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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


By gwinyak
#2296197
Any thoughts on the new Tarpon design and discontinuation of the trued and true deck design?
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By Ron Mc
#2296199
They've added one inch to the width, which really isn't pork, and will improve stability for those who make that their deciding comparison. (Odd they add primary/secondary stability chatter in their marketing bullets - maybe in a boat 6 inches narrower)
It's also likely a bit more versatile for river/lake/coast - it's a really good all-around boat.
I think they made the deck more usable for many by having the small built-in dry box - a sternwell net is never a bad idea.
Other than that, they haven't really changed much - still has the same seat.
Also, the old lap hatch was the leak sore point on the old design - but I happen to like the lap access, and keep a lot of accessible stuff hooked to biners inside.
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By gwinyak
#2296201
There are some things I like and don’t like.
I like cargo net, the solid handles and the fact that they are offering it in a solid tan color. (I’m a river kayaker and I don’t worry about power boats) I think the stay cool seat is a cool new addition too.

The things I don’t like: I see no reason to make it wider and heavier. I had a 120 in the past and it was great for what it was. If you need wider and heavier, go with the Ride, which is what I have now. I don’t like the front square nose either. I don’t know why, just looks bulkier now, not sleek and sexy lol. I know that’s not such a big deal but when it comes to things like kayaks and trucks... aesthetics are important lol.
Here’s the big one...and a deal breaker for me.
I miss the center hatch! I never had a problem with it leaking on my old 120 and the one on my ride is always bone dry. To me as a river kayaker and fisher, I think this canted center hatch is the best feature on any kayak I’ve ever owned. I keep things that I need strapped to carabiners. Small/shorter rods for fishing narrow river/heavy cover, small tackle box for the day, snacks, sunscreen, shemagh, extra hat, and yes everything else that would fit in a dry box. Keys/wallet/fishing license, etc.
Made things easy/safer to get to without crawling around or turning around while on the water.
The detachable dry box seems like it’s targeted more to casual kayakers than serious ones who spend most of their free time on the water. Just my opinion.

Anyway it really doesn’t matter to me anymore, the lady and I just picked up matching 2019 model Tarpons from ACK. They were on clearance for 780.00 and you rarely ever see Tarpons or Rides for less than 800 so I jumped.
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By Neumie
#2296202
I agree with Ron on most things.

A slightly more stable hull due to adding an inch of width which should appeal to the majority of the market. The lines of the hill look similar to the previous model, so the paddling characteristics should be the similar.

The deck to me looks like an overall improvement. The center dry box is interesting idea. I, like Ron, prefer access to the interior of the kayak there. The storage cubbies either side of the dry box are a better design than the previous year. It'll actually let water drain from them, where the old ones held like an inch of water and were almost useless.

Overall, I think it's a nice upgrade. I just wish they would continue with the Tarpon 140 & 160.
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By Ron Mc
#2296203
My 2009 T160 came with the Phase 3 seat, though the new version has a different back-band.
As far as the lap hatch - it Will eventually leak without question. There are two things going on - the door O-ring, which is easy enough to replace, but the thing you eventually have to deal with is the hull gasket, which permanently compresses over time.
So the lap hatch has to come out at some point. I replaced mine on my 10-y-o T160 last year.

And of course all the changes they made were to improve the boat's appearance to the market, not necessarily to improve its performance. In all durable goods, we're saturated with newer is better hype - the only way to enter the market is to convince buyers with pseudo-science that this new thing is next-level technology. In marketing terminology, it's literally called The Snow Job. With all the hype flying, Wildy has to join in with a facelift to give the 20-something salesmen something new to laud (vs "over here is the Old Tarpon").
The good news with the Tarpon, they didn't change what's underneath.
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By JW FunGuy
#2296204
I hadn’t looked at the new one until just now and I really don’t know if I would buy one again. I really like and use the front hatch. I keep my first aid kit with my Epi pen handy in it, extra tackle, collapsing spare paddle and a bilge pump, all that I can get at without having to get out of the boat, which we all know is sometimes not that easy!
I don’t really like the trampoline on the back, I prefer the bungee’s for strapping in my cooler etc, plus the trax adjustability is nice.
I also noticed they got rid of the bungee paddle holders, I only use mine rarely if I going wading away from my boat a ways and the wind is blowing, but what I really use them for is to strap down my stake out pole.
I agree that the the “wells” that my 120 has for stashing things and the “drink” holder is horrible at having water collect in them but I just keep a sponge handy and bail them out if I need to. It’s also hard to tell if the new ones drain more or just let water in more.
I bought the 120 because it was an efficient paddler and pretty stable, will the extra width (1 inch?) effect anything? Hard to say without a side by side comparison.
So yeah, where they changing it up just because they felt it was time for a change? Where they looking for new customer for the Tarpon and trying to steer kayak fisherman toward their other boats? All I know is that if they had asked me I could have given them a lot of things to change to make it a better kayak. Non of which they did. IMHO
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By Ron Mc
#2296205
ImageNote the rear access hatch - this gives you backing to fasteners for a trolley, etc.
Where the cargo net would be really handy is on a river trip, or even going out in the surf.
Agree the loss of slidetrax for the sternwell is significant - eliminates options for track-based rod-holders behind you, and all those possible hook-ups for gear security.
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I occasionally use the side handle bungee for a paddle, or even stake-out pole, but here I'm using mine for a way to secure a fly rod out of the way, and still handy.
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By gwinyak
#2296206
I would have to take both out to make a true decision. Just by looking at it and knowing my kayak style though, the only thing I like are the molded in hard handles. It looks like the 140 went away as well as the 100 so they can concentrate on the new 105 and 120.
https://youtu.be/EOD3tHmMQEs
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By Ron Mc
#2296208
inventory costs money, and at some point, people who really want T160s are going to buy them in the used market - the durable goods thing.
By Yak Dog
#2296211
I hate the wilderness hatches! I’ve had the tarpon and the ride x . Both had leak issues and the little 90 degree pin they have securing the lid always came out . I’ll never buy another wilderness again.
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By JW FunGuy
#2296215
Hmmm..I haven’t had a problem with the pin yet, but now I know to keep an eye on it.
I have been in some windy conditions with waves crashing over the bow and sides, I’ve only once had more than a 1/2 cup of water in the hull. And that time I wasn’t sure if I closed the hatch down completely. I never trust hatches completely anyway so I always sto my stuff in dry bags or boxes.
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By Ron Mc
#2296218
Jerry, I've removed the pins to remove and install a hatch, and they click back into place - well, and stay there.
By Yak Dog
#2296220
Yeah the tarpon paddles good and efficient but the last time I had it out (before I sold it ). We launched at three mile cut into east Matagorda bay. We ended up paddling all the way across working the grass and drifting . By the time we knew it we were close the north shore line and wouldn’t you know it. Wind change!!! The bay went from glass / smooth to choppy white caps and heavy winds . That was the worst trip I’ve ever had. By the time I got back to three mile there was two to three cups of water in the yak. That’s to much for me by the way. The only good think about the trip was we had string full of trout. I bought a ocean trident 15 after that and have had zero water in the in the yak.
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By Ron Mc
#2296226
I've never had more than dribbles inside my 10-y-o T160, and certainly keep the lap hatch covered in splash - your paddle pours onto it continuously.
Last trips with new lap hatch/hull gasket, there literally wasn't a drop inside.
In 10 years, twice I've replaced the closed-cell strip in the bow hatch seal - and only bought once at Home Depot - had enough leftover for the 2nd time.
You can definitely feel new foam strip load up and seal the hatch when you try to close it - you have to compress it before you can turn the lock levers - same with the lap hatch and a new o-ring seal.
If you like to pet your boat, Tarpon is easy to live with a Long time.
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By Neumie
#2296271
Here's a side by side comparison of the changes; 2019 on the top 2020 on the bottom.

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Specs (2019/2020)
LENGTH: 12' 3"/12' 3"
WIDTH: 30"/31"
BOAT WEIGHT: 63 LBS/63 LBS
DECK HEIGHT: 13.75"/13.75"
MAX CAPACITY: 350 LBS/350 LBS

Not a lot of change in the specs other than the additional 1" of width.

The previous model Tarpon 120 was redesigned for the 2009 model year, so after 10 years of production a refresh was on the table for 2020.

Thoughts on the profile changes:
  • The hull at and below the waterline(at least) doesn't appear to have changed too much as far as hard chines. Maybe a little more rocker, though that could be from slightly different camera angles.
  • There are no molded in well nuts for running a rudder raise/lowering line as found on the 2019 model. I'm wondering if you can't add a rudder to this kayak? The Tarpon 105 looks appears to be rudder ready from the pictures, but neither mention it in the description.
  • Even though the specs say the deck heights are the same according to the specs, it looks like 2020 model has a lower profile. Again, could be the camera angle.
  • No incorporated side bungees for paddle holders. I never really use mine for a paddle holders, but I use those side bungees for securing my stakeout sticks.
  • The sacrificial/replaceable rear skid plate is a nice add.
.

Thoughts on the deck changes (right to left):
  • I'm meh on the square nose. The only reason I could think of is when you throw your kayak into the bed of the truck nose first the square nose would keep the kayak from excess rocking back and forth.
  • I'm meh on the hard handles. I'm just glad they still kept the side handles which are slowing disappearing from kayaks.
  • I still prefer the Tupperware style hatch lids found on older kayaks, like my Search 15, but Orbit hatches are slightly easier to use while on the water. My 2012 Ride 135 does have a slight leaking issue, but I think on the 2013 or 2014 model runs from Wilderness they modified/improved the design of the hatches. All I know is the change was enough that I can't retro fit the newer hatch design to my 2012 Ride 135.
  • The small slidetrax across the deck making it easy to add a rod holder or electronic device.
  • The magnetic water bottle holder seems gimmicky.
  • The integrated dry box/hatch seems to be geared more towards the recreational paddler, as it seems most anglers would prefer hull access for storing fishing gear. I prefer having access to the hull there.
  • Hard to tell in the pics, but in promotional videos the storage cubbies either side of the dry box look like they'll drain water. That was one of my pet peeves about the previous generation, those cubbies could not drain any water. Glad they addressed it in this model.
  • The tankwell design/shape is more crate friendly in design. It looks like it was designed to hold their crate system as there are two specific attachment points for securing it.
  • The loss of the slidetrax system either side of the tankwell is a bad move. My Ride 135 doesn't have them either on the tankwell and it's really something I wish was incorporated from the factory.
  • I'm meh on the tankwell cover. It seems easy enough to add bungees if you'd prefer that. I'm thinking this is more for the recreational paddlers.
  • The rear access hatch is nice

I like the small piece of slidetrax in the middle, the drain-able cubbies, potentially lower profile, the more square tankwell, and the rear access hatch. IMO, the three major down grades from the 2019 model are: apparent lack of adding a rudder, no center hatch to access the inside of the hull, and no slide track system for the tankwell. So, the negatives out weigh the positives for me, with the lack of a mention of a rudder being the most egregious omission. The change seem to be geared more to the recreational paddler than angler, but it should outfit nicely as a fishing platform. I'm not in the market for a new kayak, and won't be for many, many years, so take my opinion for what it's worth; nothing.

Oh, and apparently for 2020, Wilderness has finally made the Tarpon 120 dog friendly.
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By JW FunGuy
#2296275
Nice comparison Neumie!
One thing that jumped out at me is that the Scuppers look WAY smaller on the new one. I always thought my 120 could actually use more especially in the rear. I think if you were to get caught in some rough water it might have a tough time dumping the water fast enough.
It looks like they also took away the indents for installing a flush rod holder as well as the place to do it when they squared up the rear well. I’ve been tempted to install them on mine but haven’t had the guts to cut into it, so I just installed them on my igloo cooler which followed the contours of the well almost perfectly.
So yes, all in all I think the took the kayak fisherman completely out of the equation on the new Tarpon 120.
By mwatson71
#2296279
Ron Mc wrote:I've never had more than dribbles inside my 10-y-o T160, and certainly keep the lap hatch covered in splash - your paddle pours onto it continuously.
Last trips with new lap hatch/hull gasket, there literally wasn't a drop inside.
In 10 years, twice I've replaced the closed-cell strip in the bow hatch seal - and only bought once at Home Depot - had enough leftover for the 2nd time.
You can definitely feel new foam strip load up and seal the hatch when you try to close it - you have to compress it before you can turn the lock levers - same with the lap hatch and a new o-ring seal.
If you like to pet your boat, Tarpon is easy to live with a Long time.


Ron,

How hard was it to replace the bow hatch seal on the T160? I haven't had much problem with mine either, except when I rinse it off with the hose after each use but if easy enough, I'll go ahead in do it.
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By Ron Mc
#2296281
mwatson71 wrote:Ron,

How hard was it to replace the bow hatch seal on the T160? I haven't had much problem with mine either, except when I rinse it off with the hose after each use but if easy enough, I'll go ahead in do it.

Hi friend,
The hardest time I had was removing the old fasteners - took good long lever arms, socket and driver bit, to break a couple loose.
I bought complete new fasteners including pressure-seal washers for underneath.
Bolt Depot is an excellent resource - spend some time on their website. They give great respect to small piecemeal orders, and their New Hampshire postal hub must also be low volume, because they always get 1st class mail to San Antonio overnight.

They CNC-machine shoulder bolts and sex bolts for very good prices and turnaround.
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I re-did my whole dashboard bar with sex bolts which leaves no protruding nuts and bolt-ends - both ends are smooth panheads.
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Last edited by Ron Mc on Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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By Ron Mc
#2296284
Understand, but I could only find a steeply discounted Harmony Orbix hatch assembly.
I went with that since my o-ring was also flat.
Looking around, can only find them for $55 now.
If you want to take on the closed-cell foam, buying a 1" sheet and using your old compressed seal for a template would work.
By gwinyak
#2296303
Well of course they would leave a few things off of the, “new and improved model.” Otherwise how would it be, “new and improved” next season?

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