Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fishgr's Cuda 12 Build up.

Friend of the fishing team Rob AKA Fishgr did a nice write up about how he rigged his Cuda 12. Thanks for sharing your stoke with us Rob! 

Alright, finally got some time to post up some updates on a lazy night with what was supposed to be crappy weather.  I've been sitting in my boat in the evening visualizing and imaging how I will fish this boat in various settings and for various species.  I do believe I've freaked the living crap outta my neighbors after they saw me fly fishing from a boat on dry land - I just wave to them and keep casting.  I've decided that this boat is my bass, trout, delta and fly fishing boat.  The rigging and thoughts are along those lines and I'm trying to get to a place of simplicity, which the Jackson folks have obviously designed towards.

Pardon the crappy pictures and the craptastically messy garage.  My iPhone sucks and we're in the middle of the holiday box/crap shuffle getting all the holiday junk setup for holiday parties we're throwing this year.

First, the obligatory homage to Headwaters:

Cockpit "HUD" - Lowrance 4x DSI gps/ff combo, a RAM Aquabox 20 and the GoPro.  I haven't wired up the FF yet as I'm waiting for some hardware from a buddy.  The aquabox I'm not necessarily fond of because I like to be all solitary out on the water.  However, missing the genera's texts has proven problematic, whereas if I can communicate where I'm at and what I'm doing, even out on the water, she's super cool - shackles.  The GoPro I have for "trophy" shots, although honestly I'm not sold on that location unless some random chick is drivin the boat in a bikini.  I might post it up on a RAM mount GoPro C ball.

Here's the scotty extendo thing (has those blue and yellow friction things, which are hella awesome) on a 4" yakattack rail.  I went with the 4" because I don't want to have a whole ton of stuff.  At most I'll have one of these suckers on both sides while trolling for trouts and such.  While bass fishing I might not use them for anything.  On the other side of the boat I have a ram ball extension with the rod holder that came with the Cuda.

I put my paddle leash here, beneath the seat.  I need one of these because I'm one of those guys that will lose his paddle even with a little dink on the line - I get excited.
blurry photo, sorry, but I'm too lazy for perfection at this point. I found an awesome place for my camera, that is outta the way and easy to get to in a pinch, even leaving the fugly float on the thing.

I put the nets in - something that should really come already placed on the Cudas, in my opinion.  

Rod leashes,...I hate them, but I lose crap.  This is with my daughters rod, which she graciously lent me to test junk out.  I have floats on all my rods, but with the rocket launchers I'm freaked that they'll somehow slip away, even though I doubt they will.  I dunno.

Put the silent traction stuff down where the chair hits the boat, because it does create quite a racket.  I didn't go nuts with the stuff all over like I've seen in some other posts, but I liked the idea and actually does make a noticeable difference.  Not so sure it really helps catch more fish,...but y'no,'s that confidence thing.
In the back I slapped down a mighty mount and have the yakattack whatchamacallit camera stick thing with the extension.  When I don't have my GoPro up there I can just fly a flag.  Was thinking of changing out the jackson flag for a 49er flag, until pitchers n catchers report, at which point it will be A's.
I opted for the rod pod insert, which is badass and again should be a standard deal on Cudas in my opinion.  I'm not so sold on the that popular mod making a hinge on the cover.  To me it seems to be too small of an access point and I like storing a few extra planos, leaders, my dry box with wallet/keys, extra junk for fishing that would usually go in my crate.  Yup, no crate on this boat!  That's how friggin' badass this thing is!  Btw, there's a pouch on the back of the chair that you can stick even more junk in,...I put sunscreen and crap like that back there.

Another crappy picture, I suck, I know,...but this is where the batteries gonna go.  I went ahead and got one of those built battery boxes online because I'm lazy sometimes, whatever.   :smt044  I'll balance the boat out with some emergency supplies on the other side of the boat (down in there) if needed, as the box is a few pounds).  I'll be running the wires inside the hull and setting up the scupper transducer rig.

And that's it for now folks!  I'm having a blast with this boat and wanted to get out this weekend - but obviously that's not happening, what with the anticipated rainpocalypse and all. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jackson Cuda Rigging by Headwaters Kayak Shop

Now that I have had my Jackson Cuda for a few months, I decided it was time to trick it out. While I could have done the job myself, I don't exactly have a background in boat rigging, so I decided to take my boat down to Dan at Headwaters Kayak Shop and utilize his expertise. My overall goal for this customization was to end up with a boat that I could use specifically for NCKA tournaments. I also wanted to keep the deck as snag free as possible, for those times that I use the Cuda for fly fishing.

The first thing I wanted to accomplish was mounting rod holders in front of the seat. I was tired of getting a crick in my neck from trying to watch my rod tip every time I went trolling. After talking to Dan I decided that a track system would both work great and be versatile by allowing many different mounting options. So Jason and Dan installed a pair of tracks in front of the paddle holder.

One of the gear tracks. Note the expert placement. With a fly rod in the fly rod stager there is 1/8 of inch of clearance between the rod and the track.

Next I had Jason customize my center console hatch by adding a hinge. He had already perfected the construction of the hinge on his own boat. Now I could access rods or any other gear stowed in the center hatch without having to undo both clips. I find that the forward clip on the center hatch can be difficult to reach while seated, and this was a great fix. It even stayed water tight!

Sweet Hinge! Maybe an idea for Jackson for next model year.

I was using gimbal inserts that allowed the use of scotty rod holders, but they were bulky and stuck out of the gimbal mount a couple of extra inches. Rather that sitck with this unpermanent sysem I had Scotty round flush mount bases installed sice I was using scotty rod mounts in place of the gimbals anyway.
I find the scotty round flush mount bases way more useful than a gimbal mount. Also note I had the mesh panels added for tackle storage with the seat in the low position.

Now it was anchor time. I talked with Dan about my options. My first thought was a Scotty anchor lock that would mount into a Scotty flush mount in the stern of the boat. Dan quickly informed me that if we put a flush mount on the stern of the Cuda, not only would I no longer have the ability to add a rudder later, but becase the end of the stern deck isn't flat, a flush mount would more than likely leak. He gave two alternative suggestions: we could either use the Scotty anchor lock but mount it in a raised Scotty base, or we could use an anchor trolley. What I liked about the anchor trolley option was I could reposition my boat with the anchor still deployed and I could remove the majority of the trolley if I wanted to, not only that, but if I wanted to add the rudder to the Cuda later, I could still do so. Dan ended up installing a full length anchor trolley, allowing me to go from stern anchored to bow anchored without ever having to bring the anchor up and reset it.

Perfect placement of the jam cleat. It is above the waterline and can be used to stop the anchor trolley in either direction.

The blocks for the anchor trolley are attached with clips so they can be removed.

Check out the full length anchor trolley.

The final piece of the customization involed setting up a fish photo station. Many of the tournamanets I have been in encourage catch and release. In these tournaments a photo must be taken of the fish in a measuring board (or Hawg Trough for those NCKA folks) so that points per inch can be awarded without having to physically bring the fish to the measuring station. Some tournaments even award extra points for the safe release of fish. The design of the photo station took some brain storming. How to mount the measuring board so that it would be out of the way, but ready instantly for a quick photo and release of a fish? Utilizing some plywood, a Humminbird Scotty adapter, friction discs, a 4 inch track, a Scotty flush base, a short Scotty extension, and a Yak Attack Dog Bone, we devised a photo station.

Side view of photo station.
Angler view of photo station.

Gear track and measuring board in action.

With the photo station removed, nearly looks stock.
I was thoroughly impressed, not just with Dan and Jason's rigging recomendations, but with their knowledge of kayaking and ability to place all of the rigging so that it would function without affecting the performance of my Kayak. I look forward to taking my Kayak back to Headwaters in the future for further tweaks, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dungeness Crab Opener at Bodega Bay

Last November 3rd was the crab opener. It may not have been the best opener in Bodega Bay, but the weather was beautiful. I arrived in to Doran beach Friday afternoon and noticed there was already a big NorCal Kayak Angler presence. I parked the truck set up camp and got all my crabbing gear ready. Walked over to the other NCKA camps and it seemed like everyone had decided to go out at 12:01 AM. It seemed like forever for that time to come. We all hung around the fire, eating rock crab, flank steak and Japanese pizza waiting for 12:01 to arrive.

At 11:00 I headed back to my camp and decided to bait my traps and get everything ready to launch under the moon. Doug, Dave, and Tony were at my site and getting there gear together also for the midnight launch. When everyone was all set we gathered our gear and yaks and proceeded to the beach. The water was so flat and calm, it looked like a lake out there. May have been the calmest I have ever seen Doran Beach, with the moon shining there was no need for a head lamp. I decided to only drop 2 traps and bring the rest out in the morning. After dropping the two traps, Tony and I realized how great the conditions were and we had to go and get some rings to use for an hour. Tony went and got his ring and I used my Promar Ambush ring. After a 15 minute soak, I pulled up the ambush net and had a little over 15 dungeness crab in the trap, and 5 keepers, but after looking at them, I realized they were all females and back they went. I decided to put the trap back  down and let it sit for some more time. Crabbing under the waning moon may have been one of the most magical kayaking experiences I have ever had. There was a bioluminescence to the water and rope when pulling up the traps. The water was so calm, I kept joking with Tony that you could almost sleep out here. There were many people on the jetty with head lamps it made it look like a search and rescue crew at night.  On the last pull of the ambush trap I was able to pull up one keeper and we decided to call it quits and head in and get some sleep. Before we went in we decided to check one of the traps, which was probably not a great idea. I pulled up one of my square traps to find a good 10 crabs working on the bait and then some of the bait fell out and all that was left was one chicken leg. Since it was already late I sent down the lonely chicken leg in hopes of it being able to last into the morning.

Dougs first time crabbing off a kayak

Lights on the water

Tony kept on getting all the little ones

Tony enjoying the calm water and waning moon

First pull of the 2012 Crab Season with a Promar Ambush net

Woke up around 7:00 and there were already people out on the water, and they day use parking was full. I figured there was no rush since my pots had been soaking overnight. It was amazing to see all the kayaks on the water, it looked like land mines with all the bouys and floats on the water. There were so many it actually took me a little bit to find my first trap. I pulled it up and there was nothing in there and the bait was gone, the lone chicken leg did not make it through the night. On the second trap I pulled it up and had 5 keepers, one which was a jumbo and the other just over 6”. The rest of the day was hard work to get a limit and I ended up finishing the day with 9. I sent two home with a friend to share with his wife and child. 

Taking the Caribbean 14 out on a beautiful day. 

There were kayakers, shore crabbers and Power Boats

Calm and Sunny

Kayaks lined up on the beach

On Sunday after leaving the pots out overnight I was only able to come up with a few crabs for the whole day. Tim S. on the other hand was a able to get some big Jumbos to take home off of the Jackson Cuda. Tim is actually building a crabbing kayak and I can’t wait to see it. There were also some kayakers who went out to fish while there traps soaked.

Tim Crabbing off the Jackson Cuda

Tim kept pulling up Jumbos one at a time

A couple of the crab from Sunday, a Jumbo and one a little over 6"

This little guy fell out of the trap

Ruben with some sweet fish!

Narisa and Melo enjoying the sun

This years crabbing has been off to a slow start for Bodega Bay, while those launching their kayaks out of Half Moon Bay have been getting limits within a short time. Hopefully the crabbing picks up in Bodega Bay, maybe it has something to do with the warm weather. In the end, it really didn’t matter how much crab were being caught, it was just great to be spending time with friends on the water.

Article Written by: Victor Woolworth

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jackson Big Tuna Review

Special thanks to our guest contributor Kenny for the excellent review.

What I experienced today was akin to courting a girl for months and upon meeting her family - oh my goodness; hot for sister!  Big sister that is - and in the Jackson family she's known as the Big Tuna!

As you would expect, the Big Tuna is wider and heavier (87 lbs (minimum carrying weight), 102 lbs (max) - however, true to Jackson form its an easy paddle in the water.  Before I get to that - rewind; lets begin in the parking lot.  Taking the Big Tuna off the truck was no more difficult to loading and unloading the Cuda 14.  The rear of the kayak has 2 handles, the front has 1.  Given the wider hull, it didn't tip to one side or the other.  Slide on, slide off.  Once on the ground we began loading her down with crab gear.

Since this would be a solo paddle - the seat was moved forward to the center; yet, it is still slightly to the rear.  In this position, the seat partially covers the bait/live well.  The well is hinged in the middle and can be opened from either side - so, it was still easily accessible for stowing gear.  I put a sweatshirt in there in case the weather turned and more layering were needed.  If the seat were all the way to the rear, there is no storage area behind the seat other than under the hatch cover.  With the seat moved to the center there is a nice nice size (...and deep) tank well.  Two bouys with rope were stowed here with room to spare.  I use the collapsable ProMar traps and placed them forward on the boat - bait cages were secured just forward of the seat and secured with factory bungees which run the length of the boat.  This is when my blood started pumping with excitement.  Last crab season I was fighting with bouys being tangled in bungee straps and balancing my traps on the front hatch of my previous kayak.  On the Big Tuna, the depth of the tank well and width of the kayak accomodated all gear effortlessly.  It felt as though I was missing soemthing and there was definately room for more.

Loaded and mated up to the Wheeleez (great fit), we pulled the Big Tuna to waters edge and prepared for the launch.  The water was tame.  Low swells, not much chop when we launched.  Still, I couldn't help but take note of a few things to be excited about.  The expansive flat deck was free of clutter - no worries about snagging up when jumping in.  After pulling the boat into the surf - I hopped in without any tipping.  The stability was increadible - expected from a 36" flat hull - but refreshing none the less.  In no time - I in the Big Tuna and Shilo in her Cuda 14 were far from shore.  In the beginning, I spoke to the boats weight - my Cuda is heavy in the water also - but what I've come to learn about Jacksons...despite the weight, they are an easy paddle in the water.  Tracking was looser than in the Cuda; however, it seems reasonable that a boat loaded to half its capacity (575lbs) is going to be higher in the water and looser.  If this were going to be a kayak for all occassions I would opt for a rudder install - but, what I came to learn about the Big Tuna - this is a crabbing machine!  The short paddle to where pots were going to be dropped was easily manageable.

When prepping the pots, it seemed as though I were on a barge.  Large flat deck, stable, easy to turn around and retrieve gear.  The seats in the Jacksons are one of the main attractions for many and in the Big Tuna the results are the same.  Very comfortable, great back support and your hiney is off the deck - no wet butt!  The deck in itself is also to be appreciated.  It has a textured surface and stays dry.  The only water top side was in the beverage and seat indentations.  And the only water that got in the kayak was from water dripping off the crab traps.  The deck is wide and room is abundant.  Combine that with the comfort of the seat and you forget you are on a kayak.  Call it a crabbing machine - call it a party boat - kick back, relax and ride the waves!  Below is a side by side with Shilo's Cuda 14 so you can see the differences in the topside lay out and get an idea of how much room is provided for your paddling pleasure.

Maneuverability and speed were also impressive.  Again, given the boat is at half capacity and sitting higher in the water that is probably to be expected.  While stationary, you can turn the Big Tuna with 3 quick paddles on either side and you will have turned 180 degrees.  Speed, just as quick as the Cuda 14 - albeit, I was racing a girl so take that into account  :smt002  And then there was the beach landing --  I have not mastered this art and conceed that todays water conditions were tame -- but, one would think I were the Captain of the Sea when coming ashore in a Jackson.  Pick your wave, ride it in and you are beached!  As the water receeds, there is no tipping and springing out of the seat is much easier since elevated off the deck.    

Comparisons.  Its easy to read and share the excitement of a new kayak with someone.  However, when it comes down to it - we all want to know how it compares to similar boats.  This is my second tandem, the first being a OK Malibu XL.  The difference is night - and - day!  In other threads I have compared my Cuda 14 to my OK T13.  There's a lot to like about both boats and in several categories I gave the advantage to OK.  However, in the battle of the two-seaters, its a different experience.  Although the Malibu is capable in its own right - the Big Tuna edges it out in every aspect. 

At the end of the day, I had but one regret.  I was missing some gear I've never considered while crabbing before.  An anchor, a pillow, and a blankey.  You can literly take a nap while OTW in a Big Tuna ( another day).

Good night all -