Well you have read enough about the Kraken, how about actually seeing all its cool features.
I did a little walk thru video with the guys at Yakangler while at the Outdoor retailer show last week.
I should have a Kraken in my hands to fish from next week. I will post reports as soon as I get it.
As soon as I joined Jackson kayaks, a little over a year ago, we began chatting about adding an offshore/big water fishing kayak to their already impressive lineup. This style of kayak was the one missing item that they needed to cover fishing from streams and rivers, to ponds and lakes and now the open water.
There was an initial push to get the kayak done quickly but it was agreed that rather than push the boat out we would take our time and get it done right and make a boat we would all be proud of. I truly believe we have done just that.
One of the first steps in the design process was me sitting down and putting together an initial proposal for this yet to be named JS signature offshore kayak. I am a paddler, I started out in touring boats and love kayaks that paddle well so these attributes were at the top of the list, then came a list of features that I would like to see in a big water fishing kayak. I forwarded this list along with some very bad drawings of what I had in mind to Damon the project manager, Tony Lee, the head designer at Jackson, and other members of the design team to get a formal proposal nailed down. We then had to come to a consensus on the specifics for this boat, things like what length and width would we be looking at, hull design and lastly what were the most important deck features, because my list of wants was a bit long.
One of our biggest challenges and questions was weather we could incorporate the Jackson elite seat into an offshore boat. I have fallen in love with this seat but we were not sure if it would work on this boat. If we were going to use it we had to figure out a way to get it lower and more secure. Tony has come up with a fantastic solution for this which will not only give me the comfort of the Elite seat but lock it in and add the ability to adjust the trim on the kayak.
There was some debate as to the length that the kayak should be, sales indicate that shorter kayak sell better, but I had it set in my head that I really wanted a long kayak for gliding across the offshore waters. With the plethora of big boats on the market now I also wanted to be very sure that this was not a Stand Up kayak. My words to the design team on this subject were “If people can stand on it then it is too wide”. Once all was said and done we settled on a proposed length of 15-16 feet and under 30 inches wide. Figuring these dimensions would give us a good balance of speed, stability and volume for carrying all my gear.
In trying to figure out the boat dimensions and hull design our first mission was to take out a variety of kayaks into the rough water and surf zone. By jumping from kayak to kayak and discussing each boats performance it really got us onto the same page as to what we were trying to achieve on our new project. Yeah the fun part of the design process is taking some kayaks out and playing on them. We had a blast.
Once we knew what we were shooting for on the hull the first plug was made so that we could get a prototype built. The first prototype was basically just to dial in the hull no real deck features were included. Once the first prototype was finished it was shipped out to me in San Diego to take for a test drive on some flat water and then in the surf. I have to say for the first run prototype I was already very impressed, the boat had incredible glide was quite and though we had some drainage issues, due to lack of scuppers in the prototype, it surfed like a champ. More fun for me!!
Along with working with Tony and his team I spent a good deal of time chatting with other Jackson team members from around the world to gauge what were the most important features in a kayak for their fisheries. Of course you can’t get all the features built into the kayaks that people are looking for but we tried to make the kayak as easy to modify as possible.
For me one of the most important people in this design process was my good friend and Jackson teammate Sean White. We fish together a lot so have very similar desires for a fishing kayak. We bounced a lot of ideas back and forth for our new boat and he was always an inspiration for new ideas.
Having someone like Tony Lee who can take our crude drawings and ideas and turn them into reality is the key to getting this kayak right. We would hand off our ideas to Tony and he would run with them, making them better than we could have ever hoped.
Of course this process would not be complete without the bumping of heads from time to time. Sometimes working from different sides of the country on a design via phone and emails makes getting ideas across tough. At one point Tony and I just were not seeing eye to eye on a specific area of the kayak and it just was not getting resolved over the phone. We are both very passionate people when it comes to the design of the boat mainly because we both so badly want it to be done right. Because we just couldn’t clear up our differences over the phone, I jumped on a plane the very next day and flew to Jackson Kayak in Sparta Tennessee so we could fight it out in person. This was honestly one of the best things that could have happened during this entire process. Tony and I were able to quickly resolve that one issue, once I could sit in the actual kayak and demonstrate my meaning. We were also able to hammer out many of the final design features on the boat during this visit. If I had not made that trip I think we would have been another couple weeks in bringing this boat to market. Of course since I was there I also got to jump on the latest prototype and even got it out for a fish and got several largemouth bass on a local lake. More fun and yes a fish has already been landed on the new boat.
When we first started work on this kayak the name Kraken was one that I had my mind set on. I love the image of this mythical sea beast that can sink even the largest ships and ruled the seas. I liked it so much I had a friend and artist Jackie Endlich draw up some concepts of a logo for me then I took those concepts to another friend and tattoo artist Charles Belnavis and had him logo up my left arm. These two pieces of art where then sent to Jackson kayak and turned into the actual logo for the Kraken. Thankfully they agreed to name the boat The Kraken, after all it was already a permanent part of my body. You can see the final version at the top of this article.
With the Outdoor Retailer trade show planned as the event to Release The Kraken Tony and the guys at Jackson have been busting their tails off to get the boat ready for the show. Over the past couple days I have had countless texts and emails updating me on the process and consulting on the final details, things that just can’t be done until you have a molded kayak on hand to work with.
I have been in the kayak fishing business for over twenty years and to say I am excited to have my name on this boat would be a gross understatement. Though my name is on the boat this truly was a team effort and I can’t thank everyone involved enough for pulling this all together. I hope that everyone that has a chance to see and paddle the Kraken loves it.
The Kraken, putting the kayak back in kayak fishing.
I spend a lot of time in my kayak fishing areas where you need to head out through the surf to get to the fishing grounds. So I have become pretty proficient at handling my kayak in the surf zone. I recently hooked up with the guys from Kayak Fish magazine to shoot some stills and video for a kayak surf instructional article and video.
It is a two part series, launching on one, landing on the other.
Check them out I think you will learn a couple things.
Kayak Fish article Kayak surf launching.
Kayak Surf Landing
I have been waiting such a long time to get the word out and some details on my new Signature boat with Jackson Kayak. Below is the first teaser about the Kraken which will be on display at Outdoor Retailer in a couple weeks. I will be writing a few blogs about the features of The Kraken and the process we went through while designing it.
It was such a pleasure working with Tony Lee and the rest of the Jackson design team as well as the Jackson Kayak pro staff to come up with what I feel will be an AWESOME big water fishing kayak.
With so many big boats on the market now the Kraken is going to put the kayak back in kayak fishing.
Jackson Kayak Debuts Jim Sammons Signature Ultimate Offshore Fishing Kayak
Sparta, TN – Jackson Kayak has teamed with one of the most recognizable kayak anglers in North America to develop “the ultimate paddlers kayak” for offshore and big lake kayak anglers.
Pioneering kayak fisherman Jim Sammons, the gregarious host of two popular syndicated kayak fishing TV shows paired with Jackson Kayak design team leader Tony Lee to develop the all-new Kraken.
Sammons, who has been using and endorsing Jackson Kayak boats for the past 18 months, said the Kraken is his signature dream boat; a sit-on-top designed for performance and outfitted with all the accessories he needs to carry him and his gear for miles an miles of fishing enjoyment.
“Our core mandate was to build a great paddling boat for fishing, instead of a fishing boat we can paddle,” said Jackson Kayak design team lead Tony Lee. “The end result reflects all our design experiences pulled together into one very awesome paddling kayak.”
At 15’3” the Kraken is designed for speed, comfort, and perfect trim to handle surf, swells, rough currents and beach landings with equal aplomb on the way out in search of fish, as well as on the home laden with the catch. “Tony did an awesome job coming up with the perfect balance of speed and stablitly,” Sammons said.
Unique to the marketplace, the Kraken handles live bait challenges with ease thanks to an innovative, drill-free solution combining a bait tank pump scupper with an included customizable JKrate. Sammons also think kayak anglers will enjoy the Kraken’s seven separate areas of gear tracking for rigging flexibility.
Named for the legendary many-tentacled Norse sea creature that fishermen often took the risk of trying to fish above since the catch was so plentiful in its clutches, the Kraken aims to be the go-to vessel of choice to help kayak angling enthusiasts land trophy catches. Key features of this monstrously equipped ready-to-fish kayak include the following:
A new and improved Elite seat with fore/aft adjustable trim to compensate for large load swings;
All new, more comfortable foot pegs;
New hinged center hatch for easier hull storage access
4 behind-the-seat rod holders: 2 RAM Rocket Launchers, 2 Flush Mount;
Neoprene sealed dual-level front hatch;
Bait tank pump scupper
Transducer scupper for fish finders.
Rotomolded of linear plastic, the Kraken weighs 75 pounds and has a capacity of a whopping 550 pounds. MSRP is $1799; $1999 with rudder.
The Kraken will debut to sporting goods buyers at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City Aug. 4 – 9. In addition, four new sportsman specific boats will also be unveiled at the trade show including the debut of Jackson Kayak’s first waterfowl specific kayak fishing/hunting boat in conjunction with premier camouflage maker, Realtree, as well as updates to three, more traditional, boat designs for anglers who love to ply rivers and small lakes.
Last month the Kayak Fishing show was invited to visit Levy County Florida for some kayak fishing and local hospitality. We were not disappointed in either. We had some tough weather, with wind and rain but when we got on the water it was awesome. Even on the tough days the scenery was well worth getting out for a paddle.
Damon Bungard from Jackson kayak joined me on this trip and brought along his custom kayak hauling, bomb proof high speed camper Xventure trailer.
We stayed at a very cool little place called B’s Marina and Campground which was located right on the water. We hooked up with Captain Rick from Osprey Guide service for the week to show us around the area and put us on some fish.
Damon brought along three kayaks for the trip, a Kilroy for him and a Cuda14 and Big Rig for me. Each of these Jackson kayaks was rigged with the new Power-pole Micro anchor which were just awesome for hold position in the wind. I ended up spending most of my time fishing from the Big Rig because I loved the stability of it and the ability to not only stand up and sight cast to the fish but the fun of fighting a big fish and getting towed around while standing..
Besides the fun fishing this place was a bird watchers paradise. So many species of birds to be seen in such a cool setting.
Besides the bird life we saw many manatee, turtles and one of the coolest things I have seen, dolphin pushing mullet up against a bank to feed on them.
And we caught plenty of fish too.
If you like to fish or just want a beautiful place to visit and paddle you should visit Levy County you won’t regret it.
Here is a sneak peak of the show we shot in Yankee town.
Here is a little teaser of our visit to Levy county Florida.
This Sunday April 13 on WFN we air our episode shot out at San Clemente Island.
We jumped on board Islander Sportfishing with my Jackson Kayak Teammates Drew Gregory, Jameson Redding and Jerrod McGehee plus my friend Paul Lebowitz from Kayak Fish Magazine, for some fun action.
Calico bass were the main target but we added yellowtail and halibut to the mix.
Check out this trailer to the fun episode.