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Watercraft Preview

Preview: Wilderness Systems seeks to deliver the best paddling experience to anglers

Date: 6/30/04
Tackle type: Watercraft
Manufacturer: Wilderness Systems
Reviewer: Team TT

Introduction: More and more anglers are discovering the benefits of kayak fishing. Fishing from a kayak allows anglers to target the best stretches of water, often before the big boats can even get on the lake, run in complete stealth, and as a bonus get a healthy workout while fishing. While many anglers have resorted to modifying their classic and touring kayaks, Wilderness Systems has introduced a complete line of kayaks that tailor to the unique needs of anglers.


About Wilderness Systems: After building boats in a garage for fun and for friends, Andy Zimmerman and John Sheppard launched Wilderness Systems in 1986. Their hand-made boats were developing a following and the duo saw an opportunity to create a business. In their first year, Wilderness produced 140 boats. They concentrated on what they had always done, innovative, high-quality composite whitewater kayaks for a growing market. As interest and the sport grew, they began to add dealers and diversify their range of boats. In the late 1980s, they added touring kayaks to their lineup.

In 1998, Wilderness Systems merged with legendary canoe manufacturer Mad River Canoe and its accessories company Voyageur and became Confluence Watersports Company. Despite the rapid growth, and the purchase of Confluence by an investment group, Wilderness Systems remains committed to the core values established by founders Zimmerman and Sheppard: build the most innovative product and make this fabulous sport accessible, safe and enjoyable for everyone.

A Preview of the watercraft: The following boats all belong to Wilderness System's Recreational Sporting lineup, which is designed with angler's needs in mind.

The Pungo 120 is the top selling boat, and is designed to be used in slow moving rivers, ponds, and protected water


Pungo 120: The Pungo 120 is Wilderness System's best selling boat, and is built for anglers who enjoy fishing on slow rivers, ponds, and protected water. This  kayak is made of rotomolded polyethylene which is engineered to offer a perfect balance of light weight and durability. There are other materials which are lighter but they exhibit drastically reduced stiffness.

The Pungo may look like a simple boat but it comes complete with a full-size stern hatch Eight-inch bow hatch Bow and stern bulkheads, the advanced phase3 Slidelock Footbrace System, a Scotty spinning rod holder, another Flush mount rod holder Anchor system and cleat Comfort Carry handles for easy portability.

Pricing: Pungo120- $629 | $799 w/ angler package
Dimensions: Length 12'  Width 29"  Depth 13"  Weight 49lbs


The Chesapeake Pro is the granddaddy of Kayaks and continues to offer a nice combination of stability and roominess

Chesapeake pro:
This boat may look like a classic to some anglers, and that is exactly what it is. The Chesapeake pro is one of the first kayaks ever built by Wilderness Systems, and continues to be a popular multi-function boat. Anglers and hunters have found the stable and roomy kayak to be ideal for a wide range of situations. This is still one of the easiest boats to learn how to kayak in, and remains among the most effortless to paddle.

Pricing: Chesapeake pro- $1559 (fiberglass)| $2109 (Kevlar)
            Chesapeake pro w/ rudder- $1734 (fiberglass)| $2284 (Kevlar)

Dimensions: Length 12'  Width 27.5"  Depth 16"  Weight 43lbs


Anglers will appreciate the many fishing friendly features the Tarpon 120 incorporates


Tarpon 120: The Tarpon 120 is a fishing machine. Its got plenty of comfort, stability, glide, and cutting edge good looks. With a rigid rotomolded polyethylene construction this boat can be outfitted with a optional rudder for even better tracking and control. Standard features include a full-size bow hatch, two six-inch day hatches, a full-size tankwell, contour notches for milk crate and bait bucket, tankwell bungees, rod/paddle parks with quick-release tabs, a Scotty spinning rod holder, a two flush mount rod holder Anchor system, and a cleat adjustable backrest.

This mid sized Kayak can pretty much do it all, and requires anglers to make no sacrifices. With plenty of storage and multiple rod holder options, anglers can pursue a variety of fish in a variety of water types.

Tarpon 120- $619 | $749 w/ rudder
           Tarpon 120 Angler- $769 | $919 w/ rudder

Dimensions: Length 12'  Width 28"  Depth 13"  Weight 60lbs

Hard Core anglers will relish the speed and maneuverability of the Tarpon 140, and the ability to stand up and cast


Tarpon 140: The Tarpon 140 offers a unique blend of speed and stability. The 140 features an oval hatch in the bow and two 6 inch hatches, one located between the paddlers knees and the second just aft of the paddler, in front of the rear tank well. One of the 6 inch hatches includes a removable bag, 7 inches long by 5 inches diameter for holding personal belongings while on the water. The 140 also has Wilderness Systemsí new Slide Lock adjustable foot brace system that can be adjusted while in the seated position.

This boat is more stable than its smaller sibling, and faster too. Hard core anglers will be able to actually stand up on the flat floored cockpit and cast, making it an ideal choice for bass anglers and fly fisherman.

Pricing: Tarpon140- $699 | $874 w/ rudder
           Tarpon 140 Angler- $849 | $999 w/ rudder

Dimensions: Length 14'  Width 28"  Depth 13"  Weight 62lbs
Conclusion: Whether you are a big bass boat fan or enjoy the portability of inflatables it is hard to deny the benefits that Kayaks afford anglers. Wilderness Systems is one of the few kayak companies that listened to anglers and really delivers a complete line of products designed with the features that anglers really desire. With multiple rod holders, sealed storage compartments, and even livewells, these richly featured kayaks are among the best we have ever seen. These rigged and ready to paddle craft are just waiting for anglers to pursue the fish of their choice, and while we haven't had the opportunity to field test the Wilderness System's products yet, we definitely are excited about what we see thus far.









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