Having clocked up over eight thousand miles in sit-on-top fishing kayaks over the last seven years, I’ve developed a few opinions about which one is best.
I will only be considering a selection of the longer ‘serious’ kayaks that can be used for a good full-day trip as any boat I use must double-up as a decent tourer. And a kayak with long touring ‘legs’ will also be a good trolling platform to put you in with a good chance of hooking a few hefty bass. At heart I suppose I am more of a kayaker than a fisherman so trolling a lure is my fishing method of choice.
OCEAN KAYAK SCUPPER PRO
This was actually my second single SOT fishing kayak. My first was an OK Prowler 15 (in stealth dark green!) which has now been discontinued. Or at least it has been morphed into many gadget- laden superkayaks. In many ways the Prowler 15 was the perfect SOT touring kayak….wide enough to be super stable, narrow enought to cruise at a sensible speed and long enough to stuff in a load of camping gear.
I bought the Scupper Pro in an effort to go faster. And it certainly did. I’m pretty sure the design pre-dates the Prowlers but it is quite a different kayak with a very unusual hull-shape and at 15 foot long and only 26″ wide it is not surprisingly a bit nippy. The widest part of the hull is forward of the seat so you might be forgiven for thinking you are facing the wrong direction.
It can afford to be narrow because it has a very low seating position to keep the centre of gravity down. This means you sit in a pool of water, and the tankwell is similarly awash. I don’t find this a problem (especially if I’m in my drysuit) but this is probably what lead to the evolution of the Prowlers and their higher and drier seat, but wider hull to compensate.
There are claims that the Scupper Pro is tippy. I would consider it to be totally and utterly stable. I have rarely had the slightest wobbly moment and it is my kayak of choice if I want to tackle a major headland or exposed sea paddle. I have been round Lizard point, Land’s End, Trevose head (on a particularly hostile day) and Hartland Point in this boat. And out to Lundy and back in a day. Oh and around Portland Bill in April this year. If you want to clock up the miles in a fast and stable SOT then this is the yak for you.
Hard core kayak-fishermen might be disappointed with it’s fishing spec. It hasn’t really got any…in fact this one had none at all until my chum drilled a couple of flush-mounted rod holders into it. But because I am a fishing minimalist that is all I need. I can’t be bothered with the complexity of a fish finder or any other fancy stuff. The more gadgets to worry about the longer it takes to get on (and off ) the water and the less time you spend actually fishing.
The Scupper Pro is an excellent yak for trolling lures although because it has a low rear deck the reels do tend to get splashed by salt water and so are more prone to corrosion than with other more recent designs, and I have noticed that it’s speed definitely has a negative effect on catch rate when trolling…..it is too fast for the average predatory fish!
The front hatch is absolutely fantastic if you want to sling in your day kit and get on the water as fast as possible (and I always do, as you probably gathered). It is vast, much bigger than any other yak.It will take my kayak trolley whole without folding it down or taking the wheels off. Not sure about how watertight it is is you spend much time upside down but I try not to.
The Scupper Pro has, however, one Achilles Heel. I found where it was during a multi-day camping trip down the River Tay in Scotland. Just before we got out to examine a nasty-looking set of rapids from the bank, I scrunched over quite a big rock at quite a speed. It didn’t cross my mind that this would cause any problem as roto-moulded plastic was indestructible during normal river kayaking as far as I was concerned. However when I got back to the shallows after our recce, the kayak had more or less sunk. DISASTER. And depite being in a drybag my sleeping bag was soaked. HUGE DEPRESSION.
The rock had bent up the hull of the kayak as I had past over it but when it got to the centrally-positioned scupper hole in the tank well it met stiff resistance and actually penetrated the plastic beside the scupper resulting in a three inch long laceration. I was hurled into despair and was all for catching the bus home but we managed a rather pathetic and leaky repair with a bit of duct tape.
A professional plastic repair man fixed it in an extraordinarily rapid and nonchalent way with what look like a few strips of plasticine and it was several months before I entrusted his workmanship to the open sea.
If it hadn’t been for the nasty looking gash on the hull which would put off any purchaser, I would have sold this kayak for a more flashy model.
However it has remained in the back of my barn and over recent winters has actually seen more and more action. It is my kayak of choice for winter trips, whether on the open sea or rivers. I don’t use it so much for bottom fishing trips..that is the domain of my Tarpon 160.
But the big advantage of tha Scupper pro over the Tarpon , when advancing years mean you can’t powerlift a hefty kayak over your head to put it on the roofrack without popping a few discs, is its modest weight. A mere 24kg, compared to well over 30kgs for the Tarpon.
So if you want a no-frills SOT kayak that can outstrip virtually anything else in its class for speed, but also be a decent fishing yak and offer all the versatility and freedom that SOT’s provide, then the Scupper Pro is STILL hard to beat.
My Biggest Scupper Pro Fish: 40lb tope caught off Lynmouth:
My Biggest Scupper Pro daytrip: 40 miles down the length of the Tamar estuary and back.
Hairiest Scupper Pro Moment (apart from sinking on the River Tay): being consumed in a dense fog on the way to Lundy seven miles from land.
coming soon……my views on the Tarpon 160.