Note: Thanks to ACK customer and kayak angler Paul Davis, President – Palmetto Kayak Fishing, for a great product review and allowing us to republish and share with our readers.

The redesigned 2012 Wilderness Systems Ride 135 delivers a remarkable fishing platform in a well thought out package. Mine came in on Tuesday from Austin Canoe & Kayak and I spent the afternoon rigging it up for fishing. I added a few basic items like an anchor trolley, Scotty mount rod holders, fish finder, custom transducer arm and some homemade Slidetrax accessory plates. Rigging a new kayak from the ground up is one of my favorite hobbies and each time I seem to find a better way to do a few things.

The center hatch was damaged during shipping, but Austin Canoe & Kayak took care of it immediately. Thirty minutes after the call, I had a FedEx tracking number and the new hatch was on its way. The sense of urgency that that the ACK customer service reps took with this issue was impeccable. Accidents happen – it’s all about how a company responds to a problem. I’ll be the first to say that ACK embodies true customer service.

Other companies/industries in our weak economy should definitely take note. In the meantime, I “borrowed” the center hatch from my girlfriend’s Tarpon 140 and replaced my broken unit with it until the new one is delivered.

On Wednesday I loaded up the Ride and took it out to a local pond for the first test paddle. I was amazed – literally amazed by how well this kayak performed. I’m 6’8”, 240lbs and not only is the 2012 Ride 135 incredibly comfortable, there is room to spare. It is dry, gets up to speed quite easily and tracks well. For its large stature, it is surprisingly easy to paddle and control. So well in fact, that I don’t think it should be categorized as just another “big guy’s kayak”. I have no doubt that my much smaller girlfriend could paddle this yak with ease. In addition, the fly fishing crowd is probably going to appreciate a lot of the styling cues that this yak has to offer.

Granted, the new Ride 135 is a little on the heavy side but so are the majority of other fishing kayaks in this class.  When loading the kayak on the roof rack or carting it down to the water using my Bulletproof DIY Cart, I don’t notice any significant weight difference from that of my previous big man’s fishing kayak that the Ride 135 is replacing.

The seating system coupled with the floor layout is genius. In other kayaks I have owned, I run into a common problem – there never seems to be enough legroom for me from the seat to the foot pegs. I have historically had to modify the design of the foot pegs to make my legs more comfortable, but the Ride’s configuration worked perfectly right out of the box.

The amount of flat floor space on the deck of the new Ride 135 just begs the kayak angler to stand up and fish. Combine this feature with the super stable pontoon-style hull design and a whole new standard in fishing kayaks is born. Even with the wind blowing at a good clip, I wasn’t even remotely concerned about stability while standing for the first time. Transitioning from a standing position back into the seat – a topic that is rarely discussed yet is equally as important- was effortless.

Another nice touch is the sliding seat system. The robust seat is very comfortable and has multiple adjustment points that allow for a tailored fit. Back support is also more than sufficient. Changing the position of the seat works much like a manually adjustable seat in a car and is surprisingly smooth. This arrangement allows the paddler to adjust his weight over the deck of the kayak, giving the user control over how the yak sits in the water. I tend to carry quite a bit of gear in my kayak crate so having this option will be a welcomed change when I am out fishing.  It is also worthy to note that the seat can be removed completely which opens up a lot of doors for custom configurations. Given the stability of this kayak, an aftermarket “high seat” would be very feasible.

So in a nutshell, I couldn’t be more pleased with the new 2012 Ride 135. A lot more details and how-to rigging ideas coming soon!

– Paul

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