Versa Paddle Great Tool for Diablo Kayaks – Customer Review

The hybrid kayak/paddleboards from Diablo Paddlesports have been making a big splash here at ACK and especially among our local kayak fishing customers who like to fish calm fresh water & saltwater flats. That’s why we were very excited when we picked up Sawyer’s new 3-in-1 Versa paddle, which functions as a kayak paddle, SUP paddle & push pole. Recently, one of our Houston store customers submitted the following review of how the Versa paddle performed with his Diablo Adios kayak. Here’s what he had to say:

The Sawyer Versa Trident Paddle
The Sawyer Versa Trident Paddle

I recently added a Diablo Adios to the fleet and as a consequence, needed a SUP paddle to get around. My dream paddle would: work as a SUP, convert to a traditional kayak paddle, be a push pole in the shallows and be available as a stake out stick as well. That sounds more like a dream than realistic requirements! Tom Flemons with Diablo showed me a broad range of choices at the Houston ACK Demo Day. I settled on a high tech / high dollar choice: the Sawyer Versa Trident. Great thanks go to Dave Graves at ACK-Houston for help in ordering and tolerating my impatience prior to delivery.

So here is the review:
This is my first encounter with a carbon fiber shaft + carbon fiber paddle. The space age materials rock! Blade and shaft stiffness translate to really moving through the water. Similar with Werner, I suppose. The wood inserts in the paddle add some weight. They look pretty but I would probably trade them for less weight and increased durability in our marsh. Most of my paddling is in less than 2 feet of water along salt marshes and shorelines. I generally don’t need to paddle great distances but fight constant wind.

SUP Paddle Review: Set up as a SUP Paddle, the Trident really pushes water. The non-traditional shape worried me in pictures: would I be able to maneuver as well as with a standard “shovel” paddle? The answer is yes and no. Paddling and turning is actually a bit easier with the trident shape. When the blade is further from the board edge, it catches maximum water. This makes positioning exceptionally easy. The trade off is less raw power in a touring set up.

Versa Paddle, Kayak Ready
Versa Paddle, Kayak Ready

Kayak Paddle Review: The Trident has a quick lock system that allows you to take off handle and replace it with a second trident shaped blade. Voila! You now have a traditional sit down kayak paddle in your hands. This is a great convenience for my needs. I will often cruise flats with a wind at my back in SUP mode looking for fish. Then I need to get back to my launch site with a facing wind. Not much fun standing, to say the least. Being able to convert to a traditional kayak paddle confuguration really makes the Trident a valuable tool. As a sit down paddle, it has less cup to the blade than you would like and tends to twist a bit with strong strokes. With that said, paddling the Adios in a sitting position is a perfectly vialbe alternative wit this paddle and my speed is good.

Versa Paddle, Push Pole & SUP Ready
Versa Paddle, Push Pole & SUP Ready

Push Pole Review: Dave Graves graciously suggested that I protect the pretty wood handle on the SUP extension before using it as a push pole. Two dollars of commercial neoprene, some glue and electric tape covered the wood well. This matters for my, as there are plenty of oysters in my marsh and I dread the thought of shredding a $500 paddle with oyster rash! and WOW this is where the Versa Trident shines. I can plane my Adios across a mere inch or two of water by turning the SUP upside down and going to push pole mode. Perfect for getting into grass, across flats and positioning for the perfect fly cast. It doesn’t work as a stake out stick, so I still carry one.

Bottom Line: Like EVERYTHING in the paddle world, the Versa Trident has a number of trade offs. It is neither the best touring SUP paddle nor traditional kayak paddle on the market. But its quality and design make it a reasonable alternative for both. Where it shines is in shallow water real life fishing conditions. My real need is to slip quietly along a grassy shoreline looking for tailing reds in shallow water. I drag and whell more than cross open water. I want to be able to stop and turn easily. The Versa Trident fits that requirement perfectly. The telescoping extension makes it a good tool for big craft (i.e. Hobie Pro Anglers) in shallow water where peddling may be a challenge. It is costly but worth the investment to carry one tool for three purposes.

Tight lines,
Midcoast Mark

New Diablo Paddlesports Accessories

Diablo Paddlesports has launched a couple of new accessories specifically designed to be mounted to their boats, the Chupacabra and the Adios. The Diablo Leaning Post works in a similar manner as the Hobie H-Bar in the fact that it helps you stand up and stabilize yourself while sight casting or stand up paddling.  It folds completely flat and still allows access to the front dry storage.  It includes a paddle holder as well.  To mount this cool product to your Diablo boat, you will want to utilize the YakAttack Gear Trac mounting plates.

The second accessory is the Diablo Cooler Deck, which provides a flat surface to mount a cooler or tackle box. This false deck sits over the cockpit and can support a 65 qt cooler or be used as a standing platform. It’s covered with a black traction pad for a non-slip surface. The great thing about it is that it does not require any permanent mounting and can easily be installed or removed using the included straps and can be stored in the rear of the kayak.

Check out the video below for more details.

Jerron @ACK

Video: New from Diablo Paddlesports in 2013

While at the 2013 Austin Boat Show, we took the time to make a couple of videos showcasing some new products and upgraded features on a couple of boats. Thomas Flemons from Diablo Paddlesports was kind enough to take a few minutes to show off their new features for 2013 on both the Adios and the Chupacabra. Thomas covers a lot of ground in a short time, showing off their new leaning bar that can be outfitted with rod and paddle holders, the optional gear basket that attaches to the front of the bar, the Diablo/Yeti deck, the Diablo Skeg and the Sawyer Versa Paddle. Check out the video, let us know what you think!

-Trent @ ACK

Top 10 Kayaks For Cold Weather Paddling

A few months back, I wrote a short piece that caused a bit of a stir. Apparently “storing your kayak for the winter” didn’t resound well with many, especially those residing in more temperate regions (tongue in cheek of course). But the reality for many is that the idea of putting a kayak out of commission for a few months is unheard of because of either mild winters or the utilization paddling gear designed for cold weather paddling. I recouped some of the fury through a visual presentation highlighting cold weather paddling apparel and now, in an effort to continue this positive momentum, I’d like to offer some recommendations on kayaks that are ideal for paddling during the coldest months of the year.

The concept actually, is simple — get a kayak with a combination of a higher freeboard (hull that remains out of the water while paddling) and elevated seat that will stay dry or a kayak with a cockpit that can be fully or partially covered by a skirt. Continue reading Top 10 Kayaks For Cold Weather Paddling

SUP + Kayak = SUPYak?

There is no doubt that Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) are the latest craze in the paddling world but it’s easy to see why — the boards look slick, are easy to lug around and offer both a unique workout and a new perspective on paddling. In fact, SUPs have gained so much popularity over the last few years that they have been turning the heads of some top kayak manufacturers. These brands have responded by “hybridizing” boards with kayaks, creating a unique style of boat that we wanted to discuss in this blog.

So what is the difference between a SUP and a SUP/kayak hybrid? Well, while many people like the idea of a SUP, a common criticism is that they can be limited purpose vessels. If you want to do more than stand up and paddle, you’re pretty much out of luck. SUP/Kayak hybrids are meant to address this issue by combining the stability of a SUP with the customability of a kayak. Each of the hybrid manufacturers, which include Ocean Kayak, Native Watercraft, Liquid Logic and Diablo Paddlesports, have taken it upon themselves to incorporate their brand’s uniqueness with the benefits of a SUP. The different boards are described briefly below.

Versa Board 12-3 by Liquid Logic and Native WatercraftWhat really sets the Versa Board apart from the rest are the seat configuration options. There is a cooler seat, a comfortable wedge or wedge deluxe seat and of course the First Class Swivel seat. Additionally, you’ll find a variety of other unique features including a drop down skeg, built in wheel for transport and a molded in rear handle. And, like all other hybrids, the Versa offers a number of accessory mounting options. Native Watercraft, Liquid Logic’s sister company offers an angler version too! The Versa Board is made of the same materials as your standard plastic kayak which makes it a bit heaver than your traditional composite SUPs but as a result boasts more stability.

Nalu 12.5 by Ocean KayakIntended for entry level, long distance and recreational paddlers, the Nalu is a simple and affordable hybrid that provides both speed and comfort. It comes outfitted with a seat, dry hatch and storage bungee and offers plenty of deck space for mounting accessories. Like the Versa, it can be outfitted for a variety of activities including fishing. It is also made of plastic.

Adios by Diablo Paddlesports The Adios is more kayak than board, that being said, it incorporates SUP stability with a sit-on-top kayak’s maneuverability to create a very unique watercraft. With drink holders, extra space for storage and the optional Larry Chair, the Adios is made for comfort. More so than comfort, the Adios is quite the fishing machine. The mounting options are virtually unlimited and the ability to stand up makes it an ideal platform for sight casting. What really sets this one apart from the rest is the material it’s made of — Thermoformed ABS. For those looking for something a bit smaller, Diablo also offers the Chupacabra, a shorter version of the Adios. To read more about Diablo, click here.

For some, traditional SUPs will provide everything you need. For those intrigued persons who aren’t quite ready to give up everything they love about kayaking, we hope this will expose you to another option that may meet you in between. Thanks for reading and tell us what you think about these so called hybrids by commenting below.

Joseph @ACK

The Devil Went Down to ACK

One of the most stable fishing kayaks we offer.

You may have noticed our blog post last month welcoming Diablo Paddlesports to the ACK family of brands. We are particularly excited about bringing them on board due to their uniqueness, functionality as an excellent fishing platform and the simple fact that they are manufactured right here in Austin, Texas, making it easy for us to access inventory and replacement parts. You wouldn’t know they are newcomers to the paddling industry by the look of their boats, but they are, and they are already turning heads and making headlines in various related publications.

They currently offer two models, both similar in design, which are the Adios at 12.5’ long and the Chupacabra at 10.5’. What makes these boats so unique are their design and manufacturing process. They combine the stability of a Stand Up Paddleboard with the versatility of a fishing kayak, making an optimal boat specifically for our angling customers.

We offer several kayaks that allow for you to sit and stand and Diablo is right up there with them. All of that stability has to come from somewhere and while they may be a tad slower than some of it’s counterparts you’ll be surprised at how efficient they actually are — especially when combined with the optional drop skeg.

The Chupacabra in all its glory

Performance aside, Diablo kayaks are just great looking boats. The shine of the Thermoformed ABS and the large flat clean lines of the deck give it an almost luxurious feel and is sure to get second looks on the water. Those clean lines and what appears to be limitless mounting surface also lend themselves to countless rigging options. Combine that with the versatility of the Gear Trac Mounting system from YakAttack, there is almost no limit to what you can mount and where you can mount it.

One great option being offered by Diablo is their Larry Chair, which raises the paddler 10 inches of the deck, making sit-to-stand even easier while providing a better view of your surroundings. The Larry Chair is easily stored in the front hatch (or can be used around the campfire later) so when headwinds pick up it’s easy to get back to a lower profile. Because the paddler is higher off the deck it would be a good idea to consider a longer paddle (240cm+) .

Once again, we are excited and proud to have added Diablo Paddlesports to our line of boats. We had the pleasure of test-driving both models at our recent Demo Days and they were a hit! Whether fishing or simply looking for a stable and comfortable boat, we know you’ll be pleased with Diablo Paddlesports. For detailed specifications, options and pricing, click here.

Joe @ACK

Sit or Stand, the Devil Don’t Mind

We wanted to officially welcome Diablo Paddlesports to ACK. Diablo Paddlesports is an Austin, Texas based company that was founded in 2009 with the purpose of creating a boat that offered the benefits of both stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. Today, they offer two such boats, the Adios and the Chupacabra, both of which will appear at local stores next week.

Diablo Paddlesport’s very own Ben and his dog enjoy the Diablo Chupacabra

We had a chance to get hands-on experience with these boats at our Demo Days this past weekend, and let us say that we are impressed! Both boats really do provide the ability to either sit or stand, and the sitting becomes a whole lot more comfortable when you add in their Larry Chair (pictured). One Chupacabra paddler even took it upon himself to attempt a handstand, but unfortunately it was a little too windy that day.

We’re very excited to have added Diablo Paddlesports to our mix and hope you are too! If you didn’t get a chance to try them out at our Austin Demo, Diablo Paddlesports will be present about our San Marcos and Houston Demo Events this coming weekend. – Joseph @ACK