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Having paddled and pedaled my Radar 135 for the last 3 years, I was unsure if the new Tarpon 120 would be enough for me. I figured if it was not, I would have a great boat for my son or a buddy to use. Let me tell you, I really underestimated this kayak! I have now paddled my Tarpon 120 in both freshwater and saltwater, I have found it to be extremely fast and far more stable than I expected. It took an hour or so to get used to the width difference between the Tarpon and the Radar, but after that hour I was comfortable and moving around like I had been in this kayak for years.
I know that the Tarpon line has been around for years and it has established itself as quite the legend in the sit on top kayak world. I was eager to take advantage of the new changes and updates to the 2020 model. The cockpit area has ample room for me - I am 6’2” and 250lbs. While it is a smaller cockpit than my Radar, I find that with the addition of my Wildy Kayak Krate I have more than enough room for all the gear I take on the water while fishing. The Phase 3 Air Pro seat is super comfortable and I found the leg lifter adjustment to be the key to getting my legs in a proper position for all-day paddling. When I got the seat totally dialed in, I was able to spend about 8 hours on the water with ease and total comfort. There is plenty of gear track for adding any accessory I may want. There is a long piece of track down each side, as well as a short piece at the front of the cockpit that is perfect for mounting a fish finder unit or camera mount. The magnetic water bottle holder seems like an addition that is somewhat low priority, but that could not be farther from the truth. Usually, I store my Wildy Stainless water bottle behind my seat. You know what they say, out of sight out of mind, and because of that I never drink as much water as I should. With the magnetic water bottle holder, it keeps my H2o front and center and I do not forget about my ever so important hydration. Well done WIldy for adding such an important feature. The small, sealed, waterproof storage box in the cockpit area is perfect for storing extra batteries for my action cameras and my cell phone without having to worry about them getting wet. The rear tank well is molded to fit the Kayak Krate or the Thrive baitwell like a glove. When the tankwell is not in use, Wildy provided a killer mesh cover that bungees in very nice.
I mainly fish the Central Coast of California, and for saltwater anglers that means beach launches. With beach launches, timing is critical, as to not get rolled up in the surf and having an embarrassing yard sale of gear on the beach. When you commit to launch, you GO with all you have. Usually, it takes a few seconds to get momentum and get a kayak moving. With my last beach launch in the Tarpon 120, my timing was less than perfect and after I committed I realized there was a wave bearing down on me. With a few swift strokes, I was moving quickly and punched through the wave with ease. No dumping and no yard sale! The slightly narrower width and ease of paddling saved my butt that day. The Tarpon 120 cut through the surf like a hot knife through butter!
My Tarpon 120 will not take the place of my trusty Radar 135, but it has created its own special place in my kayak “tool shed”. For certain locations and launch conditions, my Tarpon 120 will absolutely be my go to kayak of choice. It is not easy to improve on a kayak that already has legend status in the kayak world. With the 2020 Tarpon 120 Wilderness Systems has done just that! I look forward to years and years of use out of this kayak and I can not wait for the adventures that she will take me on. Well done Wildy.