Testing the New Wilderness Systems – Thresher 140

I was fortunate enough to be invited along for an evenings paddle with the guys from Bantry Bay Canoes who had recently received , a brand new to the Irish market, Wilderness Systems Thresher 140. I was more than delighted to take this new product for a paddle and give it a good test to provide my own opinion on this new design and the new added features included to accommodate the angler. The day that I was invited to test this new yak was bright with a slight breeze and some small surf to test the kayaks capabilities. On first observing the kayak my first impressions were very good. The kayak looks like it could be fast enough in the water to keep up with most recognized brands on the market. It must be said that I personally paddle and own an Ocean Kayak Prowler Ultra 4.7 so I am used to my own kayaks features and speed so this was a good base to compare the Thresher to. The kayak being tested was the recognizable coloured red that Wilderness use. It reminded me of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon which I was introduced to when I first started kayak fishing. The size of the kayak was immediately noticeable strapped on the roof. A rounded nose was another feature that caught my eye. A very distinctive shape, sleek yet stable looking. Thresher on Roof When lifting the Wilderness Systems Thresher 140 I noticed the weight of the kayak. Slightly heavier than my own personal kayak but nothing major. It must be noted that there are more features on this kayak and it is quite large so a little bit more weight is to be expected. It was not overwhelming and nothing I have not experienced with other brands of kayak. So starting from the front of the boat, the first thing that is noticed is the rounded nose. This allows the kayak to reduce water over the nose by separating the water rather than pushing through it. This is particularly useful in choppy water. The next feature is the large front hatch. Before opening this hatch I was drawn to the paddle strap with the Wildness Logo across it. A very simple but extremely useful item when wanting to put the paddle down in a hurry and keep it secure. The hatch opens away from the seated position thus allowing ease of access while out on the water. The hatch is secured closed by two rubber straps that are opened with ease and does not require a struggle. This all helps while out on the water by making the paddler feel more comfortable. When opening the hatch I was very surprised at the size of this space. Unlike most kayaks with front hatches that open into the main hull, this hatch is a sealed compartment with its own scupper holes. This is very beneficial as I for one like to eat fish and always have had a problem with keeping my fish for the day. This could be the solution. It can also be used to keep equipment. The hatch has two scupper holes that can be plugged with the supplied scupper plugs to prevent water coming in, or alternatively, left open to allow drainage. The hatch closes and is pretty good at keeping water out. This is not to say that it is completely waterproof as I did experience some water ingress on the paddle when going through waves. But, for me, this is not an issue as with my current kayak I don’t even use my front hatch but this hatch on the Thresher 140 really does have potential. Front Hatch with Paddle strap Open Front Hatch Front hatch Straps Moving on from the front hatch I was very excited about the next item. The removable drop in fish finder unit. This design has really had some thought put into it by the designers. It has taken into account of the kayak anglers needs for fishfinder mounting. This unit fits snug into a moulded housing on the kayak. The kayak has a recessed cavity on the underside to keep the transducer inside the hull thus not allowing any damage from dragging and not losing any speed by drag being caused by the transducer. The compartment is easily removed from the kayak by unclipping the two snap locks that open with ease. The removable unit is large enough to house a fish finder battery and the accompanying cables and also mount the fish finder on the lid. Obviously there are limits to what can be mounted. I never experienced any water getting into this brilliant design. The transducer is mounted at the bottom of the unit which allows the whole lot to be removed when getting back in and taking away any drilling into the main kayak body. Pod Straps Removing Pod Recessed underside Open Pod The Thresher 140 is supplied with foot rests that are easily adjusted. On either side of the kayak are Wilderness slidetraxs that allow various items such as rod holders to be added and moved with ease. I find that I am always adding new things to my own personal kayak and with these slidetrax, adding bits and pieces, especially camera mounts, is another appealing part of this kayak. The next main feature of the Wilderness Systems Thresher 140 is the centre hatch. The hatch opens by unclipping two lock catches and opening it away from the seating position. The hatch itself is opened into the main hull of the kayak. It is possible to fit smaller fishing rods into this space. The hatch cover did not leave any water in during my paddle even when I paddled through waves. I like the ease of the locking mechanisms used to secure the hatch cover. They snap close with ease and do not require much effort which is an added bonus when opening with cold hands! The hatch cover has bungee cord added which is always useful when looking for place to secure items down. There is more Wilderness Slidetrax added to the hatch cover which is great and I could see myself using this for a rod holder. Centre Hatch Centre Hatch 2 Open Centre Hatch Inside Centre Hatch Again, moving along the kayak, my attention was drawn to the the seating position. I come from a kayak with the “traditional” seat whereby it is a basic padded seat that can be clipped off. The seat provided on the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 is more like a throne and is named the Air Pro Phase 3. The back rest can be folded down when storing away and fixed in the upright position with ease. The height of the seat position was another aspect I liked as it was high enough to keep water away but not to high to cause any unnecessary unbalance. Cleary some thought has gone into this seat and by just looking at it I could see the quality and comfort. I generally fish long hours so a seat like this is an added bonus. The seat can be removed if required. It feels strong and not flimsy when putting my back pressure up against it when paddling. Seat 1 Seat 2 At the rear of the Thresher 140 is ample space in the moulded well. This rear well has scupper holes to provide drainage. There is bungee cord and straps included to hold down any stored items and can be arranged to suit personal preferences. Once again Wilderness Systems have thought of the angler and included more Slidetraxs. If it were my boat I would most definitely be using these for rod holders. So thats the general overview, there are more small features that Wildness Systems have added to the Thresher 140 and these can be seen in the photos. There are vast amounts of ideas incorporated into this boat to account for the anglers needs. So theres nothing more to do now but go for a paddle. Sitting in the kayak I set the foot rests to where I felt comfortable. I was so impressed with the seating position and how comfortable the seat itself was. I sat there for a while just acknowledging how content I was in the seat. I was using a Werner Shuna Neutral Bent Full Carbon paddle which was also new to me and I must say that I could barely feel the paddle in my hands as it was so light. A brilliant piece of equipment. Starting to paddle I noticed that a little effort was required to get the Thresher 140 moving but once momentum was achieved I paddled with ease and gained a good speed with no problems with tracking. It felt stable and I decided to test this by standing up on it to see how stable it was. This is not recommended but I am confident in my abilities. image-838aa1b9b2dd145ef81f988f704d61d9a312e9c4825c9f2b73f96b1480f4ee27-V image-617c4fdf22f1be364c98cbf96898abc8fdd9025703b857985968708a3fa5d92b-V Thresher top View Paddle There is an added option of getting a rudder system. I found that trying to turn the Thresher 140 quickly took a bit of effort. For open water paddling and wide arc turning the Thresher 140 done this with ease. Paddling with the Werner paddle and keeping speed with the Thresher 140 was done with ease. Very comfortable and very stable. I sat with my legs over the side to open the front hatch on the water, no problems and very stable. I sat sideways too and felt more than comfortable as I like to sit side on when luring fishing. I have to say that not once did I feel uncomfortable on this kayak and it has really opened my eyes to what is available on the market. Front Hatch on water We paddled over to some small surf to see how the Thresher 140 dealt with it. Paddling towards a wave coming towards me, the Wilderness Systems Thresher 140 glided over it with ease when speed was built up. Compared to my current kayak the Thresher had less water come over the bow. The kayak kept a straight tracking over the wave and continued straight when over it. Once again, I felt stable and confident in this kayak. It is hard to find anything bad about this kayak. If I were to be harsh I would say that it is a little heavy and slow to get moving. But on the other hand there is a lot of kayak for the money any really makes me take a second look at my current kayak. image-01298535c29f4b15654c67d354acec93d4d43e0c1504fa59f1bd13eb26ad11d4-V So whats the final verdict? I am extremely impressed with the Wilderness Systems Thresher 140. There has been a huge amount of thought put into this kayak and it has really taken into account of the anglers needs. Comfort, stability and speed are all present with this kayak. I am delighted I got to try this kayak out and see what the latest innovations are. Looking at my current kayak, I do think I would reconsider now that I have paddled the Thresher 140. A big well done to the guys at Wilderness System and a big thank you to Bantry Bay Canoes for giving me the opportunity. Thresher 140 Side Paddle

The Wilderness Systems Thresher comes in the 140 and 155 versions and the specifications are as follows per www.wildernesssystems.com :

Kayak Model            140                              155

Length                 14/3 / 434 cms        15’6″ / 472 cm

Width                  28.75″ / 73 cm          30″ / 76 cm

Weight                 75 lbs / 34 kg            80 lbs / 36 kg

Deck Height       14.25″ 36 cm             14.75 / 37 cm

Capacity              400 lbs / 181 kg       450 lbs / 205 kg

If anyone needing any info regarding these kayaks get in contact with Bantry Bay Canoes or Canoe Shops Group UK.

Until next time,

Tight Lines.

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A Weekend of Conger Eel and Bullhuss

Day 1 – 14/03/2015

Finally the weather cleared a little to give us the opportunity to head out in the saltwater again. This being my preferred area I was more than eager to wet a line again. Pat Gill from Irish Kayak Angling got in contact with me and we decided that we would fish for some Bullhuss and Conger Eel. We were restricted to the locations that could be fished due to the winds forecast which were generally in the South East direction. Not a great wind to fish in and I was bought up being taught that this particular wind does not produce the best results. Well, we decided to fish anyway. My father joined us on the Saturday and we tried a new location that consisted of a tidal run and a deep channel.

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We had a rough idea of what was lurking about. I opted to fish the channel first but was consistently bringing up Dogfish after Dogfish which prompted me to move in to the rock faces where the water dropped off very nicely with the intention of a Conger Eel. The rig I used was a single hook ledger with 50lb trace line. On the business end was a 4/0 Cox and Rawle Uptide Hook. I know that Conger Eel can easily cut through a mono trace line but I am not a huge fan of wire traces. Also the 4/0 Cox and Rawle Uptide hook was intended for the channel fishing but I decided to see what it was capable of. Conger Eel have an extremely good sense of scent detection so I went with a Mackeral head cutlet for bait and dropped it in the position that I felt confident the Congers may be.

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It was not long before I had some interest on the bait. I waited for a convincing take and I set the hook. I could feel the weight straight off and just trying to get the fish up away from the rocks is the first objective. I applied pressure but the fish had other ideas as it pulled line from my Shimano Trinidad TN14 reel as it tried to snag me up. Great fight from the fish and shortly a large Conger Eel with an angry face greeted me.

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I managed to slide the Conger across my lap to get a few photos. They can be very aggressive so if I was not confident in my own abilities I would not lift them onto the kayak. To my surprise this Conger Eel was a little more placid but I took no chances and held him firmly. After a few photos I put the Conger back in to head back to its hideout. Once released I was contacted by Pat who informed me that he was into a good Bull Huss so I paddled over to him to get some photos. He was not kidding when he said he had a good huss. It was a really good fish and Pat carefully lifted it out for a photo. Pat was delighted and sent the Huss back.

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I then headed over to my father to see what he was getting. He had landed a nice Pollock but was being plagued by Dogfish. By this time the temperature was dropping which led us to call it a day. Tomorrow was another day to see what we could get.

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Day 2 – 15/03/2015

The Sunday morning came and looking out the window I was greeted  by the same wind as yesterday. Taking this into account Pat and myself decided to fish the same location as the previous day. It was a chilly start to the day and I even wore gloves paddling over to my preferred spot. We anchored up just off an island with the tide pushing out. Same tactics as the day before. Single hook ledger traces and some Mackeral Baits. It was not long before we were hitting fish. We landed more Bullhuss in the morning. Great fun but I decided to go exploring and Pat decided to try his luck at a Conger Eel.

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I always enjoy exploring new locations. Watching the fish finder screen as the contours of the bottom change frequently, as do the depths. Every now and then passing over shoals of baitfish. Its a good way to get a mental image of what the bottom is like that is being fished. I paddled a good distance and tied up under a bridge. I like fishing around structure and I think in the Summer this could be a place I might visit again. I tried a bait for a couple of minutes only to be met by the ever present dogfish.

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On the paddle back to where Pat was fishing he told me about a Conger Eel he had lost and that it must of been a monster. There is no doubt that there is more than likely some very big Conger Eel in this area. He also told me he landed a smaller one and he was delighted. Once again the temperature started to drop and we decided to call it a day after I had a little mishap but I will post about this separately as I feel all kayak anglers should know about it.

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So an eventful weekend with good company and some quality fish as well. Great to get out again on the salt water and fingers crossed for some good weather. Below is the video from the day.

Until next time,

Tight lines.