -- effortlessly.

The cart also makes loading the kayak on top of a car or SUV a cinch. Loading the kayak into the bed of a pickup truck no big deal.

In short, the cart makes loading and unloading a one-person operation.
I strongly suggest a Transport Cart.

You can lighten the kayak by six pounds by simply removing the seat.

You really can stand in a Frontier with no problem. Now, I have stood in other kayaks and I can tell you they're "tipsy." There is NO sense of tipsiness in the Frontier. It is the most stable fishing kayak on the marker -- bar none.

Another  thing that I like about the Frontier is that with the elevated seat, there is plenty of room under it for a tackle box, dry box or whatever you chose.

I carry most of my plastic tackle boxes in a milk crate that I place directly behind the seat. I have six rod holders attached to the crate. Used to be I had to reach blindly behind me to grab a tackle box or rod.

No longer.

I can just turn in the Max 360 seat and get what I want.

That's a really big deal.

I do advocate a long paddle because of the Frontier's 41-inch beam. According to NuCanoe's Blake Young, a 275-cm paddle works best. I have used a 250-cm paddle with no problem.

When standing and poling my Frontier, I employ a 9 1/2-foot carbon-fiber pole. I find this works a little better than a paddle.

As you can tell, I'm a big proponent of NuCanoe -- especially the Frontier 12. I will be assisting NuCanoe at ICAST in Orlando on July 17-18. I am looking forward to it.

ICAST will be held in Orlando's Orange County Convention Center.

ICAST stands for International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades. It's the world's largest sportfishing trade show.

I'll be the fellow in the NuCanoe booth with the big smile on his face!

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