Capn's Note: this is a very old page, one of my first. Since then both Necky's
have been discontinued. The Dolphin is no loss, but the Spike was and is one
of the best (but see the new RTM Disco). I'm more Pro, less Prowler now. The Pro
too has been discontinued but RTM owns the molds and still produces it as the
Waterplay's Yak Demo
Saturday, August 16th
Featuring the new OK Prowler!
I know it was short notice for many of you, but I was treated to a super yak demo
put on by our good friend's at Waterplay who brought their whole arsenal including
OK yaks, some Hobie's, SIK's and (at my request) the Necky Dolphin and Spike.
And the long awaited Prowler, the first one in Florida. Let me give you some
impressions, but first a bit of history. When I first became interested in yakfishin
I did my usual anal retentive, obsessive net research, calling leading authorities
(like Dennis Spike of California) and coming up with a short list.
These included the Scupper Pro, Scupper Classic, Scrambler XT, Tarpons, and the Necky Dolphin
and Spike. I got to test all of these. And was left confused. Why? Well, first of
all I had never really kayaked. I didn't know what a kayak was supposed to feel like, how
to paddle one or how to evaluate one. Worse yet were the conditions. Not all the yaks
were available at the same time and place. And even when many were at a demo, it was on
typically smooth water and with very brief test rides.
The catch 22 is that you really need to have some experience and some time on the water
with each of these yaks to properly contrast and compare. My early impressions were that the
Tarpon 160 seemed like a smooth stable yak. I liked the layout of the 120, and it felt
pretty good. The Necky's felt really unstable and tippy, and the Pro felt heavy.
All meaningless. The fact that I ended up with the yak of choice, the Scupper Pro was purely
an accident. I basicly had given up, really didn't have the money to experiment and felt
forced by finances to find a used yak. Figured if I was gonna make a mistake, I didn't
want it to be an expensive one. How right that turned out to be.
Confused and fishing in the surf at John Lloyd I spotted a small white kayak paddling by.
Waved the guy down, waded out to chest deep and the guy - a wonderful older hispanic
man, Waldo - paddled in on his sun faded Scrambler and tried to answer my questions. Turns
out he owned 3 yaks: A Cabo to take out his wife and grandchild, the Scrambler for fun,
and one he just didn't use and was willing to sell for $350 including paddle. And he'd
even deliver it!
My beloved yellow Scupper ProTW. And for a great price. Mine by accident. How lucky I
was. I didn't love it at first, it was mine simply by circumstance. I really knew little
about either yakking or yakfishing and I learned everything through time and painstaking
experience. And I came to slowly appreciate why the Scupper Pro dominates yakfishing. And
a year later, with hundreds of hours of experience I know what it can and can't do. And
what yakfishing demands.
So in coming to this demo, I now had a baseline and experience. And it is with this that
I can now finally review these yaks with competence. Here goes:
Scrambler XT: this was one of the original yakfishin machines. Looks dumpy and bulky.
It is and it isn't. Sits deeper than the Scrambler and has more primary stability. It
is certainly competent, roomy, very adaptible to yakfishing. Nice well, and easy deck
storage forward. Roomy cockpit and has the wonderful OK footrests. This is the VW
Beetle of yaks. Strong, serviceable and effective. A great first yak, available used
for not much money and makes a great 2nd yak when you move up. Only real negative is
hull slap. LOTS of hull slap.
Necky Spike: Now this is a real sea kayak in every sense of the word. If you've never
yakked (and even if you have) this yak will feel quite tippy as the primary stability is
moderate at best. But it hardens up quickly and the secondary stability is excellent. No
problem sitting sideways to fish. And the ability to lean is what makes this yak great.
With or without kneestraps this yak will carve turns and handle surf, chop and tough
conditions like no other.
It's low, minimal windage, and shorter, but still very fast. Easy to paddle. Quiet.
The deck is flat and very usable. If a smaller, very maneuvreable and
seaworthy yak is your goal this is your yak. As a Pro Owner I'd love to find a used one
for a 2nd yak that's more fun, nearly as capable and easy to transport and use.
Negatives: not for loads of equipment. This is a thoroughbred yakfisher. And I find the
footwells a bit confining, and have never liked plastic sliding foot rests. But this is
part of the design, and lends itself to the intentional leans of performance yakking.
Necky Dolphin: The Dolphin is the big brother (or sister) of the Spike. If despite
all you are still overwhelmed by the Spike, the Dolphin will feel
heavier and more stable. It has more room, will carry more gear, is even faster. It's
like a bigger Spike but smoother and more solid feeling. And also more expensive, ouch!
Same great positives, same negatives bout the footwells. And when you're spending this
much money you are must consider the ProTW and Prowler.
Mars: A surprise yak. Now let's say you've tried the Necky's and your lack of
experience, or inner ear balance mechanisms say no. You like the Neckys,
but well, there's just a hesitation. Try the Mars. This OK design is similar to the
Necky's but with more primary stability. The cockpit and footwells are pure OK and
roomy. The deck is flat and the well accessible.
It's light and fast, easy to turn,
kind of a Necky-lite. My only concern: I honestly have to say that I have seen the Mars
deform if not stored or transported correctly. It's not like the Pro or Prowler which
are full of complex curves, rigid and bulletproof. Jury is still out on this (but I want
to like this yak).
Scupper ProTW: You know my position on the TW. OK outsells all other yaks
combined for yakfishing, diving and sport for good reason. The TW achieves what I call the
Magic Compromise. Long enough to be fast, short enough to still be reasonably
maneuverable (with experience), light enough to transport, strong and rigid, tons of
easily accessible storage, moderate primary and quick solid secondary, and minimal hull
slap. Great deck layout, center console, OK footwells. Very seaworthy and even limited
surfing. Find a used one and buy it, you'll never lose a penny (and will likely never
resell it). Except for one thing...
The Prowler: Yup, the long awaited OK Prowler the next big thing. Has it
been worth the wait? Is it really the successor to the Pro? Is it a lot better? I know
ya wanta know my impression. The answer is yes, yes, yes and no, no, no.
It's faster, no doubt. Feels more like a Tarpon 160 with a nice flush front hatch and
a wave cutting bow. Silent and little or no hull slap. It turns a lot better than the
160 though not quite as well as the Pro. It's barely heavier (3 lb.), but the added
length will feel initially unwieldly (but not much). It's 5 inches wider and you notice
it. Roomier. The deck space is flat and really ideal. Great console with a special
rectangular space for a lure box. Great OK footwells. BIG tankwell, with a special
front section designed to hold two large waterproof lure cases.
The hull design is much improved. Sharp entry transitioning to a drifter-like mid
section. Not as much rocker as the OK so a bit harder to turn. Complex curves, solid,
bulletproof hull. This one will NOT distort, period. It is a truly yakfishing, task
Negatives: The front hatch was designed to be level with the deck, but even with drain
channels still retains about an inch of water (below the hatch seal). The footwells do
not drain continuously to the forward scupper holes (like the Pro). I'm not sure
what the windage will be, particularly with a cooler far to the stern.
Bottom line: The Pro is still a very viable choice, particularly for average males and
for female yakfishers. The Prowler will shine for large yakkers, those who intend to
travel farther, carry lots of gear. The Pro and Prowler really are now part of a
continuum. The Pro was and is the leader almost by accident. The Prowler will be by
design. If the Prowler was a half or foot shorter, it would be no contest.
Summary: First yak: a good used XT is a great choice. Advanced and
performance yakfishers have simply got to consider the Spike especially. The Mars
is more than worth a look for newer or intermediate fishers. The Pro and Prowler
will serve the great majority of yakfishers as before. Which you buy depends on
your size and equipment.
In my case I will not buy the Prowler, but only because I own a Pro which I love
dearly. If it wears out or is damaged though...
And I am looking for a used Spike (or the older Cruiser) for my 2nd.
Hope that helps...
Email Chief Yakker
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