Showing posts with label Native Slayer review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Native Slayer review. Show all posts

Native Slayer Final Verdict

The 12 foot Native Slayer is one of the most talked about new kayaks the industry has seen. Being touted as “the perfect kayak”, “the next big thing” and “the best kayak on the market” it definitely piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see exactly what this boat could do.

After close to 70 hours on the water with the Slayer, I have become very familiar with the ins and outs of the boat. Lots of things are going on in this new endeavor for Native. Some are great, some need refinement.

The Good

At 12 feet long, 31 inches wide and 70 pounds, the Slayer is a boat that can be car topped, truck loaded or trailered. It offers stability in the water in both the high and low seat positions (which is about a 4 inch difference).

The front hatch cover is a major improvement over the initial offering. It can be used with scuppers in or out to offer itself as dry storage or a livewell of sorts to keep fish. Put the scuppers in and add ice to make it into a cooler. Through storms, huge swells and rain traveling down the highway, the front hatch cover held tight and kept the compartment dry. This was a huge surprise and a welcome one. The versatility of the front hatch is a great feature.

The scuppers throughout the boat are larger than your normal kayak scuppers. This helps drain water off the deck quickly when in wet situations. The Slayer paddles much drier than I thought it would. With a round nose without a ton of rocker, I expected more spray in rough conditions. What I found was quite the opposite. Water was pushed away and down the sides of the boat efficiently. I stayed dry and I like that, especially for winter river trips.

The deck is open for the most part with some pre-molded areas that are covered in a small dense foam. This quiets the deck and didn’t grab treble hooks near as readily as I feared. The front bungee clips seem out of place for my uses but I could see how a nice flybox could be secured by it.

The rear well is just a tad small on the Slayer 12. I could fit a BlackPak both directions but it was snug. There is not enough room to carry a 5 gallon bucket and a BlackPak. A little more width and 6 more inches of length in the rear well could have accomplished this.

The tag along wheel on the stern has been a point of argument since its introduction. I found myself using it more and more though I would only use it when the deck is clear and not loaded as the wheel is not wide enough to keep the kayak from tipping to one side or another if loaded.

Room for Improvement

The Slayer brags about lots of track to attach accessories to. While yes, there is lots of track on this boat, most of it is not accessible without a Phillips head screwdriver. The square hatch up front has inset track which is not usable without removal of both the hatch and the track. The track around the front hatch and rear tankwell are also bookended in by bungee clips that are screwed into place. This keeps you from being able to add or remove things on the fly without screwing and unscrewing hardware. This could be resolved with a different bungee attachment system. Creating a clip that would have a pinch to release function would fix almost all of the issues. The front square hatch just needs to be reworked. Tab screws or something would go a long way to improve this.

The biggest problem with the Slayer is no below deck storage. As a saltwater and river fisherman, I need to stow stuff below deck. I can’t do that at all in the Slayer. A rectangular access hatch in the front or back would fix this. So would closing in the front tank well. Give me something I can stow a rod or paddle below deck in and I’ll show you a kayak more people will buy.

The boat paddles well though it struggles more in wind which should be expected in a higher position with higher side walls. Where the seat is positioned heavier folks will be prone to getting water in the back well. Even with two scuppers back there, I was constantly pouring water out when I came back in. I weigh 175 and the boat has a 400 pound capacity. Be aware you may have to load balance on long trips to avoid the same thing.

The other glaring issue with the Slayer is the lack of paddle holders or rod holders. With the price point of this kayak you would think they could help you out with that. It seems they truly built this boat for a minimalist fly fisherman. For the record, paddle holders of some sort should come with a boat. Even if it’s just a bungee.

Final Thoughts

Overall the Slayer is a good boat for lots of applications. For the angler that day trips and doesn’t carry a lot of stuff, this will be a great boat. For Beyond The Breakers, I would pass. If you are looking for bay flats casting, the Slayer is also one to consider. Standing won’t be a problem for most people though it could take a few trips out to get your sea legs. It is easy to get in and out of and with the great Native seat, your back won’t mutiny after a day on the water. For around $1200, it is worth a good look. 

If you want to try one out and are in the Dallas area, call my friends at Mariner-Sails. They have demos available to paddle every week (weather allowing). 

Slayer Usable Track without screwdriver

Coastal Report and Slayer Observations

The danger of planning a trip to the coast months in advance is the unpredictability of the weather. The forecast continued to worsen as our trip neared and backup plans were formed. As we arrived Thursday with kayak seating for 5, we saw that an assault on the gulf wasn't going to happen. Winds, cross currents and angry seas greeted us as we emerged on top of the seawall. The 20 minute drive west was spent scheming and looking for other possibilities. A new kayaker was in our mix and I didn't want his first time out to be a bad one. We arrived at camp and setup, checking weather forecasts, tide charts and wind predictors. There was a window on Friday that seemed doable so we planned for that.

Thursday evening was spent procuring bait (shrimp and squid) and fishing in the surf out past Beach Access 25. Within two hours we had landed a 27" redfish, a huge stingray and myriad whiting and hardheads. I nicknamed the red Homer Simpson because he had a huge gut and a donut for a spot. He is pictured over to the side. The big shark rigs squealed only once and a 20 inch hardhead was the culprit. All of the big fish came on a St.Croix Mojo Bass medium heavy rod with 15 pound HALO P-Line Flouro.

Slayer Thoughts

Thursday night I ventured out into the canals and was nearly blown off the water. The 12 foot Native Slayer has a lot of surface area above the water and it showed. I could see well in the high seat position and almost as well in the low position. I decided I would use the front well with the added hatch as a fish box if I caught fish but sadly never got the chance to use it. I discovered that the square console with the track in front of the seat does not fit a GearTrac t-bolt without removing the hatch and loosening the track. That is disappointing. The side tracks have no issue but the sides of the recessed molding on the front square come up to high. I also quickly discovered that using a Park-N-Pole in the large scuppers is a bad idea. The scuppers are so large that it allows the boat to climb the pole in wind. It was tipping the boat. Make sure you install and anchor trolley. While you are installing things, know that this boat doesn't come with rod holders or a paddle clip or bungee to strap down a paddle. You might want to pick those up as well. The front well is greatly improved with the hatch cover. Even in the driving rain coming home it did not take on any water. That's at 70 MPH in a monsoon! To give you an idea of how bad the storm was, it peeled half of the vinyl decaling off of the kayak. Paddling the Slayer is fairly easy. I would recommend a rudder for turning. I didn't have one and it showed. The secondary stability in the boat takes a minute to get used to but you quickly figure out where the points of no return are.

The Slayer is very similar to the Jackson Coosa in some respects. The chair, the open deck layout and the room/ability to stand are qualities they both have. The huge difference to me is the Slayer's incomprehensible lack of storage below deck. A hatch could be made in the front well or floor that would allow you to stow rods and gear, especially in the salt. The only access you have is a 4" hatch with a bucket in it. Not going to cut it.

I do like the wheel on the back. While it is lousy in sand, moving it to and from places on grass and concrete is easy. It can be a touch tippy from side to side if you are loaded down so be aware to keep center when pulling it. The wheel also adds a nice assist for car toppers. Combine that with the handles at midships and most folks can put this on a car solo.

To be fair and thought out as much as possible, I will be spending a few more weeks fishing the Slayer in freshwater on lakes and rivers/creeks. I want to really put it through the paces and see what it can do.

Back to the fishing report.

John on his first paddle ever
Friday saw more fish being caught in the morning including but nothing noteworthy other than some additional  black drum. Friday afternoon came quickly and we wanted to get the kayaks wet. We found what we thought would be an out of the wind spot on the far west side of the island and launched. 20 yards into the bay we felt the wind pushing us every direction. Anchors wouldn't hold so we paddled a bit, fished very little and after an hour we could see our newly initiated kayaking brother was wearing out. We all headed in with smiles and high fives though the wind was still beastly.

We arrived back to unload and decided to go pound the waves again. This time it was significantly different than the morning run. We couldn't make the third gut because of the tides so we had to settle for second gut fishing. That made a lot of difference. In a short 90 minutes we landed four more black drum, three large gafftops, another stingray (much smaller) and a 35" red. Sprinkle in another 30 or so whiting and it was a great afternoon on the water. Exhausted we turned in fairly early and planned one last assault on the surf.

Saturday found only a pair of us in the water at daybreak and we fished the second gut again. One more slot red yielded to our fresh dead shrimp and several additional whiting. After a couple of hours we called it quits with the looming storm. We cleaned our fish and headed for the mainland. It took 6 hours to reach home, two hours more than normal because of the blistering rain and I had to pull the scupper plugs in the Slayer but the trip home was fairly uneventful. Cars were still moving slowly as we traveled through Houston but right after we hit 290 the bottom dropped out of the clouds and made the news. Between the hail, floods and swamped out cars it turns out looking at the weather paid some dividends. All in all a good trip with good friends and a new kayaker. Looking forward to the next trip already.

Side Note: I have had a few additional things come into play so the paddle reviews will be later this week.