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Jeff Little - Maiden Voyage and Rigging the Radar 135

Posted: 02.27.2017

kayak fishing

My Radar will be a fully tri powered craft that allows me to switch between power modes depending on the type of fishing.


Radar 135: First Trip, Early Riggings & Favorite Features


Rigging a kayak is seldom carried out in one shot. In the case of my most recent project, the Radar 135, I had it on the water with only the installation of a retractable anchor system (video below), two flush mount rod holders, and of course decals. I'm not sure why, but application of decals is a critical step in feeling ownership of the vessel. Although the boat hasn't yet received a depth finder, AirPro 3D seat, YakAttack camera mounts or the Helix Pedal Drive that the tri powered kayak was designed around, it's maiden voyage was a productive one. Here are some thoughts on the boat, it's features and future rigging plans.

The Radar is above all else, a fishing kayak that can handle any kind of fishery. It isn't a shallow water specialist like the ATAK, but it stands solid and stable like the ATAK. It isn't a “beyond the breakers” surf launch and big swell specialist like the Thresher, but it's full bodied bow throws back the chop and allows the angler to ride over whitecaps and power boat wake without getting wet. It's not the speed demon that the Tarpon series is, but it cuts through water nicely with minimal start up power and maintains speed over long distances.

I plan on using my Radar on smallmouth rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, the Tidal Potomac, reservoirs and smaller bodies of still water that lack a ramp and require carting and carrying in. The first stop for this Radar was one of those smaller bodies of water, targeting deep late winter largemouth.

Accessing the water required carting the boat a considerable distance, then lowering the boat down the rip rap shoreline of the dam. Despite it's size, this wasn't that difficult a task, and certainly easier than moving some of the pedal drive capable kayaks I've helped friends move. Once in the water, I adjusted the AirPro Max seat to the high position, sized up the darkening border of a drop off at the edge of a flat and let my jig fly.

With the sun not yet over the tree line, and an air temperature in the upper 20's, braided line crunched and piled up ice in my guides. The sun did eventually break the horizon, but was periodically interrupted by dark clouds that dropped big fluffy snowflakes. The first fish, a chunky 18.25 incher didn't quite hit the jig, but announced it's presence with a lethargic throb. A livelier response ensued after I set the hook with the kind of lunge that causes wake. The boat proved to be a stable platform for my overkill hooksets.

Making use of the Bow Paddle Park, I stowed the paddle, scooted to the front of the seat and rose to my feet for the first time in the boat. Thanks to the Rectangular Center Hatch, I had plenty of room to move my size 14 boots around. To make even more room, I lifted the cam levers on the AirPro Max Seat, slid it backwards, folded it up and stowed it in a slot designed to keep it out of the way. It was cool to try out, but the fishery I was on wasn't the kind of shallow water fishery that standing all day calls for. I can't wait to target snakehead in the milfoil of the Tidal Potomac River with all that walking space this summer!

Knowing that I will eventually have a Helix Pedal Drive, I ordered the lumbar support for the AirPro Max Seat. It took some getting used to, and I had to let a little bit of air out of it, but it's actually a help in transferring more power to every paddle stroke. I know from talking with buddies who have pedal drive kayaks that lumbar support is a critical factor in how long you can pedal. I'll understand it on a first hand basis soon enough.

Two flush mount rod holders behind the seat were adequate for the simple jig pattern that I knew would work. I'll probably add a second set, as there's ample flat space for them behind the seat. There are lots of other examples of flat deck space all over the kayak, allowing for installation of tracks or camera mounts. I'll probably utilize a Ram Claw on the front handle and a pair of Ram balls at the frontmost portion of SlideTrax on each side for camera mounts. A SeaDog Zig Zag Cleat secured my anchor line when deployed or stowed. Two Harmony Deck Rigging fairleads guided the line from a home made retractable anchor spool to cleat and cleat to bow mounted anchor pulley.

I banged the sides of the boat a few times and dropped pliers in the hull once. Some Silent Traction padding will need to be applied in certain spots. Once the pliers found their way to the Molded In Tackle Storage Bins, I didn't have to fumble around under the seat to find them. On one side, I had an ample supply of jigs within arm's reach and on the other I had the pliers, scent and more jigs.

The Flex Pod PD and Flex Pod OS were both empty and unrigged. If I were to use the Helix Pedal Drive, the Flex Pod OS would be rigged with a depth finder. If I would use the Helix Motor Drive in the Flex Pod OS spot, the Flex Pod PD would get the depth finder install. I'm going to use the pedal option, so my depth finder that has already been installed in an OS Pod for my ATAK is ready to use. But for this trip, I left it at home and threw my lunch and three water bottles into the OS Pod. Anglers who wish to paddle the kayak can install a depth finder in the Flex Pod PD and just use the OS Pod for additional storage as I did on this trip. I will have to find the right Ram product to elevate the depth finder monitor above the Pedal Drive so I can see it. It's good to have options.In the rear tank well, I put a Wilderness Systems Catch Cooler Bag that I have decorated with a custom camo paint job. I thought about camouflaging the entire kayak, as I have done with prior kayaks, but thought better of it after seeing the new Solar color. The Catch Cooler Bag fit into the rear well perfectly. My kayak cart frame, folded up was back there as well. The wheels were stowed under the Orbix Bow Hatch.

I'll have to figure out a way to mount my trolling rod holders in a way that I can use the Pedal Drive. That may require the addition of tracks or a pair of opposing YakAttack Mighty Mounts forward of my pedal rotation. I think that I will want to put a Torqeedo on the stern, run rudder cables from sliding footpegs to steer it, and install the rudder to the separate steering arm that comes with the Pedal Drive. The stern will become a busy place soon, and the option to put a stern mount plate on the kayak will help that project. The Radar has the capability to be tri powered: pedal, paddle and power. I plan on rigging this Radar to take advantage of all three options as well as a depth finder. That requires a stern mounted Torqeedo to keep one of the pods open for the depth finder.

My Radar will be a fully tri powered craft that allows me to switch between power modes depending on the type of fishing. The Torqeedo and Helix Pedal Drive will figure prominently while trolling for Chesapeake Striped Bass. The Pedal Drive will allow me to move quickly from point to point throwing deep diving crankbaits for Liberty Reservoir Largemouth. But my Radar won't be too heavy to simply paddle down the Susquehanna River in search of Smallmouth. Where Tidal Potomac sub aquatic vegetation is too thick for the Torqeedo or Helix Pedal Drive, I'll be ready to paddle through with ease.