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.
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.
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|